My current work in progress:

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


Archives for July 2005

About Knitting Needles

Just in case you wondered, I still hate Crystal Palace needles.

The points are pretty pointy, but boy, do the joins ever suck! Why is it that needle manufacturers can’t seem to make a needle with a decent join?

I moved the Inky Dinky onto a Holz & Stein rosewood needle from the Crystal Palace needle I was using. The Crystal Palace join was getting on my last available nerve.


Oh, and I got the Bryspun circular I ordered on Friday. I gotta say, not impressed.

The point is not as good as my rosewood needle.


And the join is just weird.


So Inky Dinky will stay on the rosewood needle. The only problem with that is that the color of the needle makes it a bit difficult to see the yarn. But the join is pretty good.



I stopped by Knit Happens yesterday afternoon for the first time in several weeks. And there waiting for me was a little surprise, from Jennifer of Major Knitter.


Little shrinky dink tags with my blog button on them. How cute!


Thanks Jennifer!

Lucy Sez . . .

Yes, I do get off the couch now and then. But I’m usually moving too fast to be properly photographed!


Except when I’m lying on my knitting bag.

Wherein Wendy Quotes Margene Again

Knitting lace:

“It’s the process.”

A number of people have asked me what I do with all that knitted lace — do I actually wear the shawls I knit?

I don’t keep all the lace I knit, by the way. A bunch of shawls I’ve made have been given as gifts.

I love to knit lace. I love to block lace. I love a project that is lightweight and so easily portable. I love that you can make a whole huge honking shawl out of less than 6 ounces of yarn.

Oh, and I also love shawls. I use them mainly at the office. The Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl is currently hanging on the back of my chair, for when the a/c makes me too chilly. I feel chilly a lot. I am a delicate flower. I’ve got a heavier shawl (the Highland Triangle from Folk Shawls) in a file drawer — that one gets hauled out in the winter when the heat is not enough.

I also wear shawls as big scarves over my winter coat. That’s my favorite use for my Legend of the Shetland Seas stole that I knit from cashmere (yum!). It’s cream colored, and looks awesome over my black cashmere coat.

I take my work shawl home frequently and bring in a different one. Variety. It’s a good thing.

I almost always wear a shawl into the senior staff meeting held four days a week because, as I mentioned previously, our conference room could easily be used as a meat locker.

(If we ever really have to shelter in place, they will find us frozen, perfectly preserved, when the “all clear” is finally sounded. If and when that situation arises, I can only hope that technology will have advanced to the point where we can be successfully thawed out.)

The other women in the meeting eye my shawls covetously. And earlier this week our summer intern ( a male college undergraduate) asked me “How long does to take you to make one of those, anyway?”

Each of my Summer of Lace Shawls has put in some time at the office. They each get to go home when I complete and bring in the next one.

Inky Dinky Progress

I’m into the spiderwebs. Woo-hoo!


Lucy Sez . . .


Ignore the fang photo from yesterday. I really am a cuddly-wuddly widdle pussycat.

You Gotta Feel the Love

Polly asked:
How do you remain motivated to finish these shawls, especially when you hit the interminable edgings without giving it a good ‘resting’ period? I see all these lovely things and I just can’t seem to find it in me to have that last push once I’m about 90% done.

You gotta feel the love, baybee!

I think I stay faithful to a project and finish it because I usually will not allow myself to start a new one until the current one is finished.

I have virtually no self-control and very little self-discipline. (My insanely large stash of yarn is evidence of this.) I know if I were to start a new lace project before finishing the current one, the current one would be tossed aside for the new lace love.

I realize that my statement above is somewhat inconsistent. I do have the self-control and discipline to not start a new project before finishing the current one. What can I tell you? I am a Woman of Many Inconsistencies.

When I embarked on the never-ending edging of the Tina shawl, I thought it would be too unwieldy to take for commuter knitting, so I cast on for the Peacock Feathers shawl. Ding! Ding! Ding! Big mistake. I found myself lusting for that Peacocky goodness when I was supposed to be slogging through the Tina edging. So I set the Peacock Feathers aside and dragged Tina around, hither and yon, until I finished the edging.

It did feel as though the freaking edging took as long to knit (if not longer) than the whole rest of shawl, but I don’t think that’s true.

Now that’s one of the things that I love about Inky Dinky. The edging is knit along with the body of the shawl. This makes me extremely happy.

You know what else makes me happy? It’s a rectangle so the rows are all the same length throughout. No freaking 400 stitch rows as you near the end.

However, I’m working out on paper (well, on computer) a lace shawl of my own design and I am sorely tempted to just sorta start it. Just a little . . .

But no. I’m just barely started on Inky Dinky, so I must remain faithful to it. Besides, I have just started the spider webs chart so I’m entranced with that.


Speaking of the Inky Dink Edging, Karen asked:
The Spider Stole looks great! I do have a question – how difficult do you think it would be to substitute a different edging? I’ve got an idea for something from another lace book I have, but I’m an edging novice and it’s a little daunting.

This pattern consists of multiple charts for the different sections of the stole, and the edging pattern is on the edges (duh) of each of the charts. If the edging you want to subsitute has a different number of rows per repeat, it would take some figuring to get it to work out correctly. Also, depending on which chart you are on, there are some plain stitches added to the inner side of the edging (because the body pattern is not quite as wide in some places) — you’d have to be aware of that and adjust your edging accordingly.

In other words, futzing would have to ensue.

It’s not that it would be so difficult to do, just picky and time-consuming.

Lucy Sez . . .


Picky and time-consuming? I’m bored just thinking about it!

Attack of the Java Spiders!

I’ve finished the first chart of the spiders on the stole.


I think this pattern is more commonly known as “birds-eye” but it does sorta look like little spiders, doncha think?


Kim asked:
Concerning the Inky Dinky Spider Stole, how do you know where to ‘pick up’ stitches? Do you count between markers and use math? Eyeball it? With lace, it must be right on the money I would think. I find it somewhat scary.

Have no fear! When you knit the edging, you slip the first stitch at the flat side of the edging on each row, making a series of loops. Then you pick up one stitch in each loop to get the total number required. The instructions suggested you might have to fudge a stitch or two, but mine came out exactly right.

Clearly due to clean living on my part.

And Pixie asked:
Do you ever make a mistake? I don’t mean that to be rude at all, just curious. You knit so fast I wonder if you just pay a really good amount of attention and never mess up so never have to spend the time fixing a mistake. With all those complex lace patterns I don’t see how you don’t have to frog back every once in a while.

What??!! Me make a mistake? Hah! Never.

Didja believe that? No, I didn’t think so. Don’t blame ya.

Knitting lace is fraught with possibilities for errors. A slip1, k2tog, psso is a minefield. One wrong step and the whole thing blows up in your face. All those yarn-overs are a recipe for disaster as well. You miss one and your pattern is screwed. Screwed, I tell you!

Okay, I’m being a bit dramatic here.

There are ways to make your lace knitting as painless as possible. (Vee haf vays of making . . . )

Liberal use of stitch markers. Mark off every blessed repeat of your pattern. My spiders have a repeat of 12 stitches, therefore I have placed a marker every 12 stitches. So at any given time, I am dealing with a universe of only 12 stitches. Not so daunting when you look at it like that, eh?

Count after every pattern repeat. Finish your repeat of 12 stitches. Count the stitches to make sure there are still 12 stitches.

Stop and look at your work frequently. If something looks funky, defunkify it!

Nice rules, but of course I don’t always follow them. I don’t count after each pattern repeat. But, if I’ve screwed something up, I always find it on the next round, because, as I said, I have my repeats marked off with stitch markers. If I have 11 or 13 stitches between 2 markers, I obviously messed it up on the previous round, and it’s usually pretty easy to fix.

Knitting with Laceweight — Eeeek!

The Cherry Tree Hill Suri Alpaca I’m using for this stole is relentlessly fine. There is patterning on wrong as well as the right side rows of this design. I like this — it makes the knitting far more interesting — but it’s a bitch to knit 2 together over the top of a yarnover with this yarn. I long for really, really pointy needles. I am currently using a Crystal Palace bamboo circular, which is pretty pointy. But still, I struggle with my k2togs.

I tried an ebony, a rosewood, a Clover bamboo, and an Addi Natura bamboo before deciding that the Crystal Palace bamboo worked best. I didn’t bother trying my Addi Turbos — I don’t think they are as pointy, and I find them too slippery for lace work anyhow.

I’m halfway tempted to try to sharpen the points on a bamboo needle, but therein lies the path to madness. I know from sad experience that I am never able to get the point smooth enough to make me (and my relentlessly fine yarn) happy.

A couple of people in the Summer of Lace group have waxed lyrical about Bryspun circulars, so I ordered a couple today. (They seem to be in short supply just now — if you are interested in them I suggest Googling “Bryspun circular needles” to try to find them available somewhere. has a few in larger sizes.) I’m told they have nice pointy tips, and judging from the pictures I’ve seen — no join — they appear to be smooth plastic. Heaven! I’m getting mighty sick and tired of dragging my laceweight yarn over the join in my needle. My only concern is that they may be too slippery for my comfort.

I’ll let you know what I think when I get them.

This Just In!

Jennifer, from my Tuesday Lunchtime Knitting Group, kindly consented to model the Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl for a photo op.


And the back:


Thanks Jennifer!

Lucy Sez . . .


I am the QUEEN! Bow down before me, peasants!

What? Doesn’t Everyone?

Today at 4:30 a.m. I was unpinning my Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl so I could take it to work with me.

So today you get the official “Hanging on the Cat-Puke-Pink Cubicle Wall” photo.


(When we hire someone to fill that cublicle, where will I take photos?)

And the “On the Back of Wendy’s Desk Chair” shot as well. (Sorry, Amelia, that’s the best I can do for now!)


So the Shetland Garden will be my “at work” shawl for a while. And I was happy to note when I got to the office this morning that they did not turn the a/c off over the weekend like they did last weekend. (When I got to work last Monday the temp in my office was 88 degrees. After about 4 hours it cooled down to under 80.)

I wore the Shetland Garden today in my office intermittently during the day. Having to dress for almost triple-digits outside temperature and a tad-too-chilly indoors temperatures at the same time, shawls are very handy!

It is quite wearable and stays on the shoulders very easily without my having to mess with it. I wore it into the freezer that is our conference room for the morning meeting, and a couple of the other women were eyeing it covetously.

Anyhow, some final notes on the shawl.

It is available from Sivia Harding Knit Designs. I highly recommend this pattern. It was very clearly written and the charts were, as far as I could tell, error-free. There are several different motifs that make up the entire pattern, so you don’t get bored doing the same thing over and over.

As Alice in Richmond mentioned in the comments, I did state in the past that I have no particular fondness for Faroese shawls. I think that’s because I didn’t like the lace patterns on any I had seen thus far. I like delicate, traditional lace. This shawl fit the bill perfectly. I love it.

In the comments, LisaB said:
I have a question. When pinning out for blocking, do you measure out each side from the center? To ensure that both sides are the same width?

Yup, I sure do! I don’t want to get over-aggressive in my blocking on one side and end up lopsided! I usually measure down the center point of the back as well, to see if my blocked length is close to the length the pattern states.

Thanks for all your great comments about the shawl. WendyKnits gives this pattern two thumbs up!

I Gotcha Spiders Right Here, Buddy. Inky Dinky Ones.

As I mentioned yesterday, I started the Inky Dinky Spider Stole Saturday night. The project specs are over in the sidebar, on the right side of the page.

I knitted the mitre for the first corner, the thirteen repeats for the bottom edging, and the mitre for the second corner while we watched a DVD of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Perfect type of movie for lace knitting!

Sunday morning I picked up the stitches along the long edge of the bottom edging, and started with the first part of the pattern, the spiders.


I’m using Cherry Tree Hill Suri Alpaca for this. Someone asked in the comments a few days ago if this yarn sheds alot. It does have a wee bit of a fuzzy halo, but I notice very little shedding so far.


And in yesterday’s comments, Ann asked about knitting this design in Crystal Palace Kid Merino. I’m not familiar with this yarn, but assume it does have a fair bit of fuzz. I’d probably stick to something less fuzzy, but you could always do a swatch in one of the pattern stitches, block it out, and see what you think.

Someone else wondered about using a variegated yarn for this. The photo on the pattern shows it in a variegated and I think it looks great, so I had no qualms about using the yarn I chose. The java colorway does not have startling color changes, so I think the pattern will show up quite nicely.

Lucy decided to mix things up today, and pose on the couch instead of on her favorite knitting bag.