My current work in progress:

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


One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

Tara asked an interesting question the other day:
I want to knit my friend a wedding shawl (more detail on my blog) and can’t seem to find the perfect yarn or pattern…I’d rather make up my own then buy one. I greatly admire the shawls you’ve designed and I have a question: how do you decide what lace stitches go together and how many repeats to do before changing to the next?

I’ve been giving this some thought. How do you decide what stitches go together and how many repeats to do before changing to the next?

I realized that it’s something I just . . . well . . . do. There are certain lace stitches that just seem to go together. I think of a shawl (a triangular shawl anyhow) as having three major components — the body of the shawl, the border, and the edging.

As for how many repeats of each pattern, I think that in my head I think of the body being roughly two-thirds to the border’s one-third. And then the edging is just the gravy.

But . . . what stitch patterns go together? beats me. Some just do. And I think a lot of this is subjective. There are patterns that I don’t like, that I think look “eh,” that other people love. And there are patterns that I love that other people hate.

What do you all think?




I did indeed finish the back, and started the front. In case you wondered, it is possible to pick up 122 stitches along the straight edge of the lace edging in the time it takes the train to go from the Pentagon to Metro Center.


Just in case you wondered.

P.S. to Sophia and Bosco

Lucy would like Sophia and Bosco to know that her Greenies are shaped like tiny fish. Isn’t that neat?

“I wonder if there are any Greenies in here?”


This week L-B told me that the Petsmart near her is out of Feline Greenies. That made me a little anxious — what if there were a worldwide shortage of Feline Greenies?


Go without Greenies? Not my little princess!


  1. If you corner the market on Greenies for Lucy, won’t she suddenly lose interest in them?

    My cats would, I’m sure! For these spoiled kitters, only catnip lasts forever…

  2. Someone’s kitty is going to be “Greenies with envy” about Lucy’s stash.

    Yes, I do CORNY jokes.

  3. Could the Petsmart be out because “someone” went and bought them all?


  4. So it’s not just yarn that you stash? ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. What a riot.

  6. My kitties love the feline greenies too.

  7. Alice in Richmond says:

    Have you ever seen “Blow” with Johnny Depp? You know its based on a true story.

  8. Here in Atlanta we have a store called “Red Bandana” pet food or something like that.

    It’s kind of like an organic shopping market for dogs and cats!

    I have been getting my Avo Derm dog and cat food there for ages. I highly reccomend it. Makes for super healthy cats.

    I simply adore avo derm, can’t go on about it enough. Any ways, they have greenies and edible Nylabones (never buy the ones at petsmart in the toy isle, BAD!!) and I had never seen kitty greenies, so I’ll have to go set some, I ordered the free ones last time you posted about them.

    Thanks for telling us about ’em ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Positive and negative space, whether the stitch pattern draws the eye in a certain direction or has a dot effect or…, and proportion. Less often (for me, anyway) is a theme, like floral motifs or trees. Numbers? Something easy to remember, usually odd, again consider proportion, the golden mean, and just plain what looks good.

  10. with the onset of autumn, inching ever closer to winter and 2006 being the winter olympics… are you planning on knitting the dale of norway torino sweater? i love seeing you complete those olympics sweaters.

  11. Picking up stitches on the Metro? You are competing for my Nimble Fingers title! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Come on, Lucy, you can’t have all of the Greenies!

  13. I want to be Wendy’s feline in my next life (if there is one).

  14. Interesting question – how do lace patterns work together?

    Like Sylvia, I tend to apply the golden ratio to ensure that the proportions both horizontally and vertically work. I’m also pathologically opposed to lace patterns which ‘line up’ to give stripes. I always think the lace repeat in the body should be offset from that in the edge. Maybe it’s just me….

    It also depends on the yarn you finally select. Wendy, I believe you’ve said it before – the more detailed the yarn (in colour or texture), the less intricate the pattern, IMHO.

  15. Susan Maurer says:

    Ditto to Katie and Sylvia. I’ve never designed lace patterns, but if I did, I would want to read up on Fibonnaci (golden mean) numbers since those tend to result in more eye-pleasing combinations. I would also study all of the lace patterns that I myself like and look for commonalities. Why do I like them? What appeals? (Maybe even do the same with those I don’t like to figure out exactly why to avoid that in my design.) But, I’m no designer. I designed a sleeve and an afghan and my designs just suck (hence, only a sleeve resulted). Soooo, since I hardly have enough time left in life to knit everything I want from already published designs, I’ll stick to the pros’ designs. But I encourage anyone who wants to give it a shot to go for it. It also depends, I guess, on how much time you have left, Tara, before your friend’s wedding. If it’s not long, you may want to go with a design that you favor above all others lest you get too far into your own design and discover it just ain’t workin’. Good luck!

  16. Princess indeed. Is Lucy going to stash greenies like you stash yarn? An obsession in the making. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Are you still spinning, Wendy? It seems like it has been quite a while since you shared any spinning adventures with us! ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. I must be dense, but I cannot see the relationship between lace designs and the proportion of 1.618-to-1. Are the smarter ones of you out there saying that the open space and the filled space in lace should have these proportions somehow? Or, are there numbers of sts that are more attractive, like 5 & 8 or 7 & 11? My head hurts.

  19. You know how to take care of your grrl!

  20. Thanks, Wendy, for putting my question out there for all to answer! Thank ya’ll for your responses, although I’m not so sure about this golden mean concept, can anyone expound?
    In case you’re interested, I’ve decided on Zephyr yarn in Blueberry and I’m leaning towards lace patterns that are more organic and nature-centric. As it is, I might do a Daisy basket shawl with a leaf lace border…or the perfect pie shawl from Weekend Knitting…Any comments are appreciated!

  21. Did you see the morning sky from the Pentagon transfer depot about 6:35 a.m. today (Friday)? Gorgeous range from midnight blue to pale gold for a cloudless backdrop to the DC skyline. Now that would make a wonderful colorway!

  22. Good Lord, that’s a lot of Greenies.

  23. I bet Lucy is the happiest cat in your neighborhood!