Not So Hard to Swallow(tail)

I'm afraid I have fallen in love with lace knitting. I'm definitely having a fleeting affair at the very least. I've mentioned before I tend to go through obsessive stages with certain things--mainly food and knitting. For example, I'll eat an insanely yummy sourdough/sharp cheddar grilled cheese sandwich and it's all I will want to eat for a couple of weeks before I move onto cold cereal or pasta. So, I'm now in a lace knitting phase. First, came the Queen Anne's Lace, which was a smashing success (if I do say so myself). I had about 1.5 hanks left over of the beautiful Alpaca Cloud lace weight from Knit Picks in the scrumptious tidepool colorway. I ask you--what else was an obsessive dedicated knitter to do accept cast on for another shawl? Besides, I made QAL for my maternal grandmother, but I'm lucky enough to have TWO wonderful grandmothers!  In true "Knitting Mill" fashion of having to always raise the bar and challenge myself, I decided to knit this lace project with the addition of ivory pearlized beads I had laying around in my sewing box...LOL (that's a sentence you'll never hear from a straight man's mouth)!

Its good right? Ms. Evelyn Clark is a real lace pattern-writing genius! I love her book, "Knitting Lace Triangles."  The first time I saw the Swallow Tail shawl was on Jared Flood's web blog Brooklyn Tweed. I loved it instantaneously, as I do with all of Jared's work.  It's actually the second triangle shawl I've knit. The first one being Steven West's Boneyard Shawl--another favorite designer and project--but wasn't knit in lace.

This was a really fun knit.  Ms. Clark has included both charts and written instructions in the pattern. Usually I stick to written out instructions, but I preferred following the charts with Swallowtail. The reason was two fold--the charts are short and easy to remember and I finally was able to make a mental connection between the chart and my actual knitting.  After knitting the QAL, this seemed like a piece of cake.  I knit 19 repeats of the budding lace portion to increase the size of the completed shawl.  When you knit 10 repeats, you will be off on your stitch count when it comes to Row 3 of Chart 4 on the Lace Edging.  Here's what I did to modify the chart and correct the stitch count:


Because I was using the contrasting beads, I decided to place them with restraint at just the last 4 repeats of the "Budding Lace" chart and on the last chart.  You can find more specific instructions on placement on my Rav project page.  In hind sight I think I would have edited the bead placement even further to be used only in the last chart. The beads were added using a wire from a twist tie one at a time.  The cores of the beads I had on hand were too narrow to get my finest steel crochet hook through and I didn't want to take the time to pre-string all of those beads.  It did slow the knitting considerably, but I got into "the zone" and I think it really added to the shawl's beauty.  

The NUPPS! (pronounced: "noops") I was really anxious to get to the part of the pattern where I would knit the nupps because they have such a notable reputation for being difficult to work. It was incredible to read all of the notes and threads in Rav on the little boogers.  In fact, often when people knit this pattern and include beads, they will replace the nupp stitches with beads. I pretty much decided before I cast on that I would definitely knit the nupps as written despite the plan to add beads--I LOVE a challenge!  I was initially using a US 5 Addi Turbo 24" circular needle.  To be honest the first time I worked the row of nupps, despite my conscientiously trying to keep the stitches loose, I had a difficult time purling the 5 knit/YO sts. together.  I didn't have Addi Lace needles in that particular size, so I switched to bamboo needles, pulled the knit/YO sts. even looser (about a half inch), and it solved the problem! From then on it was rather easy to purl the sts. together on the wrong sided rows. The main thing you have to be careful of when purling back is to not catch the YO that precedes the 5 nupp sts. on the public side! I can't even tell you how many times I inadvertently did that very thing!  I have to admit just pulling up the horizontal bar after realizing I knitted it in to re-create the YO instead of tinking the nupp.

If you still have issues with knitting the nupps, you could either use a crochet hook to create the nupps or you can double wrap your YO's on the right side.  If you choose the "double wrap" method, just slip the nupp sts. from the left needle to the right needle one at a time purlwise (releasing the double wraps) and transfer the sts. back to the left hand needle evening out the slack in the two YO's before purling them together.  The crochet method is much easier to execute without having to continuously fret about tension, but it does cause them to look a bit different--mainly a little smaller and rounder. Here is a great video tutorial on the crochet hook method by Myra Wood.

I have a blocking tip!  Instead of purchasing a commercial blocking wire set--usually retailing for around $20.00 + shipping--go to your local hardware store or welding store and buy a set of brazing wires used for welding.  They mostly come in two lengths and you can buy a pack (8-10 rods) for around $5.00.  The ones I bought were 2mm in diameter and 1 meter in length.  You can also use sand paper to add a rounded point to the ends to ease in weaving them through stitches.  They come in different alloys and gauges that will effect the price.  I think mine are a mix of brass and silver.

I have to admit I've already cast on for another Swallow Tail in a DK weight merino as a Christmas gift for my favorite Uncle's wife. Yeah, it's an illness!


  1. Thank you!Thank you! Thank you! I've been struggling with nupps. I've scoured the net for suggestions on how to do them. I tried pulling them nice and loose, using the crochet hook method, using a cable needle, using a locking stitch marker. Nothing worked in a way that was do-able for me. That is, until I found the double yarn-over method on your blog. It works so well and the nupps look like they're supposed to. No more ripping out and cursing.
    Also, your knitting is beautiful.

  2. Thanks Cathy! I'm so glad to know that my little tip helped you with those fiddly nupps that we love so much. I just finished knitting The Aeolian Shawl by M. Freeman which is also an Estonian Lace pattern containing nupps. When knitting 7+ stitch nupps I often double wrap every stitch—especially when using metal needles that tend to be a bit slippery. The tension is always even and pulling out the double wraps indicidually on the subsequent purl row assures me I won't be inadvertently including adjacent stitches.

  3. One teeny correction: Knitted Lace of Estonia is by Nancy Bush, not Evelyn Clark. They're both geniuses, but not the same lady!!


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