My current work in progress:

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


Ingeborg — Some Nuts and Bolts

Those of you who have been reading WendyKnits for a while know that I often stray from the front steek technique as written in Dale patterns.

The pattern usually instructs you to implement a four-stitch steek for the front of a cardigan. Once the body is done, to create the front bands, you machine stitch the steek (same technique as for armhole steeks) and cut. Then, pick up stitches for the front band using a crochet hook.

I followed the instructions for a couple of Dale cardis, but was always concerned about picking up stitches with so little “real estate” in the steeks. The stitch and cut works great for the armholes, because you don’t pick up stitches around the armholes — you sew in sleeves. No strain on the steeks there.

So I worked out my own steek technique for the front.

At the beginning of the first round where you need to start steeking (on Ingeborg that’s after you complete the facing and bottom band), cast on five stitches, place a marker, knit the first round, place a marker, cast on five stitches. On the next round you join and start knitting in the round. On Ingeborg, this first round is done in one color, different from the color of the bottom band, so it’s easy to simply cast on stitches on the left hand needle, then continue on knitting the stitches already there. If there were two colors used in this round, I would cast on the stitches in alternate colors.

Of those ten stitches, the middle eight are worked in alternate colors on the two-color rounds, and the two stitches on the outer edges are always worked in the background color.

Here is my front steek in progress.


Note that I’ve done my steek in stripes. You could also do it in a checkerboard pattern, which I used to do. But I find it easier to cut down the center if I’ve knitted stripes. My eyes try to play tricks on me with a checkerboard!

Once you’ve machine-stitched, cut, picked up stitches, and knit your front bands, you can trim your steeks to a two- or three-stitch width.

This method of course uses more yarn, but I’ve got extra to spare. I originally planned to make Ingeborg in size medium, but decided to make the size small (it’s that old self-image thing again — I’m not really as huge as I think I am). And I bought enough yarn to make one size up from medium, as it’s my experience that Dale patterns often underestimate the amount of yarn required.

So yeah. I’m covered for yarn!

I have been known in the past to employ a neck steek for Dales instead of casting off and knitting back and forth. I’m thinking about that now. What to do . . . I can do the neck steek and fudge the decreases, or I could simply knit up a tube and machine stitch the neck shaping and cut away the excess.

Or I could actually follow the pattern and cast off the stitches as directed and knit back and forth. It wouldn’t kill me.

I’ll decide later. And you’ll be the first to know when I do.

The moral of all this is:

Just because they wrote the pattern doesn’t mean that they know what will work best for you. Be wild! Be crazy! Be a rebel!

Over at the Ingeborg Group, one of the knit-alongers has done her bottom band in Koigu that coordinates with the colors of the body pattern. And it looks fabulous. Thinking outside the box at its finest!

By the way, Kitty Lucy was modelling Ingeborg yesterday. Her cafe au lait fur makes the purrfect backdrop, I think!

Today she was too busy sitting under the sun lamp at the kitty day spa to bother with my knitting.


Lucy Sweater and Cotton Cashmere

Some questions in the comments yesterday about both.

The Lucy sweater will have short sleeves with the same lace around the bottom as the bottom of the sweater. The body of the sweater is regular ol’ stockinette.

Here it is:


And a lace close-up:


Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere. Mmmmmmmm . . . yummy. And this from a “I Hate To Knit With Cotton” kinda gal. Just goes to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks, eh?

L-B turned me on to this yarn — she’s knitting with it right now and has been waxing lyrical about it. Impressionable gal that I am, I had to buy some up to try it out.

It’s very soft, but with nice stitch definition. I wouldn’t say that you can really feel the cashmere, but it doesn’t feel like knitting with twine, like some cottons I’ve knit with recently that shall remain nameless (cough::Kolibri::cough). All in all, a very pleasant yarn to knit.

WendyKnits gives it two thumbs up!


  1. “it’s that old self-image thing again — I’m not really as huge as I think I am”

    From someone who’s hugged her in person, let me tell her readers, Wendy is itty-bitty. Really. She’s a wee thing, with fabulous boots.


  2. Awwwww thanks Rachael!

    Your check is in the mail. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  3. Cheryl F. says:

    Although I had too many Dales in the fire to participate with the Ingeborg, It will be great to watch your progress (as usual). Lovely Lucy pattern (and kitty). Stay cool!

    Cheryl F. in AL

  4. I hope the pleasure of the Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere makes up for talking you into the Kolibri! ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I highly recommended the Cotton Cashmere for cable knitting!

  5. that is a truly beautiful pic of lucy ,

  6. I hope everyone is itching like me to get a copy of your “Lucy” pattern so we can order some of Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere and get started. That is a fabulous sweater.

    Kitty Lucy is looking superb today.

    Have a good day.

  7. Thanks for yet another steeking lesson, Wendy. I’m about to sew the steek on my Dale baby cardigan and reading your wonderful articles and blog entries takes the fear out of steeking.

  8. jocelyn says:

    Oh I really do like lucy its very chicy chich chich, have a nice day!

  9. Great picture of Lucy–both ragdoll and Cotton Cashmere!

    I am drooling over the Lucy sweater–and would love to make one myself! Maybe when you get the pattern ready for public consumption, we could do a knit-along? I’m sure there is plenty of interest!

    As always, you rock.

  10. Mary Catherine says:

    Wendy, I really like your site and the opportunity to vicariously knit with you every morning. My question: I do not see, unless my Coke bottle specs deceive me, the “My Glass House” blog listed among the “Blogs I Read.” Did anything happen to Rachael, has she given up Blogging in order to write her novel? Please advise.

    Thank you

  11. Wendy in CA says:

    Wow, Wendy, I am intrigued by your steek method. I’m curious how you cast on your stitches for the steek — does it matter which cast-on method you use? I didn’t see it mentioned, so my apologies if you’ve gone over it before and I missed it!

  12. I can’t wait to get a copy of the Lucy pattern! It’s exactly what I’ve been in the mood to knit lately. I’m hoping the Haiti shell from Dale will hold me over until you make Lucy available!

  13. The itch to use DB Cotton Cashmere is overwhelming…Lucy is looking good!

  14. Wendy,

    Your motivation for your steek technique puzzled me, because I don’t think I strain the cut threads at all when I pick up stitches at a narrow steek. My understanding of the Dale instructions was to use the crochet hook to pick up stitches using a new piece of yarn along the back. When I learned to knit in Norway, I was instructed to pick up stitches by simply twisting a bit of the yarn from each of the existing stitches near the edge. That was difficult and did strain the stitches. The new thread along the back side of the work, on the other hand, makes for a very even flat band, and is a quick process. If the instructions say what the total number to pick up should be, I count the number of rows to calculate the ratio necessary. Eg, instructions say 150 stitches need to be created, and the garment has 200 rows, so I insert my crochet hook to pick up the yarn through 3 out of 4 stitches up along the steek. But I’m tall, so I sometimes make my sweaters longer. In that case, I measure my gauge vertically and horizontally, so I know what percent of rows need to be picked up. If the placket should have 30 stitches in 10 cm, I might have about 40 rows in 10 cm on the body, so I would create a new stitch in 3 out of 4 of the rows as I work my way up. Depending on the project, that ratio might be closer to 4 out of 5 (or some other easily used ratio). When you do it this way with a new piece of yarn on the back, you have a nice even line on the back to sew the folded placket edge to, as well (with exactly the same number of stitches). If you end up with a few too many stitches (compared to your pattern repeat) you can always knit two together a few times evenly spaced up the line on the first row.

  15. Lucy at the spa…. HA! love it!

  16. That self-image thing… I’m struggling with it right now myself. For a long time I was making things that were too big, because I thought that’s how big I was. One day a friend told me that I think I’m bigger than I am. Lightbulb moment. I still struggle over what size to make though. I don’t know why I’m afraid of making anything in the smaller size, but it seems I am, no matter how much I tell myself its just a label.

  17. Linette says:

    Speaking of kolibri. Many years ago, when I didn’t know any better, I used it to knit an entire gansey (AS’ Stornoway) in the XL size for my husband. I finished it, it’s lovely, and it weighs about 20 lbs. He never wears it. Live and learn, sigh.

  18. Wendy,

    Your Lucy pattern is really beautiful, I’m sure we will all race to knit it when you provide/sell the pattern!

    THANKS for a view of your front steeks. With my last Dale I felt the front steek as they described to be a bit skimpy also!

  19. Lucy’s fur looks all smooth and fresh. Have you two been throwing Botox parties again? Girl, you’d better invite me next time!