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 They were originally made because the shawls were sold by weight, and the nupps added weight to the shawls, so they could be sold for more.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

No comments:

Post a Comment