My Polonaise sweater features a relatively simple lace pattern, configured in a somewhat more complex arrangement across the sweater front and back. The pattern asks you to both incorporate additional stitches in the lace pattern as you work, and later to decrease them while maintaining the pattern. Here are some tips that will help maintain the lace pattern, without resorting to swaths of interrupting stockinette stitch.
The pattern initially begins with working one lace repeat in the center of the body. The lace pattern is a multiple of 6 +1 sts, which means that a single repeat is 7 sts. It may be helpful to mark the center 7 sts when working the row prior to the first lace row.
This is how it looks after the first repeat has been worked over the center 7 sts.
Now you will want to add one additional pattern repeat before and after the established one. Each additional pattern repeat will be 6 sts (not 7!). On the last WS row before working the additional pattern repeats, place markers 6 sts before and 6 sts after the established 7 pattern stitches, and remove the original markers.
(Those of you with keen eyes might notice that I’ve added an extra stitch at each end. This is only to keep my markers from falling off. In reality, you will have many stockinette stitches on each side of the central pattern repeat). On the next row, work the pattern as described between markers. A central stitch that’s maintained as a knit stitch throughout will be come evident (marked with a safety pin, below). This will become important when you start decreasing.
When it comes time for the armholes, you will have to decrease in pattern. One method is to work the stitches of the pattern repeat in which the decrease occurs as stockinette. But maybe you don’t want a chunk of 5 stockinette stitches at each end of the piece. With this pattern, it is relatively straightforward to work partial pattern repeats, as follows:
Find (and mark) the central knit stitch of the first pattern repeat, indicated here by the safety pin.
(Again, those of you with keen eyes might notice that I’ve decreased away the extra edge stitches I added previously—I no longer need them to hold markers in place! This is for instructional purposes only). The stitches after the marked one can be worked in pattern without any adjustments. In this pattern, all the RS rows have a “yo” within the first 3 stitches of the row beginning and end. To decrease one stitch at each end, simply omit the yo but work the decrease that’s closest to it as usual. One stitch decreased!
In this case I’ve worked the first decrease on Row 2 of the pattern. If you want to decrease again on Row 4, the situation is more straightforward. The omission of a yo on the previous RS row generated 2 stockinette stitches before the central marked knit stitch. These two stitches can be worked together on Row 4 to decrease another stitch. If you prefer to work decreases 1 stitch from the edge, the central knit stitch of the pattern can be worked together with the preceding stitch (at the beginning of the row), or the following knit stitch (at the end of the row).
In this image, the first two stitches at the beginning of the row have been worked together (ssk), leaving the central knit stitch of the first repeat untouched. At the end of the row, the central knit stitch of the final pattern repeat has been knit together with the next one, leaving the edge stitch untouched. Note that this still preserves the knit stitch “spine” in the pattern. Once the central knit stitch has been decreased away, the remaining half of the pattern repeat can be worked in stockinette stitch to accommodate additional decreases.
In this way, it’s possible to decrease in pattern without generating more than 2 stockinette stitches at each edge at any given time, allowing the pattern to flow gracefully along all the shaping lines.