My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


And the Winner Is . . .

Kristen Chambers, who offered the following:

“My favorite tip – Except for using dpn’s for items like socks and sleeves, I’ve given up straight needles and work exclusively with circular needles for all my knitting, including “flat” patterns. They are so much more comfortable and convenient to use: needles aren’t falling to the floor; stitches seldom drop off the tips; the bulk of the knitting is centered in your lap so your hands don’t tire as easily. I wonder now how I learned to knit with straight needles as a child.”

The laceweight yarn will be winging it’s way to Kristen today.

I selected the winner by assigning a number to each of the 86 emails I got before the deadline, and using a random number generator to pick the winning number.

The page of all tips received is here. This is a permanent page on my website, and will be linked from both my blog sidebar and my knitting page when I get to it, so you can refer to it whenever you like.

Thank you everyone who entered! I got a couple of late entries, and included them on the page as well.

Questions and Answers

Melissa asks: “I have never knit a Starmore. Is there no kind of facing for the junction of where the sleeve meets the body? What is your preference…. to knit the sleeves and then attach to the body or to pick up and knit down?”

In a traditional fair isle (like a Starmore), there is no provision for a sleeve facing. You pick up your stitches in-between the edge stitch of the steek and the first stitch of the body, and the steek lies down on the inside of your sweater, like a facing. When you are doing the finishing on your work, you can tack this down to the body. Though sometimes, I don’t even bother to do this. I’ve got fair isles that are 10+ years old that I didn’t tack down. From steaming and through time, the steeks have adhered to the inside of the sweater nicely.

As for my sleeve knitting preference . . . it’s a toss-up. When picking up stitches and knitting down, it’s nice that once you’ve finished a sleeve, you don’t have to sew it in the armhole. It’s done, except for weaving in any ends.

But it’s a pain to have the whole sweater flopping around on the needles while you’re knitting your sleeves. So knitting them separately and sewing them in does have its own appeal.

Johanne asks: “Wendy, when did you first become smitten with Starmore fair isle?”

I made my first Starmore fair isle in 1990 — the Wave Cardigan from her fair isle knitting book. And made a few other non-Starmore fair isles over the next several years. Then embarked on my long love affair with arans. It’s just in the past year or so that I’ve become besotted with fair isles again, and have knitted several AS ones.

Cheryl asks: “Have you ever done an AS vest?–I don’t remember seeing one on your finished page. No fondess for vests?”

Correct-a-mundo. I’m not a big fan of the vest. I have two or three (non-AS) vests that I’ve knitted. And never wear them. I’m not a huge fan of cardigans either, though I do have a few I’ve made . . . and wear every now and again.

Jo asks: (about my first steeking experience) “how was YOUR first time Wendy?????”

The answer is . . . ignorance is bliss. It never occurred to me to be worried about it, so I blithely cut my first steek with nary a care in the world.

Hank Progress

I got half a sleeve done over the weekend.


Happy Monday, all!


  1. Thanks Wendy!

  2. Ye gods and little fishes, you do get up early! This was a great contest — everybody won!

  3. all the tips are great!

  4. I’m thrilled to have won the tips contest – thanks Random Number Generator! There are several lovely shawl patterns I’m eyeing in Cheryl Oberle’s “Folk Shawls”, as well as a Charlotte Bronte shawl pattern from a friend. Thanks Wendy!

  5. Thanks for posting all the tips! I hate to ask anything of the overburdened Wendy but someday when you are updating your gallery maybe you could put a link to them in your tips section so they will be there forever – what a great resource of common sense.

    Hank looks SO great!

  6. Wendy, I looked for the answer to this one, but could not find it. If you/ve already got the answer somewhere, Ignore my question. Here tis:

    Have you ever made shaping modifications to a Starmore or a Dale from sleeve length/width to body length. AS sweaters in her books seem very specific with regard to how a repeat cable or pattern begins and ends. To shorten a bit would surely disrupt the rhythm of the pattern on most designs. I lusted after Maidenhair, but shied away from it b/c it is very generously sized indeed. Some of her most fab cabled designs just don’t seem amenable to alteration for a shorter look although her website now shows cropped versions, thank goodness.

  7. When I read Starmore’s Fair Isle book, she talks about 2 kinds of steeks: wound and knit. Which kind do you do and why?

  8. Caroline, as I mention ed in today’s blog entry, I’ll link to the tips page from both my knitting page and my blog sidebar when I get a chance.

    Kristen — Due to post office stupidity, I won’t be able to mail your prize out for a couple of days, but it’ll go in the mail on Wednesday.

    Rebecca, I always knit steeks because wound steeks require (I think) that you weave in a billion ends.

  9. Thank you Wendy for assempling and posting all the knitting tips! This was a great contest, I really enjoy reading all the clever ideas from all of you. Congratulations Kristen, that yarn looks wonderful 🙂
    Sleeve knitting. I usually knit the sleeves separately. When you’re done, you have three separate parts and a lot of sewing ahead of you and you don’t really get to see the finished item until that’s done. When you pick up the stitches like on Henry, you can see the whole sweater grow out of the needles as you knit. It seems much more inspiring. I’m going to try it when I’ve finished St Moritz.

  10. What a great contest idea, Wendy! Now thanks to you we have a whole page of tips to refer to. Great idea.

  11. I really appreciate your contest Wendy. Without it, I would never have found the tip for attaching sleeves without sewing. Thank you!

    I know you’ve heard this a zillion times, but Hank is simply the most stunning man I have ever seen. It is because of him that I decided to give Fair Isle a stab. Nowhere near as complex as yours, but perhaps someday… I have an AS book sitting on my shelf beckoning me. The neckband looks wonderful. I love the amount of detail Starmore puts into the tiniest portions of her creations, and you have captured them beautifully.

  12. Oops, so you did. Looked right past that little sentence…

  13. Hi Wendy,
    Could you please e-mail me? I have a question regarding using your toe-up sock pattern for a sock-knitting class for 10 students. Thanks.

  14. Beautiful sweater, Wendy!

  15. Thanks for posting all the tips, Wendy! Hope your week is starting off well.


  16. The only doubt regarding armhole steeks has now been answered & it’s the approach I thought would work – now it’s confirmed.
    As I have written before, I’m going to treat my 1st steeks as ignorance is bliss or, it’s done but lots of other clever knitters, so it’s not impossible – just do it :-))
    I have been looking at the beyondthehebridews site. Makes me almost want to do FairIsle. What r u doing to me??????