My current work in progress:

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


Are You Sick of Needle Talk Yet?

Heather asked:
Ok, now you’ve done it. I too am on a quest. Where did you buy the Holtz & Stein that you do have? I’m Googling like crazy and everything is a dead end. ๐Ÿ™

That’s not helped by the fact that I referred to the needles as “Holtz & Stein” while they are actually “Holz & Stein” (but I corrected it this morning in my past two blog entries).

But still, they are very difficult to come by in the U.S. There may be a few retailers selling them, but precious few.

I first went on my Holz & Stein quest a couple or three years ago, because I love them for fair isle work. The needle size I use most often for fair isle is a 3.25mm. Back then, I was able to get some Holz & Stein ebonies in that size, but nowadays a 3.25mm is very rare indeed — any place I’ve seen them, the sizing goes from 3mm to 3.5mm. So I feel very fortunate to have the ones I’ve got. I’ve got several ebony 3.25mm circulars (thanks to Susan in Germany!), and one in rosewood — the needle I’m using right now.


Sue asked:
Why are you preferring H&S over Addi Naturas? I love H&S too but they are so had to find. Just curious.

My laceweight yarn slides over the join in the H&S much more easily. And I think the points are sharper.

So, I’ve . . . uh . . . ordered sample needles in as many different brands as I could find in a U.S. size 3 (3,25mm) so I could do a comparison. In circs I already have Clover, Addi Naturas, Addi Turbos, Crystal Palace, Bryspun, Suzanne ebony (which has a join not as good as the H& S) H&S ebony and H&S rosewood. and I’ve got some straights as well — Inox, Aero, and old, old Susan Bates.

I’m on a quest.

And I’ll share my opinions when I form them. But of course, your mileage may vary. A number of people have said they really liked the Bryspun circulars and I don’t. So a lot of this is personal preference.

Sanity is So Over-rated

This morning I ordered this.

It’s Snow’s fault — she pointed it out to me.

Will I knit it? Only time will tell.

A Huge Congratulatory Shout-Out!

To Kim, who knitted my Baby Norgi pattern and entered it the Medina County Fair.

Kim’s Baby Norgi won best in show! Wow! Photos of her fair winnings on her blog.

And a Huge Thank You!

To Betsy, who very kindly sent me the following:


A lovely assortment of Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud laceweight yarn and a pattern for some lovely lace scarves. Thank you!

Cute Lucy Story

(If you are not into cats, you can stop reading now.)


One night last week I got home from work and found that Lucy had deposited her paper ball in her water dish, as per usual. (That’s what she does with her paper balls when she’s done playing with them — plops ’em in her water dish. I think we’ve already discussed this, no?)

I took the sodden mass of paper out of her dish and left it in the sink while I gave her fresh water (thinking I’d throw it in the trash in a minute).

I totally forgot about the sodden paper until an hour later when Lucy brought it to me, on the living room couch. I thought “Ewwww!” and got up and threw it away.

When I was posting my blog entry that night I heard Lucy crying. Not just meowing — crying. I thought she was ill or hurt. I raced into the kitchen and there she was, sitting on the counter, looking into the sink, mourning her lost paper ball.

(Yup. She was on the kitchen counter. A place off-limits to felines, which she darn well knows.)

I of course made her another one, which she happily played with the rest of the evening.

And in the morning there it was, in her water dish.


  1. Silly Lucy! Tell your mom I agree: sanity IS overrated. I have three projects on needles at the moment, plus a cross-stitch project in progress. And we’re moving to a new house in 12 days. So I clearly have no respect for sanity! (At least not my own!) ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Wendy,
    I just ordered the Wedding Ring Shawl pattern yesterday. It looks beautiful, yet complicated. I am currently working on my first lace project, the Unst Stole. It is hard, but I am enjoying it. I am sure I have made mistakes, but I can’t tell.

  3. Clever Lucy! And clever Wendy, for getting both Lucy and Inky Dinky into the photo…

    Looking forward to your needle reviews.

  4. Lucy is too precious for words!

  5. Who couldn’t love a cat story?! Especially one so cute. Anyone who says cats don’t have personality doesn’t know cats! Maggie, Moochie and L’ello say hi Lucy (try milk rings too, and if you can get someone in the military to give you their “boot blouse” thingys you’ll have a blast)

  6. Oh man. I want that princess shawl kit SOOOOOO very badly. I’m definitely not ready for it but part of me wants to get it to just put away for when I am!

  7. yay Lucy ๐Ÿ™‚ My kitties totally understand your bereavement of your Paper Ball. You’re such a smart girl, knowing where to put your toys when you’re done and need a new one ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. Juliette says:

    I loved that Lucy story. Thanks

  9. margaret says:

    this is your H&S enabler … you will e-mail me privately … you are getting verrry slleepppy …

  10. My cat used to have a “fishing pole” toy with a ball of fabric strips on the end of a long string tied to a wooden dowel. She made a regular practice of dropping her “octopus” in her water dish. I never understood why. She also had a Q-tip fetish similar to Lucy’s love for emery boards. Oh, and your shawls are lovely. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Aha — another Q-tip lovin’ cat — mine will go to great lengths and cry like Lucy when there are none in the customary dust bin. The Wedding Ring Shawl looks wonderfully over the top! Have fun!

  12. When you said Lucy was crying, I heard it. That’s because Spike carries his toys in his mouth and cries as he walks around the house waiting for someone to play. Cute during the day. Not so cute at 2am.

  13. I missed out on the Princess Shawl from Heirloom Knitting; I’m NOT missing out on the Wedding Ring Shawl! I ordered it too.

  14. THAT is a fabulous Lucy story!

  15. OMG!! That wedding ring shawl is AMAZING!! I’m so tempted to order it, but it would take me 5 years to finish it!

  16. Jennifer says:

    Cute Lucy story. It makes me wish my kitties did more than hide behind the TV when ever anyone is home.

  17. Nice work training your human. Meow.

  18. Aw, that IS a cute Lucy story! Chappy just spent most of the evening pulling one toy after another out of his toy basket–the family room looks like a daycare center for dogs. I just adore watching pets play!

  19. Sweet kitty story! Also, they say there’s a fine line between genius and insanity. Knit on Lace Empress!;D

  20. My Tuptim, a seal point siamese, was also a paper-wad-in-the-water-bowl-kitty. If she couldn’t have the paper wad, then a twist-tie was an absolute necessity. Another favorite was to sit on the puzzle pieces in the puzzle box when I was trying to do a puzzle. If moved from that, she would take up residence, (i.e. do long-term bathing) on the puzzle itself. Odd little critter, but probably no more odd than I was!

    So, “the Wedding Ring Shawl is patterned in gossamer fine yarn.” Do you really want to walk down Lunacy Lane so soon in the “Summer of Lace?” Looks beautiful, though. I wouldn’t dare try it, though, being the clutz I am. I would rip it by sitting on some piece of it while trying to work at the other end, or shred it by catching some bit of it in a doorway. But, I trust you to come through for those of us who are dangerous with delicate objects!

  21. Who sez kitchen counters are off limits? Not my Mama. Signed, Princess Puma

  22. Thanks for the H&S update. Looks like i have to see how much they cost and start saving for some.

  23. Apparently, all cats have some toy that they crave. My cat, Velvet, loves my pony tail holders. She cries every time I put one in my hair. I’ve resorted to using the claw clippy things. And her brother, Tweed, well… I’m his yarn pimp. But he only likes novelty yarns (thank goodness!).

  24. That’s ok, Snow made me do it too. I placed my order for the Wedding Ring Shawl last night. I’m planning to make it for my granddaughter’s wedding – she’s 3 months old. Stay tuned.

  25. My cat always put her ball in the water dish, too. But Elly’s ball is a fluffy pom-pom like ball. She loves it so much that we don’t throw it out. We just keep squeeing it like a sponge and letting it dry. We always assume that she was washing her ball to keep it clean. Perhaps that’s what Lucy is doing, too.

  26. We love Lucy’s story around here. Really, to deprive her of a paper wad is terribly sad. A tragic tail with a happy ending.

    We also think you should knit the Wedding Shawl. First, it’s gorgeous. Second, it’s complicated, and we shall live vicariously through it. Third, it looks SOFT TO LAY ON. Purrrrrrrrrr.

  27. We love Lucy’s story around here. Really, to deprive her of a paper wad is terribly sad. A tragic tail with a happy ending.

    We also think you should knit the Wedding Shawl. First, it’s gorgeous. Second, it’s complicated, and we shall live vicariously through it. Third, it looks SOFT TO LAY ON. Purrrrrrrrrr.

  28. We love Lucy’s story around here. Really, to deprive her of a paper wad is terribly sad. A tragic tail with a happy ending.

    We also think you should knit the Wedding Shawl. First, it’s gorgeous. Second, it’s complicated, and we shall live vicariously through it. Third, it looks SOFT TO LAY ON. Purrrrrrrrrr.

  29. I was visting the Heirloom Knitting site yesterday and noticed that Sharon Miller recommends (and sells) Inox needles for lace knitting – I’ve been on the hunt for needles for my first project with lace weight yarn as all the ones I’ve tried so far have been too blunt. We don’t have a wide choice of needle brands available in the UK so I may well be ordering a pair to try.

    I’m also watching how the Inky Dinky Stole turns out as my second lace weight yarn project (a shawl of some kind) will use Merino Lace in the same colourway.

  30. I am SO glad you’re going to knit me the Wedding Ring Shawl. It’s perfect. What a friend you are to me.

    Wait. What? I can’t hear you, I have my fingers in my ears…. I can’t wait for my SHAWWWWWLLLLLL…..

  31. I also tried to hunt down those Holz & Stein needles, to import for my shop (after having asked you for your favourites). I finally asked the owner of a webshop I found that sold them.
    I don’t know if this is old news, but the reason why the Holz & Stein needles are so rare, is apparently because they are only made for personal friends of the producers.

  32. Oh what a cute story! Lucy sounds very dog-like in some ways. (wait, did I just offend every cat person out there?)

  33. I really like that picture of lucy under the shawl. So ky00t. ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. that Snow (she’s one of the ones I talk about) — she’s an enabler. Not too long ago I ordered some Kidsilk at her urging …… I wonder if she’s helpful or evil?

  35. I’ll have to keep an eye on your site for when you decide to use the Alpaca Cloud…I just ordered some for my first lace project (I’m attempting Branching Out on from Knitty), and I’d like to hear what you think of it compared to the other yarns you use.

    Our kitties go insane over the milk bottle rings and straw wrappers. A single straw wrapper will keep two of them enthralled for hours, and when they finally get it lodged somewhere that they can’t get to it, they will scream and howl until you track down the missing toy and retrieve it for them. I’m starting to think that they are a bit pampered.

  36. You call that insanity? I believe it may be more along the lines of a complete and total break with reality that will doom you to spend the remainder of your life in a mental institution (although they may let you keep your knitting)! Yikes!!!!! I can’t wait to hear the results of your needle experiment and I am on a quest to find some H&S needles. Lucy is hilarious and she totally knows how to push your buttons.

  37. Oh am I ever familiar with that “ball in the water dish” story. My Isabella often deposits her store-bought sparkly balls in the water then retrieves them after they are well soaked … and brings them to me … IN BED! How nice to wake up to a soaking wet squishy thing that you hope to high heaven IS the sparkly ball!

  38. All of this needle talk is making me covet needles I really don’t want. I don’t even *like* wooden needles! But better points might make it worth abandoning my beloved Addi Turbos. Hmmmmmm…

    Some day I will upload some film to my blog of Wilbur the Amazing Deaf Cat playing with a feminine product and having a grand time. Best toy ever. (UNUSED and WRAPPED, it is very important to add)

  39. H+S needles are German? If they are, I may have to ask the *ahem* almost mother-in-law to get me some… And sock yarn. I was in Germany and I can’t believe I didn’t buy any sock yarn…

  40. I love the Lucy story! My first kitty’s (Emma’s) favorite thing to do was raid the cabinet under the bathroom sink. I came home one night trying to figure out where all the cat-toy mice came from. I’m talking about 10 of them. Puffy, fluffed out white bodies and little string tails… all over the apartment. Took me a minute to figure out what the hell was going on… then I found her with a “toy mouse” by the tail, shredding it’s “body” into fluff with her back claws. Charming.
    I made sure she had plenty of toys after that.

  41. Have you ever tried the old style nylon needles? I know they aren’t nearly as slick as Addis, but there is no plastic to wood/metal join. Another plus is that they are very light! I use them almost exclusively (thanks to Grandma’s stash!). They can be hard to find, I don’t think they make them anymore, but ebay and grandmothers are great sources… ๐Ÿ™‚

  42. Wendy,

    Have you tried Balene circulars (or Balene II)? I have one original Balene in size 6 US and I like both the points and the join. The only problem I see with it is that they are a bit too stiff.