Shaping in Lace Pattern

sl1, k2tog, k1, psso

The stitch pattern in this cardigan is simple, but a little uncommon. The stitch count varies from row to row: decreases occur on the right side while yarnovers occur on the wrong side. It’s also asymmetrical, as can be seen below. As a result, there isn’t a type of decrease which will work everywhere in the pattern: what looks good on row 3 of the pattern at the beginning of the row may not look as nice on row 5. In addition, the pattern is a little hard to read – since the stitch count changes form row to row, it isn’t possible to count stitches either to ensure we’re on target (well, it is possible – but one has to pay attention and I tend to knit while watching fairly engrossing movies so…)

What all this means is that sometime it’s necessary to improvise. Look at your knitting and do what you think looks right. To demonstrate this, I photographed a swatch I was knitting at different stages (I didn’t have any Soft Linen at the time, so I used Reynolds Saucy).

1st decrease


Here we are, about to begin shaping in the lace pattern. I’ve placed a marker 4 sts from the edge on the side where I wish to decrease and a marker 1 stitch from the edge where I wish to increase.

Row 5 completed

Row 5 has been completed. Note that I stayed in pattern on the decreasing side as it made sense to do so since the pattern decreases 1 stitch anyhow. Had the decrease fallen on row 3 or 7, I would have worked thus: k1(selv.), k1, k2tog.

Second decrease

Back at row 5, since the decreases occur on every 4th row. There were too few stitches for ‘k2, k2tog’, so I worked a k2tog right after the selvedge stitch.

On to the third decrease and the opportunity to get fussy: I like my decreases to be decorative or to be incorporated into the stitch pattern as much as possible. In this case, I prefer the latter. Note that I have only 1 stitch left between the selvedge stitch and the pattern. I do not want to decrease with the selvedge stitch because I find my seams aren’t as attractive that way, but I do not want to delay my pattern stitch either. So, I’ll work the stitch pattern and decrease at the same time.

sts 2 & 3 switch seats

To do so, I need to change the order of the 2nd and 3rd stitch (side note: I could have treated sts 2 and 3 as one stitch but it wouldn’t have worked here because they would have been slipped as one over the following two sts) . I’ve knit the first stitch and dropped the second momentarily; the right needle has caught the third stitch while the left needle caught the second: stitches 2 and 3 have now switched positions.

sl1, k2tog, k1, psso

Next, I continue in pattern (sort of): instead of ‘Sl1, k2, psso’, I’ve worked ‘Sl1, k2tog, k1, psso’. That’s it.


The completed row. I’m done decreasing for now on the right hand side. Time to work the new stitches on the left into the pattern. Easy. Just start the pattern on the next right side row after the marker which will move back to its position next to the selvedge stitch if there are any more increases to be made.

Increases in pattern