My current work in progress:

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


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!


  1. I also just ordered some Bryspun circulars for my new lace shawl!

    I think they are made here in Oregon and supposedly are good for arthritis. While I don’t have arthritis, I do have tennis elbow in both arms, so maybe they will be good for me.

    Can’t wait to try them.

    Inky is looking good! I really like that colorway.

  2. Bryspuns are nice and pointy – perfect for lacework of all kinds. Definitely a sharper edge than Crystal Palace needles. Worth a try.

  3. I’ll be interested to hear about the Bryspun circs. I have several pairs of straights and don’t care for the transition between the point and the shaft.

  4. You are going to love your Bryspun circulars for lace; they can’t be beat.
    As for other needles, both metal and wood, I now sharpen them with a nail file first, then with 2000 grit sandpaper to get them super smooth. You can then rub your wooden/bamboos on wax paper for a finish.
    I’m doing the same spider motif on my Spider Queen Shawl and had to sharpen my needles super pointy to work the pattern. Once I did, knitting it was a breeze.
    Inky Dinky Stole is on my to do list :o)
    I like your choice of yarn.

  5. Hail to the Queen! What a gorgeous tail she doeth have!

  6. I just received my first pair of Bryspun circs and wasn’t all that impressed. I loved the tips and the shaft of the needle … the join, however catches the yarn if you hold it at a certain angle (unfortunately the angle I hold them at).

  7. I just got my first pair of bryspun circs too, and I’m holding out before deciding. I think I like them, and I’ve always liked those “waisted” points, including on the old balene I needles (those were the days, grin). I was surprised that the join wasn’t as smooth as I’d expect, but it’s not bad. SFSG. I’m using ebonies on my birch, and though the points aren’t as pointy as I’d like, I love the texture and the join is great. But those bryspun points…

    Love the Shetland Garden–stunning. I may have to make another Sivia shawl.

  8. Thank you for answering Pixie’s question. I wondered the same thing and am AMAZED at your speed.

    I just started Fiber Trend’s Seascape shawl with Skacel’s Merino Lace on US 6 bamboos. Right before reading your day’s blog, I’d been slathering on baby powder to make the needles a bit more slippery! While struggling to poke through for a K2TOG, I thought finer points would be much easier. Thanks for the hint that if I did self-sharpening, it probably wouldn’t be smooth enough. There also is not a set of circulars with a join I *did* like, so these sticky joins weren’t a surprise, sadly.

    Your scarves are an inspiration! Thanks so much for the Summer of Lace.

  9. I think DeeAnn has a great idea about sharpeneing wood or bamboo with fine grit paper. I may try that out. I have been using my grandmother’s old nylon needles for the Butterfly pattern in Rowan 37 and really love them. I have heard they are similar to Bryspuns. Any thought on that? I ADORE the Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl. Lovely work as usual.

  10. I hope the Bryspuns work out for you. They’re very flexible and have nice pointy tips, but we’ve had several returned lately for cable breaks at the join. Hopefully it’s just a one-batch problem.

  11. Jacinta says:

    Mmmm I think if I were Jennifer I may have accidently gone home with the shawl ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. 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.

    I echo Jacinta, if I was Jennifer, I would had gone home with that shawl too and it wouldn’t be an accident.

  13. Annette says:

    Hi Wendy,

    I’m a new fan/reader of yours. I found your tips about lace knitting very helpful, and posted a link to this post on the blog “Ene’s Scarf Ensemble” ( – a knitalong open for everyone. Hope you don’t mind – and thanks a lot!

    Annette in Alsace

  14. I use Addi Turbos for everything, which would explain some of my more moronic mistakes. They’re not pointy enough, I’d have to agree, but I have a weird nails-on-chalkboard reaction to knitting with wooden needles.

    You’re making me feel much more bold about the possibility of knitting lace with a varigated yarn. I might have to give it a shot. Your Inky Dinky Spider is looking really lovely in that colorway.

  15. The Shetland Garden looks beautiful in use and it’s bigger than I expected based on what it looks like blocked. I’ve ordered the pattern…

    I got my bryspuns in larger sizes (5, 6) from Angelika’s Yarn Store online, she had all sizes when I ordered. I’ve heard complaints about the joins but haven’t tried them yet.

  16. Here’s to clean living! You go, Wendy!

    And was there ever a word as fabulous as “defunkify?” Oy!

  17. Lindsay says:

    I don’t really like shawls, but this one looks really fantastic when worn. WOW.

  18. 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.

  19. I voted for Inky Dinky so am happy to see it in progress – inspirational! I am kinda wondering about those Heirloom lace patterns that you received recently – all this lace is beautiful. I had a question about joining yarn – what is your technique? I enjoy reading your blog – gives me motivation….back to my branch scarf…

  20. I have a bryspun circular and was using it on my Lotus Blossom Shawl. Was. Am not currently. It snapped at the join when there was absolutely no pressure on it (I did buy another one, but haven’t had enough courage to use it again). Man was I pissed because as you can imagine a whole bunch of little stitches just jumped right off the needle. That said, the tips are wonderful and the joins are no more annoying than my addi naturas (IMO of course). I’ll be interested to hear what you think.

  21. elizabeth says:

    I just purchased a pair of Bryspun circulars — the yarn shop lady had to take them out of the shipping box for me — and I. Love. Them. They are lightweight and have that nice Bryspun tip which I like, and the join between the cable and needle is smooth. I can’t wait to get some more since I like circular needles. BTW, I love your shawls. They are simply beautiful!

  22. Hi there, I saw all your fabulous advice on knitting lace, and I thought maybe you’d be a good person to ask:

    I am working on a wrap sweater, it’s a VERY simple lace pattern but it’s still giving me some issues. Your advice on stitch markers may help me some. ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, I cast on the correct number of stitches but right from row one, the pattern stitch does not come out evenly on any of the rows. For example, it will say to maintain the stitch until the last 6 stitches, then K6… but will end right before a YO or in the middle of what should be a K2tog. Do I put the YO in or not? Do I go ahead with the K2tog and then knit after that? It’s not THAT big a deal since there’s no pattern for the WS, just purling, so at least I know I’m starting all the rows correctly. The pattern is coming out fine too, it’s just that end-of-row confusion.

    Any suggestions? (sorry for rambling…)

  23. Brigitte says:

    Hey Wendy! *sigh* It’s amazing how beautiful your stuff comes out. Can I tell you again how much you inspire me?! (I successfully steeked a Starmore thanks to your great instructions!).

    Anyhoo – my 2 Canadian cents on the needle debate. I swear by my Aeros. They are painfully pointy, and work on lace weight beautifully. The joins are pretty smooth, and I rarely snag any fibers on them. I guess it really is a matter of preference.