Sunday, 29 November 2009

And Then I Made Nupps

Nupps, or those little buds you see all over Estonian lace, have been bugging me for a long time. Probably since I first picked up the Swallowtail Shawl pattern two years ago and promptly put it down again, I've let the tricky little bobbles get to me. In case you're not familiar, here's what they look like in a very nicely knit and blocked piece of lace fabric.

Lily up close

These aren't my nupps. They're just a sample I found on Flickr, by Sissyvette.

Since I cast on a Swallowtail Shawl a while back, the nupps in that pattern have been looming. I've devoted possibly more time to agonising over them than any other aspect of my knitting for some while.

They come late into the pattern, if you happen to have never made the shawl (thousands have before us!) and so you have plenty of time to pretend the Lily of the Valley border doesn't exist.

I thought I'd do beads instead. And then I didn't because I don't feel like learning that particular skill yet.

And then I thought I'd just ignore the nupps altogether. That whole purl 5 stitches together thing really didn't sound appealing and Shelley was coaching me in ways to make a perfectly acceptable version without them. She should know. She made one for me and I adore it. Right up until the last moment, that was the way I was going to go. I was knitting with fuzzy yarn, after all, who needs to learn something complex with fuzzy yarn?

But the moment came when I had to choose last Thursday night and so I dove in. I'd almost decided to do it, but could just as easily have gone the other way, when I posted on twitter.

to nupp or not to nupp. that is the question.
8:14 PM Nov 25th from web

Sometimes we need a friend to push us over the edge don't we?

Dr K replied to my tweet almost at once and urged me to do it. Rather convincingly, she suggested that as she herself was planning to launch into a project riddled with the things next week, she hoped I'd be her advance party, that I'd go in and test the water, let her know if there was danger ahead or not.

Well, Dr K, I know you saw these at dinner last night, but I'm just letting you know that 24 hours later, me and the nupps are going great. Just peachy. I have loads more of them. See?

With nupps

I think the nupps aren't so easy to see in the midst of all the Kid Seta fuzziness, but they're there and I'm banking on them standing out really nicely once the piece is finished and stretched. I've recently seen how Kid Seta scrubs up after a long soak and a good blocking and I'm confident the hard work of all that nupping will pay off.

If you avoid them, be not afraid. Nupps are cool. I've spent the whole afternoon enjoying every single one of them. Honestly, I couldn't be more surprised at how nice it is to make them. I'm not saying I'm going to seek them out from now on. I'm not stupid! They always sounded so fussy, so painful and in truth, they're fiddly, but I'm happy to say that me and the Swallowtail Shawl are gonna be just fine.