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by JuliAnne Pardon Diesch When knitting cables, lace, or colorwork patterns, it is advisable to insert "lifelines" - smooth threads in a contrasting color to the project that are placed into stitches. Lifelines are best placed on a row of plain stitches at the beginning or end of a pattern repeat, and these permit the knitter to assess the pattern repeat for errors. If there are errors that need to be corrected, one can remove the needles from the project and rip back to the lifeline (which essentially acts as a cable to hold live stitches), replace the needle, and knit the pattern repeat again. Using lifelines is preferable to having to frog an entire project because the lace pattern doesn't line up and only looks like a mess. (Ask me how I know...)

I find that it is best to place two lifelines - in the same row of two consecutive pattern repeats [lifelines are the yellow strands in the above photo of my Aislinn cardigan, designed by Amy Herzog]. It helps me to verify that all is well, to see successful stitches to which to compare my most recent pattern repeat, and to leapfrog the earlier lifeline into my project. I have known knitters who leave all lifelines until the end of the project; it's a personal preference. There are, of course, other lifelines in the realm of the fiber arts. If you have been reading my blog posts for a while, you may have noticed this recurring theme. In 2019, "The Importance of Community" (February), "The Ripple Effect" (October), and "Grateful, Intentional, Mindful" (November) all touched on topics that relate to this idea. Reviewing my history, I suspect that all of my posts contain threads of this theme. When I bought my first house, my sister gave me this framed art that reads: "Families are like quilts lives pieced together stitched with smiles and tears colored with memories and bound by love"

It is this concept of being stitched and pieced - connected - that I think is common throughout the fiber arts community, whatever your particular fiber craft. My friend attends a weekly stitch-in at her LYS, and in December they had a little potluck to celebrate the season while working on current projects (note: I did not say "last-minute gifts"; I addressed this topic in "November Is For Knitting" in 2018). One woman surprised everyone with wool-themed gifts; she even had one for a relative newcomer. That newcomer was overwhelmed by the inclusion. It turns out that she had begun attending the stitch-in to connect with others as she processed her profound grief. The group has become a lifeline, a secure foundation that helps her see what is right in recent moments - even as she grieves. Friends made through the fiber arts community celebrate accomplishments, new knowledge, finished objects, stash acquisition, big life moments. Fiber friends also buoy, bolster, comfort, encourage, listen, and respond in moments of need. They are lifelines. Use lifelines in your knitting. Find a class* or begin attending the Wednesday Stitch-In at Stitch In Time (resuming January 15, 2020) more regularly to develop the connections with the makers gathered there; we can all become lifelines to one another! *Classes at Stitch In Time are held from 10 AM-Noon and 6-8 PM on Mondays and Tuesdays. Classes are $15 each 2-hour session, or $30 to attend all three classes in the same month at the same time (for example, the Tuesday 10 AM session for the three dates in January - increasing your connections with the others available at that same time). Classes resume January 13 and January 14, 2020.