Knitted Lace of Estonia

Knitted Lace Shawls With a History

When Nancy Bush showed up at Interweave a few years ago with a box full of knitting and a book proposal, we gathered around with anticipation. She had written Folk Socks, one of our all-time best selling titles, and was a dream author to work with. She had also persuaded us to publish Folk Knitting In Estoniawhich seemed a stretch. Estonia?? But knitters everywhere embraced it, and the long and rich knitting traditions of this tiny Baltic nation became part of our traditions, too.

Knitters in Haapsalu.

Her latest passion, we soon learned, was the lace knitting of Estonia. Just the lace knitting. We wondered, "How do you make a whole book out of that?" Leave it to Nancy. When she turned in her manuscript and beautiful knitted shawls and scarves, we couldn't wait to get Knitted Lace of Estonia into print. It was so much more than a book of knitting patterns. It was the stories of real knitters—women who lived rich and creative lives in a little country buffeted by war and times of economic hardship. Women who found time to knit lace shawls by the score to help support their families. Women whose open, friendly, serious faces look out at you from old photographs and invite you into their world.

Lace shawl knit with seven stitch nupps.

Bobble or nupp?

There are lots of ways to make knitted bobbles, and they show up in the knitting styles of many countries. The bobbles that you see in Estonian lace knitting are about as simple and graceful as a bobble can be—you don't have to knit backwards, you don't have to turn your work. You just increase five or seven stitches in one stitch, and then knit them all together on the return row. But what is really lovely is how Estonian knitters have used this design element—they call it a nupp—in their patterns. Instead of isolated bumps or tidy spaced rows such as you might see in Aran knitting, you'll see lovely swirls and swags of nupps outlining areas of open lace. For a nupp pillow to knit see Nancy Bush's "Things That Go Bump On Your Knitting," PieceWork July/August 2010.

Raha scarf based on one of the oldest Haapsalu patterns..

How did they come to develop this lace style? There's a practical, almost funny story to it. The women sold their lace shawls by the pound. Adding nupps—LOTS of nupps—made their shawls heavier. So they figured out a way to do this while keeping the delicacy of the design. This is only one of many great stories and insights in Knitted Lace of Estonianot to mention fifteen great patterns ranging from a simple scarf to heirloom masterpieces, and all the techniques you need to knit them successfully. Being part of this wonderful global, ageless community makes me feel so lucky.  

And, I'm happy to note that this beautiful book is a featured title in our annual Hurt Book and Overstock Sale, so you can enjoy Nancy's amazing work for even less.