How-To Thursday: Lifelines

By Coralie, in How to How to: knitting Myrtille – 0 comments

Hey, it’s Thursday again! 🙂

This week, I’ll be writing about lifelines. This technique is a very useful and versatile one to have in your bag of tricks, so let’s learn more about it.

How-To Thursday - Lifelines title

So what is a lifeline and why should you use it?

A lifeline is a thread that simply goes into your stitches to secure them in place in case the worst happens.

Let me explain. Say you’re knitting a complicate pattern, a lace with lots of yarn over, mistakes can be a pain to fix. I, for one, often wish to just rip a few rows back without painfully unknitting. Well, if you’ve put in a lifeline, you can!  Because the stitches are safely on a thread, you can remove your work from the needles and rip until you reach the lifeline. Then putting it back on the needles is easy, no more headaches or forgotten yarn over.

Another handy aspect of these threads is that it allows you to “mark” a certain row. For exemple, it’s the method I used for the picot hem at the end of my Myrtille shawl. Putting in a lifeline easily “marks” the stitches you’ll have to sew the edge to, making this step a no-brainer. (More on this next week… ;-))

Now that you know the wonderful things this technique can do, let’s see how you can insert one into your knitting!

The trick for a good lifeline is to choose a smooth contrasting thread. Personally, I find that the most effective one is coton embroidery thread. It won’t caught on the wool making it impossible to remove (don’t ask me how I know that…) and it won’t pool in the event you have to test block you project. Plus, chances are you already have some at home!

What you’ll want to do is cut a length of coton at least the size of your project with a good 10 cm (4″) security on each sides. If you double that length, then you’ll be able to tie the ends together securing it even more to your work.

How-To Thursday - Lifelines, cutting the thread

Then thread a tapestry needle and start feeding it into the stitches.

Besides making sure you go into every stitches, the thing to be careful about is markers. If you reach one, you’ll just have to make a decision: either go into it or not. If you choose to go into them, you’ll secure them with this row and won’t be able to use these particular ones any further, basically making them stay in place until you remove the lifeline. If not, they will stay free.

If you’re one of those knitter that have a ton of stitch markers on hand (I totally don’t know what you’re talking about…), it’s a less important decision. However, you could also want to secure their place in case you have to start over and don’t want to figure out where they should go.

How-To Thursday - Lifelines, inserting the line

When you’ve gone into all the stitches, that’s it! The lifeline is in place! Yay!

You can now continue knitting knowing that your work is “safe”. Note that the first row after the lifeline can be a bit tight but nothing you can’t work through!

How-To Thursday - Lifelines, line in place

Now continue working your pattern normally and put more lifelines in when your reach important steps in the pattern.

How-To Thursday - Lifelines, continue knitting

Hope you liked this technique! See you next Thursday for a new one!

What are your experiences with lifelines? Did you already know about them or are you eager to start using them?