Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Morning Knit Wit - Lacy Shawls, Nupps and Frogs

I've been working on my first lacy shawl for the past 2 months and I must say that I nearly gave up, concluding that I was not able to knit one of these lovely items.  But with some encouragement from my knitting group, several false starts and plenty of ripping out, I managed to complete one!

I call this Summer Breeze, both because of the wonderfully light weight and the aqua marine colorway that reminds me of a coral reef. 

But it was not completed without frustrations....

I started with a simple pattern using Evelyn Clark's Knitting Lace Triangles book, which is a great knitting 'recipe' book. It explains the construction and you choose the stitches and pretty much design your own shawl. It really is a fool-proof book.. unless you are me, who can mess up anything!

For my first attempt, I used size 5 needles, which is way too small for lace work. Although the leaf pattern I chose came out nicely, it was too close together and the lace was not visable.  I also was reluctant to use the charts and felt I was better off using the written pattern. This would cause me to make slight mistakes that would throw the entire pattern off in the next row. I also used some of my own handspun yarn and the slight variances in thick and thin was not working to my advantage. All things considered, I was bound to fail and my first attempt was a totally frogged project.

I then bought some fabulous blue and purple wool and attempted a different stitch from Evelyn's book, size 7 needles and forced myself to read the charts. This was coming out ok until I stretched it out too far to get a peek at the pattern and half of it fell off the needles!  I couldn't pick up where I left off, so again I frogged it.

I was ready to give up with my piles of frogged yarn, until I was browsing Ravelry one day and came across the Swallotail Shawl pattern by Evelyn Clark. I was already familiar with how she constructed shawls from my previous attempts, so I told myself I would give it one more go at it.  I bought different color yarn (just so I wouldn't be jinxed by using the same yarn that did me in previously) and I went to town.  
Correct needle size - check. 
Reading the charts - check. 
Putting in life lines- check. 
So far so good....
Until... (do you hear the sound track of Jaws here?) .. 


What the heck are nupps?  It is a simple stitch in which you knit in front and back of one stitch 5 times and then on the purl row, you purl them all into one stitch. It makes a nice little bump and adds texture... Kind of like a tiny little bobble.  It sounds alot easier than it is.
Let me tell you how hard it is to purl 5 stitches together and making sure you don't include the YO before and after each one.  It is hard!

So here I am, struggling to do these nupps and with only 2 more rows of nupps left, I get the brilliant idea of searching the Ravelry formus to see if anyone else struggles with these or if I am the only dummy.  And what do I find?  An actual You Tube instructions for the EASY way to do them!  So I went on my merry way, finished the shawl and blocked it to perfection:

I am so very happy that I didn't just give up!

If you are going to attempt your first shawl, I would recommend that you absolutely do the following to avoid any re-dos like I did:
1) Learn to read the charts.  I found that by putting them on my own graph paper and color coding the different stitiches helped me keep on track.  Because even one stitch out of place will ruin the entire outcome.
2) Use the right size needles
3) Put in lifelines every 10 rows.  If you do need to rip out, it is much, much easier to pick up with a life line.
4) Search Ravelry or You Tube for help in techniques that are new to you.  Learning something new can be a huge timesaver!
5)  Don't give up... no matter how much really really want to!

This has opened my horizon with working with lace.  I have started a lovely summer wrap with a zig-zag pattern with some of my hand spun yarn.  It is coming out lovely and I hope to share that with you next week.

Until then, keep your needles clicking ♥

1 comment:

April said...

I love that shawl! And I think you blocked it to perfection!