My current work in progress:

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



What is scary?

My laceweight yarn stash, that’s what. I took a stab at inventorying what I’ve got. It seems that I have over 22 miles of laceweight yarn. And that’s just the stuff I can remember.

BTW, in answer to Leila’s question — I’ve never before knitted with the CTH Suri Alpaca, so I don’t know about it’s “shed-ability.” Guess I’ll find out with Inky-Dinky!

While I was going about the inventorying process, I realized that the yarn I’m using for my Shetland Garden Faroese shawl is not the olive green yarn I bought from eBay seller Over the Rainbow. It’s another olive green laceweight wool that’s been marinating in my stash for a bit. So it is now referred to as “stash yarn.” Doh!

Speaking of the Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl


I have embarked on the last chart. Woo-hoo! This is the border chart, so I have the illusion of being near the end, though really I am not. The chart is 40 rows long, then there’s 6 rows of garter stitch after that. But still, I feel as though I’m coming down the home stretch.



Several people mentioned Anne Macdonald’s book No Idle Hands in the comments to yesterday’s post. I’ve had that book since it was first published (and Anne very kindly signed my copy for me). It’s a very interesting read and I highly recommend it. I had the pleasure of spending some time with Anne at a couple of TKGA knitting conventions in the 1980s, before the book was published. I was pleased to see that a good deal of Anne’s delightful personality and wit are present in her writing.

Another book on the history of knitting that I’ve had since its original publication is Richard Rutt’s A History of Hand Knitting. I believe it was out of print for a while and was recently reprinted. I can’t give you my opinion of this book because I don’t believe I’ve actually ever read it. The poor thing has sat on my bookshelf for years, untouched. I oughtta be ashamed of myself, I know.

Anyone out there have an opinion of this book?

Speaking of Books

Judging from the reports I’ve been reading in blogland, I seem to be in a minority. I’ve never read a Harry Potter book.



Can you see the item on the lefthand side of the photo? That’s Lucy’s emery board.

I’ve never met a cat who is not obsessed with emery boards. I finally gave up and gave that one to Lucy. She adores it. She’s been bringing it to bed the past few nights.


  1. Hi Wendy,

    Any recommendations for a type or brand of lace weight yarn? I’ve knit lace with sport weight to get the hang of it, but when I try to use lace weight it just “floats” too much on the needles and I can’t keep my place. I’m sure it gets better as the added weight of the items increases, but I can’t get there. What do you think?

  2. Fortunately my cat isn’t into emery boards, but she IS obsessed with rubber bands and cotton swabs. Odd animal, she is.

  3. Oh, my Grace loves the emery boards! And the rubber bands! And the pen caps!

    Lucky you, Wendy! You have two years (at least) to read the first six Harry Potter books before #7 comes out! 🙂 I’m crazy about them, and just dying for #7 already.

  4. Maureen in Fargo says:

    I started my Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl sometime in the middle of June but I KNEW you’d easily finish yours first when you told us you had decided to knit it. I’m just finishing that next to last chart…

    There’s certainly something to be said for knitting one project at a time!

  5. Suzanne says:

    I’ve never read a Harry Potter book either. I bought my nephew the first one thinking he would get into reading, it didn’t work, he didn’t read it. His father did, though. I did watch parts of the movie on TV.

    My cats like Emery boards, too. I don’t understand the attraction but I do have to remember to put the new ones away, the old ones they can have for a little while.

  6. Maybe a stupid question, but what exactly does a cat do with an emery board? If I could get my Peanut to file her claws with it, that would mean a lot less shawl snags and unplanned lace loops as she “helps” me with my knitting.

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed Richard Rutt’s A History of Hand Knitting. I got both that and the No Idle Hands book out from the library in fairly close succession, and enjoyed both. I was getting heavily into Knit Geekery with the Rutt book, and reading bits to my husband. Fortunately he’s good at “yes, dear”.

  8. Surely Lucy deserves a regular manicure! Maybe she’s trying to tell you something. Has she grabbed the nail polish yet? 🙂

  9. I, too, have never read any Harry Potter. My sons and DH like the movies, so I have seen parts of them, but never all of any of them.

  10. You should read the Harry Potter books! They even feature magical knitting–needles that do the work while you are sleeping. And there are the famous Weasley knitted sweaters . . . these books are a must 🙂

    BTW–I love the lace knitting you’ve been doing. I never thought I’d try it but after seeing your lovely creations, I’ve embarked on Fiber Trends’ Estonian Garden Wrap. It might take the rest of my natural life to finish, but I’m enjoying it.

  11. I obtained a copy of Rutt’s book and enjoyed it very much, although there is quite a bit of very, very technical discussion about what is knitting (vs. other needle fabric making) and a long discussion of where/when knitting began. I was particularly interested in the history and where our craft originated. The pillows found in a Spanish grave interested me enough I’m going to try to replicate (although not quite as fine a gauge – around 11 stitches an inch from what I remember). I’m going to use 0000 needles and see what happens.

  12. haha – Indy and Bicoe LOVE emery boards too. Glad to know we’re not the only ones.

  13. “I was merely reading the Muggle magazines,’ said Dumbledore. ‘I do love knitting patterns.'” Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

  14. Seriously you’ve never had a cat who was nuts about emery boards??? All of mine were to the point of where I’d have to lock them out of the room when I tried to file my nails!

  15. You are not alone. I’ve never read HP either. My mother forced me to watch one of the movies though…but don’t ask me which one!

  16. Emory boards? Oh yeah, we got emory board cravers in this house! It all started with my siamese when I was a kid. Sandpaper was sort-of interesting, but not a good substitute to carrying around a little stick!

    Speaking of books, I’ve been enjoying Knitting Around by Elizabeth Zimmermann, edited by her daughter Meg Swansen. In addition to patterns and knitting discussion, it has “…Digressions,” which are sections about her family history, including some wonderful old photos, such as the one of Elizabeth as a tiny girl riding Merrilegs, the donkey which belonged to her Auntie Pete. Sounds very English already! It even includes a laceweight “Pie Are Square Shawl.” It can be done with or without lace patterns and borders. Just thought I’d mention it…

  17. My Lucy loves the zipstrips from plastic salad mix bags. She carries them around the house for days, and brings them to bed with her. Cats are just so weird sometimes. (But then, I suppose they think we’re odd, too.)

  18. I remember that the mice when I lived overseas on Saipan loved emeryboards, and we’d wake up and find the boards nibbled all off. I bet Luce would like them, too.

  19. Some cats are closet emery board freaks. I have one.

    I like Bishop Rutt’s book, although I don’t consider it the last word on everything, nor does he, I think. I’ve read it in fits and starts, but it is worth the read. At least he makes an effort, and like MacDonald, does some actual research, rather than simply voice personal opinions and biases.
    Good knitting,

  20. I finished Rutt’s book only a week or so ago. It was amusing how just about every bit of glamorous ‘history’ about knitting (Queen Lizzie banning knitting machines to save the local hk industry, etc) proved to be wrong. Rutt’s opinions on ‘modern’ knitting celebrities was fun to read, too!

  21. Wendy already knows of my infatuation with listening to the HP books on tape as I knit. Jim Dale’s readings offer hours upon hours of entertainment!

  22. I read both Bishop Rutt’s book and No Idle Hands when they first came out – I thoroughly enjoyed both, I majored in Medieval History so readinh longish bits of technical history bits fascintes me. I think I’ll dig them back out for some Summer (of Lace!) reading.

    I only read the first 2 Harry Potter books, but my son who’s 15 now and started with the first ones when they came out stayed up ALL NIGHT Saturday and finished Half Blood Prince in one sitting.

    I may need to find an easy-peasy stockinette project to I can read and knit at the same time.

  23. Hmm. I don’t believe I’ve ever given my cat an emery board… I wonder if she’d like it?

  24. Hey, at the rate at which you are knitting lace lately, you can justify a laceweight stash of “scary” proportions!

  25. When I am not working on my lace shawl, I have been making a cardigan. Buttonholes….
    what is your method? Not happy with mine….
    I have plans for a jacket next, but the buttonhole thing is bothering me.
    Thank you

  26. Yeah, my boys LOVE emery boards! Haha — just made me realize that it’s a good thing most of my friends are cat owners. What would the “uninitiated” person think, coming into my house and seeing the floor strewn with emery boards, milk-bottle rings, and wine corks? My cleaning lady (who also has cats) puts them all in a neat little pile on the kitchen table every week. 🙂

  27. There are at least 4 characters that knit in the Harry Potter books, and another one that loves to read knitting patterns. 😀 And those books are the reason I started knitting! I really wanted a Ravenclaw scarf, so I learned to knit and made one. 😀 I wasn’t a fan until my sister made me read the first book (I didn’t believe the hype), and although the first two really are for younger pre-teens, they’re very well written and immensly entertaining. They’re also incredibly well-planned, so you can be assured that they’re very good stories. If you ever pick the first one up, you’ll be glad you did, even if you’re not a fantasy novel fan (because it does combine a fantasy world with the real world). They really are good.

    And I wonder if Lucy likes emory boards because it’s like another kitty’s tongue?? I have a cat that is obsessed with knocking change off my husband’s dresser- he just sits on top and slides coins off with his paw. Really annoying at 3am!! But I love odd kitty behavior, so whatever.

  28. Juliette says:

    I hate anything I “should” do so I never read a Harry Potter book UNTIL I went to London and found a version for adults (The cover looked like something you really COULD read on the train) Somehow I was compelled. I can’t say I was hooked but I can say I understand some of the terms people throw around.

  29. I’m betting Lucy likes emery boards because she files her nails while you’re sleeping. She seems smart like that. I hadn’t read the Harry Potter books until last winter, and I have to say I’ve enjoyed them. My husband, who is not a reader, even read them and enjoyed them. Might be worth thinking about. The shawl is looks marvelous, which is in no way surprising, but still…

  30. mari Heinonen says:

    Rutt’s book was my summer reading -fascinating, well researched stuff. As an English teacher (i teach English as a foreign language in Finland) I believe that knitting vocabulary is the srongest proof that kntting is a new craft compared to weaving.
    anyhoo, reading Rutt’s book really tempted me to learn Nålbinding -he cites a Finnish proverb that says “a wife is unskilled if she can’t do nålbinding, but knits her husband’s mittens instead”
    -being a Finn i find that ridiculous, but, there ya go, it’s history!

    take care, Wendy

    Mari from Turku, Finland

  31. I really enjoyed Rutt’s book. I am an academic dweeb, and the thoroughness of his research on knitting history was impressive and fun.

  32. Thanks for addressing my q…I’ll have to get off my rear and go check out the Suri Alpaca firsthand, then! I live with a…clean freak…so shed-ability is a major issue.

    I haven’t touched a Harry Potter book either, or movie for that matter. Everyone swears I’m missing out.

  33. That’s so funny! I wonder why she likes emery boards so much?

    I resisted the Harry Potter thing when it first started getting big, but then caved and read the first few books and was hooked. Rowling’s writing leaves much to be desired, but she does do a great job with characterization! I keep reading because I adore the characters and MUST find out what’s happening to them! It’s like a soap opera, with wands.

    Can’t wait to see the finished shawl! Your knitting is just lovely.

  34. Any word on when your book will be out? Don’t want to miss it. Thanks

  35. I have never read a Harry Potter book either. Or seen the movie. I think I passed that phase around age 14, along with the Chronicles of Narnia and Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain. I bought and read No Idle Hands when I found it on a 1$ table at the Dalton’s Books many years ago. It’s what inspired me to learn to knit socks.

  36. Mary Tess says:

    I second L-B’s suggestion that you listen to the HP books on tape (or even better, on CD); they are wonderful to knit by, interesting but not so complex that you loose track of your knitting. Jim Dale has a separate voice for each character so it is much like listening to a radio drama.

  37. Saralyn says:

    I believe it was some of Richard Rutt’s attributions for the origins of Fair Isle knitting (that Spanish Armada story) that Alice Starmore debunked in her fabulous Fair Isle Knitting book. While I don’t remember the precise details, I do remember being highly amused. Anyway, I know some of the so-called “history” of knitting that floats around out there is pretty amusingly fictional.

    Harry Potter is fun reading. Much better than a lot of supposedly grown-up reading that haunts the bestseller lists. And, there’s a character with enchanted knitting needles. Who could resist?

  38. Annie B says:

    This 48-year-old enjoys both Harry Potter and Bishop Rutt. Harry Potter in 200-page sittings, and the Bishop one page at a time. Though some of the Bishop’s information hasn’t held up over time, his writing style is a delight. Definitely worth a read, if only to delight in the liveliness and elegance of his writing voice! But a warning – it will spoil you for reading some of the newer textbook-style writers, who present the technical information adequately enough, but don’t share their heart (or their humor) in their writing.

  39. Sweet Caroline says:

    Thanks for mentioning that Lucy likes emery boards! My cat Teeny (Valentina) is AFRAID of them if you throw them (even if you don’t throw them AT her), but seems obsessed with nuzzling them if you hold them out to her. I had never known any other cat to feel this way about them so I’m glad to know other cats have feelings (good or bad) towards them.