Tag Archives: Nymphaea

Lace, blocking, SSK

I always say that blocking is magic. Especially with lace. But even then, I’m always astonished at the transformation.

Here’s my Nymphaea shawl, right off the needles, no blocking, no weaving in the ends. It’s pretty small, 48 inches across the top eyelet edge, 20 inches at the wide end, not including the lace edging in either measurement.

I wet blocked it; it pinned out to be 60 inches across the top eyelet edge, and 30 inches across the wide end, just above the lace edging. Where it was once thick and chunky, it’s now ethereally and diaphanously lovely. It’s almost as big as the sample I knit last fall with the mini skein gradient kit, just nine repeats instead of ten.

Zigzags 4 evah

Lacy border, this time with beads

I knit this in Bumblebirch Heartwood, 75/25 superwash merino/nylon. The colors are Atlantic and Hellebore, the same colors in my Tumbling Leaves, but reversed. I love it, and I love the beads, too. Depending on how you look at them, they’re blue, or green. Perfect.

I’m going to knit one more of these, a sample with a Fierce Fibers 650 yard continuous gradient, and a semisolid contrast color. This is in preparation for our Fall Shawl Retreat in November. Registration opens August 1, and the price will include yarn and beads for a knit or crochet version of Nymphaea.

While knitting this shawl, I started thinking about my personal rules for SSK. When I first learned SSK, I did them conventionally, slipping both stitches as if to knit. The result is a left leaning decrease, exactly the same as SKP: Slip one (knitwise), knit one, pass slip stitch over. The passed stitch could sometimes be stretched out and unsightly; Barbara Walker invented the SSK as an improvement on the SKP.

Eventually, Elizabeth Zimmermann figured out that slipping the second stitch purlwise instead of knitwise made this decrease lie flatter, and mirror the right leaning K2tog better. It’s less zigzaggy. I learned this from her daughter Meg Swansen in a class oh so long ago, and adopted it as my go-to SSK. For me, it’s quicker to execute (don’t have to pull left needle out of the second slipped stitch before ktbl).

But! When I was designing my Meander Cowl, I noticed that this SSK looked wide and bumpy when it met up with a YO on its left side. It’s because the right leg of the stitch shows a bit more prominently behind the left leaning stitch on top. Subtle, yes, but there.

So, my personal SSK rule: Slip the second stitch as if to purl when working stockinette. But if there’s a YO to the left of the SSK, slip the second stitch as if to knit. Try them both, if you like. You’re the boss of your knitting; as long as you get the result you want, you’re doing it right! Here’s a video on the whole thing.

How do you SSK?

Introducing Nymphaea, my Rhinebeck shawl

I’m going to Rhinebeck this weekend! But not in person.

This is my Nymphaea shawl. Nymphaea is the genus name for water lilies, and the lacy shell pattern reminds me of flowers floating in a pond on a breezy day. The zigzag ripples are laden with beads. I designed this shawl as a collaboration with Bead Biz and June Pryce Fiber Arts. I’m a little jealous that my sample is going to Rhinebeck without me!

Bead Biz will carry this pattern as part of a kit, available in their booth at festivals like Rhinebeck (Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival, officially) SAFF (Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair in Fletcher NC), Fiber Festival of New England in West Springfield MA, and Madrona Fiber Arts Festival (see you there!). The kits will also be available on their website. It is available exclusively from Bead Biz through September 2018.

The kit comes with a gradient pack of seven 100 yard skeins of June Pryce Fiber Arts Saunderstown Sock, a fingering weight superwash merino/cashmere/nylon blend. Five packs of coordinating beads are also in the kit.

My sample is knit in Purple Mountains, and there are four more colorways to choose from.

There’s a crochet version, too, designed by Laurinda Reddig (ReCrochetions). It was really fun collaborating with her to see if we could come up with something that worked equally well in knit and crochet!

I hope you get to see this shawl in person, and fall in love with it as much as I have. If you love knitting with beads, you’ll love knitting this.

Knit on!