My current work in progress:

Tawney Sweater,by Jenni Barrett, knit from MadelineTosh Tosh Sock, using 3.25mm and 3.5mm needles.

Archives for June 2006

Fair Isling Along

Yes, now that I’m past the evil corrugated ribbing, I am happily fair isling along.


4-ply Katie asked:
Which in your experience is more irritating corrugated ribbing or checked garter stitch in the round?

Oooh! Good question!

After giving this some careful thought, I think that checked garter stitch in the round is more irritating. Because garter stitch mooshes down when knitted, giving you a really sucky row gauge. You can knit forever, only to discover you’ve made only one-half an inch progress. Very annoying.

Sachi asked:
I’m curious… do you strand with both hands? On one hand? On one hand dropping as you change colors?

I use one hand, dropping as I change colors. I carry the foreground color on top, the background color on the bottom and never twist the two.

Deborah C. asked:
Do you cut the colors you are using once you are finished with the row? I am assuming yes for the body of the cardigan (because of the steek), but what about sleeves? Do you ever carry colors up to another row?

Yes, I do cut the colors. I almost never carry colors up. Perhaps if it were only one row, I might carry. But generally, no.

Hillary commented:
Fair isle and I have never gotten along though I admire it greatly. My tension always gets screwy. How do you keep it even? Are there any books that you would recommend.

I think maintaining proper tension in two-color knitting is one of the hardest things to master and it simply takes practice. A couple of tips, though:

Use a wooden needle. Wood grabs the stitches more than metal does, so it helps you to maintain tension.

Make a conscious effort to spread your stitches out as you knit. If they are spread out to normal gauge, you have a better chance of your floats being the proper tension in the back. (Long-time readers will remember that I always float the yarn not in use — I don’t weave. Well, only in traffic. Hyuk! Hyuk! Hyuk!)

Books I’d recommend — the Ann Feitelson fair isle book is a good one. So is Sweaters From Camp — lots of good tips and technique talk in there.

Kenny asked:
You mentioned that you used long tail cast on for the corrugated ribbing project. I have a question, do you normally just cast on over 1 needle or do you cast on really tightly over 2 needles of the same size? I read somewhere that casting on over 2 needles makes the edge not so tight.

I cast on over one needle — the only time I ever cast on over two needles (or on a larger size needle) is when I’m making lace, which will be blocked within an inch of its life upon completion.

But I cast on fairly loosely, so my edge isn’t too tight. If you feel that your cast-on is habitually tight, you might wanna use a larger needle.

Goin’ to the Sock Hop!

For Debi, because she begged 😉 — an X-treme closeup of my Sock Hop yarn!

And note Teyani’s comment about the Sock Hop yarn:
Please let folks know that we have now completed all the backorders from the first round, and are spinning as fast as we can on the new batch 🙂 We’re having lots of fun here ! We hope to have more for sale in a couple of weeks.

Have a good weekend, y’all.


The Evil Corrugated Ribbing

There were several comments about corrugated ribbing.

Yes, it is evil, but yes, I love the way it looks. It is evil because it takes longer to do than regular ribbing because it is knitted in two colors. Because I am incredibly impatient and I’m not particularly fond of knitting regular ribbing, I think that corrugated ribbing is evil.Throw in the fact that one is working it in the round — well over 300 stitches per round. Evil.

There was a suggestion in the comments about working one color at a time — slipping the stitches that are worked in the second color, then going back to work them on the next round. You know what — I tried doing that on a past fair isle project. I timed myself — took almost exactly the same amount of time to do as working the ribbing in both colors on one round. And I didn’t like it.

And yes, I know I could Norwegian Purl, but I’m not overly fond of this technique and my knitting isn’t as even with it.

So, I’ll stick with working the corrugated ribbing as I do and I will continue to complain about it at will. It is my right.

Marjorie asked what cast-on I used for this project — I used a long-tail cast-on.

So. I am into the body of the sweater, therefore I am much happier. I’m using my 3.25mm Holz & Stein ebony circular, my favorite fair isle needle.

This sweater is a cardigan, so there is a front steek.

A bonus of knitting a fair isle cardigan — the color changes are done at the center front, in the middle of the steek No weaving in of pesky ends on the body of the sweater.


As you can see, I’ve got white stitch markers marking the front steek.


Black stitch markers mark the “side seam” stitches.


And red stitch markers mark out each pattern repeat (which is 36 stitches).


I am a vision of organization and preparedness.

Here, for Mary, a picture of some of my stash enhancement from my Richmond trip:


Halcyon Gemstones Silk, sportweight, purchased from The Yarn Lounge.

By the way, did I mention that I was on a mission to try many different sock yarns?


(L-B, forgive me for posting this.) This is Sock Hop handspun sock yarn in the “Wild Thing” colorway. Purchased from Crown Mountain Farms. The extent of my passion for this yarn cannot be adequately expressed in words.

Speaking of socks, I am working on my second Black Violet sock.


Lucy sez:


“Fine, just keep it down, will ya?”

The Agony and the Ecstacy

Jojo got it right — my new project is Mara, a fair isle design by Alice Starmore. The pattern is in the long out-of-print and virtually-impossible-to-find The Scottish Collection. I like how Jojo referred to it — “the mythical Scottish Collection.” I am making the cardigan version.

A number of you inquired about the canvas box where the yarn for my fair isle is stored. It’s a sock organizer, and I bought it several years ago (bought two of them, actually) online. I did a quick search, and I believe the first item on this page (item #55955) is the same thing. Pretty nifty, eh?

You can buy plastic organizers as well, but I like the canvas one because it is more flexible, and you can mush more yarn in one compartment and less in another, as needed.

So why is this blog entry titled “The Agony and the Ecstacy?”

Long-time WendyKnits readers will remember me whining about a certain technique in fair isle knitting. A technique that fills me with loathing and dread.

Corrugated ribbing. Gah!

Mara has 29 (gulp!) rows of corrugated ribbing. I have a theory that as soon as I start working on corrugated ribbing, there is a rift in the time-space continuum. How else could it be that it takes me three frigging days to complete 29 rows of ribbing?

Because it does. Take three frigging days, that is.

Here is the ribbing a bit past the halfway point.


And just for grins, the wrong side:


The only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that the reward for completing the dreaded corrugated ribbing is that I get to start on the fair isle pattern! and I did — just barely.


Viewer Mail

Tina asked:
I’m looking at that laceweight stuff, and I’m remembering the Harlot’s references to Rowan Kidsilk Haze (“crack”), and I have to ask what would be a good first lace shawl thing for one who has recently conquered an irrational fear of yarnovers (yophobia). (I’m actually fairly intrepid, but in weird ways.)

A good first lace shawl . . .

I think either the Leaf Lace or the Flower Basket shawl (both by Evelyn Clark, both available from Fiber Trends) are good shawls for new lace knitters. They have a relatively simple overall pattern and there is no complicated construction, like knitting a border onto live stitches.

Another good beginner project, I think, is the Kimono Shawl from Cheryl Oberle’s Folk Shawls — it’s a rectangular shawl with garter stitch borders that are knitted as you go. Again, it’s a relatively simple pattern that you keep repeating.

Debi asked
Have you used the Anne before? I’m interested to hear what you think of it, I hear it’s yummy but alas it’s an experience that eludes me 🙁

I’ve not knitted with the Schaeffer Anne sock yarn . . . yet. I now have a couple of skeins of it in stash, so it’s definitely in the rotation!

I’ve been making a point of acquiring as many different sock yarns as possible. I want to try ’em all!

It Was Only a Matter of Time

There is now an errata page for Wendy Knits: My Neverending Adventures in Yarn. The link will remain over in the sidebar. Sigh.

However, big thanks to Stephanie C. for finding and pointing out the error!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Lucy is rehearsing her moves so she can costar with Miss Lulu Kitty in a Kitties Gone Wild video.


What’s a Trip to Yarn Shops Without Stash Enhancement?

Well, yeah, of course I bought yarn over the weekend.

When I got to The Tangled Web, I was pleased to see that they had some Claudia Handpainted sock yarn. so I bought enough for two pairs:


These are the Turquoise Jeans and Pink Clouds colorways.

And then at Loop I saw this:


Artyarns Silk Mohair. 70% mohair, 30% silk.


Each 25 gram skein is 230 yards and I bought four. Enough for a lacy shawl, I think. It’s pretty much the same weight and composition as Rowan Kidsilk Haze, so this will sub for any pattern calling for that, methinks.

At Loop, they gave me a gift, too:


This is a wee Lantern Moon silk tote — just right for carrying around a sock in progress! Inside:


Schaefer Anne sock yarn, rosewood dpns, a tape measure, and some woolwash samples!


Did I sew Deirdre together yesterday?

No, I didn’t. What’s my excuse? I got distracted.

So — what distracted me? This:


Can anyone guess what that yarn is for? I’ll give you a huge hint:

Sing it with me: “Lucy on the couch with fair isle.”


Back to Normal

So today marked my return to my “normal” life — going to work every day and spending weekends doing my own thing. The book tour is over. Thank you to everyone who asked if I’d be coming to a location near you. Please understand that my publisher arranged the book tour, so where I went was up to them. They, of course, had a budget for book publicity, and they did as many things and sent me to as many places as the budget would allow.

But it’s nice to be wanted!

Lucy is VERY happy to have her Momma home.


Tonight, Camille is being shown on TCM. I’ve got my knitting, I’ve got plenty of tissues, and I’ve got my kitty.

Life is good.

It’s Alway Sunny in Philadelphia

Well, it was sunny when I was there yesterday!

As I expected, my train was horribly late Friday night — I didn’t get to the hotel til midnight. Gahhhh! But Saturday more than made up for the inauspicious start to the trip. When my car pulled up to the first event of the day, here’s what I saw outside the entrance to The Tangled Web:


Great sign, huh? It was even better inside!


I spent several wonderful hours with these lovely ladies, talking, laughing, knitting, signing books, and, uh, drinking wine spritzers. I was also delighted to see Martha again. I wish this shop were up the street from me — I’d never leave!

Here’s my official portrait with the ladies who run The Tangled Web:


Will you look at that wall o’ yarn behind us? Swoon.

They accompanied me to the door and watched while my driver, Dave, leapt out of the car and opened the door for me. No, I would never get tired of that.

Second stop of the day: Loop. Wow! another fabulous shop filled with fabulous women. This is the view from where I was sitting.


And the offiical portrait with the Loop staff:


I love the spectrum of colors in the yarn behind us.

I was delighted to meet Anne Marie, who I “know” from my blog comments.


Clearly, she knows me all too well, because she brought me this as a gift:


And here is Michelle, modelling her outrageously gorgeous feather and fan Koigu shawl:


Here’s Michelle from the front — isn’t she cute?


I was delighted to see Anmiryam and Hope again, and to meet Anmiryam’s Mom. Anmiryam thoughtfully modelled her Socks That Rock socks for me:


We all had a wonderful time, but way too soon, it was time to leave. Fortunately the train home last night was uneventful and less than half an hour late.

Today we are just hanging around at home.


And Lucy says “Thanks for the wonderful new catnip toys, Linda!”


So . . . what are train delays good for?


I fnished my second Deirdre sleeve. Wahoo!

I’ve not seamed Deirdre, though. I got distracted by something else . . .