My current work in progress:

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


Life on the Edge

Because I’m slogging through miles of stockinette stitch on my handspun shawl, I’m letting my mind wander.

Well, I’m letting it wander more than usual.

I’m thinking about an edging for the shawl. I’ve pretty much decided I don’t want fringe. I’m not a big fan of the fringe on shawls. I’m thinking more along the lines of a simple lace edging, knitted on sideways to the live stitches at the bottom edge of the shawl.

You know what I mean, right? Nothing too fancy-schmancy, as this is worsted weight handspun. Dainty delicate fairy lace just won’t do. I need some beefy lace, if such a thing exists. Time to get out the stitch dictionaries. And my copy of Knitting on the Edge.

I was interested to read your comments on knitting backwards. I am lefthanded, and I wonder if that has something to do with being able to knit backwards easily. I can write mirror-image as fast as I can write normally. Do any of you lefties out there do that? When I was in college, I took all my notes mirror image, so that other people wouldn’t ask to borrow my class notes. (No, sharing was never one of my strong suits.)

Oh, and I do hold the yarn in the same hand (my left hand) whether knitting backward or forward.

Spinning . . .

Melanie asked:
Your spinning is looking very consistent. I am also a beginning spinner but haven’t worked with a variety of fibers. I’m curious as to how you enjoyed each of the fibers you have spun and how you find one different from another.

As some of you may recall, I ordered a couple of sampler packs of fibers from Jen at Spirit-Trail. This was a great idea. In my two packs I got approximately 14 different fibers, each in the amount of 1 ounce. I’ve been spinning these up and noting which fibers I liked better than others. I think my top two at this point are Rambouillet and Shetland. Though I started spinning up something last night with the somewhat bizarre name of “chocolate cvm.” I have since figured out that “cvm” stands for “California Varigated Mutant.” Anyhow, I do like this mutant wool. All the stuff I like best is soft and springy.

Here’s my “cvm.”


The only one I actively did not like was the Leceister Longwool. It was extremely easy to spin, but the resulting yarn is somewhat coarse and hairy. I’ve knitted it into my shawl and I’m not fond of how it knits up, either. But it’s just one little bitty stripe, so it’s staying there.

Scarf It Up!

Update photo:


And an extreme close-up:


Things That Make Me Nuts

J.C. Penney’s tv ad for their “big sale.” The background music for the ad is Pete Townshend’s Let My Love Open the Door.




  1. Alice in Richmond says:

    Do you think Pete needed money??

    Yes, I can and do write backwards. You taught me by the way, circa 1975, along with helping me with my knitting. Thanks Wendy!

  2. Kathy Hinckley says:

    For the shawl edging: How about some variety of picot castoff, as in or ? It’s a little faster than a lace edging, not too big for worsted weight, and will give the little touch of glam you’re looking for to the otherwise plain stripes.

    I “knit back back” whenever I do bobbles, and then promptly forget how, and have to relearn it each time. Doesn’t take too long to relearn though. πŸ˜‰ Can’t write backwards. Righty; maybe you’re right–um, correct–about handedness being a factor.

    –Kathy in L.A.

  3. Kathy Hinckley says:

    One more thing about picot castoff: It’s very elastic, no cupping or puckering along your edge. In fact, it might flare a little. One or two more “plain” castoffs between the picots solves that. –K.

  4. What is it that makes you nuts, just the fact that they used such a classic rocker’s classic tune? Does he still own the rights to the song? I know I was incensed the other day to hear the Beatles “Across the Universe” on a commercial (I even forget what the product was; I was too busy giving my husband a “what the hell?” look. I think Michael Jackson still owns those rights, or am I wrong?


    So anyway, just writing to say that I understand completely! Ugh.

  5. Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life on the cruise commercials is the longstanding bane of my musical existence.

  6. Another lefty — I don’t make a hibt of writing backwards, but I definitely can, and actually, my penmanship when I write backwards is better than forwards. πŸ™‚ When I write left-to-right, it’s the typical lefthander’s scribble, but right-to-left, and suddenly it looks like a first-grade handwriting primer. I don’t know if we are just better at imagining things spatially inherently, or because we spend our whole lives flipping things in our heads.

  7. My daughter is a lefty and she writes much easier mirrored than normal. I also knit backwards, holding the yarn in my left hand. I find it interesting that while I normally pick, when knitting back I have to throw. I have a lot of difficulty holding my yarn in my right hand.

  8. Do you have Melanie Falick’s Weekend Knitting? There is a great knitted edge for the Perfect Pie Shawl that you might be able to adapt. There’s also a crocheted edge, but I think the knitted one is not only prettier, but it is also more substantial. Might even qualify for “beefy.”

  9. Leicester is great for weaving, I’ve read. The corseness makes a more durable product. I bet it would be good for needle felting or wet felting too (ooh, for slippers or something!). Good thing you got to try 1 oz. instead of blindly buying a whole pound!

  10. I am also a lefty and find that my knitting backward is a very even tension with my knitting frontwards. I can pick or throw with either hand. I have never thought about writing mirror image – I’ll have to try it some time. I do know that I have read in more than one place that near-sighted left handed people have higher IQs. I always figured that it was because we are forced to use both sides of our brain on a regular basis.

  11. I’m a lefty, although with serious ambidextrous leanings (I can write neatly with my right hand as long as I concentrate although its slow). When I first learned to write it was by mirroring the motions of my right-handed older sister and father (mum is a fellow lefty-who, ironically, taught me how to knit right-handed, and crochet left.) Until I was 13 or 14 and the wall got painted over there was a marking on the wall that I made when I was three or so. my name, perfectly mirrored in pristine handwriting. so good, in fact, that my family often referred to me as einnob during my childhood.

  12. Another lefty here. I can knit backwards as well and use it for stockinette. I can also write mirror image too, although the only time I took notes that way I used all capital letters, but it still went quite quickly.
    Clearly, lefties rule.

  13. I’m more than a little envious of your spinning! I did a bit of handspinning for a fibers class when I was in college and some of it came out beautifully, and some of it looked like total crap. Then I had to give the spindle back to the prof., so I haven’t thought about it since then.

    The big problem with the JcPenney ads is that it’s always the “biggest sale of the season.” Most commercials make me nuts because their jingles get stuck in my head and I’ll walk around singing them for days upon days.

  14. I’m a lefty and knit completely left-handed, from the right hand needle to the left. I can knit “backwards” (right-handed), and do when I teach others to knit. Currently I am making an afghan for my daughters boyfriend and do some of the purl rows backwards. Not yet thoughtless, but it doesn’t take any longer than purling. I have always noticed that lefties, even profoundly lefties like myself, can better adapt, if only because we have to.

  15. I’m not left-handed but my dad is and he can backward, upside-down, upside-down and backwards-with either hand. Almost everything craft-wise I learned from him so I prefer learning via mirror image.

  16. Do you know how to crochet? I did a real pretty edging to a shawl. I’ll photograph it tonight and email it you. If you like it I’ll find the instructions. I liked the knitting backwards I showed my Mom and she flipped! not an easy thing to do by the by. hugs to kitty!

  17. I’m a lefty who taught herself to knit right handed. I, too, can write backwards, but not fast (unless I practice). I use right-handed scissors, bat right handed, golf right handed, etc. It’s called Incomplete Brain Dominance…not truly ambidextrous but I mix it up. Drove my 2nd grade teacher nutty when we were learning cursive writing and I’d write my letter neatly with my right hand on the board and then sit at my desk and write with my left hand. πŸ™‚

    As far as spinning wool, I think you’ll find the shorter, finer fibers will often give you a loftier, softer yarn and the longwools will give you a coarser (scratchier) yarn suitable for outerwear, but since it’s often spun worsted you get good stitch definition.

  18. Wendy, have you tried spinning Wensleydale yet? Smooth as buttah. πŸ™‚ I also like Cotswold, although it is a bit coarser, more suited for mittens or outerwear unless you blend it with something soft. I have two full Cotswold fleeces and two Wensleydale fleeces if you’d like a sample of those (in case you didn’t get any in your pack).

  19. Godmother’s lace is pretty sturdy for a border. As for the cvm, somehow it didn’t surprise me to see California and Mutant in the same acronym.

  20. It never once occured to me to try writing backwards. I think I’m going to have to try it now…but maybe not on these papers I’m grading. Although…

    I did find knitting backwards, the one time I tried it, to be less difficult than I’d imagined.

    Bob Dylan shilling for Victoria’s Secret was the final nail in my coffin.

  21. If you like sproingy stuff you’ll love Cormo. Don’t miss the bags of roving at the Cormo association booth at Maryland next year…

  22. There is a beautiful knitted lace in Debbie Bliss’ Cotton Denim Aran book (and also in her tweed book, which has a variation on the same sweater). The pattern is a garter cardigan with a beautiful, simple knitted lace edge. They have you knit it and then sew it on, but it could easily be knitted on. You can see it in the pictures from the book on her site or Knitting

  23. I’m left handed and haven’t really tried writing mirrored image but found that those “notebooks for left handers” really helped in college. I also found that I can’t really knit with the yarn in my left hand at all. I also can’t use left handed scissors (but that’s another story). I haven’t tried knitting backwards, but we shall see!

  24. Wendy,

    I know you have the book Folk Shawls and have knit the Highland Shawl. I made mine out of the “beefier” yarn that was recommended in the book and the knitted edging for that shawl would work well. This is my “drag around the house to wrap up in shawl” and I just love it on dreary winter evenings!

  25. I like the idea of your lace edgingβ€”β€”when I think of worsted-weight lace, I always think of Jackie E-S’s “Moose Lace”

    I haven’t seen Knitting on the Edge yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing your edging from it!

  26. Just ditto-ing Kathy’s comment about a picot edge. I put a spaced picot on a poncho I made from some burly baby alpaca. Nice and subtle.

  27. How about “Happy Jack” for Hummers? They are going to use EVERY SINGLE SONG EVER WRITTEN to sell stuff….


  28. “Who Are You” for the opening credits of CSI – argh!

    Did you ever hand in an assignment written mirrored?

  29. Well, I feel bad for artists who have lost control of their catalogs, but Pete Townshend and Bob Dylan are reaping the reward of having written music with timeless appeal. More power to them. I definitely consider it an indication that I’m getting old, though! πŸ™‚

    I’m anxiously awaiting the pattern for “Lisa”–love your work!

  30. One hates to mention this to a Lady…but either Lucy’s winter fur came in big time or she’s been snacking on bon-bons while you are at work…..

    There are a couple of tunes that gag me as jingles or themes – the Who is a big one. But probably Whip It for Swiffer jumps on my nerves the most.

  31. My knitting tension has been inconsistent at times and with some yarns this proved very obvious. I taught myself to knit backwards on such yarns because the tension remained the same on every row. When I can maintain tension, which is basically all the time these days, I tend to purl the “purl” rows, as it goes fairly fast. But I haven’t been doing any bobbles lately.

  32. Wendy, I know I dont know you, but I have to tell you that you were in my dream last night. To make the long dream short, you were getting married, in my old high school auditorium. It was a big to-do and all the wedding pictures were taken on stage with strange lighting.
    Just wanted to let you know.

  33. RE: the JC Penney ad. You must be in hell then, because they have a “big sale” every weekend!!

    The scarf is lovely. Hope it is as blue as it is on my monitor

  34. I hate that JC Penney ad, too — I always find it on the radio and decide to tune in to hear the song only to realize that it’s that damn ad again. I find myself wishing that I shopped at JC Penney just so that I can boycott them while they run that ad.

  35. There are a few vintage lace edging patterns at that might look good in a worsted yarn.

  36. Hi Wendy

    Another *beefy* suggestion for your shawl…the Knit Stitch by Sally Melville has a pretty shawl in it with a beefy sawtooth lace edging that would look GREAT on your shawl. I can’t tell you the name of the pattern cause I don’t have the book (it’s on my Amazon wish list!) but I have seen a finished example in person and it is lovely and perhaps just what you are looking for!! HTH