My current work in progress:

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


We’ll Be Cabling at the Speed of Light

Well, perhaps not at the speed of light, but at least not at a snail’s pace.

Heidi asked:
I am wondering, Wendy, if you use the “cables without a cable needle” technique when creating such beauties as the Inishmore? That would certainly increase the speed!

Why, yes, I do. And so does L-B.

Cabling without a cable needle. One of the most useful techniques I ever learned. The concept was first introduced to me eons ago during a class at a TKGA convention. It was one of those “duh” moments — how come I didn’t think of that myself?

Since that time I’ve been cabling without a cable needle, even on complex multi-stitch cables. A while back I worked up a tutorial on how to do this. It is available here. In fact, one of the cables that I give step-by-step instructions for in the tutorial is a cable that looks suspiciously like one that is part of the Inishmore pattern.

If you’ve never cabled without a cable needle, I encourage you to give it a try. Start simple with a small cable and work your way up to the more complex stuff from that.

(P.S. to Teri: I’ll only be casting on for Inishmore at 12:01am on the 16th if I have insomnia!!)

How Much Yarn Do You Need to Knit a Sweater?

Kristen asked:
When you buy yarn for a top or sweater do you buy a certain standard amount if you don’t have a set project in mind? I know it must depend on the fiber weight and such, but do you have safe “amounts” that you try and buy?

Ooh! Good question!

The amount of each yarn I purchased at MDS&W was based on a very simple formula: in most cases, I bought all that there was of each of the different yarns.

1000 yards of lime mohair. This looks about dk weight to me, and I know (from my Grape Arbor Shawl experience) that I can get a good-sized triangular lace shawl from well under 1000 yards.

The 1100 yards of a wool/mohair/silk blend in worsted weight. I do need to swatch this to see if it really is worsted or could be knitted at a larger gauge. Not sure if I can get a whole sweater out of this, but upon thinking about it a bit, I think it would make a lovely shawl as well. I like the idea of making an office shawl out of this: neutral color, and it feels so nice and soft!

1000 yards of a wool/mohair blend from Tintagel Farm. Once again, looks like dk weight. This could become a vest or a shawl.

1500 yards of laceweight natural Cormo. Yup. You guessed it: shawl.

As I said the 270 yards of handpainted handspun Cormo will become a scarf or a hat. Should be enough left over for some mittens or fingerless mitts.

510 yards of Cormo/silk blend? Possibly enough for a short vest, if not, a scarf & hat & possibly mitten set.

If you do a Google search on “how much yarn do I need” you’ll get links to a number of sites that have charts for basic yardage requirements for different sizes in different gauges. If you are making a cabled sweater, the rule of thumb, I think, is to add 20% to the yardage needed. If the sweater is seriously kick-ass cabled up the wazoo, I’d add some more.

Inishmore Challenge Charity Raffle

We went over $1000 in donations today. All I can say is something I’ve never said before (so you need to understand the amount of emotion I’m putting into this pronouncement):



I finished the front of the Mahi Mahi tank.


Happy Lucy-versary to Us

Two years ago today Lucy came to live with me. I must meet her minimum requirements, because she is still here.

Her Auntie L-B very kindly knitted her a new catnip pillow.


Said catnip pillow is L-B’s gauge swatch for Inishmore! On one side is the large center diamond from the pattern, on the flip side, moss stitch. Wow!


When your office is in Washington DC, adjacent to the U.S. Capitol, the last thing you want to hear is airplanes overhead.

I had all these philosophical things to say, about fearing that this is your last moment on earth when you hear aircraft fly over your office. But I’m tired and battling allergies so I’ll just sum it up as eloquently as I can at this moment:

It sucks.


  1. Glad it was a mistake in DC … and I’m looking forward to trying cables without a cable needle. I think I understand it now … if not, I know who to ask.

  2. Do you always cable sans cable needle? No matter how itty bitty the stitches? I’ve tried it on various different projects, and I can sometimes make it work, but for smaller stuff I find I tend to drop stitches more often than not.

  3. Too bad that L-B doesn’t have a blog. I know you knit fast, but don’t know much about her. However, if she has the guts to take up a challenge with you, she must be compatible! Therefore, it’s hard to decide who is going to win, but I vote for L-B as I think for a blogless knitter, maybe she can use the support. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Besides, thanks so much for the cable without needle tutorial … I keep losing my cable needle while knitting, so I would definitely learn that to get rid of the trouble!

  4. Thank goodness everything is OK in D.C.!

    And A VERY HAPPY LUCY-VERSARY! I have to say that you and she are the perfect couple. ๐Ÿ˜€

    And L-B! Goodness, that’s a lovely kitty toy! I want to make all my swatches kitty toys now. ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. Holy Stitch, Batman! Is that all it takes?

    I will **definitely** be saving that link! Thanks for posting the tutorial.

  6. Now that is scary. I’m also glad it was a mistake.

    Wow! Getting Lucky to plea for votes, and now bribing Lucy with a new catnip pillow! L-B is certainly actively campaigning! ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. Totally hear you on the DC thing. I’m in Arlington (both work and home) and my office looks out over the capitol… it’s always a little disconcerting (though I know much more so when you work right there!).

    I’m loving that tank!

  8. Hi, Wendy. Glad everything’s okay in DC!

    My questions’s about the photos in your cabling tutorial: How did you take them, with your hands on the knitting? Do you have some do-hickey that lets you snap with your foot or something, or did someone else take them for you? I have a tutorial in mind myself, and would like to know how to get photos of my hands doing the knitting. Thanks. –Kathy

  9. Marysquito says:

    But if you W00T, aren’t you supposed to link to a boobie?

  10. Sorry that I missed seeing you this weekend! You were with the OTHER party! I thought of all you locals today when I saw that Plane Thing…just awful.

  11. When I heard the *news* I said an extra prayer for you…
    Two years of lucylove…
    fishcakes for EVERYBODY!

  12. What a jam-packed day for you! Please tell me you keep sneakers under your desk…just in case. And that’s really sweet of Aunty L-B to knit the pillow for Lucy’s special anniversary. =)

  13. Heh, Mahi Mahi is my favorite kind of fish to eat, so everytime you talk about your tank, my mouth waters. “No, Rachele, you can’t eat her shirt…”

    It’s really cute, though, even if it makes me hungry. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. “kick-ass cabled up the wazoo” — I’m still chortling. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. You got a good one there, kid. Keep purring, and she’ll keep you in catnip. Congrats! Me, I’m just going to go pee on the countertop again to get back at her for going to Maryland….

  16. gotta try that cable without needle (guess i really have to cable first, lol) and love your q&a’s.

  17. vanessa says:

    happy lucy day ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Look at that total! What wonderful,generous readers you have! ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course I’ve been shamelessly campaigning since I’m the underdog here! Wendy and I have knitted side-by-side and have different knitting styles, but similar speed. But, she is much more focused than I am. This contest will test my “sticktoitiveness”! Thanks to all who are behind me!
    If Giacomo could do it at the Derby, I can do it on the Inishmore Challenge!

  19. Suzanne says:

    I just wanted to thank you again for teaching the cabling without a cable needle method on your blog. I switched to it last year and have been happily using it ever since on several Arans. It is wonderful! I count it as one of those life changing events in my knitting life since I am now able to carry my Aran knitting around with me everywhere, and it makes the process much more smooth and enjoyable.

  20. Sorry to hear about yesterday — were you evacuated? We are 2 blocks from the White House, and no one even told us there was any kind of emergency. I have no windows, so I heard about it from – BREAKING NEWS!!! Ugh.

  21. Happy Lucy-versary! She’s one lucky kitty and you’re one lucky kitty-human.

  22. Laura from beautiful West Michigan says:

    You were the first person I thought of when I heard about the plane. Glad all is OK. Maggie, Annie and Abbie wish Lucy a happy Lucy Day!

  23. Happy Lucy-versary!!

    I haven’t even attempted cables with cable needles, nevermind without! Ack! *lol*

    Your Mahi Mahi tank looks great. I love the colour. Very purdy!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. I do not care what the pundits (or Congress) says about it. I’d rather run from a false alarm than blow off a real one.

  25. patty bolgiano says:

    We got the heads up about the evacuation and yes, things did shutdown quickly (streets and offices) and certainly made my good-bye lunch interesting. No more commuting an hour and half more knitting time and MUCHO thanks for knitting without a cable needle info. Any yarns this doesn’t work well on? I’m thinking cotton and rayon?


  26. Well Lucy…you know how to pick ’em.

    It must have been a very scary feeling to have all that noise and know what it could foretell.
    We all know you can knit at the speed of light and Jen over and Jenla has renamed Mach speed Wendy speed.

  27. Cynthia says:

    My 10 year old checks on Lucy daily. Happy Lucy Day. What would you suggest as a first aran for an otherwise experienced knitter?

  28. Hmmmmm. I’m thinking that Li-B sent that catnip pillow as a distractionary tactic to slow your knitting down. You know…watch Lucy playing and getting all high and happy, the next thing you know, exiting Wendy Speed! I think she deserves a return volley!

    Ha, I’m glad I’m not the only one with a love of shawls. I don’t want to WEAR them, I just want to KNIT them.

  29. When I saw the news story yesterday, the first thing that came to mind was “I wonder if Wendy was evacuated and did she grab her emergency knitting?”. Good thing those fighter planes are there to keep Our Wendy safe ๐Ÿ™‚


  30. I am sure that there was nothing amusing about yesterday’s incident, but in the event they make a movie about it, who do you choose to play YOU?

  31. It’s so nice that Lucy has blessed you with her presence for so long. Ugh, I can’t even imagine what it must be like to work so close to the U.S. Capitol and have to deal with that. I read about the White House evacuating, etc., it must be incredibly annoying for all of you in that environment to have to evacuate because people are stupid.

  32. My grandmother used to work for the Census Bureau in DC, and was telling me that if she hadn’t retired then she’d be retired now based on the info she’s heard from people who still work in her old department. She (and I!) can’t imagine what the planning must entail, and how sudden things can happen.

    Thank you for the answer re: yarn yardages! I’m going to head to some of the northeast fiber festivals this year and before I go I’ll make sure I have an idea (or a list written down!) of what the general ammounts are for items. I haven’t made a shawl yet, but it sounds like if all else fails I can use the yarn for that! (My fear is that I’ll start something and run out of yarn, or that I’ll spend waaaay waay too much money on yarn and never use it all.)

    actually? that last one’s not really a fear, maybe more of a hope…

  33. Does that mean that you might be starting a lace shawl soon?

  34. So so glad you and everyone else are ok in DC. Great job on the fundraising! I sent mine in today!!!