nupp, nupp, nupp

The Swallowtail Shawl is done! And I wore her to work today (to many wonderful compliments).

swallowtail shawl

Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl
Source: Interweave Knits
Yarn: Shelridge Farm “Soft Touch Lace,” 100% wool, 2-ply laceweight
Color: Mandarin
Skeins: Less than 1; a skein is 500 yards
Needles: Addi Turbo size 5 circ, then a size 8, then a size 10
Preblocking size: 34″ wide by 16″ high at the tip
Postblocking size: 54″ wide by 22″ high at the tip
Started: Thursday, May 17 (evening)
Finished: Monday, May 28 (evening)

swallowtail shawl

swallowtail shawl

Modifications: I chose to make the shawl larger, increasing the number of center back motif (“Budding Lace”) repeats. I prefer this proportion–more center motif, with the border qualifying as more of a border. The pattern calls for 14 repeats. In order to match the stitch count up to the next motif properly, the next size up must have 19 repeats. The way this is figured out is that the repeat of the Budding Lace pattern is 6 stitches wide. The repeat for Lily of the Valley border is 10 stitches. Which means you have to increase the Budding Lace by a multiple of 10, and the lowest multiple of 10 that 6 can make is 30, so that makes 5 additional repeats.

Now, what I didn’t pay attention to was that the Peaked Edging repeat is 8 stitches wide. So like someone who is convinced she’s got the theme answer in a crossword puzzle and goes to write it in only to discover the number of boxes is horribly misaligned to the length of the supposed answer, I knit away on the third row of the Peaked Edging (the first row where the stitch count matters) and realized at the end that it was off! By 2 stitches on each half–quite easily remedied. If you do make the larger shawl, you can either sneak two increases at either end of the halves on row 2 (a pf/b [purl front and back] would suffice), or work row 3 as follows (I’m too lazy to make a chart): k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, *k2tog, yo, k3, yo, ssk, k1; repeat from *, end k1, yo, k1 yo [this is up to the center stitch–repeat this after the center stitch]. The boldface I used here calls out the two instances where the pattern has been changed. The first k2 should have been an ssk and k1, but because you have fewer stitches, you should leave this one as a knit and pretend you decreased there. Same goes for the k1 on the other side, which should be a k2tog.

Note that the pattern says, “The shawl can be made larger by working it with fingering, sport, or worsted-weight yarn on larger needles.” At first, I didn’t realize why it seemed to take the easy way out for making it larger! Ahh, it’s because you can’t just do more repeats like with other patterns!

swallowtail shawl

I’m really happy with the modified size. If I hadn’t it would have been miniscule. I’m not sure if my yarn is a lot thinner than what people usually use (I didn’t do a gauge swatch because, well, I didn’t really care to test it that closely), but it wouldn’t even have wrapped around my shoulders if I hadn’t increased. It’s about the same size as my Kiri, maybe just a tad smaller, even with the increase in size. I think maybe three repeats of the Lily of the Valley border would be my next step for increasing the size–it’s got more than enough of the Budding Lace, I think. To do this, my guess is that you would work Lily of the Valley Border 1, then Lily of the Valley Border 2, then Border 1 again before moving on to the Peaked Edging.

swallowtail shawl

Now, my decrease modifications. Let’s start with the nupps. A p5tog is nigh-on impossible to execute. But slip 2, p3tog, psso is exactly the same (think about it), and decently straightforward to enact, so that’s what I did (thanks to those who reminded me that this is the the way to do it!). I really wish I’d had the Addi Lace needles, though, because even getting the needle into the 3 was sometimes finicky. At times, I used a size 2 Knitpicks needle, which is nice and pointy, and just dragged the new stitch immediately onto the working needles. Since I knew that sl2, p3tog, psso is the same as a p5tog, I also knew that sl4, p1, psso would also be the same (or sl3, p2tog, psso), but that wasn’t any easier–I tried. The real issue was the fact that the stitch just following the nupp is a yo. So of course the yo gets out of place and overlaps the nupp stitches, making getting the needle into the correct stitches a pain, and to add to the problems, the yo pulls at the very last stitch, making it tighter around the needle. There were times when I’d forgotten to do the yo, and it was much easier–and it’s easy to just pick up between stitches to create the yo that was missing. I think if I were to knit Swallowtail again I would not make either yo on the sides of the nupps on the knit row, and just insert them on the purl row. I didn’t do it here because I hadn’t been doing it consistently, and I didn’t want the yo size to be erratic throughout.

The other decrease modification I made was to the “sk2p” (sl1 kwise, k2tog, psso). I decided I didn’t want the stitches to be passed over each other at all–which creates a direction–and instead I wanted a centered double decrease, where the “middle” stitch seems to travel straight up and down with the other two tucked behind it. When I first “discovered” this decrease I used the cabling w/o a cable needle technique to reverse the order of the first two stitches (and twist the second one), but in the edging pattern (of course, only at the END of the knitting!) it occurred to me that there was an easier way. So, I reveal the centered double decrease that I made up but which probably exists in plenty of other books, but I didn’t see it there:

Slip 2 stitches at once as if to k2tog. Slip without any further twisting back to the left needle, then k3tog tbl.

swallowtail shawl

Another modification was for the edging. Just like for my Kiri, I wanted to ensure that the bottom edge was scalloped nicely–no gentle curves or the hint of a scallop for me. To do this, I used a size 8 needle to purl the last row of the Peaked Edging, then a size 10 needle for all the final rows per the pattern (2 rows before the bindoff). I think it was the perfect choice.

365.149 • swallowtail shawl

I knit the Swallowtail with no particular event in mind–I was just in the mood to knit lace. But I will be attending a black tie wedding in November, and the dress I will probably wear is a simple black sheath, so it will go nicely with that. I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking buying orange laceweight yarn, but I really enjoyed having the lapful of sunshine to knit on. And that’s good because I have another whole skein (and the remainder of this one!) to knit something else.

73 Responses to nupp, nupp, nupp

  1. stacey says:

    Your shawl turned out fabulous! I love it – maybe I am even inspired to wear mine this week – and get a black shift to go with – I like that there is enough shawl to be practical, keep them shoulders warm with the coming air conditioning:) Gorgeous!

  2. Annie says:

    I’m really starting to detest you speedy knitters. Maybe I should blog less and knit more. Love the shawl, it really is a burst of happy, isn’t it?

  3. modjac says:

    Damn, I wish I was still there to see it (and take pictures!) in person. If you’re trying to find someone to knit a lacy shawl for with the rest of the orange yarn, I’m happy to volunteer for that position :)

    Soon I’ll have to find another project to work on, but after my flight yesterday I didn’t even get around to unpacking.

  4. Nubiancraftster says:

    Absolutely friggen GORGEOUS!!! I love that color and the the scarf and the detail of the post. Thank you so much. I also love the pictures. I went through your Flickr and saw all the other lovely outtakes.

    I will also be making this shawl as soon as my yarn comes.

  5. Kristy says:

    Wow, beautiful job, and that post is chock-full of lace knitting tips! Thanks for that :) I love that crossword simile– David and I have done that before!!

  6. kelp! says:

    You knit that so fast! I love the color choice – so unusual for lace, but it looks great on you. I also dig the larger size!

  7. Rebecca says:

    That is really beautiful! Thank you soooooooooooooooooooooooo much for posting the mods you made and how to accomplish them!! I’m bookmarking this post as I’m getting ready to spin some merino-silk for this shawl. I really wanted it bigger but am new to lace and had no idea how to do it!! NOW I know!! Again, thank you!!!!!!!!!

  8. Liz K says:

    I’ve always thought that Swallowtail was a little too small too. Bordering on neckerchief size, and I just don’t do neckerchieves! Your mathy solution is great, especially since I was pretty sure that part of its appeal was in the laceweight yarn.

    The color is just gorgeous. Pure sunshine.

  9. Coleen says:

    Wow! soooo pretty! I did this shawl last year and it was way too small. I’m impressed with your mad math skills in making it bigger!

  10. Phoebe says:

    How much yarn did you have left over? I have 400 yards of laceweight cashmere and am wondering if I have enough to make the enlarged version. Yours is beautiful!

  11. Ana says:

    Absolutely stunningly gorgeous! And very cleverly enlarged with nifty math (and extra yarn and time, of course). A wonderful accomplishment!

  12. Sophie says:

    oh, I’m so glad you posted details on the stitch count! I made a modified Swallowtail last summer and completely effed up my math, so I had to fudge like crazy both at the lily chart and the peaked edging chart.

    And the result is absolutely beautiful.

    I bow to your superior math. Thanks so much!

  13. Jennie says:

    It’s beautiful… thanks for the detailed notes your mods. i’ve been thinking of making another, using laceweight this time (I used a sportweight alpaca last time, which is part of why mine is big enough).

    still can’t get enough of that color!

  14. nova says:

    It’s gorgeous Minty! I love the color, and it’s going to look fantastic with you outfit for the wedding. I am going to a wedding this summer, I need to knit myself a shawl for the event, I think. Oh, and good work on the mathiness…but you know, small potatoes to you physics types, right?!

  15. Katy says:

    Nice! Switching up on the needles was inspired; I suspect that the points on mine will disappear after a few wearings, esp. as the recipient is not a knitter and knows not the ways of blocking.

  16. Susan P says:

    Thanks for the tips! I had my first experience with nups on Memorial Day and was considering playing taps and burying the whole frustrating mess. I remember thinking, “there must be an easier way!”

    I also pick up the yarn overs if the knitting is tight. Helps a lot.

    I haven’t gotten to that point in Swallowtail, but will save your post for when I get there.


    p.s. I also wound up with 4 skeins of orange laceweight from Posh Yarns. Color was called “Chick” and it looked lighter and yellower on my monitor. Nice to know I won’t be the only one in the blogiverse with an orange shawl. (And a very lovely one it is, indeed!)

  17. pamela wynne says:

    Gorgeous! And it will be perfect for the autumn wedding.

    I thought that I was neither an orange person, nor a shawl person, but somehow I can imagine myself wearing this. I might have to rethink both those policies. :)

  18. annmarie says:

    I just started my own Swallowtail last night and am inspired by yours! It’s beautiful and your instructions for increasing the size are very helpful.

  19. earthchick says:

    Oh WowWowWow – that is *gorgeous*! I love the color – especially over the black outfit. Beautiful. I can’t believe you got it done so quickly!!

  20. MelissaJ says:

    Your shawl is a thing of beauty. I’m in awe over it…the color, the swallow tail pattern; amazing!

  21. Katie says:

    So gorgeous ~ great work! I like your adaptations. I always thought the border, as written, was a bit odd in relation to the rest. Your version is perfect! And a lovely color.

  22. Meg says:

    I’m sure there is nothing new that I can add to this litany of comments… but it’s beooooooooooootiful dahling.

  23. MeBeth says:

    It really is beautiful – I like the bigger size. My swallowtail is much more of a little triangular scarf thing than a real shawl.

  24. Lisa says:

    I have steered clear of the Swallowtail precisely because of the p5tog, but, reading your little trick has got me thinking I could actually make one!! Love the yellow – great summer shawl!

  25. Ashley says:

    So, so yum: like a creamsicle! I adore it. And you knit it so quickly! (Or have I just been away for a while?) Want to finish my 7-stitch nupp Madli for me?

  26. julie says:

    Hi – I saw your shawl on Rav and had to come over to see what modifications you made. Thanks so much for doing the math for me! and I agree about doing a 3rd lily of the valley repeat, I think that’s what I’ll do. I’m 5’9″ tall, and I like to have a substantial shawl. :o) Beautiful work.

  27. Elizabeth Gloor says:

    I was so happy that a friend of mine showed me this website–I am making this shawl and I was trying to figure out how to enlarge it. Thank you so much for all your hard work–I really appreciate it. I’m anxious to see how my finished shawl will look with all your improvements!

  28. Irene says:

    Beautiful shawl and excellent tutorial — thanks for sharing!~

    Keep in mind that depending on how many extra rows you do, you may have to decrease instead of increasing extra stitches to make the Peaked Edging fit. I chose to do the prescribed 14 repeats Budding Lace, and add an extra repeat (12 rows) of the Lily of the Valley Chart 3A and 3B instead. I had to decrease 4 total stitches for it to work.

  29. Judy says:

    Many thanks for the modifications!!! I used a cobweb merino lace & knew that it would be too tiny. I emailed the designer Evelyn Clark and she replied “the shawl was designed with one pattern and if you want it larger, use heavier yarn and larger needles!!”

    Without your excellent instructions I never would have been able to finish my shawl.

    Your’s is beautiful!! Thanks again!!!!

  30. Abbie says:

    This was *so* much help. I somehow managed to get completely lost in the last chart anyway, but the yarn and I muddled through. Thank you for doing the heavy lifting!

  31. sabrina says:

    Thanks for these instructions! I’ve just used them and am thiiiiiiiis close to finishing my Swallowtail now, and I really appreciate the help in making it bigger. :)

  32. erinamelia says:

    Thank you so much for posting this – I know it was two years ago but that doesn’t make it any less helpful. I particularly appreciate the guidance on getting the budding lace and the lily of the valley border to match up – fantastic. I think I might even go up to 24 repeats – really enjoying chugging along with such an easy repeat and I want to use up as much of my beautiful laceweight as possible…

    Thank you again.

  33. Mary says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this blog post. You saved my life while I was frantically trying to finish this shawl by my friend’s wedding. I could not figure out why I was missing 2 stitches in row 3 of the lace border and after scouring my work to see where I messed up, then looking for errata, I finally googled and found this blog post. Really appreciate you spelling it all out!!

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