In many ways, Estonian lace knitting looks like most lace but there are differences, too. The central unique feature of Estonian lace is the so-called “Nupp” stitch (basically a bubble) but Estonian lace knitting is way more than just Nupps, especially when you look closer at its distinctive stitch patterns.
This post is part of the Complete Guide to Lace Knitting.
The best resource about Estonian lace knitting I discovered so far is Pitsilied Koekirjad by Leili Reimann. (I got my copy from ebay a long time ago and it’s already falling apart because it’s a print from the 1980’s and the whole book is in Estonian, but I don’t mind at all, the charts and lace stitch patterns are just plain gorgeous. Get it straight away if you’re lucky to find one!)
How to Work a Nupp Stitch in Estonian Lace Knitting
In many ways, Estonian lace knitting looks like most lace but there are differences, too. The central unique feature of Estonian lace is the nupp stitch.
When working a nupp stitch knit one, but don’t slip that stitch you just worked off the left-hand needle. Instead, you work a (yo, k1). And if you want your nupp to be bigger, you do that same thing again. And yet again. All while that original first stitch you worked into is still on the left-hand needle. This is still the stitch you’re knitting into!
Then on the next row, you work all those stitches and yarn overs together, as one big nuppy stitch. A whole collection of them is shown below.
The star outlined with nupps is a prominent design element is Estonian lace knitting.
Unique Stitches in Estonian Lace Knitting: Stars
Estonian lace features more unique stitches than just nupps: star stitches, for instance.
Star stitches are worked by knitting a certain number of stitches into a specific number of stitches. Examples include the 3-in-1 star (knitting three stitches into one), the 9-in-3 star (knitting nine stitches out of three) and so on. The trick is to treat the stitches to work into (e.g., 3 in the 9-in-3 star) as one stitch when working the total (nine in the 3-to-9 star) stitches.
Instructions on how to work these star stitches are given below.
1-to-3 star: (K1tbl, yo, k1tbl) in next stitch (1 st increased to 3 sts)
3-to-3 star: K3tog without dropping sts from left needle; yo, k same 3 sts together again and drop from left needle. Number of sts has not changed.
3-to-2 star: K3tog without dropping sts from left needle, p same 3 sts together and drop from left needle. 3 sts decreased to 2 sts.
3-to-9 star: K3tog without dropping sts from left needle, yo, (k same 3 sts together again without dropping from left needle, yo) 3 times, k same 3 sts together again and drop from left needle. 3 sts increased to 9 sts.
2-to-9 star: K2tog tbl without dropping sts from left needle, yo, (k same 2 sts together again without dropping from left needle, yo) 3 times, k same 2 sts together again and drop from left needle. 2 sts increased to 9 sts.
The results look like the picture shown below (featuring the 3-to-9 star). (Yes I know it’s socks not a lace shawl, I couldn’t find another picture today. Must be the weather. I’ll update this article with a more beautiful sample, promise.)
Have you ever tried Estonian lace knitting? If yes, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!