My current work in progress:

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


Exciting? Challenging?

A question in yesterday’s comments:

“What type of project is the most exciting and challenging for you?”

Good one!

My answer to this is different today than it would have been a few years ago. I used to be the Queen of Arans. Nothing gave me a knitting thrill quite as much as a cable could. The start of a new aran would be desperately exciting — I couldn’t wait to get a couple of repeats under belt so that I could see the pattern pop out at me, in all its 3-D glory.

But alas, no longer. The last couple of arans I’ve made were deadly dull for me. I have a photographic memory and can memorize cable charts by the time I’ve completed the first pattern repeat. Yawn. It’s just the same thing over and over and over. Again, yawn.

(I don’t know why the repetitious nature of this never used to bother me. I’ve gotten crankier and harder to please, apparently.)

So what floats my boat now? Colorwork! Woo-hoo! And non-repeating all-over patterns are particularly alluring. Like the Virgin Sweater I made in January. That was great fun.

Dale of Norway ski sweaters fall into this category to a certain extent. Once I get past all that gawdawful stockinette stitch, it’s very exciting watching the yoke pattern grow. Lillehammer was a particularly fun design — vertical panels and each one had a different motif in it. Ooh!

St. Moritz

Just for grins, I bound off the shoulders and picked up the neckband stitches.


Here is the whole body of the sweater, relaxing on the couch.


And I did a bit on the first sleeve too.


Note to Auntie Lolly

So you think the tornado warnings were something? This is what was going on in my neighborhood last night.

A manhunt is underway in northern Virginia Thursday night for a 17-year-old boy who escaped from the youth detention facility in Alexandria. Police say the inmate may be dangerous.

Emanuel Taboko was in the detention center on sexual assault and abduction charges. Police spokesman John Crawford says he apparently escaped just before 5 p.m. Thursday.

“He broke down several doors inside the facility and then jumped over a barbed wire fence.”

Crawford says Taboko is not taking his medication and is considered dangerous.

Know where that detention center is? Directly across the street from where you parked your rental car.

I heard helicopters all evening, but they did catch the guy later that night, so I can safely (I guess) leave for work this morning.

May Contest

The May contest will be announced on Monday. Watch this space!


  1. i’m not sure which scares me more, dangerous escapees or colourwork…

  2. I know what you mean by needing a challenge to keep your knitting exciting. Have you tried Not Just Plain Jane Knits?
    I know you prefer cardigans and charted patterns, but if you look at some of the sweaters you will understand the need for row-by-row instructions. Actually, I like knitting this way…I use my magnetic board and just keep moving that strip downward. I especially recommend Yum Yum Tree, Crazy Quilt, and Sandpainting (one of her few pullovers). All can be worked in solid or multicolored. When I need a break from Starmore, I alternate with a Not Just Plain Jane sweater.

  3. And I always thought that the ‘no pattern necessary’ thing was the best thing about arans! Don’t worry, Wendy, I’ll get you *evil grin* How does an aran with a 200 row motif sound? LoL Granted all the rows won’t actually be used, but no repetition…LoL

  4. Purl, I have seen the “Not Just Plain Jane Knits” designs, but I just don’t care for them. Just a matter of personal preference. I love traditional designs at small gauge and nowadays that’s all I want to knit.

    Antonio — an aran with a 200 row motif? Don’t toy with me! I wanna see this!

  5. Wendy, since you’re bored with arans, could I please have your copy of Starmore’s Aran Knitting? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yeah, I didn’t think so…

  6. Hey, nice try, Eve! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Kristin says:

    I *SOOOOO* know what you mean about Aran boredom! I could be working on something really intricate and by the time I’m halfway done, I’m longing to start something else. (“This pattern has grown tiresome!” to paraphrase Dieder)

    It’s weird, I’ll look at an Aran sweater and say “Oooooh YES!” but I don’t get much pleasure out of making one. What’s wrong with me? LOL ๐Ÿ™‚

    Your St. Moritz is going to be finished in no time. I have yet to do a Dale (what with all the Starmore on the to-do list) but I’ve had my eye on St. Moritz since November. Lucky you, I can’t wait to see it once you’re done.

    2 of my co-workers just walked by and were ooohing & aaahing over your sweaters. I think you have some new fans.

  8. Wendy, did you always have a photographic memory for cable patterns and such? Do you actually look at the chart and then see it in your mind from then on, or does it somehow sink in as a pattern that makes logical sense? I’ve been trying to come up with a way to “imprint” a pattern in my mind before I finish a complete motif. Obviously I’m lacking that crucial gene ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Sheila, I’ll save my answer to your comments for a blog post next week — thanks for the question!

  10. I keep hoping every day to see a picture of a new kitty friend. Maybe it will be soon. If you need references, ask them if 750 would be enough.

    Is Frogner still anywhere in your to-do queue? I was pretty smitten by that one back when you did your last poll.

  11. Frogner is very much in the queue! But it’s not next.

    Kitty adoption is still in process . . .

  12. Hi, Wendy — I know you don’t have a SIP at the moment, but I have a couple of questions about casting on for toe-up socks. I’m new to this, and although I’ve consulted your knitty article and read your page and other similar links, there seem to be a couple of things I just don’t get. (1) when doing the figure-8 cast-on, should the loops be left especially loose? When they’re tight, it’s a b****h to get started knitting, ‘scuse my French. (2) when making the loops, my needles seem to lie side by side, so….which one should be the “top” needle for the first row of knitting?

    Despite these problems, I AM on my third pair of socks, so something’s obviously working. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for your time!

  13. San Moreeeeetz is still in the box…g

  14. Wendy:

    Are you ever tempted, by, say a Kaffe Fassett design? I know it’s a very different approach from Fairisle, but also involves a lot of color and challenge.

  15. Wendy: I’m glad they found the escapee! re: tornado warnings, they weren’t just warnings, they were actual tornadoes… I wasn’t sure how close Keely ( was from the one that hit near Oklahoma City: she said it was 30 or 40 minutes from them & they weren’t affected, though they were a little concerned about some family members coming home from work!

    I wish we didn’t live in tornado alley (north Texas, north of Dallas & Ft Worth), but I like that the weather is usually mild except for 2 months of hot summer weather.. oh welllllll..

    re: repetitive nature of patterns: that’s something I’ve been thinking about: I’m working on a Sanquar Check vest & after a couple of repeats, I didn’t have to look at the pattern until I was ready for armhole & front shaping… I do those during TV time: I can’t be looking at patterns/knitting while watching because I have to read the captions…

  16. Kristy says:

    Your San Moritz is lovely! I have that one on my list of must do projects (which list is getting longer all the time — I hope there is knitting in heaven ‘cuz this all won’t be done in my lifetime!).

    I admit I’ve been a bit jealous about where you live and work! I would love to be in Washington, D.C. where history has been and is being made. The museums, monuments, etc. not to mention the Supreme Court (I’m in the legal field). Of course, it’s also your great access to so many lovely LYS’s.

    However, here in Utah it is very picturesque, and we rarely get terrorist scares, soldiers guarding the streets, tornadoes, helicopter cops keeping me up all night … guess I’ll just be thankful for what I have!

    Have a lovely weekend!

  17. Shannon says:


    I’m so glad they caught the escapee! Kind of scary.

    Still think St. Moritz is looking good! Can’t wait to see it finished!!

  18. Stephanie says:

    I’m being pretty challenged by St. Moritz at the moment. I must be doing something wrong, since it seems harder than it needs to be. I placed markers at the front and back motifs, so that I stop knitting past them and having to tink back 50 stitches twice per round. Now I’m wondering if there is an easier way to manage the two hands. I’m a right handed knitter, so I have always carried the colour that I’m using less of in my left hand. (Right hand throwing, left hand picking) I won’t change hands mid -row, but will work out what to use at the beginning of each row. I think this might be bad. I think this might be screwing with my tension and stitch shape. I think my needle is too short (60cm) and that not being able to really spread the stitches out is trouble. I think maybe I should use picking or throwing but not both….I think I’m thinking too much. Does anybody think that changing my approach might make this easier?

  19. Ooh! Lotsa questions!

    Debbie, about the figure 8 cast on — when I do it I try to keep it as tight as possible and still be able to knit it. You can work out any looseness after a few rows, however.

    Kristi, I actually knitted a couple of Fassett designs eons ago. They were fun, but they no longer appeal to me to knit. Call me fickle.

    Jessica, the tornado warning I was referring to was for my area . . . and it was just a warning. I know there were tornados elsewhere.

    Kristy — and I think Utah would be a lovely place to be. ๐Ÿ™‚ And (whispering here) I never ever go to any of the yarn shops in this area.

    Stephanie, I think a longer needle would help you alot — I used a 32 inch for the body. I’m a left-handed knitter who carries both colors in one hand, so I’m not sure I can help you with that part of it . .. anyone else have any ideas?

  20. I can get pretty even results with holding both strands of Dale yarn in my left hand. When I worked on the Fearless Fair Isle (shetland yarn) I had to put one color in each hand as the yarn kept sticking to each other. The longer needle helped me immensely.

  21. Shannon says:


    I think the lys in Utah are better than here in the DC area. I’m missing Black Sheep Wool Company and the Wool Cabin in SLC! But I really don’t have too much of a selection where I’m at. I hate being inconvinenced by a long drive to find yarn, and the nearest shop is in Alexandria. Okay, in Ft. Washington, MD but I also hate getting lost! I miss Utah’s addressing system also!!!!

  22. Hey Wendy!
    When you decide to go to Utah to the yarn shops, I’ll drive down and meet you. We can have a yarn-shopping-frenzie party.

  23. Wendy: It sounds like you were probably getting tornado watches since there’s some types of weather that COULD but doesn’t always spawn tornadoes… even t-warnings don’t always mean they’re gonna touch down.. someone on one of my lists today said that she ignores them now because they’re so common where she’s at…(like crying wolf, perhaps?)

    I’ve never seen a live tornado, but I once saw a dust devil…it looked like a mini tornado…I probably could have put my hand in it and not felt much…:)

    Stephanie: try experimenting with a swatch or sleeve..try different things..maybe try holding both yarns in your left hand & picking from the top for color A and bottom for color B?

  24. Sylvia says:

    Stephanie, I am a right-handed knitter and I carry just as you do. I would definitely use a longer needle, and you might try listening to some cheerful dance music like the Gypsy Kings. Also, relax your elbows. Just notice them now and then and wiggle them a bit.

    Wendy, do you picture the cables or colourwork building itself a few rows ahead of you as you go, like a knitting video, or do you hold an image of the completed pattern or the completed fabric in your mind? Very curious. My DD and I have photographic memories, luckily the kind that holds patterns effectively.

  25. My history is almost the same. Started designing Arans about 20 years ago and then the thrill got gone. Went on to colorwork, which I find much more alluring.

    But lately I hear the call of the Aran again. Not loudly. But maybe in the form of socks.

    But if I’m going to do another FI project, it will be of my own design. That’s the next logical challenge.

  26. Instead of the boring jersey sections, you could add a knit purl pattern stitch in there, just to stay awake. I’ve seen traditional ones like that, and they’re gorgeous.

  27. Sorry Eve, I got 1st dibs on Wendy’s Aran patterns (see earlier comments about 1 month ago). Plus Wendy likes to give charity to 3rd countries like Starmore deprived Australia :-))