My current work in progress:

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



And here I thought I was so clever, coming up with a contest that would be hard. You either all know how to find stuff really really well, or you hang on to my every word.

I’m thinking it’s the former, not the latter.

My Dark Secret

You know how I’m always bleating about how much I adore my Pony Pearl dpns? I have a confession to make:

I like Brittany birch dpns better.

I’m knitting a pair of socks out of sportweight sock yarn for my dad, and when I attempted to start them with size 2.75mm Pony Pearls, I found the tips were too blunt to use easily. Apparently the only Pony Pearls I like are the 2.0mm size, because in that fine size the bluntness of the tips is not an issue.

Double duh.

I’ve got Brittany Birch dpns in the 7.5″ length. That’s a little longer than I like for socks. They also come in a 5″ length, and I’m thinking I’m going to buy some of those. My Pony Pearls are 6″, but I think 5″ length is do-able. They’ll fit a lot better in my purse, too.

I feel so much better now that’s out in the open!


My progress is slowing, because I’ve got that pesky working-for-a-living getting in the way of my knitting time.

But there’s something that I’ve noticed.

Lookie here:


Does this remind you of something I’ve knitted recently? I’ll give you a hint:


Lucy is being helpful here, sorting the colors.


In the “How Cute Is This?” Department

Ohmygosh! Ohmygosh! Kate has bunnies!

They are beyond cute.

The Mice That Ate My Condo

Boy, do we ever have mousies! 71 in the mail yesterday, from Elizabeth in Fairview, NC, Julie in Coronia, CA, Anne in Lincoln, NE, Debi in Plantation, FL, AJ in Milwaukee, WI, and Marta in Golden, CO. Thank you all! And thank you for the assorted tissue paper — Lucy is in hog heaven. Thanks too for the extra catnip — I’ve got some empty mousies to stuff (I’m trying to share some duties and not overload our mouse-stuffers!) and this will be a great help.

She is getting to be one spoiled little kitty. AJ thoughtfully enclosed a wonderful felted ball that she made. It even has a bell in it.


It was only after she wore herself out chasing it that Lucy consented to pose with her new toy. She’s a little hopped up on catnip scented tissue paper, too.

And I’ll close this entry with a great mailing label I saw today on one of the mouse packages!


I am not playing favorites here, but this was too cute not to share!


  1. I broke too many Brittanys (the death grip strikes again). 6″ bamboo is my weapon of choice now.

    (Do the mice have to have eyes and/or ears? Mine have all been “senseless” so far.)

  2. frogner in technicolor?

  3. Wendy,
    Did you use yarn to cover up the addresses on that envelope? Pretty cute, and clever too!

  4. Mousies don’t need to have faces — I’ve received some with and some without. Same goes for ears.

    Julie, actually I just used the eraser tool in Paintshop pro to white out the addresses — but it does look like yarn, doesn’t it? ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I find that the really small Brittany needles snap. So I usually use #1, #2 Pony Pearls and the Brittany needles for everything else. In addition to the blunt end, I don’t like how the metal rattles around in the larger Pony Pearls.

  6. The Frogner/Marina comparison is fascinating; I guess great designers think alike sometimes? Or is it simply an historical charted pattern? Very interesting!

  7. …and here I thought I was the only infidel, scorning the Pony Pearls that so many knitters love. Those blunt tips – – using ’em was like trying to play piano with your elbows. Marina’s beautiful.

  8. Gah! 326 mice!

    Better call an exterminator.

  9. Which came first, Frogner or Marina? *chuckle* That’s really interesting that it’s so similar… I shouldn’t be that surprised though because it is a wonderful pattern – looks intricate without being busy, and has just enough contrast in the pattern to show off color change either in the two color or the fair isle.

    and really, I liked the contest! Gave me an excuse to finally catch up on some of your older blog entries, seeing as how I’m a newer reader ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. Marina is the older pattern, but I’m betting this is a traditional motif.

    My close-up photo of Marina today is not so hot! It’s mushed together on the needle and not a great quality (as I think I compressed it too much when I was editing).

    It’s really much prettier in person.

  11. Dang, Sammi, you beat me to the punch! Find this very interesting, though.

  12. That’s pretty amazing (the pattern similarity, I mean), especially when you consider how close together you’ve knit them. What are the odds? (Of course, now I’m going to be scouring the internet’s legal databases for Starmore v. Dale copyright actions! ;-))

    I like Brittany dpns, too. I have them in size 1, and didn’t have any breakage trouble. (Of course, I just knit stst socks with them so far — didn’t try any cables or twisting yet.) I also got a set of casein dpns (size 3) that are interesting to use. They might be considered too blunt for some, but I didn’t have any problem with the points.

  13. wendy,

    Have you ever tried the Bryspun shorties, they hava a great tapered tip. Only complaint is that they are not made in sizes smaller than 2 (not that I really adore knitting on anything too much smaller).I ordered a full set once I tried them. I like the Ppearls but too long with socks for me. Hello Ketzela! deb

  14. Hi Wendy,

    I highly recommend Crystal Palace bamboo needles for socks…. they come in a set of 5 in a 6″ length. This brand is made by an 80 yr. old Japanese company. The needles are not coated, but are soaked in a resin bath to harden them.

    However, for the small sizes (2.00mm/2.25mm) I have found that the Crystal Palace needle points are actually too sharp and prefer Pony Pearls for knitting.

    The Crystal Palace sharp points bother me as I use my pointer finger to push the needle back through a stitch after wrapping the yarn.

    I have lots of Crystal Palace DPs and have never had one break… I have had some of the small size needles adjust to my hand pressure by curving a little.

    Colleen in Kansas City

  15. I echo everyone else in saying that Marina is gorgeous. Just wondering, is that a photo of Marina on the cover of Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting?

    I got the book years ago at my local yarn shop and it is definitely a keeper. It even is autographed by Alice.

  16. Debala, the Bryspun shorties are too big for me — I usually knit socks on a size 0. The Ketzala sez to tell you “Oy, meow!”

    Colleen, I have the Crystal Palace bamboos, but don’t like them. As you say, in the small size they are too pointy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Purl, I don’t have the book in front of me, but as I recall, it’s Mara on the cover of the Fair Isle knitting book.

  17. “Brittany Birch dpns in the 7.5″ length” – me, too – BUT – managed to step on a needle when trying on a sock, and now have four short ones and three at 7.5″.
    Just whittle the ends back to a point, and you have double the needles for the same price. (And don’t ask me how I did the same thing twice – just talented, I guess.)
    So if you send your broken Brittany needles to Wendy, she won’t need to buy more needles. LOL.

  18. Wendy- I love, love, love Marina and I must knit that!!!! Well, after my gazillion projects I have to finish, but I do need to make something for myself for winter…. Is it a crime to commit yourself to projects you have been trying to finish, THEN throw that (not the yarn, but the commitment) all away and start a new one? I feel guilty… but eh, it will still be there right?!? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I just started using two circulars for socks…. Hard to start them out on those but great for traveling (make the DH drive every weekend so I can knit socks). I love my Inox dpn because they come in small sizes and are fast. But I also like Crystal Palace and Suzanne’s… Although I think the smallest Suzanne’s I own are 2.5mm and I use those for Regia6 for hats.

    Ketzela Sam says MEOW to Lucy and that he is now an outdoor kitty (remember, he the world’s most expensive kitty).

  19. Brittany DPNs – Are these not the kind that if they break you can just contact the company and they will send you new ones? I have had to call on it once with a pair of US10 wooden DPN’s I got – for some reason the pair I bought actually had a crack up the middle of one of them, like someone stepped on it in the LYS.

    They were nice and said they replace all that break because there is a lifetime gaurantee on it. Nice company and I think it was Brittany!

  20. I Love my Brittanys! I’ve used them for so long now that they have a little bit of a curve to them … they fit really nice in my hands ๐Ÿ™‚
    WOW! the similarity between Frogner and Marina is uncanny *lol*

  21. Well, can I be the odd person out and advocate Inox DPs for the small sizes. I find the Brittany Birch (which I love for size 4 and above) snap in the smaller sizes. I really like the Birch needles in both the short and long sizes. I don’t like Pony Pearls at all. My very favorites are Areos, which are mighty hard to find, and the DPs are 8″ so not exactly sock size, but I like ’em.

  22. I’m always curious about how different needles work for different folks. I’m in love with my Crystal Palace bamboos, but I do have to say that I have managed to injure my left index finger with repeated needle pushing (same thing Colleen is talking about), and the 2mm size that I’m using right now seems to manage to stab me regularly. (Okay, okay, I stab myself.) I also thought the Pony Pearl tips were far too blunt, but I haven’t gotten a pair of the 2mm ones yet.

    I have several pairs of the birch in larger sizes, but I always felt like they were “grabby,” and kept the stitches from sliding easily. But I don’t think I’ve tried them in small sizes. My fave 2mm DPs for years were the Inox gray “Sock and Glove” needles that come in a 6″ length. Come to think of it, I don’t know why I haven’t tried them for socks.

    More experimenting is clearly called for!

  23. Question for AJ about the felt ball: Did you have to do anything special with the bell? I have bells and felt, but I was worried that the bell might be muted by felt around it if I didn’t make some sort of casing.

  24. Hey you guys! I love my INOX! As for the finger injuries (which I do get on my Crystal Palaces) I use quilter’s thimbles… No, not the kind that swallow your fingers in a sheath, but little dots of leather that stick to your fingertip. You can reapply the dots to your fingers for about the length of time you make a pair of socks (that is if you don’t put anything greasy on the sticky part like lotion). I also smudge pure shea butter on my hands and fingers every night to prevent the cracking.

  25. you know what just occured to me, sitting at lunch, working on a sock … the Frogner motif would be gorgeous on a Christmas stocking! I have been mulling over making stockings for some of the folks in my family this year and now I’m thinking I’ll be breaking out the knitting graph paper and seeing if I can’t chart something similar to use for just that!

    You know, maybe there’s a contest idea… finding sources of free traditional motif charts online *grin*

  26. Ingrid – I bet you could use a pre-fab plastic cat ball (I call them jingle balls or jangle balls, depending on the tone) inside a ball of felted wool. The plastic ball would allow the bell to move around freely and ring, but it probably wouldn’t be quite as loud as the plain ball itself. (This, btw, would be a good thing. I’ve eliminated those *&^%$ balls from my house because they kept us up at night!)

  27. Ingrid, Andrea is correct. Use a plastic ball with the bell inside it (4 for $1 at the Dollar Store) and wrap fleece around it. Stuff it in the toe of an old nylon, tie off, and wash. Don’t put in dryer. That’s all there is. Other questions, just write.

  28. I’m a sock-knitting freak: not in terms of enthusiasm, but in terms of nobody seeming to knit them the way I do. I take a single 12″ addi turbo, knit around and around from the top down, switch to skacel glove needles for the heel, go back to my single circ for the foot, and do the toes on the glove needles. all this requires is for me to use a single marker to note the beginning of a new round.

    Now here’s the bummer – I was waiting on doing the mousies until mid-September, and I was planning to do about 10, but events have rushed on ahead of me and now I can’t send any at all – the time when I thought I’d be making mousies, it now appears that I will be moving. I’m super-bummed about this, but it looks like everyone else is definitely picking up the slack! (& maybe I’ll still find time for one or two mousies, at least.)

  29. PS – very glad to see the Frogner/Marina comparison. There are a few designs from Tudor Roses that I’ve been thinking of doing in just two colors – foreground and background – to minimize the striping effect. But it can be hard to picture what this would look like, so thanks so much for posting a pic that demonstrates it really well!

  30. Marina and the Technicolor Frogner!

  31. Purl,
    I too have Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting. She came to our local knitting guild and taught a Fair Isle class. I bought this book then and she autographed it for me. This all happened in 1988 and I also picked her up at the airport when she arrived and could not believe that she was riding in my car.Neat, neat lady just like Wendy!
    BTW Wendy—The new J JIll catalogue has allot of very nice BOOTS that meade me think of you!