Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Oh Nupps!

Well I read all the warnings about those darned nupps in the Swallowtail Shawl but I just thought the complaints were from relatively inexperienced knitters. Wrongo! They are tricksy — very tricksy. And there are no “resting” rows. It’s all exciting all the time.

Nupps, to the uninitiated, are little nubs or mini-bobbles often seen in lace of Estonian origin. They are accomplished with a k1,yo,k1,yo,k1 into the same stitch on the right-side row and a p5tog on the next wrong-side row. Lots more info here. The initial creation row is relatively easy but purling the little darlings together is a killer! And it’s even further complicated by the regular yo’s on each side of the nupp stitch in this pattern which tend to obscure and confusticate matters. Out of the many suggestions, I’m trying using a separate thin pointy metal needle to pick up the stitches and then work the purl. I’m using one of my 2mm aluminum sock needles. Then I slip the completed stitch onto my circular and carry on. I’ve gotten pretty good at knitting while holding the extra needle in my right hand, kind of like I do absentmindedly sometimes with my Wacom tablet’s pen when knitting while reading the computer. Yes, I knit Continental where my left hand is doing all the hard work of tensioning the yarn leaving my right hand less encumbered so it’s not as awkward as it sounds. However this nupp stuff takes mucho dexterity and concentration. It’s all in the attitude: you can fight a little nuppy war or you can think of them as a challenge to your knitterly diplomacy skills. It’s all about the journey not the finish line. Worth it all in my opinion. I wouldn’t leave them out or the lilies-of-the-valley won’t have any flowers! Then what would they be? Just valleys? I’d show you how far I’ve gotten but the lace (as always) just looks like a boring pile of orangish string on the needles and doesn’t show its true beauty until blocked.

Just like the Icarus Shawl from the summer IK, I’m trying to analyze why the Swallowtail Shawl has so appealed to so many knitters/bloggers. I think it’s because it’s not too big, has several different but not too difficult lace areas and is well charted. Even for relatively beginner lace knitters it’s not intimidating. (Nupps aside!) I chose it more because I like the practical shape and size (a larger shawl wouldn’t get much use by me) and the intriguing challenge of the nupps, which I’d never tried before. I loved it the minute I saw it in the magazine. It immediately went into my project queue and quickly pushed its way up to the front of the line! That doesn’t happen around here often. Usually it takes so long to get to something that I forget why I wanted to do it.

We won't discuss how I'm feeling today. Maybe if I ignore The Bug it'll go away? One can only hope. It's cramping my style.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

For me, it was more that I would lose track of where the nupps should be on the return row. I found it helpful to place stitch markers right after each nupp set for the return row. Using a separate pointy needle is a big help too! Can't wait to see your swallowtail.