Knitting Tutorial

Using a Lifeline in Complicated Patterns

My current project has already taught me several new lessons and reinforced some already-known techniques: lifelines, provisional cast ons, and how to slip stitches. Today let’s talk about lifelines!

Baby Nephew Riley’s Baby Blanket
The de-stashing goal continues! The next yarn for me to finally get out of my stash is Simply Soft by Caron. This is my favorite yarn for baby blankets. As the name implies, it is extremely soft and perfect for brushing against sensitive baby skin. It also holds up pretty well being washed. I made a blanket for my new baby nephew and I know that thing has gone through the wash many times thanks to spit-up. And it still looks amazing. My stash had a skein and a half, not enough to make another blanket and I wasn’t in the mood for that kind of commitment anyway.


I choose a beautiful (and free!) cowl pattern by Norah Gaughan called “Align“. Currently about half-way done but I wanted to share the lessons I have learned so far.

Lesson #1: Always Use a Lifeline with Complicated Patterns

Align is a 12 row pattern repeat, and not too hard to keep track of which row you are on once you understand the pattern. However, if you make a mistake in lace knitting, it can be really hard to tink your work. (Tinking is undoing your work. Get it? Tink? “Knit” spelled backwards.)

“Align” In Progress with Lifeline
What is a lifeline?

 A lifeline is when you use a scrap piece of yarn to save your knitting project at the row you just completed. It’s like hitting the save button on a video game. If you die in that video game, you really don’t want to have to start all the way back at the beginning. You can go to your last save point and try again! The same is true with using a lifeline in knitting.

How do I use a lifeline?

Once you are at your “save point”, take a scrap piece of yarn long enough for your project. I would choose an acrylic, slippery yarn fiber so that it doesn’t start to felt with your project. Then, with a big sewing needle, go through every live stitch on your needle. Voila! Progress saved!

What to do if I made a mistake and need to go back to the lifeline? 

Have no fear! You can go back to your last save! You don’t even need to undo each stitch. Simply take a deep breath and take the needle out of your work. It will be okay. Then rip away! Pull your yarn all the way back to the row with your lifeline. Once you ripped all the way to that row, insert your needle back through the stitches, making sure they are on correctly. Reset complete!




My awkwardness shines through in this video. But hopefully it is helpful to see this step in video form rather than photos!

My next post will be about my lesson learned in the importance of provisional cast-ons. Thanks for checking out the post! Any questions or comments? Let me know below!

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