My current work in progress:

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


The Desultory Knitter

That’s me.

Sorta bored with Mermaid now, and I’m just about at the halfway mark with it. Perhaps if the weather ever gets actually cold enough so I have a chance of wearing it . . .

But we’ve had some dramatic weather changes today. A — dare I say it? — cold front coming through. I photographed the sky three times, just about an hour apart each time:


(Like the reflection of the ceiling lights in the window?)


And finally:


But — back to knitting.

Do you all go through these periods of knitting malaise? I usually don’t, but the older I get, the crankier I get (if it is indeed possible for me to get crankier), and some of that crankiness rubs off on my knitting.

Here I am — mid-gusset!


But you never know. I may wake up tomorrow and think: “Oooh, neato! I get to knit miles of garter-stitch! Neato! Neato!”

Though, for the record, I almost never think or say “Neato.”

While mid-gusset, I was drawn inexplicably towards the spinning wheel. Well, actually, there’s a good explanation. This:


This is Australian wool, hand-dyed by Kathy of Holly Spring Homespun. You can see why I was drawn to it, can’t you? What fabulous colors.

So I did a bit of spinning:


And here is the supervisor, sitting where she usually does while I spin:


Yes, that is the chair I sit in while spinning. As soon as I sit down, Lucy jumps up and wedges herself in-between me and the back of the chair. Who needs a heating pad?

So . . . let’s address a comments question, shall we?

Christina asked a good one:
I have a question unrelated to this post but infinately related to your career as a knitter. Could you tell me why Alice Starmore books are so expensive, and why so many of them are out-of-print? I am eager to build my library of knitting books and would enjoy her books warming my shelves, yet I cannot part with $110+ for one book. Any hints? Is is OK to copy patterns from library books for personal use? Thank you!

Ingrid offered an answer:
I think I can answer the question about the AS books. Knitting books, as much as we love them, aren’t generally a mass-market commodity. They tend to have small print runs and therefore cost more to produce per book. Then, as they go out of print, the prices are high because they have a consistent, yet small, fan base that wants them year after year. If I am not mistaken, there is a out-of-print Barbara Walker book that goes for hundreds of dollars.

(Aside: Pretty slick of me using reader comments to write my blog entry, doncha think?)

Ingrid is correct, I believe, in that knitting books for the most part are done in small print runs and go out of print quickly.

Why are the Starmore books so popular? The Fair Isle knitting book and the Aran knitting book both are great technical resources, so they are, in my opinion, rightly in high demand. But some of her earlier out-of-print books that are so expensive are (forgive me, Alice) not fabulous. I’ve got both Knitting From the British Isles and Scandinavian Knitwear and I don’t think they are worth the exhorbitant prices I see them going for as used books on Just my opinion. Just sayin’.

On to the second part of Christine’s question — Is is OK to copy patterns from library books for personal use?

I did some searching, and found this answer on the Girl From Auntie’s site.

By the way, there’s an excellent article by the same individual on copyright and knitters in the Knitty archives here.

Thank You

Thank you for all the kind comments about the book cover. I quite like it and I’m glad that you do too!

I had absolutely nothing to do with the design — I was sent a preliminary design a few weeks ago that was very similar to the finished cover. I offered some minor suggestions that the publisher kindly incorporated and voila! Finished design.

I know not what yarns those are, nor from whence they came. But they sure are purty, ain’t they?

Knit Club

There’s a nice review of the Knitter’s Review Retreat here. Kindly note that L-B and I are mentioned and photographed as two separate, distinct people.

Or are we? There’s always Photoshop . . .

Okay. Back to Mermaid. Have a good weekend!


  1. Hey, that blue-ish green roving and yarn is gorgeous — my favorite colors! Can’t wait to see what you knit with it. Great job spinning! And you got it from a place near me! Way cool!

  2. Hmmm. I do see that the person referred to as “L-B” in the Knitter’s Review article has a different forehead and hairdo than yours. I guess I’ll take your word for it.

  3. L-B’s sweater has left me speechless. That’s amazing. Boy, do I feel inadequate.

  4. Maybe if you paired the word “Neato” with “Libido” then you might like to say Neato more often. Neato Libido. Just sayin’…cuz I can! (impish glee!). ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. good luck with you’re book publishing, my father has been trying for YEARS and he finally is going to have a deal, however it’s not going to be a big first printing. I think 10 thousand copies? He’s disapointed about that… so I feel frustrated for him. It’s a hard business, my husband wrote soome chapters for a few web development books and never saw a dime.

    It seems like a yucky business, writting and publishing.

  6. O Lord, it must be the phase of the moon or something – I am in the throes of knitting malaise, too. A few times a day I pick up one of the four projects I have going right now, knit a few rows, and then go, “Meh.” Much as I would love to BE FINISHED with one or all of these projects, I just can’t work up the gumption to knit them right now. But it’s happened before, and this too shall pass!

    I also never think or say “Neato,” but sometimes my youth comes back to me in the form of “Coolbeans.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Beautiful yarn you’re spinning there Wendy!

    My Mickie used to do that with my chairs and my bum too (altho there is a lot more bum thus a lot more “wedging” around these fluffy parts) except Mickie would go to town “making biscuits” on my butt for as long as I’d let him….Interesting sensation, that ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. There is only one acceptable use of the word “neato”, and that’s paired with the word “torpedo” as in “Neato Torpedo!”

  9. Oh, oh, a yarn guessing game! One is, I think, my favorite colorway of Berocco Hip Hop, no longer available. It’s the one under the kitty’s tail. The others, I don’t know…but I bet the rest of you do…

  10. I think it must be the time of the year, I have knitter’s malaise also! I cannot, for the love of the Goddesss, keep something going! I have BAD startitis! But, it WILL pass I am sure. Congrats on your book! I can not wait to get my hands on a copy! And I LOVE the cover that you decided on!

    Keep,up the great work! Your’s is thw FIRST blog I read when I sign on-line!

  11. I get the Malaise a lot, which means it’s time to switch off to a different project for a while. I’ve always got three or four different things going at once, with a variety of needle/yarn sizes and complexity levels. Tired of tiny lace socks? Trade off to a pinwheel baby blanket. Blanket getting boring? Try a cabled afghan panel for awhile.

  12. There seems to be a conensus that Knitting Malaise is merely boredom and requires the start of another project. On the contrary, I think it means that you haven’t been spending enough time knitting. I say this, of course, because I’ve stalled out with boredom on a sweater for my sister’s Christmas present and need to force myself to just knit the damned thing rather than start on something else I’d enjoy more.

  13. I have a large dog who loves the “Lucy” position when I sit on the couch and knit. Unfortunately, when 85 lbs of dog tries to get between you and the back of the couch, your butt generally slides towards the floor (even my roomy one – butt that is). Our Lili is very jealous of time spent knitting. Malaise? Try a martini while you knit, but just one.

  14. How can you have malaise after the retreat? I’m so motivated about knitting and spinning right now it’s hard to actually do the things need to live (work, cook, sleep…)

  15. Hey, I just remembered how I cured my knitting malaise last time: cross-stitch! I just forgot about knitting and cross-stitched like a madwoman for about three weeks. Then all my knuckles ached, and I needed bigger needles and a thicker string-like object, so back to knitting I went. Time to grab my issues of Cross Stitch Crazy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Hi Wendy –

    I just got my Mermaid kit (colorway 4) as an early Christmas gift! I’ve just started skimming the pattern and I can’t find where it specifies how long the initial i-cord should be before you start picking up all of the front stitches. I am assuming that the length should equal the length of the left front (I’m making the smallest size). Is that correct? What size circulars did you get gauge with on the body? Thanks for all your help.

  17. I get malaise, too. The scarves I am making for Xmas gifts, although not ordinary patterns by any means, are boring me before I get to the end of them. I have almost convinced myself that enough time has passed since my last yarn purchase to get Mermaid. But I know I can’t start it until after Xmas anyway, so I’m holding off so I won’t torture myself with it in front of me.

    Have a great weekend!

  18. Hi Wendy-Your yarn is looking wonderful! You know I have been soo busy that I have rarely been able to spin roving I have dyed. So it is very cool to see it spun up! I am dying 30 lbs more on Monday. And what is this talk of malaise. This is not what a shop owner needs to hear-we have bills to pay with all the stuff we’ve purchased for the Fall buying frenzy! So snap out of it! (Actually-that is what spinning is for-to help you through those times, ya know. ) Take care L-B..oh! or is it Wendy?-I get you gals mixed up.

  19. After being away yesterday and computer issues at work today, I missed the book cover! Very nice!! The cat is a nice touch, too.

  20. Susan Maurer says:

    I’m not sure if it’s just the lull in my knitting, but I actually enjoy seeing the sky shots from the window! Maybe it’s cuz we’re getting that same cold front here in Florida and it’s (do I write it? dare I?) neat-o to see the same weather impact all the way up where you are. Gag me with a spoon, I haven’t heard that word (neat-o) since high school (ahem, that’s at least a few decades ago). Thanks for the window shots of your world, along with Lucy and the mermaid. Love the new (or almost new) book cover! REALLY like the new title better than the old one as well. Good job! (Hey, is that Lucy’s subtitle: My never-ending adventures in yarn? That is her, after all, n’est-ce pas, under the subtitle?)

  21. i came across your “kitty pi” beds when i googled ‘cat beds’, as i was looking for something warm for ‘my precious’ to sleep in. right now she is in a basket of clean sheets, under one of them. my dilemma, i can crochet, but i can’t knit. do you think that i can crochet a bed to the dimentions stated in your pattern and felting directions and end with simular results? i was thinking a ‘single’ crochet stitch?
    p.s. your work is gorgeous!

  22. I certainly understand your Knitter’s Malaise especially with an all-garter st project like your beautiful Mermaid. But I must tell you, I just finished HF’s Ballerina jacket, and my mantras through its miles of garter st on #2 needles were “Wendy would stick with it” and “Try Wendy’s way, one or two projects at a time, max”! See, your example gave me a way out of my own, multi-UFO-induced malaise…

  23. That is a very lovely yarn you are spinning! Someday I will learn how to spin yarn I hope.

  24. Hi Wendy
    Thanks for the link to Holly Homespun yarns – they have some beautiful stuff, and I needed another source of handpainted sock yarn!!

    P.S – Lucy is absolutely gorgeous – give her an elegant scratch under the chin from me!

  25. On knitting malaise– has anyone seen the recent science/health news on repetitive strain injuries?
    for example

    Basically, generalized fatigue and loss of interest can be a very, very early sign of a repetitive strain injury. It can affect you before you actually have any pain in your hands or wherever. They’ve only shown this in mice, but they think it’s fairly likely to be applicable to humans too. So maybe it’s good to take a little break. I’m currently on a so-far month long RSI-caused forced vacation from knitting. Wish I had caught it earlier…

  26. Some sky!
    Love your roving. Love your knitting. That sums it up pretty well today!
    Oh, and I do like your new book title better than the old!
    Of course, just my opinion, humble or not!

  27. Um, Yeah, What IS that?


  1. What Day Is This?

    It’s the rare Friday national holiday. But before we get to that, here are bunch of random pictures. Where I live, they’re replacing the wall sconces with new ones that have energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs, but here’s what it looks like