There are two basic kinds of lace in knitting: the kind where you take a break between patterned rows or rounds with either plain knitting or purling, and the kind where there’s yarn overs and decreases on every row or round. Many people call the former lace knitting and the latter knitted lace. (I am afraid that while I am usually a stickler for terminology, I find the terms too similar and can’t keep them straight without looking them up when I need to use them.)
Many people say that knitted lace is harder than lace knitting, and I can see ways in which it can be: sometimes it’s harder to manipulate yarn overs in decreases (hint: use the versions that slip stitches and then pass them over; it tends to make things a little easier, in my opinion), there’s not a restful plain row, and plain rows make it easier to frog back without lifelines (yes, I live dangerously with lace knitting and don’t use a lifeline). That said, I think many people turn “harder” into “impossible, so why should I even try?”
I truly don’t think it’s as bad as that.
For one thing, most knitters who’ve gone on to lace don’t seem to be intimidated by faggoting (an old term meaning to gather threads or stitches into a bundle like a bundle of sticks), which is in some ways the ultimate knitted lace: all yarn overs and decreases all the time, without a plain knit or purl to be seen.
What Barbara Walker calls Basic Faggoting (just one of many possible variations of faggoting):
knit one selvedge stitch, yo, ssk, end knit one.
Repeat that row as desired. It makes a reversible, stretchy mesh.
I sometimes like to play around with lace knitting by omitting the plain rows and seeing what the pattern stitches look like as knitted lace instead. That’s what I did in the swatch above. I find this sort of experimentation invaluable in understanding how stitches work together.
(Click on image for a larger version; see my new Chart Key page if any of the chart symbols are unfamiliar.)
For the first few repeats I put a plain purl row between each pattern row; after that I left the plain rows out. To avoid purl decreases, I used knitting and knitted decreases on both sides to make garter lace. (Purl decreases are fine with practice, but if you’re already feeling a little intimidated by knitted lace, there’s no point in adding complications!)
If you try this for yourself, please tell me what you think!