My current work in progress:

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


Just Call Me Spiderwoman

Thanks Jacinta, for that moniker! And thanks to all of you for the very nice comments on Inky Dinky!

At 4:00 this morning I was on my hands and knees, unpinning Inky Dinky to release it from blocking.

(Lucy was so excited. “It’s 4:00 in the morning and instead of going to work, Momma is going to spend the day playing with me, dragging those alluring long wires along the floor!”)

Inky came to work with me. This shawl is freaking huge! Here is less than half of it.


And here it is, trying to hide the mess on my desk. I think after seeing the state of my office, it was embarrassed to be associated with me..


But when it realized I had no plans to clean up, it gave up and relaxed on my office chair.


I’ll take it to KH on Wednesday evening and see if I can get two people to hold it out so I can photograph it and get the whole thing in one shot.

Yes, I do tend to be over-zealous in my blocking. ๐Ÿ™‚ I know I blocked it out a bit larger than the pattern’s stated finished dimensions. Which reminds me of a question from the comments:

Barbara asked:
When you block, do you use starch or anything to help it stay in shape? I use starch so thick on my doilys that they are stiff as a board. Can’t do that on a shawl do how does it stay stretched?

Nope, nothing. I let the item to be blocked soak in warm water with woolwash for 15 to 20 minutes, rinse it carefully with warm water, then gently squeeze out as much water as possible.

Then it gets pinned out. For Inky Dinky I used both blocking wires (to get the nice straight edges of the rectangle) and pins (to pin out each point of the edging).

I noticed that it seemed dry in a couple of hours, but I left it pinned out overnight (hence my 4:00a.m. unpinning). When I unpinned it, I noticed that it bounced back and shrunk a wee bit, but that, I think, is because I pin it out to the maximum I can when it’s wet.

Inky Dinky is 100% alpaca, which blocks and retains its shape very nicely, as does wool. Cotton does not, does it? I’ve never knitted any lace from cotton, but I wouldn’t think it would. Hence the starching of doilies, right?

Some notes about Inky Dinky:

I used three full skeins (of Cherry Tree Hill Suri Alpaca in the “java” colorway) at 437 yards each, plus less than 100 yards of the fourth skein.

It was for the most part fun and easy to knit — I just got a bit bored on the “spiderweb” sections because I had to knit the same 32 row chart a total of ten times.

A nice feature of the pattern is that the edging is knit along with the body, so when you are done, you are done. You start by knitting the bottom edging (with mitred corners), pick up stitches along the straight edge of the edging, and knit the body up from the bottom, knitting the side edgings as you go along. When you are done, you just need to knit the edging along the top edge. Virtually painless!

New Project

My new lace project is being knitted from the Gold Hill Helen’s Laces I purchased at Knit Happens last week. It’s a design I’m creating as I go along — a combination of leaf and tree motifs. Here’s an extreme close-up:


I Love Wild Fibers

Wild Fibers Magazine, that is. Have you seen it? The description on their website says:

Wild Fibers Magazine is an exciting new publication for fiber enthusiasts of all kinds. From raising cashmere goats to knitting with yak, Wild Fibers provides a comprehensive look at all levels of fiber production from around the world.

It was Audrey (I think — right, Audrey?) who mentioned it to me a month or so ago, and I immediately ordered a subscription. L-B kindly got me some back issues to read, and the first issue of my subscription, the Summer 2005 edition, arrived over the weekend.

Now, I don’t own any fiber animals (apart from Lucy), nor do I plan on acquiring a flock or a herd anytime soon. But the photos and articles make wonderful reading, and there is, of course, some knitting and spinning content. I brought my copy to work today and during lunch I read a delightful article about Pygora goats. I never knew the little critters existed before, and now I am besotted with them!

Lucy doesn’t get it.



  1. Inky Dinky looks Gorgeous!! Can’t wait to see the new project as well–Beautiful colorway!

  2. I love Pygora goats too. Still don’t have room for them, but they are so cool! And like sheep, they are supposedly multipurpose as well.

    And of course, Inky Dinky is gorgeous!

  3. It’s amazing how similar federal offices look, even in completely different departments! My Aspen scarf was done in mercerized cotton (Jaeger Sienna) and blocked out nicely without starch. Tying it around my waist scrunched it up a bit though, and it hasn’t completely bounced back. But it’s still quite presentable as a scarf.

  4. Beautiful Inky Dinky, Spiderwoman!

    I knit a Faroese shawl in mercerized cotton and blocked and pinned it when finished and it’s maintained it’s shape beautifully! It doesn’t have the ‘sproing’ wool does but it did block out well and is the perfect shawl for Florida ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I’ve noticed that the carpet is the blocking area of choice and I was wondering if Lucy left any Lucy-fuzz in the shawls? Also, does the carpet get damp or do you make an extra effort to gently smoosh out all the water after soaking?

  6. I got to pet a Pygora at the NH Sheep and Wool festival – amazing little thing. Wild Fibers is really at the top of my list for fun magazines right now.

    Inky Dinky looks great – I find things tend to bounce back at least a little from blocking anyway, so more power to the hardcore blocking!

  7. Wendy- great shawl! You know, you could comb Lucy and spin his fur. I bet he would like that.

  8. The shawl looks absolutely lovely–and huge! Can’t help but wonder what they’re thinking, when they expand that way, huh? (grin)

  9. Wow! You consistently amaze me at how much knitting you produce! Your shawl is beautiful!

  10. I love that picture of Inky Dinky on your desk. Maybe it’s just because the wall next to the stairs to my apartment (outside, thankfully) are very spiderwebby, but that desk picture makes the shawl look like a great covering of cobwebs.

    Very pretty cobwebs at that. Great shawl!

  11. The Gold Hill colorway is knitting up beautifully. You’re definitely giving me the courage to think about knitting something lacy with a varigated yarn. Tell us more about this design of yours, please. Is it a triangle or a square?

  12. Wendy, the Inky is gorgeous. I have a skein of the Suri Alpaca yarn calling to me – can’t wait to see how the color works up, after seeing yours. Great job.

  13. Inky Dinky is beautiful!
    I just can’t get enough of Lucy checking out the blocking.
    Okay, who else thought, “Wendy, your desk is covered with cobwebs!” ๐Ÿ˜›

  14. Wow!!! That shawl is just as beautiful as all the others that you have made. I am soooooooo jealous. I hope I will be able to make some shawls even half as beautiful. Lucy is just adorable.

  15. Fantastic as always! I was wondering about your opinion on or experience with knitting lace with rayon or other synthetic fiber, although I know you love natural fibers.

  16. WOW – the ‘Inky-Dinky’ is glorious. Great job and an inspiration. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Wowzer! You’ve left me speechless!

  18. Wendy – a work of art. Beautiful. I aspire to be one-tenth the lace knitter that you are. I’m anxious to see your fall leaf shawl.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    I think it’s amazing what blocking does. This lovely shawl certainly did not look like it would be that large, but enter blocking and now, voila! It’s huge! It is another truly beautiful piece, Wendy, and I agree, with Betty, you produce more knitting that anyone I’ve ever known. You inspire me!

  20. Cotton actually does block out nicely. It’s true it doesn’t stretch as much as wool, and the knitting to be comparably lacy need to be done on larger needles in comparison to wool, but it does stretch.

    Blocking improves the look of cotton laces, too. Tension evens out the stitches and opens up the YOs much as it does for wool. Cotton counterpane motifs for example sew together much easier and look better if they’re individually blocked before assembly.

    Oddly for a yarn with less stretch and bounceback than wool, cotton seems to give up what stretch is blocked into it quicker than wool. You can block out a wool shawl and it will bounce back a bit after unpinning. But you can fold it up and take it out a year later and it will still have a nice, open look.

    Cotton on the other hand will look best right after blocking. If folded and left alone over a matter of months it will relax back into something more like it’s unblocked appearance rather than preserving the stretched look of knitted wool or alpaca. It won’t totally revert, but it will lose its post-block crispness. Perhaps that’s why doilies are starched. To keep them flat and stretched looking while they while away the weeks under Great Aunt Bluma’s cut glass vase on the sideboard.

  21. My god, it’s huge! And incredibly beautiful. The extreme close-up of your new project looks fabulous too. I can’t wait to see more.

  22. WOW! It’s ginormous!!!! So beautiful, too. I’m in a sock phase now, maybe I’ll be in a lace frame of mind come winter.

    My husband is a musician and our cats absolutely *love* it when he changes strings on his guitar and leaves the old ones on the floor. If Lucy ever wanted her very own wires, we’d be happy to help!!

  23. Gorgeous! That must be the biggest shawl I’ve ever seen. Hope you find a way to show it off!

  24. Wendy, I’m sure that neither Lucy nor the landlord would mind if you got yourself a small herd of Pygora goats. A little plot of grass in the corner of the kitchen, a little fenced in area in the bathroom…taking them for walks of an evening. I have a vision of you walking them on totally charming knitted leads every evening after work!

  25. Beautiful!

  26. kelly in new mexico says:

    WOW!!!It’s huge….but beautiful. I loved the yarn from the start but didn’t think I would like the pattern, was I wrong, it’s gorgeous.
    It still puzzles me though how you can work on one thing at a time and keep from getting bored?
    I wish I had such dicipline?!?!?!!

  27. Your Inky is just tremendous. I love this stole and I did not imagine it was so huge actually. Thanks a lot for showing us your work, your blog and website are a mine of inspiration and strengh.

  28. You are Sooooo good. Hard to believe you are so fast and so darned, darned good! Dorothy wouldn’t even sell me the Inky Dinky pattern. (sob) She knows me too well. I gotta have that ‘rest’ row.

    But, I must say, your shawl is luscious.
    Makes me wish I was 1/10 as proficient.

  29. Katherine says:

    Wow, the Inky Dinky stole turned out great! (Not that we expected anything less!) I really like the Lorna’s Gold Hill colorway; tried to get it in Shepard Sock but my LYS was out. I can’t wait to see how it knits up.

    Your Summer of Lace has inspired me; I’ve completed one lace project and am planning for more. You do such beautiful work! I love reading your blog.

  30. as Charlotte would say, “Some Shawl!”

    it is absolutely fantastic!

  31. Inky is beautiful!

    And thanks for the Wild Fibers referral. I called and ordered a sample issue – the cashmere one – my daughter loves goats and has been trying to convince me that her horse needs a goat friend.
    This sounds very interesting and am looking forward to some new reading material.

  32. I know my comment’s kind of late, but I wanted to say that when I first started with knitting, I avoided variegated yarns as well, because the colors were too random and wild. Now I embrace the spontaneity, and even the pooling!

    And yes, less contrasty color combos for lace, to better show off the patterns.

    Beautiful spider stole, Wendy!

  33. I know my comment’s kind of late, but I wanted to say that when I first started with knitting, I avoided variegated yarns as well, because the colors were too random and wild. Now I embrace the spontaneity, and even the pooling!

    And yes, less contrasty color combos for lace, to better show off the patterns.

    Beautiful spider stole, Wendy!

  34. Woman, you scare me. Bet that thing can slide through the ring on a finger too, huh?

  35. Good god, that is BEEYOOTIFUL! Amazing, dear.

  36. OMG where do you work? Your office “furniture” is the exact same set-up as mine! We couldn’t be in the same place, could we???? P.S. I really came here for the knitting, which, as always, has me totally impressed!