My current work in progress:

Benedict, designed by Michele Wang, knit from Rowan Softknit Cotton in the Cocoa colorway, on a U.S. size 6 and 8 needle.

Archives for August 2005

Pledge to Oliver’s Fund!

Kindly note the Paypal button over in the sidebar. Our blog friend Emma has a beautiful little boy, Oliver, who needs some equipment so his family can give him the best care they can. If you would like to help, you can click on the button to donate via Paypal. Thank you!

Oh, and Claudia? I totally stole the button code off your blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

I Have It On Good Authority . . .

. . . that Helen’s Laces and Jaggerspun Zephyr are the same base yarn.

Helen’s Laces is two-ply, btw (in answer to a comments question).

To Wrap or To Tie? That is the Question.

Becky asked:
I’m curious: How do you wear triangular shawls? Do you wrap them casually around your shoulders and keep the ends loose, or do you wear them snug by tying the ends together? (I’m of the wrap variety.)

I’m a wrap girl myself, Becky! I generally wear my shawls when I’m sitting in my office at work. The temperature there fluctuates dramatically, so a shawl is perfect — I can put in on and take it off easily without messing with sleeves or fasteners.

I do have a pretty shawl pin that I’ve never used.

To Variegate or Not to Variegate? That is the Question.

Mary asked:
While I adore the colors of your new shawl, I’m wondering about using variegated yarn for lace projects. It looks like the changing colors sort of obliterate the effect of the lace patterning action going; or is it just that the lace pattern doesn’t show up well on the computer? I’ve never watched anyone up close working on variegated lace, that’s why I’m asking. It’s that overpowering effect on the computer that stops me from using vg yarn.

Well yeah, variegated yarn can obscure a pattern if you’re not careful. But Inky Dinky was knitted in variegated and looks just fine I think.

Remember, the photo I posted of my current shawl yesterday shows it pre-blocking. The lace pattern opens up a lot after it’s blocked.

I think a variegated looks better if your lace isn’t too complicated. The Woodland Shawl fits that description — the top part of it is an all-over leaf lace, and then the bottom has trees. But the final test will be after it’s blocked.

Speaking of Inky Dinky

I took Inky Dinky to Late Night tonight. Holly and Maeve kindly held Inky out to its full width. Here it is, full frontal!

(Anyone googling “full frontal” is gonna be so disappointed when they get this page.)


Holly tried it on. Cute!


4-ply Katie tried it on. Cute!


And our Phyl-Phyl tried it on.


We love our Phyl-Phyl.


P.S. to Christina

Lucy says “That’s okay — as long as you know now that I am a girl!”


Pygora Goats!

This comment from Kate made me laugh:

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!

Wouldn’t that be fun? However, while I don’t have a landlord, I’m quite sure that Lucy would object. Besides, I live in a condo on the tenth floor of a high-rise in the city, and I’m almost positive we are not zoned for goats. Even cute little ones.

But they do look like dear little things!

Here, just for grins, is the website for the Pygora Breeders Association.

Alrighty Then

Here’s a bigger photo of my current work in progress, which I have named the Woodland Shawl.


It will be a triangular shawl (my favorite type to wear), and the top section is a shetland leaf pattern. It will have a border of what will resemble (to some extent) trees, and then a knitted on edging.

This is the first time I’ve used Helen’s Laces yarn and I do love it. It’s 50/50 wool silk and it’s very soft, but has that wonderfully crunchy texture that only silk can give. I am now interested in trying Jaggerspun Zephyr to see it it’s similar. It crossed my mind to wonder if it’s the same yarn — anyone know?

Here’s a photo I snapped of Miss Lucy this morning. She is the Mighty Huntress, lording it over her prey: the Cursed Emery Board!


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.


Inky? Check. Dinky? Check.

Alrighty then. Before blocking:


After (pardon the bad angle — makes it look lopsided!)


A close-up:


And another:


And yet another!


Mary asked:
Watching your shawl progress, I’m wondering: Is Inky-Dinky much more complicated than your last two shawls? I know you knitted up each of those fairly fast, and Dinky seems to be taking much longer. Just for future reference, in case I want to try knitting any of those. Inquiring minds, you know . . .

Inky Dinky took me about the same amount of time as the Tina shawl. I think, although the shape is different, it’s pretty much the same amount of knitting as Tina. The last two shawls I made, The Peacock Feathers and the Shetland Garden Faroese, are both a bit larger than half the size of Tina. and they both took me a bit over half the amount of time it took me to knit Tina.

Hey, at least I’m consistent.

No, I don’t think the Inkster is any harder than the last two — just a lot more knitting!

Imbrium asked:
Out of curiosity, do you find that slogging your way through a project that you’ve lost interest in makes you value it more or less when you’re done? Does that resentment linger, or do you love it more for having persevered?

Now that’s an interesting question. I would think that the slogging would make me resentful (because that’s the way I am), but it doesn’t. There was definite slogging involved in Tina’s creation, but I love the resulting shawl. But I think I’d love it no matter what.

Which started me thinking — do bad memories in the creation of your knits transfer themselves to your attitude towards the finished knit? They don’t for me.

Though I do remember certain things about the knitting of most of my stuff. Whenever I wear Marina, I remember the hurricane that came through here almost two years ago, because I knit on Marina during the hurricane.

And every time I wear Henry VIII, I think of Izzy (my kitty who died before Lucy came to live with me) because that was the last thing I finished when she was alive. And I started the Roscalie cardigan the day Lucy came to live with me. I was knitting Flora when Knit Happens opened.

And so on.

Seen on the Shelf at a Local Drugstore


I wonder if they sell a lot of that?

Lucy doesn’t care enough to weigh in with an opinion.


More Lace Yarn

I stopped by Knit Happens for a couple of hours of late night last night and was delighted to find that Kristine has Helen’s Laces yarn in the retail store now (she’s had it in the online store for a while). She even brought one skein of each colorway in stock to the table for me to look at — so as not to interrupt my Inky-Dinky Spidering, you see. Now that’s what I call service from a LYSO!

I succumbed to this colorway:


Gold Hill. What lovely autumnal colors! (Of course now I’m wishing I’d also bought it in the Aslan colorway.)

I wound it into a ball in a fever of anticipation:


I was planning on knitting my next lace project from some Zephyr in “copper” but I think I’ll use this Helen’s Laces instead. The next project is a triangular shawl that I’m designing, in a combination of tree and leaf patterns, so I’m thinking autumn leaves here.

Good segue into a question from the comments.

Sue asked:
Your inky-dink spider stole brings up a question (at least to me): how do you go about deciding when a multi-colored yarn will work for lace-work – or even aran/cable work? Some multi-color yarns are so distracting they take away from all the fancy stitches…. but not so with your stole. Do you have some criteria such as gradual color changes or colors that last at least so many inches before changes?

Nah, it’s just dumb luck. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Seriously though, I think the more complicated the lace pattern, the less variegation you want in your yarn. I used a variegated for the Peacock Feathers that was mostly shades of blue and that worked.

The variegated for Inky Dinky is all muted colors and they seem to work too.

It’s funny, because for years I avoided handpainted and variegated yarns like the plague. I think I was scarred by the old “ombre” yarn — remember that? Dime store acrylic in ombre colorways. Ow! I think I just put out my mind’s eye!

Kirsten said:
I am thinking you don’t have a problem with changing needles mid-project, but do you worry about how changing needles will affect the finished stole? I myself worry about that (and whether the fact I knit backwards or not will affect my gauge, etc……). If it’s interesting to you , I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For some reason, and I have no idea why, changing needles doesn’t seem to change my gauge.

I was a solitary knitter for years and years and pretty much did things my way. (Cue Frank Sinatra here.) I was fearless about everything. Or too stupid to know to be scared. You pick.

Like, when Alice Starmore told me in her pattern directions to cut a steek in my fair isle knitting, it never once occurred to me that this was something that could go terribly wrong. Yeah, I’m trusting like that.

Ah, the innocence of the pre-Internet days.

But anyhow, I’ve changed needles mid-project many times with no problems. As long as I am using the same size needles, I get gauge and there’s no perceptible change in my knitting. Go figure.

Up to Camp

My dad emailed me last night and said that he thinks we used the phrase “up to camp” because to get to camp from the city (Worcester, MA), we had to ascend “Dead Horse Hill” — a not insignificant hill on the route to camp. I guess you can figure that out from the name, huh?

I’m Almost Inky-Dinked Out

As evidenced by this photo (taken and emailed to me by the lovely and amiable Maeve — thanks!):


This project seems interminable. But I am past the freaking spiderwebs and onto the spiders . . . the last pattern before the edging on the bottom!

Still, I have the song I Will Survive running through my head. Move over, Gloria Gaynor.

Lucy wants to be a Disco Queen.