My current work in progress:

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


Don’t Hate Me Because I Am Beautiful!


No one can accuse me of being vain after seeing that photo.

Besides, it’s just silly. Those are Ian’s glasses.


Lucy declined to wear the glasses. She’s a smart little girl.

I’m Hooked!

. . . on Booga Bags!

Thanks again, Julie, for sharing this pattern with all of us. I just can’t stop knitting them!

As I mentioned yesterday, my current bag is in Kureyon 55, shades of brown and cream . . . like Lucy. I’ve got a bunch of Kureyon in this colorway, thanks to L-B, who sent it to me in a trade. So I’m making a bigger bag for myself. I love how the bags stand up by themselves, so I wanted to make one to use as a commuting knitting bag/purse. So I wanted it bigger.

I have cast on 60 stitches instead of the 34 called for. I plan on knitting 40 rows for the bottom, rather than the 34 called for. I want it a little bit deeper from front to back, but not double. The pattern has you knit 64 rounds after you pick up stitches around the bottom. I’ll play that by ear. I do like the height of the bag as it is, so I might not mess with that, or if I do, just a few more rounds.

I’m going to knit a rectangle to felt and sew on the outside as a pocket (maybe 40 stitches wide?) and if I have enough yarn, I’ll knit a pocket for the inside too. And a skinny rectangle to make a tab to use as a closure on top. I may make a big buttonhole in it and look for a “fun” toggle button to use.

The possibilities are endless. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll post a photo of my bag in progress when I’ve got enough to give you some idea of the colors and striping sequence.

Teaching Knitting

A question in yesterday’s comments on teaching beginner knitters.

What I have done in the past is to cast on stitches and knit the first row, then give it to the student and explain/demonstrate the knit stitch.

My experience is that casting on can be scary to a new knitter. Knitting the first round after casting on can be difficult too. I like to see students get comfy with the knit stitch before I make them cast on.

When said student seems to have gotten the hang of “knit,” I teach purl. I don’t like to wait too long before teaching how to purl, because of my own experience. I knew how to knit years before I learned how to purl. I detest purling, and I blame that gap between learning the two skills. I think if someone learns knitting and purling almost simultaneously, it’ll be easier.

What do you all think?



Mmmmmmmm . . . it’s just plain yummy to knit. A real stress-buster! The pattern is intricate enough to keep my interest but simple enough to be a pretty quick knit. And the 2-ply Hebridean wool? If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to do so. It’s soft and springy and a sensory delight to knit!

What the Heck is with the Weather?

The forecast for yesterday was in the low 80s. I think we broke a record for heat. It’s supposed to get to 81 today. As you can see, Lucy does not approve of such heat in November!



  1. you got me hooked on the booga bag too! i made a little envelope purse with the leftovers, if it looks good felted i’ll let you know ๐Ÿ˜‰ how about doing a loop in the i-cord edging for a button (if you b/o with i-cord)?

  2. Karen in Denmark says:

    I’m hooked too. Thanks for sharing your how-to’s and progress on the larger version of the Booga Bag. I’m afraid I made my first attempt too small. It doesn’t stand up on it’s own so I must have done something wrong. But I love it anyway and I love the Kureyon yarn.

    Thanks Wendy, too, for getting me hooked on Virtual Yarns. I am knitting a simple scarf (Bird’s Foot) in Hebridean 2 ply, Mara. It’s beautiful yarn to work with.

    Stay cool, Lucy!

  3. Karen, one of the colors in Amphora is Mara — it’s gorgeous, isn’t it?

    Vanessa, the i-cord loop idea is brilliant!

  4. Count me in as being hooked on bogga bags, too. You were the one who hooked me! I made my first one in #52, and it took me (a relatively new knitter) less than a week to finish. When I get paid on Friday, it’s back to the yarn shop to find Kureyon to suit my 17 year old daughter’s taste…she loves my bag. I’m going to do your idea for an outside pocket. Why didn’t I think of that?

  5. I agree- for a beginner, learning to purl is equally important as learning to “knit”. I learned both right away at the beginning and have never had a problem.
    But how do you teach someone new to knitting how to use more than one yarn for knitting FI?

  6. OMG…I laughed out loud when I visited your blog today. SO love that photo. Tee hee! Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. Wendy, thanks for sharing your method for teaching newbies how to knit. I find that the biggest challenge is how to get them over the hurdle of their first dropped stitch(es). Any ideas?

  8. Wendy, I’m going to start a larger Booga bag today following your directions; I love my first bag but find that it is a bit small for my needs. I made two bags from The Constant Companion pattern from Knitter’s Stash but they are a bit large, so I think that this size that you’re trying will be perfect. The I-cord bind off and loop for the button works perfectly. I did it on the first Booga bag — also knitted in a knotted I-cord button, but think that I’ll get a large ‘artsy’ button for this bag. I’m using colorway 40 on this one. Are you using size 10.5 (US) needles?

    Thanks so much; great blog — one of the first that I read each morning with my coffee.

    Janet in NY

  9. Those glasses are totally goofy! I’d like a pair myself, no wait, three pair! Amphora is so much more tempting on your website than at VY…I wonder why that is? Have a good work day!

  10. Wendy, I agree that when I was a newbie, if I didn’t learn to purl fairly soon, that would have been a problem. When I first learned how to knit, I actually preferred purling, I thought it was simpler. I don’t mind purling at all. Also, definitely do not have the new knitter trying to cast on. My knitting instructor did the same thing, cast on for us and knit the first row or two before we began knitting. It really helped. As we were very eager, but obviously no idea what we were doing, that would have been too much trying to learn the cast on the first night. It took us awhile to catch on to that on.

  11. Amphora is so beautiful. I see a christmas present for myself coming…

  12. I just looked at the picture of Amphora on Virtual Yarns and it doesn’t seem to show anywhere near as beautifully as your sweater is turning out.

    Now that I’m enjoying my Fair Isle vest so much, I may have to try another one in the amazing two ply Hebridean yarn.

    You are definitely an evil woman.

  13. I don’t mind purling or rib stitching and I guess its because I learned to knit by knitting a pattern that required me to do both. However, in knitting my first two-color Dale, I find it very soothing to be knitting in the round. Especially after receiving ‘permission’ to knit with both colors in one hand, and feel comfortable throwing the background(below) and picking the contrasting (above).

    So thanks Wendy for modeling knitting ‘outside the lines’:>)

  14. Those glasses are too funny! I really needed that laugh today! Thanks,Wendy!

  15. Amphora is charming and the intricacy of the pattern must be fun compared with the bold PiS leaves.

    You can find your jeans size by grabbing each end of the waistband and wrapping it around your neck. “If the two ends meet right at your nape, the pants will fit you.”

    This, from jeans designer Alvin Valley. He learned this secret from European tailors.

    I read it in Cosmo so it must be true.

  16. I taught myself to purl literally minutes after I taught myself how to knit. I’ve always been confused when people say they hate purling since I don’t notice a difference in difficulty or time spent with the stitch. Often, when I’m ‘in the zone’ I have to actually look at the work to remember whether I’m purling or knitting – both are automatic and feel the same once I get the row started…
    In case that sounds ambivalent (ha!), it’s one vote for learning to purl straight away!

  17. Karen in MN says:

    Wendy, we got 4 inches of snow yesterday. If you’re tired of your 80 degrees you can have some …


  18. The photos remind me of when the nephew got a Mr. Potato-Head. Of course, we all had to try on the galsses. Giggle-snort. Makes for good memories and pix.

    When I first learned to knit, and maybe this is a lefty thing, I learned both K and P, but I found purling to be so much easier to see and do. Nobody else seems to have had this experience, and I’m the only lefty knitter around. Makes me wonder.

  19. You and Ian are definitely people with a sense of humor. Ya!

    That sweater is majestic.

  20. Count another one hooked on booga bags. Although I’m just finishing up my first one, I already have future ones dancing in my head! Amphora is looking gorgeous. I was going to do a Dale sweater next, but may have to revise that! What guage does the Hebredian knit to? Could you substitute it for the 2-ply jumper weight that Starmore uses in many of her patterns? I love the colors in the Smith & Jamieson Shetland, but it is rather coarse – is the Hebredian softer? Thanks again for sharing all your experience with us!

  21. I work in Southwest DC, and I agree wholeheartedly. The weather is NUTS!

  22. With all the novelty yarns around, it is relatively easy for a new knitter to make a wearable scarf as a first project. So, after a little bit of swatching, I have the new knitter knit a scarf in garter stitch. When she or he has finished that, I have them purl a scarf in garter stitch. At that point they are either comfortable with both or they will never be a passionate knitter. Then we tackle smoother yarn, casting on, unknitting and other basics.

  23. I learned to knit & purl somewhere around the age of 10. My sister had me jump right into knitting from a pattern, so it was necessary to know both. And as soon as I had the knit stitch down, she taught me to cast on. We didn’t know about the long-tail method, we just knitted them on. So my answer would be that I think new knitters should learn both knit & purl as close together as possible. As a result of learning simultaneously, I never thought purling was drudgery. What I personally think is drudgery is seed stitch!!

  24. Wendy — You are welcome! It just makes me happy to see so many people having fun with it. Thanks for sharing pictures of your bags. I can’t wait to see your larger sized one.

  25. Wendy, I agree with your teaching method. I’ve been volunteering at a school where we’re teaching 3rd graders to knit. The mess of casting on is really frustrating the kids. I’m going to recommend your method. I think it will really move things along. Thanks for another wonderful idea!

  26. Renee in CO says:

    I vote for learning to purl very soon or simultaneous to learning to knit. That’s how I did it, and I’m pretty much at ease either way. Plus, for me getting to do more complicated patterns earlier was very motivating. I remember being exciting about how simple ribbing was and how much it looked like a ‘real’ sweater.

  27. Have to say I totally agree with your teaching approach. I usually cover knit, purl, cast on and cast off in the first hour and a half session. And I also agree that waiting too long to learn the purl stitch causes a dread of it. Personally I don’t mind purling. I’m thinking of teaching it first and the knit stitch, just to see if it makes any difference.

  28. I’ve taught several people at work how to knit. I follow the same philosophy. Once they’re doing a knit stitch evenly, then I introduce the purl stitch. When they feel comfortable with the purl stitch, then I show them a few ways to cast on. I think once you know the difference between a knit & purl stitch and can visually identify how they look in knitted fabric, it’s easier to show different cast on methods and how they affect your first row when you work different patterns.

    Once they can cast on, I usually have them pick out a stitch pattern out of my stitch treasury books and we go through the process of how to read knitting instructions. I think the most daunting aspect for a new knitter is understanding written instructions. It can be intimidating trying to figure out what “dec 1 k st. each end every 4th row, then every following 2 rows” means.

    Have fun with your knitting newbies, they’re lucky to have a great knitter like you to guide them!

  29. A day late and a dollar short — I love the completed PiS. The colors are very flattering on you. You continue to amaze me with your knitting talent!

    Oh, we have snow — yea!!! I’m not sick of it yet, though, so won’t offer to send you some. But ask me in January or February and I’m sure I’ll be ready by then!

    In beautiful Utah.

  30. Tee hee! Just like Jojo said earlier, they look like Mr. Potato Head’s glasses (Diva has one) and of course, the DH and I had to try them on!!!!

    I learned to knit with the knit stitch and didn’t really learn the purl stitch till about a year after that.. I never retained that lesson from my mother! When I picked up the needles again, about 4 years ago, I automatically knew the knit stitch and had a vague clue how to purl. As soon as remembered, with the help of Katerina Buss’ The Big Book of Knitting, I was off and running….

    And I’m not just running, I am hooked! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  31. I recommend learning both simulaneously. My first project was a stockinette scarf with garter edges. My next project was a pair of socks. So I might not be the best judge! ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. Wendy —
    I have also been thinking about how to go about making a larger Booga Bag — so I would really be interested in hearing your experience. If you are satisfied with what you are doing — could you share the revised pattern with us?

  33. When I teach knitting (not purling), I start with the poem that the Waldorf School uses:

    In the front door
    circle round the back
    peek through the windown
    out jumps Jack!

    I even get the kids (and adults) to write it out a number of times before we start. Then, I have them recite it as the’re learning how to knit. It really helps to keep kids (and adults) looking at their knitting and not at whatever is going on across the room.

    I also cast on between 10 -12 stitches before I hand the knitting over to the student.

    If, when they make mistakes, they start saying they can’t do it, or don’t have the patience to knit, I say that it’s OK to make mistakes and later on I’ll show them how to fix them and that knitting teaches patience.

  34. Whoops that’s

    In THROUGH the front door
    circle ’round the back
    peek through the window
    out jumps Jack!

  35. catafishy says:

    Funny thing, I just began teaching my 5-year-old how to knit yesterday. Since I pesonally never felt any much difference between K or P as far as skills required, I decided to teach her purl first so she could better see the yarn as it is pulled through to form a new stitch. She is getting the idea quite nicely and was able to grasp the mechanics of K quite easily after that. The main stumbling blocks for us right now are the size of her hands vs the size of the needles- half mine – and getting her coordinated so she’s not dropping stitches.

    Just a thought – when I taught her to use chopsticks, I bought her kid-sized ones which are really basic equipment in every Japanese household. She learned in two nights. Anybody got any ideas about kid-sized needles? I don’t want to give her Dp’s with rubberbands around the back ends because that’s too makeshift, and dowels I think will be frustrating because the yarn won’t move nicely along them.

  36. I’m so glad you sparked this discussion. I’m going to be teaching a knitting class next spring through community education, and I hadn’t thought about letting them dive in and learning cast on after knit and purl. However, I don’t think I want them all waiting around for me to get everyone cast on before I can even show them HOW to knit. So I think I’ll cast them on and teach them cast on at the same time, saying to try it while I work on someone else’s, and if they don’t like their results, I’ll redo it for them. That way they’re still doing something while I’m working.

  37. Hi Wendy,

    if you liked a really BIG (approx. 10 cm diameter) round wooden button for your BBB (bigger Booga Bag :-)), I’d love to send you the one I have.

    It was made by my friend’s boyfriend and given to me about 12 years ago, and although I like it, I haven’t found any use for it ever since, ’cause it’s too big for a sweater or even coat. But for a bag, I think it might make a very nice and decorative closure.

    I’d be delighted and honoured if you used it in one of your projects!
    Reading your blog and beeing excited,

    Brno, Czech Republic

  38. Ok, lots of catching up….

    PiS (the leaf sweater) is gorgeous!!

    Amphora is even prettier if that’s possible…it was eh at the VY website but in your able hands wendy, a symphony!!

    Lucy’s fluffy winter coat is so cute! Even tho we’re in Florida, Jaxon and Mickie still get thiers too. But we just got buzz cuts so no hair round here ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m getting a digi camera in 2 weeks, maybe I’ll send some friskiecake shots of Jaxon for Lucy’s “private collection”.

    I’m making a Booga Bag in color #95 (just like Julie’s original, thanks Julie!!)but I wanted mine a little larger too….I’m getting 3 sts/inch but had to go up to size #13 needles!! I cast on 40 stitches and worked 40 rows for the bottom. I think I will knit 65 -70 rows (I like the height as it is in the original) and will do an I-cord bind-off while knitting in the “holes” for the straps a la constant companion. I also really like TWO straps so I’ve already knitted 2 5 1/2 foot i-cords…whew, like you said the possibilities are endless!

    Last but not least, I teach knitting exactly as you described…I cast on and knit the first row and let the student learn the knit stitch then we do purling and the cast on. Works every time ๐Ÿ˜‰