My current work in progress:

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


Blog Days of Summer

I note that there is a fair bit of blog ennui going on in the knitblog universe. No surprise, I think, considering that we are nearing the end of August.

The end of August seems to me to be a difficult time for knitters. Summer is winding down and we anxiously look forward to fall and winter knitting, yet often the weather is still too damned hot to do anything about it.

Although in DC, we are having a stretch of delightfully cooler weather.

My solution is, of course, to knit lace.

I’ve got more than half of the edging completed on my Woodland shawl, and have reached the point where I am thinking: “Is it live or is it Memorex?” No, what I’m really thinking is “Is it lace or is it crap?”


Only blocking will answer that question. And I predict that I’ll block this baby tomorrow night.

Speaking of blocking, Caroline asked the other day:
I was wondering the other day if you wash your shawls – I have several that I drag back and forth to work and a couple are starting to look a little dingy, but the idea of a complete reblock is sort of discouraging. Do you do that?

I haven’t done so yet, but I suppose I will at some point, and I’m not looking forward to it. My shawls either stay at the office or stay at home, so fortunately there is no need to wash any of them. Yet.

And Bronwyn asked:
It seems that you go through the second type project obsession… I am of the first type, where I do a lace project, then a pair of socks, then a sweater, maybe a small item or two, then lace again. Whereas you get really into one thing for a reasonably long period, then move on to something else. Just curious if this is correct.

I do seem to immerse myself completely in one thing and then do nothing but that until I move on to something else. I know I’m not done with lace yet, but it is entirely possible that I feel a fair isle phase coming on . . .

Oh, Balls!

There’s been some discussion in my comments about electric ballwinders. A commenter mentioned that Schact is no longer selling the electric winder and is referring people to the manufacturer’s website, here.

Stasia asked:
Do you use some sort of “center” on your ballwinder so that your center-pull laceweight balls don’t collapse? Or do you let them “cure” a bit on the winder before removing them, so they’re stable?

I just pull them off the winder and the “core” sort of fills in. And I use the yarn from the outside of the ball, not the inside. I realize that I might be in the minority in this, but I almost always knit from the outside of balls wound on a ballwinder. I prefer that the yarn remain in a nice firm ball while I use it.


In Case You Wondered

On my being busy, Andrea asked:
Is part of the stuff you’re doing book-related? We’re getting close, aren’t we? Can’t wait to see it!

Why, yes, as it happens, it is. I’m spending some evenings doing the last minor edits, before the book goes off to be put into production. Eeeeeeee!

As for getting close, the publication date is next May. So it depends on your definition of “close,” I’d say. ๐Ÿ™‚

In Case You Wondered, Part Deux

In Swedish you say Imse Vimse spindel instead of Inky Dinky spider.

What does Lucy Think?


Lucy would like Rebekah to know that while the idea of a little cap made from feathers is quite alluring, she doesn’t think she could handle the excitement!


  1. Katherine says:

    In Swedish you say Imse Vimse spindel instead of Inky Dinky spider.

    Aw, Wendy, how sweet that you mentioned this. It brings back one of my favorite childhood memories. My great-great-aunt came to visit from Sweden. She spoke only Swedish, and I spoke only English, but together we were able to sing the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” song in our respective languages.

    I also loved your long-ago posts on Swedish Christmas traditions, which I practice and remember. Which side of your family is Swedish, and where were they from, if you don’t mind my asking?

  2. I blame you and all your beautiful lace for the vogue knitting and the six balls of kid merino that I bought today.

  3. I’m glad to hear that others use the outer yarn. I hate collapsing balls ‘o yarn!
    I guess I’m maybe not quite the weirdo I thought I was….

  4. That wouldn’t be a sunlamp, would it? Our Mem loves to ‘bake his brain’ under lamps of all sorts.

    I’ve been observing your ‘Summer of Lace’ with Vittadini patterns – it’s not that hard, after all!

  5. Another weirdo here. I found that I’m tempting fate by pulling lace yarn from the center – it always seems to get tangled on me. And I like the ball not collapsing – especially if I have leftovers. I think they store much more neatly if you’ve pulled from the outside. The shawl is looking beautiful – will look forward to the blocking (and glad you’re the one doing it, not me!)

  6. Funny you should wonder if THIS shawl is crap. I have been thinking ever since you started it that it is the prettiest one so far. Not being a big lace knitter, I’ve just admired your others without having any urge to actually knit one. This last one actually makes me want to knit it. Maybe the pattern will appear in a book sometime??

  7. About that Fair Isle bug… I have been drooling over copies of Alice Starmore’s books that I have found through my libraries Interlibrary Loan. (Especially Tudor Roses… The Mary Tudor and Anne Boleyn). I have never done color work, and was planning to dive right in, starting with your Fearless Fair Isle. Also, I love how your woodland shawl is looking!

  8. Hear, hear! I also almost always knit from the outside of a ballwinder wound ball (say that three times fast). Thus, I have never seen the allure of the “center pull ball”. Tried it both ways. Still like knitting from the outside.

  9. I can understand what you’re saying about the center pull ball, but I hate knitting from the outside of the ball as the ball rolls around everywhere and that drives me crazy. I like to get the yarn from the center as I just pull and not pull around the ball of yarn, if that makes sense. Knitting from the outside drives me batty.

  10. you see fair isle in your future, yet not combined with short rows?? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. I have yet to attempt any lace projects because, to be totally honest, they are so intimidating to me. Can you recommend any really cool beginner lace projects that would be a good place for me to start?

    By the way, that purple ball of yarn is gorgeous. Can’t wait to see what you do with it

  12. There’s a dry-cleaning method for stuffed animals that uses baking soda, I don’t see why that couldn’t work for shawls too. Lay it out flat on a sheet or tarp & sprinkle baking soda all over it. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then brush or shake out the dry powder.

    If you don’t have room to lay it flat, you could probably put it in a big bag with the baking soda and shake it up every so often to get the powder all over it.

  13. Thank you for the info on wound balls, Wendy. I was worried about starting a more intimidating lace project soon, with the tangles I’ve been experiencing on center-pull balls. I want to avoid that happening with 1,300 yards of laceweight! I’ll try knitting it from the outside and see how it goes.

  14. How on earth could you think that Woodland is crap! I wish I could knit that kind of crap!
    It is absolutely beautiful, I would give it a very good home any day ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. well since you think woodland is crap…I’LL TAKE IT! Crap indeed! pshaw. I’ll take a ride down from New Yawk and pick it up..yep yep I think I’ll just do that. It gets really cold in my data center. woodland is juuuuust the ticket. hmmmm if I catch up with you in Knit Happens I can distract you yea..I think that would work. hmmm…hey Ms. Wendy look at that pretty yarn…it is crazy enough to work!

  16. Woodland is beautiful (definitely not crap!). Can’t wait to see it finished. Hope we’ll be seeing the pattern posted or published.

  17. Ah! Me too about the ball winder. I knit from the outside because I dislike the ball collapsing, sometimes tangling too if it’s a fine wool. Affirmation from Wendy. My day is complete. mwah!

  18. I’m hearing you on the feel of a FI phase creeping up…I just made a big purchase last night at KH for a FI project and thinking several FI mittens this winter are a must too.

  19. Alice in Richmond says:

    Knitting from the outside avoids the dreaded barfglob. The center pull ball just sits there quietly while it unwinds from the outside for me. I seem to use a lot of mohair-containing yarns and I know barfglobs. Mohair barfglobs are particularly nasty. I think you coined that word. Anyway I use it. Do I owe royalties?

  20. Next May? That’ll be around the corner come Fall. Any chance we can convince you to get over here for a book signing? Hee!

  21. Your Woodlands shawl looks lovely – really lovely. And, Lucy is striking a very dignified posed today. My Goodness.

  22. Lace and socks…it’s what gets us through the summer, at least it’s what got me through.

  23. You are not in the minority. I always use yarn from the outside of the ball. I hate the way the yarn collapses on the center pull balls.

  24. I have a vintage electric ball winder coming. I did wind a center pull on a dowel. After I read on another blog about how to use a noste pin. It seems the center part was coming out twisted, so I used the outside part.
    Usually, I wind center pull balls, by leaving a long tail, and just winding the center very loosely until I have an actual round ball.
    I haven’t knitted a Fair Isle in about ten years. Have had the urge for the past few years, since Knit Picks now has those new solid colors it’s become even more tempting.

  25. Ah Wendy-
    So nice to see the “Crepe Myrtle” Andes Lace yarn has found a good home. It looks stunning as a “not to be a center pull ball” . What are your plans for it? And as far as Fair Isle-I am one step ahead. Started on the 1st vest in the Folk Style Vest book and am 1/4 of the way up. I’m using Harrisville Shetland sportweight and I have enjoyed it so far-but not looking forward to the steek. Will be a new one for me. Enjoying your Summer of Lace!

  26. I go from the outside of the ball as well. I HATE it when I go from the inside and then I get a huge collapsed “thing” that wants to knot up on itself. I just don’t see the point of going from the inside. Oh well, I guess everyone has their preference but I am with you on this one.