I have been knitting a lot of nupps recently, and in the process came across almost every problem known to knitters, so thought I might put my knowledge to use…!!
The basic idea is simple enough. To knit a nupp you knit a stitch as normal, but don’t slip the old stitch off the needle. Instead you leave it on and make a yarn over. Then you repeat the stitch-and-yarn-over steps twice more, followed by a final stitch and slip the loop off. This means you have 7 loops on the receiving needle from the one stitch. On the return row, these 7 loops are purled together to get back to the single stitch.
But there are pitfalls for the unwary….
Nupps are much easier to do with thin yarn than with thick. I would start off with lace weight, or at the thickest, 4 ply/fingering. Anything thicker is very tricky. And the needles you would use for lace – the pointier the better! Personally I use my Signature Art’s stilettos, but Addi lace are OK too. Whereas most lace can be done successfully with any needles, nupps really do need sharp points for ease of purling those 7 loops together.
Cast on 9 sts and work a few rows, about an inch, ending with 4 rows in stocking stitch. (You want enough fabric there to be able to pull it down easily.) You work your nupp on the ‘right’ side – with the front of the piece facing you at the start of the row.
Knit 4 sts and make the nupp on the fifth. The rest of the row will be knit.
The key to this part of the nupp is three-fold:
- the loops must be loose but not too loose
- the loops must all be the same size
- the 7 loops must not cross each other, but lie next to each other in the needle
As you make the loops, the original stitch will grow, taking yarn from the sts on each side of it. This is normal.
On your return row, purl up to the nupp. (On an Estonian lace edging the rest of the row will be knit, but you still purl the nupp loops.) For the nupp itself, you will be purling those 7 sts together – not difficult but tricky!
The best way for making sure that you get inside all 7 loops is to stick the needle in parallel to the full needle. (Usually when you knit or purl, the needle goes in at an angle.) This is so much easier with a pointy needle! As you stick the needle in, pull the fabric down with the hand holding the receiving needle to make those loops as big as possible. This is something which is easier to do than to explain!
Don’t expect to get much more than the very tip of the needle through all the loops (which is why nupps are easier with thin yarns than thick). Once you have to through, wrap the yarn round the tip in the usual way, but make sure you hold it fairly tightly – you do not want it to slip off as you draw the needle back.
The step of drawing the needle with its ‘new’ loop back through the 7 loops is something which needs practice! The needle is not at the usual sharp angle, and it is all too easy to drop the new loop. If that does happen, pull the receiving needle right out and start the stitch again. There is a definite knack to this step – it will come as your hands learn what to do. If it isn’t working go and do something else for a bit – getting frustrated will only make things worse!!
Once you have successfully drawn the new loops through, slip the 7 loops off the full needle, and give the working yarn a tug – you want this stitch to be fairly tight. As you do this, again use the hand holding the receiving needle to hold the fabric round completed nupp.
If you have made sure that the 7 loops were lying flat, the nupp should be a neat, round ball. At this stage don’t worry if it seems to be at the back of the fabric – once you have washed the piece you can make sure they are sitting in the right place.
For your practice piece, work 2 more rows in stocking stitch, then on the next row work k3, MN, k1,MN, k3. Work the next row in purl (finishing the nupps, then on the next row work k4, NM, k4. On this row you will find out that working a second nupp one stitch along from another worked immediately below brings its own challenges! Work a few rows in stocking stitch and then try the nupps above yarn overs shown in the chart. Cast off and have a good look at your work. Then wash the piece and, before you dry it, have another look. This is the time to push the nupps to the front of the work if you need to.
Note that the set up rows are not charted, and ODD NUMBERED ROWS ONLY ARE CHARTED. Return rows are all purl, with the nupps being p7tog.
- row 1 k
- row 2 and all alternate rows p
- row 3 k4, MN, k4
- row 5 k
- row 7 k3, MN, k1, MN, k3
- row 9 k4, MN, k4
- row 11 k
- row 13 k
- row 15 k2tog, k3, yo, k4
- row 17 k2tog, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, k2togtbl
- row 19 k2tog, k1, yo, k1, MN, k1, yo, k1, k2togtbl
- row 21 k2tog, yo, k1, MN, k1, MN, k1, yo, k2togtbl
- row 23 k
What Can Go Wrong
Errors on the first row of the nupp:
1. The loops can be too tight. This makes it difficult (read impossible!) to get the needle in on the next row to p7tog. Concentrate on wrapping loosely next time.
2. The nupp looks messy with some loops bigger than others. This happens when the loops are of different sizes – in particular the ‘knit’ loops and the ‘wrap’ loops are different sizes. Again, more concentration and practice will sort this out.
3. The nupp generally looks a mess with loops crossed. This happens when the loops are not lying flat, but are crossed over each other. Take care to make sure they are next to each other on the needle as you do the first row. (Note that this happens most often when the loops are not of the same size).
Errors on the second row of the nupp:
4. Long loops caused by not getting the needle through all 7 loops when p7tog. You cannot see exactly where the needle is going, so you have to work by faith! Pulling the fabric down helps to get the needle through all 7 loops, as does having the loops loose enough, and the needle sharp enough. Practice at getting the needle in parallel to the full needle also helps. If it happens, catch the long loop on the next row, twist it, and knit it together with the stitch above the nupp.
5. Loosing a stitch on the row because you have taken 8 loops into the nupp, not 7. It is very easy to take the following stitch in with the 7 nupp loops, especially when you have a lot of stitches on the needle. To stop this happening, pull the stitches left on the full needle back away from the nupp. Get into the habit of looking at exactly what is happening as you knit the nupp, and be aware of what your pattern should look like. If it happens, on the next row pick up a loop in the row below and do the required action into the back of it.
as in all pattern work of any kind, fudge is your friend! It almost certainly will not be noticeable in the final piece….!!