Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nuppin'

I realized recently that I’ve been doing this needles-and-string act long enough to perceive, for the first time, certain trends in my output. These trends are not at all what I’d have predicted when I started out.

If one’s knitting is a journey, I set out for Sausalito and wound up in Angkor Wat. I remember distinctly an early vision myself with a closet full of rustic handmade sweaters, made by me for me. They would fit properly, which off-the-rack sweaters never do. They would be beautiful, like folk art; but practical, like Gore-Tex.

So far, I’ve started three and finished one.

I know how to knit sweaters. I still enjoy the idea of knitting sweaters. I have (oh sweet Sally Melville, do I have) enough yarn to knit sweaters. But I do not, for the most part, knit sweaters.

On the other hand, my lifestyle is not such that I often stand before the mirror and think, You know what would look great with those motorcycle boots? A lace shawl. Yet I have discovered that I don’t feel like I’m up to much unless there’s at least one lacy thing in progress and two or three others under contemplation. If you look through my finished objects, you’ll see I’ve knit way more than my share of holes.

Go thou, as the Bible says, and figure.

Right now I’m up to my clavicle in nupps, thanks to Nancy Bush and her book, Knitted Lace of Estonia. I waited a long time for this book–years, Nancy, but who’s counting?–and was so relieved to discover it was worth the wait. Before it was released, I got my paws on a copy of the preview and Susan ordered one (1) copy of Miralda’s Triangular Shawl as soon as she saw it.

Miralda 01

I decided, for reasons that are still unclear to me, that I should spin the yarn for this myself, using some beautiful Border Leicester provided by a friend. It’s coming along slowly, though my speed continues to improve.

Miralda Singles

(There’s nothing so titillating as a shot of a partially-filled bobbin of handspun singles, is there? Unless it’s a low-resolution YouTube video of drying paint.)

Mind you, I refuse to wait until the spinning’s finished to try out a pattern from the book, so I grabbed some JaggerSpun Zephyr and started the Leaf and Nupp shawl.

Nupps, in case you are not familiar with them, are little bundles of wrapped stitches characteristic of Estonian lace knitting. The word is pronounced “noop” and means “devil’s rabbit dropping.” (Nancy Bush insists it means “button” or “bud,” but you work a few of them and then tell me who you believe.)

Ha, ha. I jest. Nupps truly are not difficult after a bit of practice, and well worth the effort for the striking texture they add to the finished piece. Still, when you are learning, do so on a swatch and not the shawl; and make sure impressionable children and sensitive relations are out of earshot until you’ve got the moves down pat.

Photographs of in-progress lace are even worse than photographs of in-progress bobbins. Unless you take a lot of time to prep the shot, which I could not, they look like the bastard offspring of cheesecloth and macramé. But I tried silhouetting it against the morning sunlight, and offer you these.

Leaf and Nupp 02

Leaf and Nupp 01

If you squint, they look kind of artsy. If you don’t squint, please don’t say I never offered you the opportunity.

88 comments:

knittergran said...

I want so much to knit lace, but am still intimidated by charts. I think it's the same problem I have with maps...just give me directions.
But I'm sneaking up on working on my fear of charts.
Your knitting is gorgeous!

Nancy in Kent said...

A maybe not-so-simple answer to why you prefer to have a lace WIP at all times would be that you crave the challenge. Sweaters certainly can be if the design has cabling and/or fair isle, but it doesn't compare to lace.

Welcome back to blogland, BTW! Missed you! :D

Wool Enough said...

Welcome back! I've missed you. Nupps are indeed great fun (plz note sarcastic tone). I'm proud to say that I have nupped (Swallowtail). Perhaps some day I will again.

Ann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
junior_goddess said...

Nupps should be done with crochet hooks.

I figured that out when it occurred to me nupps were just popcorn crochet gone bad.


And I am a lazy knitter.

KatieLiz said...

Welcome back! I'm currently knitting the Madli shawl from the same book. I copped out on the nupps and am using beads. I had to! I found beads that exactly matched the yarn. :D

blueyed wench said...

Ooh, you are making my hands itch to knit a lace shawl. Bad! I have to work on a table runner!

Anonymous said...

I find photos of partially filled bobbins of singles FAR more interesting than low resolution YouTube videos of paint drying. You see, I don't spin (yet) and I find them fascinating. I am afraid to start spinning due to the reports of handspinning lace weight to knit lace shawls. I am in enough trouble already with...

Sweaters are something, arn't they? They seem so simple, then they turn ugly. I am 1/2 a ball short of finished a sweater which I have had to rework all the decreases because I only 'almost' got gauge and I am using a acrylic/wool blend instead of alpaca. It will be a nice sweater (if I can find something to finish it with) but it won't quite be what is in the photo, don'chano. And the recipient is picky and she may absolutely HATE it by the time I get it done. Very. Humbling. Adventure.

Happy Nups.
Leah

Mark said...

I think the lace looks just fine. It sometimes takes some imagination, but this one's pretty clear. Nice.

Divine Bird said...

Sir, I heartily beg to differ on your opinion of photos of half-singles-filled bobbins. I find them alluring and full of possibility. :)

Also, totally agree about the sweaters. I love the IDEA but never really cast on for any. Huh.

SallyT said...

Thanks for the giggle. I really needed it today.

Ann said...

Trying again.

Sorry, Franklin, but your lace is lovely and I'm not even squinting.

quinn said...

I was JUST looking at that pattern with deep appreciation last weekend! Kind of amazing, because I don't anticipate knitting a shawl, ever. Although based on your post, maybe I should anticipate the, uh, unanticipated.

But so far, my knitting has to have some sort of functional quality. Mostly, when it comes to wardrobe decisions, mine are along the lines of: I know what would these work boots really need. A pair of socks!

Lisa said...

Hmmm...if "knittergran" is intimidated by knitting lace from charts...I think it just depends how your brain "works!"

I grew-up with the "spelled-out LONG version" of knitting pattern-directions (the British influence on Canada, I guess)...

My knitting career began with a double moss-stitch scarf which remains UNfinished.

My very first real/finished project was a "fisherman knit" sweater replete with cables, and bobbles - think FAT NUPPS (at age 12, I think), and when it didn't fit me (and my Dad didn't like the neck, or he could've had it), I ripped the whole thing, and re-knit it as a cardigan...

That being said, I can entirely understand the "pull" of lace...and consider myself "ga-ga" over it, having knitted TWO Shetland Lace shawls (the "wedding ring" variety). It's just FUN, and I love seeing the patterns develop.

Franklin, I'm impressed that you have ONLY TWO WIP-sweaters... AND that you're spinning, too...?!?! I find myself buying "sliver" - but have yet to take that plunge!

Sooooo GLAD you're back in the 'blogisphere'!

Anonymous said...

It's such a relief to check your blog and find you there!!

Have you seen this video of Nancy Bush demonstrating nupps?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRGVsd3Hy4M

Maureen

Yarndude said...

I did the squinting. They *do* look artsy!

Amy said...

The 2nd one is especially arty if you squint.

Tsarina of Tsocks said...

Dude, you are SO not fooling me. I have SEEN you in boots and a lace shawl, and you look totally stylin'. So there.

Sharon Rose said...

I have this same problem... between the not-for-me lace and the 3D toys, I knit constantly, yet never have anything handknit to wear. This winter I worked my fingers to the bone and all *I* got was one lousy cowl!

Alwen said...

I took to knitting after 14 years of tatting so I could make something other than doilies.

So when people said, "Sooooo, what can you use it for?" I could say something other than "Doilies."

Two guesses what I'm knitting now. And one of them is spelled "Herbert Neibling".

Claudia said...

I just learned a new way to do nupps that you might find helpful (I found it on Ravelry, so can't take any credit for it): when you do the YOs in the initial nupp-creation phase, do a YOYO(2YO) instead. Then, when you come to the nupp-consolidation phase on the WS row, work the nupp as follows: slip the first nuppstitch to the Right needle, slip the first YO and drop the second, *slip, slip YO drop YO* (repeat from * to * if doing more than a 5-stitch nupp), slip last stitch. You will have five sts on the Right needle; simply insert the Left needle through the back of these and P5tog. This way your nupp stitches are very loose, but still even, and you don't have to worry about fiddling around to make them looser when you make the stitches the traditional way.

I hope this rather verbose explanation makes sense and is of some help. I love your lace adventures, and I think a lacey kerchief would provide a darling counterpoint to those very butch bike boots.

Best,
C

gina said...

glad you're back :)

i say, knit what makes you happy. i too am just getting to sweater knitting... haven't made one that fits me well yet, but i'm still trying ;) and your lace is always gorgeous, so why mess with a good thing?

Sara M said...

I'm fairly certain "nupp" translates literally to demon rabbit's dropping ;D

Anonymous, too said...

Y'know, I've always thought motorcycle boots look their best when worn over something lacy -- thigh-high fishnet stockings are one idea that comes to mind. Just don't put nupps where the boots would cover them.

Don't dream it, be it. ;-)

And yes, I know karma is a bee-yotch and she's probably looking for me.

subliminalrabbit said...

i live in southern california and like nothing better than knitting wool sweaters. we currently have no central a/c.

Knitting Painter Woman said...

Heavenly. I want to see it finished with the boots.

dances with needles said...

I can sympathize about the spinning. I have my own part filled fine spun bobbins. They look great. Are you using a bead for a diz?

sara said...

I too feel very frightened at knitting lace but I have just completed a wedding shawl for my friend in feather and fan pattern. This made me feel a little more intrepid and I have bought some lace yarn. May be not a chart pattern yet but we are getting closer!

Therese said...

Actually, I love photos of singles on bobbins!

I am joining you in spinning for one of Nancy's gorgeous shawls, but starting the process with a lovely silver shetland fleece.

holli said...

Welcome back, Franklin. Now I can go on vacation in peace, knowing all is right with the world. Keep on sloggin' through the nupps, they look much better than you think. Can't wait to see it finished.

Joyce said...

I think lace and motorcycle boots would be great together!

meezermeowmy said...

Oh, Franklin, you're bahhhd! You KNOW I'll never get that rabbit dropping image out of my head now!

Miss Sandra said...

Franklin,
I leave the lace knitting to you. I'll keep cranking out sweaters. We'll keep the universe balanced.
Nupps!

Erin said...

(I think this is my first time commenting, though I've enjoyed your blog for awhile now.)

Devil's rabbit dropping indeed! I may never stop giggling about that comparison. Incidentally, I've been pronouncing that word to rhyme with "pup," but apparently I should have been rhyming it with "poop!"

anne marie in philly said...

yep, they look like bunny or deer droppings! but in an artsy-fartsy kinda way... (*grin*)

good to have you back!

Amy McWeasel said...

Holy cats, but your writing mojo came back with a vengeance. :)

vvvvicky said...

"the bastard offspring of cheesecloth and macramé"

Cette phrase...worthy of the coffee on the keyboard...

And my verification word is "bolychou" - I think I'm going to adopt this as an expletive (will sound similar to "holy cow").

Good start to the day, on both counts.

junior_goddess said...

Nuppin' from nuppin leaves nuppin.

had to say that.

KnitNana said...

Missed you...! This post is why!
(((hugs)))

Jill said...

Isn't it ironic. I WANT to knit lace, but it won't stay on my needles. CO objects languish. Sturdy sweaters, though, and mittens, and gloves, and stockings, all completely practical, fly off the needles.

Seanna Lea said...

I love the challenge and magic that comes from working a difficult lace chart, though I often don't have time for anything beyond the simpler laces (sadly).

Bobbi said...

From now on, nupps will forever be referred to as "rabbit turds" in my house...that way I can say, without hesitation, "Oh, crap!"

LaurieM said...

I laughed so hard at "devil's rabbit droppings". Such an evocative image!

SusieQ100 said...

How on earth do you manage to fit everything in????? Just read the two most recent posts and do not understand it.... how many hours are there in your day??? Can you spare some for me, please???!!! And BTW, I love lace, too. Don't like to make sweaters either, and am currently busy making as many right-handed fingerless mitts as I can for a close friend who has dystrophy (might be the Dutch word) in her right hand, and has had to give up all things woolly.. and she made me some fantastic hand-spun alpaca... sniff!! Hope that she'll start a new trend though, wearing only one beautiful, hand-made, lacy fingerless glove!!

Hope the writers block is gone for good!

Groetjes

Sue

Marianne said...

I think the allure of shawls is that they are works of art in themselves...that you can touch, and handle, and wrap yourself in. They're huge, long rectangles filled with pattern, easy to "get" visually. Irresistible.

Marjorie said...

Franklin, I have laceweight. I have pattern. And I have a Mess in the Middle and am totally lost in the very beginning of my first lace shawl. So everything you knit smacks of the miraculous to me :) I'm letting the shawl project cool while I knit more socks. Always socks. I'm stuck on socks!

dana said...

i find photographs of half filled bobbins and lace in progress to be quite the excitement. i suppose that reveals much about me.

Patti said...

I can't tell you how much I'm in love with estonian lace right now. If you had told me a year ago I would be knitting lace, complete with NUPPS I would have said you were Out of Your Mind, that lace knitting is a one way ticket to crazyville, that reading charts is for people so much smarter and more talented than myself, and yet, here I am, knitting my 2nd project from the book, charts carefully copied, colored and marked for my knitting ease, planning to start Miralda next. Like you said, go figure. Oh btw, I love looking at bobbins with handspun, no matter how much is on it... but that's just me.

MollyBeees said...

WOW! I've been making nupps since the first picked up a set of straight needles! Of course I've been pronouncing it incorrectly...I've been saying 'knots'! :-) Finally! I'm ahead of the curve!

Evelyn said...

You are making me happy.

MLJ1954 said...

I love lace. I love the simple stuff and the charted stuff. Sigh. I guess I love all kinds of holes.

On the other hand, I cannot finish a sock on a dare . . . toe up or top down I get to the heel and all bets are off.

I do knit sweaters, in fact, I have two of them, one has been on the needles for two years and my son has now fully outgrown it and the other has been on the needles for decade . . . ummm, I'll have to lose weight to make it fit.

MLJ1954 said...

By the way, it is good to see that you are back. I just assumed that you all were gearing up for the next campaign.

Anonymous said...

Think you'll like knitting lace with your own spun wool...and it will make you spin better -- all that practice for the lots of yardage. "Oblywas" verification --are you choosing these?
Thanks for the smile today.

Linda said...

Oh, come now, "the bastard offspring of cheesecloth and macramé"???!! Looks far too wondrous for that! But then again, I don't JUST read you for the photography and the knitting lessons; your writing really sends me, :).

redsknits said...

I can't believe that not one of the 54 people before me offered to knit you a sweater. If you post the requisite measurements I'm sure I could start a Ravelry group that would make you AT LEAST one sweater. After all Mo Rocca got one for insulting knitting.

sarah / knot another hat said...

I'm up to my elbows in nupps on my Forest Path Stole, and I think they're getting the better of me (put it this way - the stole is currently gathering dust).

Shelda said...

Ah, Franklin, you're always a wonderful pleasure. I about choked (but in a very good way) at "devil's rabbit droppings."

Glad you're back to amuse us yet again!

Aidan said...

Amen, my Brother. Amen.

My verification word is scatty...which may be describing my nupps.

I love the book, though, don't you? It's some of the best yarn porn I've ever purchased.

FiberQat said...

I'll knit you a Dale sweater if you knit me a hap shawl. Really. I'm not afraid of any steenkin' steeks.

I finished my Queen Anne's Lace. Love it!

ColorJoy LynnH said...

I'm with you, in that I have enough yarn for 5 sweaters, several started, one finished.

I've done some lace for baby girls and very simple edgings on a few projects I was not going to wear. I'm not a lace/ruffle person for my own wardrobe (gave that up in elementary school, I think, for glitter).

My own downfall is socks. As in 169 pairs since spring 2001. I'm not done yet, either. Most were knit for me, then hubby and Mom. And untold single socks knit as samples for yarn shops to show off patterns I've written.

What I say is, "You can't buy passion." If you love knitting lace, just follow your muse. Some people have no inspiration at all. Pity them, and knit your nupps and holes as long as they make you happy with the results.

So there?

Jyoti said...

Yup, the squinty thing sure does work!

Lindy in Australia said...

Love your writing Franklin. Still giggling. Glad to have you back.

Kate said...

Bastard offspring of cheesecloth and macrame! Wonderful line!

John said...

i think the word "nupp" is just plain problematic for me. ha.

f1owerprincess said...

Beautiful nupps! I totally agree about the "devil's rabbit droppings," though. I just finished my first shawl (Swallowtail Shawl) and I thought they were pretty tough, but I worked through and decided they aren't that bad, once you get used to them. ^_^

Ice Princess said...

This will definitely be the year I knit lace. God help me!!!

Astrid said...

reminds me of a Tiffany's stain glass window with no color. Really beautiful... perhaps worthy of Photo on Wall Status (or a card)...

Eileen said...

Oh, I'm glad you're back! (Thanks for the link to WWDTM...it's one of my favorite shows in any case.)

As for lace...ah, I love it. When I feel like it. Lately the only thing I've been finishing is socks. Two lace projects are almost UFOs, not to mention two--oops, four--sweaters.

New Jersey Laura said...

Gorgeous lace and handspun.

Anonymous said...

"...bastard offspring of cheesecloth and macramé..." Franklin: I came for the knitting, I stay for the prose. Brill

Syd said...

The Devil's rabbit droppings and the bastard offspring of cheesecloth and macramé made me snort my coffee this morning again! Twice! I must start wearing a bib when I read your blog in the morning!

But I agree that book is filled with glorious pieces, I am having a horrible time making up my mind which one to do first. And I love seeing newly spun yarn on a bobbin...give me shivers.

I do think motorcycle boots and lace are a wonderful statement! There are only a few people who can REALLY pull that off.

Miss Knotty said...

Way cool! I have that book too, and I can't settle on which one I'm going to knit first. I heart nupps. (I'm also a crazy masochist knitter, apparently.)

Cheers!
Miss Knotty from Texas

Word verification: Cansio
A digital camera being sold off the back of someone's pickup truck.

Madeline said...

Fine nupps/noops indeed!

graybastian said...

Okay, I've never said this to a man before but you've got beautiful nupps. Really.

Anonymous said...

I think you and I have something in common. I, too, dream of rustic sweaters, the more cables the better, and I currently have 3 unfinished in my closet. Lace, on the other hand, is so darn much fun I have lately become obsessed and the queue of lace projects is getting longer. Not that I ever wear it.
Best,
Lee

Pat said...

I think my knitting journey started out for Tibet but ended up in New Jersey and I have yet to finish any sweater.
Nupps, though, seem like the perfect way to achieve a break thru- just don't smash your hand into the wall too many times. Re-plastering can get expensive.

silverarrowknits said...

I can't wait to see the finished product!

April (ajdury on ravelry.com) said...

Franklin,

Although it is only the end of April aught nine, I vote this blog post THE best I shall ever read this year.

You speak to every knitter's heart, regardless of their experience or actual F.O.s

Who amongst us didn't start out in this craft already decided on "what" we planned to create with sticks and string, only to later learn that "what" finds us and not vice-versa.

What a wonderful post!

melistress said...

lovely work, Franklin. Very soon I am planning to begin my first laceweight project and this just gives me inspiration.

PlazaJen said...

I just adore your writings. Especially when there are Nupps involved.

Norskybear said...

I "started" the Lily of the Valley Scarf and was doing fine until I scared my dogs away. (They are still hesitant to come near me when I have needles in my hands.)

How do you do p5tog without going insane? I can never get my points through the yarn overs from the previous row?

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