In the sailing community, the use of lifelines is well known. They are the lines that run around the sides of the boat, topside, that can keep you from falling into the water. Using lifelines in your knitting can also keep you from the water. The water in the dreaded “frog pond”.
Lifelines in knitting are basically “lines” of thread, dental floss or some other string or yarn, that are threaded through you knitting on any given row. This line is left in your knitted piece at least until you make some further progress and insert another line.
How to Insert the Lifelines
There are several ways to insert a lifeline. The most important thing to remember before you begin is to make a note of the row number you are inserting the line into. I prefer to insert my lifelines into a return row on a single sided, charted pattern. This keeps me from having to work with increases and decreases while trying to focus on getting the line in the entire row.
I use crochet thread for my lifelines and the method I prefer is to attach the “line” to the base of my working needle. I am right handed, so this is my right needle. If I am using interchangeable circular needles that have a tiny hole at the base it is very easy to insert the thread through the hole and just knit the row as indicated. If not, then I usually tape the end of my line to the base of my needle with a tiny piece of scotch tape.
When you get to the end of the row, pull the end of the thread out through your stitches, out of the hole (or un-tape it) and you should have a thread running the entire length of your row through all the stitches you have just worked. Be careful not to pull your lifeline completely out.
Important, Don’t Forget
You must remove all your stitch markers if you use the method above, or use removable stitch markers. If you are using closed stitch markers with jump rings, etc. you will be knitting your lifeline through all your markers. Just keep in mind that your lifeline will go everywhere your needle goes, throughout the entire row.
Another method is to use a needle and to run your needle through all the stitches residing on your needle. This method works especially well if you are using straight needles. Whichever method you choose to use, remember to leave the lifeline in place until you put in the next one.
Lifelines are wonderful tools to use, especially if you are new to a particular type of knitting and need to make sure you can get back to a place in your knitted piece where you were certain that the pattern was correct. You can put lifelines in as often as you like and if you run into a problem as you are knitting, you can feel confident that you can literally pull out your needles and frog back to the lifeline row, place the stitches back on your needle and start knitting again.
You may be doing a little bit of frogging to the last lifeline, but you will be saved from the frog pond.