Wednesday, 26 January 2011


I have been interested in lace knitting practically since I started. At first, I thought it was the epitome of the art; something difficult to aspire to someday, when you are really, really good. And then I learned it was really easy, or could be easy, and dived right in. Then I jumped right out again, looked up how to do a yarn over, and dived back in. Really, once you have yarn overs and the various kinds of decreases down, you're set - at least, for the most part.

Follow me here as I change the subject for a moment. According to a book I'm reading, three regions of the world have put their mark on lace knitting: the Orenburg region of Russia (round about the Ural Mountains), the Shetland Islands, and a particular little town in Estonia called Haapsalu. It travelled around to other parts of the country, but this is where Estonian lace really took on the characteristics that make it some of the most beautiful and complicated lace in the world. This is where nupps come in.

"Nupp" is the word for knob or button and looks exactly that. They were originally made because the shawls were sold by weight, and the nupps added weight to the shawls, so they could be sold for more. They also show a piece of lace is handknitted, since nupps can not be duplicated by machine. They're a tricky technique to master. It involves knitting into the same stitch at least 3 times, with  yarn overs in between, and then knitting all those stitches together back into one stitch on the following row, usually a purl row. It took a bit of experimenting until I got it at all, and not all the nupps in the pattern are exactly right.
Still, I can't be more thrilled with the shawlette as a whole. After washing and blocking, the openwork lace pattern is really visible and quite stunning, and the nupps have even settled down into being little balls instead of going in every direction like some of them were after knitting. You can see them in the picture, to the left of the openwork bit in the middle. While they can be tedious to make, at least now I know how, which is good, since there are other shawls I have lined up in the near future with this same technique.
The full shawl. Click to see a bigger (centered) picture

Saturday, 15 January 2011

A comedy of errors

I was in Get Knitted, my LYS, hanging out with other knitters and enjoying myself, when I spotted a sample hanging near where we were sitting. It was a shawlette that had been crocheted, and being new to crochet I jumped on it and drooled over it and ascertained that it was a free pattern if you bought the yarn, and had been designed by one of the ladies at the store. Win. So I went and looked at the pattern, which called for 5 balls of Sirdar Big Softie, and got those, and proceeded to go home that afternoon and start.

I got through the first 9 rows fine (there are 12, plus a finishing), then hit a snag. I was having trouble with the instructions for the beginning of row 10, so I decided to wait till I was next at GK, and ask there. That was over a week away, so I put it away for a bit. I took it along and got things sorted out, and then next time I went to work on it at home, I ran out of yarn.

Yeah, it called for five, but I'm going to end up using seven. Bummer. I got on the GK website and ordered some more, paying almost as much for shipping as I did for the yarn. It's cheap yarn, you see. Then I got the yarn and couldn't find my hook. When I realised I was running out of yarn, I had decided to skip the 12th row and go straight to the finishing row, since they're essentially the same and I don't need 2 rows of picot edging. I finally found my hook (the next day) and went to finish. And ran out of yarn again. Bloody hell, they're long rows, but still. I've decided to wait until I'm next at GK to get more yarn, since I really can't be bothered to order more and pay more to have it shipped when I'll be there the first Saturday of February. I've tied off what I've done, and taken pictures and will pretend it's done, since there' only a few inches of edging left to do, but I won't wear it until I've finished. I still need to put a button or something on it as well, since I don't like the huge flower they've used to fasten it.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

A New Year

This last year has been my first full year knitting, and I've made a lot and learned a lot. The only thing I don't feel comfortable doing is colourwork, although the only sock (well, stocking) I've tried my hand at turned out to be a rather complete failure. This year, I want to get through the large number of things I've queued, using up in the process the large amount of yarn I have stashed. If you've seen my Ravelry page, you might have noticed that I'm a horrible yarn addict, and have spent most of my spending money the past year or so on yarn. Lots of it. My plan therefore is to not buy nearly as much this year, but do the projects I've lined up to use it instead. Most of the yarn in my stash has a project attached to it, so by doing the projects, I'll get both more experience, make things I want to make, and free up room to buy more yarn later.

Ahem. :D

My plan is to do more lace stuff this year especially. I have a lot of shawls I want to make, and a lot of laceweight yarn. Since I haven't actually made a lace shawl yet, having done both lace and shawls but not the two combined (at least, to the finish), this will be a good thing. I actually have one started from some green yarn I picked up at Fibre Flurry, to go with a green skirt my mother made me, but I've put it on hold until I finish a cardigan I'm also working on. This cardi promises to be a quick knit, so I'm hoping to finish by the end of next week.

Although there are many things in my queue on Ravelry, my primary emphasis will be shawls and socks. I want to finish at least four shawls of varying sizes - the one I have on the needles now is a shawlette, but many I have use about 1000 yards of yarn - quite a large shawl. Wish me luck!