My current work in progress:

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


Clearing Things Up About Filth & Heat

And I chuckled at this comment from Christy:
I can’t stop chuckling at the fear of getting things dirty.
Assuming that you don’t roll around in mud, how dirty could they get? Sure, a little Metro grime may happen to a frequently worn scarf or gloves but washing is a wonder!

Clearly, you haven’t experienced the Washington DC metro system lately.

Touching a handrail when taking the stairs or the escalator (which I have to do 8 times a day 5 days a week) always results in a streak of dirt on one’s hand or glove. Ew. And some stations and trains are pretty filthy. Heck, touch anything and you get dirt all over yourself.

So, no. I’m not too motivated to wear good gloves or mittens on the daily commute. Yeah, I know I can wash them, but I’d rather subject something machine-made to multiple washings.

About the shawls — saying I don’t wear them because I don’t want to get them dirty is not entirely accurate. I always keep a couple of shawls in my office because the temperature there is pretty variable. I am loathe to bring some of the more delicate large shawls to the office (like Tina and Inky Dinky) because I have a tendency to run over the edges of shawls with the wheels on my chair when I’m wearing them. Can’t help it! That’s one reason why I like the Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl so much — it’s short enough so there’s no danger of running over it.

But of course, the office ain’t too clean either.

BJ commented:
Each to her own, but I would rather knit one nice sweater in an inexpensive, but easy-to-care-for yarn such as Wool-Ease than to knit a dozen sweaters out of expensive stuff that I am afraid of.

About all the sweaters I’ve made and haven’t worn? It’s not because I’m “afraid” of wearing sweaters made from “expensive” yarn. It’s too freaking warm this year to wear sweaters. I’d die of the heat in a Wool-Ease sweater as well. Yesterday, January 9, the temperature was 63 freaking degrees! Just a bit cooler today, but it is supposed to be back up in the 60s in the next few days. A lacy lightweight shawl thrown over my shoulders and a pair of wristwarmers is all I need in the office when the temperature is on the chilly side.

Another commenter, Katia, said:
I do not quite understand, why you knit so many items you never wear – not even once. I really do not see the point in spending so much time in creating wearable items if you do never actually wear them.

For me, it has to do with respect – this beautiful garments made of wonderful yarns deserve to be worn. If you do not like to wear knitted garments, sell them, give them away as presents, or go and knit art objects that are not intended to be worn.

My answer?

Process, process, process. And then maybe . . . process.

No, I’m not going to sell them. Some of them I do give away. And who is to say that I don’t consider some of them to be art objects? I consider the Bohus a work of art. And if I were to never wear it, the joy of knitting it and looking at it makes its creation worthwhile for me.

What Susan said comes closest to how I feel:
I’m a process knitter too. My closet and hope chest are stuffed silly with probably between 50 to 60 cardigans, sweaters, shawls, socks, hats, you name it, of gorgeous handknits in good yarns. I knit because I love the process. I knit because I love the finished product, too. But it’s too hot most of the time in northern Florida to wear them. That doesn’t mean I won’t travel though to places where I can. And I just love fair isles and knitting challenges. As well as simple k2,p2 fare. So on I knit. Mostly for myself, cuz knitting big items for folks who receive them as gifts hasn’t always resulted in the appreciation that such items deserve (I’m not speaking lauding of self here, but rather the joy that comes from receiving something handmade. It just wasn’t there.) So I figure only make socks for others. They’re usually appreciated. Even handknits for my kids just weren’t worn. Lesson learned and I continue to knit for self. That doesn’t mean things don’t get given away (like in Wendy’s case). Recently, I hosted two high school graduates for lunch in my home and I let the girls cull through my collection and pick whatever they wanted. (I did put a few items aside as heirlooms for my daughter before letting the girls pick.) That’s the kind of thing I want to do more of. But in the meantime, until such opportunity presents, I – like Wendy – will just knit cuz I love it. When I die, the knits will go somewhere and someone else will enjoy them. Until then, I enjoy just knitting them and looking at them and occasionally wearing them.

Well said, Susan.

The bottom line is that I will continue to knit what I want and do what I want with what I knit. This might not work for you. Do as you like, do what you feel comfortable doing! You other process knitters who weighed in on this issue — don’t feel guilty — knit what you want and revel in the joy that is the process!

Now that we’ve got that settled, on to the current WIP, which may or may not get worn in the forseeable future, depending on the weather.

I have completed the front:


And I have started a sleeve:


A chart question from Laura:
What I want to know is if you memorize charts when you knit? Do you keep them handy and glance? When or if you do have them memorized, do you count as you knit?

I do memorize charts. For an easy chart (and I consider the chart for the Halcyon Aran to be easy), I usually memorize it on the first pattern repeat.

The largest pattern repeat on the Halcyon Aran is the center cable, which consists of 24 rows. Once one pattern repeat is done, it’s easy — you can see which direction the strands of the cable go and how they cross each other. I have not used a row counter while knitting the front and back of this. I do keep the pattern nearby — should I have a momentary lapse of reason, I can look at the chart.

Now, the sleeve is dead simple. It has two simple cables on either side of the 12 row repeat cable that’s on the outermost edges of the front and back. When I started the sleeve I looked at the pattern to see the number of stitches, how to set up the pattern, and the rate of sleeve increases. I’ll likely not look at the pattern again until I need to cast off and do the saddle.

Laura also asked:
I also really do want to know what Sue E. is going to do with her 5 skeins of Kureyon, because every time I decide what to do with my 5 bought on a whim, I change my mind! ๐Ÿ˜€ Five skeins are just enough to do something fun, but what? I’d like to know, What Would Wendy Do?

What would Wendy do with 5 skeins of Noro Kureyon? Give them away! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Or maybe make a couple of Booga Bags. Or hold it double and make a kitty bed.

Lucy Sez:


“Kitty bed? Now you’re talking!”


  1. Hi Wendy,
    Very funny about the metro grime. And I agree with you about how warm it has been outside. Try owning a shop when someone asks, “Why don’t you wear your sweaters?” I reply, “Because they are all up on the walls inspiring you!”
    I type this on my new Power book, by the way and I have just created my 1st wireless network. You are my virgin email wheoowheww!-Kathy

  2. I’m not nearly far enough along to find out what sort of knitter I am. I suspect, however, that I will be a process knitter too. I might not make the most practical stuff (to be honest, they are probably mostly beautiful just to me ๐Ÿ˜‰ but the things I do make, I really enjoy. I’m just lucky that I no longer live in the DC metro area and instead live in MI–that way the sweaters I want to learn to make (like Dale sweaters) will be more practical.

    Besides, it is truly inspiring to watch your sweaters and knitted objects appear as you knit them. And it is inspiring to watch others!

  3. I enjoyed your response to the process vs product question and in particular the idea that garments don’t need to be worn to be respected and valued.

  4. You’re right about the grime! When we were there last February, we were forever reaching for a hand wipe out of my purse. My husband was impressed you could knit on the Metro and my kid is impressed THE Wendy answered me. ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks! I rather figured you had to memorize the charts. If nothing else, it saves you time from having to glance over every few rows or so.

    Claude votes that I make him a bed and I’m sorely tempted, but then, he’d stop being my footwarmer.

  5. thats funny to read you talk about process knitters, i thought i was crazy and the only one!

    1st i was a process needlepointer and x stitcher, i have bags of elizabeth bradley, beth russall and ellen maurer stroh. i pull them out and show people and they are like “why dont you frame them? make a pillow? something” i just like MAKING them, i dont care what happens after.

    now im doing the same thing with knitting, from socks, to sweaters, to mittens on to lace, learn technique, make item, put in bag, move on

    what is that? lol

    your new project is gorgeous and you prodigious output is an inspiration wendy, thanks for the wonderful blog

  6. In response to the process debate and whether or not it’s appropriate to knit sweaters that may never be worn, it’s my opinion that any time you create something of beauty it’s worthy of the time invested. Which is really what we do each time we pick up a pair of needles and a skein of yarn, we create. It’s no different than a musician at a piano, an author laboring over a novel or a painter standing at an easel. I’m pretty sure the reason Monet painted Waterlilies wasn’t because he thought to himself, “Gee, I could really use something in green and blue for that wall over there.”

  7. Speaking of shawls: when will you be knitting more again? Just when the mood strikes you? I really enjoyed watching you work on all those shawls this past summer; in fact, you’ve inspired me to work on some myself! Or is lace just warm weather knitting for you?

  8. Lucy’s grandmother sent a note taking exception to my comment in yesterday’s Wendyknits posting implying that Lucy’s got a LOT more personality than the Siamese siblings Sami & Koko, and that they’re pretty intelligent, too.

    Well, I’ve gotta agree that Sami and Koko are personable enough… so I’ll raise that assessment of the AMOUNT of personality they’ve got from a 1.0 to a full 2.0. Hey, on the Richter scale, that’s pretty darn good! Nice kitties… meeeowrrrrrrr!

  9. I’d like to weigh in on the process thing as it relates to ripping things out that aren’t right. Many are loathe to do so. I get comfort from ripping when something is done incorrectly — the error will glare at me, worn or not, for eternity. It’s all in the process, baby. Knit on, Wendy.

  10. Having a stockpile of warm sweaters is not a waste. You never know when you’ll be transfered to Alaska or Greenland or….

  11. I feel that just because I’m in Texas doesn’t mean I shouldn’t knit all the wool I want! Besides, practicality is diametrically opposite to the manifesto of the Bad Ass Knitter.

  12. Do I understand process? Just look at the drawers full of handknits/handspun-handknits/handspun in my house…. And it’s good to hear I’m not the only one who tends to roll over shawls or sweaters on the back of a desk chair! Thank you for so much enjoyment, Wendy (and Lucy).

  13. I wanted to comment on the Kureyon question: I’m currently making a cardigan out of 5 skeins of Kureyon! How? Every other row I knit a row of SWTC Karaoke in a gray colorway. Not only is it toning down the stripes, but the Karaoke is softly striping (from light to dark gray) too. I love how it’s turning out and recommend it!

  14. All your knits are a work of art, not just the Bohus. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I agree, I think most knitters like to knit for fun (that’s why it’s a hobby) and not because they need a sweater. A true knitter will understand your “bad ass knitter” philosophy. I know what you mean by grime, I take the NYC subway, dirt everywhere like every other busy city.

  15. You’re probably going to get a bazillion comments on the post today, but I had to weigh in on the issue of respect. I am both a process and product knitter, but I respect my knitted heirlooms too much to give them to someone who I know will not respect or care for them. I’d rather keep them and wear them occasionally – after all, it’s my choice. I feel that I am generous with my knitting, giving some things away and doing some charity knitting as well. If I want to keep something and only occasionally wear it (or never wear it – western Washington doesn’t get really cold), that’s my option. What you knit IS art, even if it can be worn if necessary. I say keep on and inspriring the rest of us – even if I’ve long ago given up any hope of keeping up with you!!

  16. Mary in Maine says:

    I enjoy knitting vicariously through you, as my knitting is rather slow. I think all your FOs are absolutely a work of art and I don’t care if you wear them or not. ๐Ÿ™‚ I was and still am in awe of your rate of production of the shawls, but now that I’ve started to knit shawls, I can easily understand how quickly one can get through the project. I am getting better at reading and memorizing pattern repeats which facilitates the progress. I live in Maine, and I have more sweaters (unfortunately, not all handknit) than I could wear. We did have a very warm day today…37degrees F. ๐Ÿ˜€

  17. I always tell new knitters that if they want a sweater, go to Target. If you want to knit, knit. Oh, and look, you happen to get a sweater out of it. You choose what to do with that sweater – maybe even unravel it to reknit into something else. I don’t think that would be disrespectful at all.

  18. I would like to remind everyone who is enjoying the wonderful warm weather that February in the Northeast/Mid-Altantic can be brutal.

    And we’ve been known to get 18″ or more of snow in March.

    Don’t stow the sweaters!

  19. Yes! Well said, Susan – I concur. Wendy – it was many moons ago when I asked you which Dale was a good first one. Sirdal was great fun but was put away for about a year and I just finally knit up the last sleeve and completed the finishing a couple days ago (see the blog for pics). ooo!ooo!ooo! More Dale designs are in my future – thanks so much for the inspiration! um..but, I think I’ll do them more fair isle fashion with less, much less, sewing…I hate sewing. Denver doesn’t seem so grimy. I wonder if it has anything to do with humidity levels?

  20. Knit on, sistah! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Hmmm…kitty bed. I wonder if Fig would use it?

  21. Those of you with a surplus of FOs might want to consider sending some of your items to a charity such as Afghans for Afghans ( AfA “sends hand-knit and crocheted blankets and sweaters, vests, hats, mittens, and socks to the beleaguered people of Afghanistan.”

    If you prefer a more local organization, check the WoolWorks list of charities which accept hand-knit items (, which is sorted by state.

    If you have any items that you know you’ll never wear, they will mean a lot to someone who is cold.

  22. Ok, here’s a question for you: How often do you have an overwhelming desire to choke one of us from the comments and shriek, “No, you’re entirely missing my point!” ? Heh.

    Not that knitting has to have a point at all. I knit, therefore I am.

  23. For Laura (I hope she sees this)… a pattern suggestion:

    I’ve been working on this pattern, and not only is it pretty darn cool, it’s oddly fascinating to knit as well. Odd, because it is such a simple pattern that’s very easily memorized. The one I’m doing is in SWTC’s Karaoke, and you can see it here if you’re interested:


  24. wow, a memorized chart, goodness, I had a hard time memorizing my quadratic formula back in school….I am afraid I have a photographic memory, but it has ran out of film :).

  25. 5 skeins of Kureyon is enough to knit Tovesta, the fun bag in Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton’s Noro Book 2. I’m itching to make it, but can’t decide which colorway of Kureyon.

  26. Today I gave a cardigan I’d made to an op shop (what we Australians call charity shops that sell second-hand articles). I went out of my way to give it to the shop where I’d bought the yarn I made it from – and made sure the ladies there knew this. Why? As I told them, I’d enjoyed fun knitting and wearing it, and now someone else could (and I could enjoy making another one without the wardrobe bursting).

    When I saw your post I realised this probably marks me as a process knitter. To me it’s like leaving a book in a train with a note saying: “whoever finds this book, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did”.

  27. Wendy. I feel I owe you an apology for even commenting on the fact that you don’t wear your shawls,I was rude and I am sorry….I read your blog every day and you have given me so much inspiration, I’m knitting my firt shawl ( Kiri ) and even a pair of socks! I can’t believe I got to be 58yrs without knitting socks!! so keep up the good work and enjoy your knitting…Love

  28. darling! your Halcyon is looking lovely (no surprise there!) ……

    can’t believe the sh*t you have to put up with in your comments ….

  29. Thank you, thank you! You validate for so many of us just why we knit, why we spin … what makes us happy! For me, it’s in the doing…not the getting done. As always, you are in inspiration!

  30. Susan Maurer says:

    I used to feel guilty about knitting so much for myself. And then guilty for not wearing it. But I wasn’t about to change, so I accepted it. I had a hard time giving away my favorites (and so many of them are – I remember when I knit them, what was going on my life, how I enjoyed the knitting and the knits themselves), so I didn’t give them away. I realized that’s okay too. Someday, somebody else will wear them. Feeling guilt about a pleasurable, legal hobby is a waste of time, whereas knitting is not. Now, without a twinge of guilt, I enjoy every minute – from spending money selecting just the right yarn for just the right project to finally putting that puppy away in the closet and eyeing her fondly from time to time.

  31. Your last two blog entries reminded me of a comment from a co-worker, “I always see you knitting in here, but I never see your finished work.” Um, probably because it’s finished, I’m done with it, and I put it away. Sometimes I can’t look at something I just finished for a while afterwards; I need to get different yarn, needles, and pattern in my hands and move on to the next thing.

    I’ve decided since I have to finish so many things in my life (i.e. work projects, house cleaning, toddler raising), that it is more than ok to do whatever I feel like with my knitting. It’s one of the only activities I do for my enjoyment only. I can really appreciate your Bad-Ass Knitter creed.

    Yesterday, one of the articles in our local paper was about making lists of the things you want to accomplish in life, such as travel to specific locations, learn new languages, etc. I thought about it, and I decided to make a knitting section where I can list all those patterns I want to knit in my lifetime. I have been looking at your gallery for further inspiration. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    BTW, my “little brother” is a Seal-Point Siamese named Koko. He is *handsome*.

  32. Dear Wendy,

    The person-I-most-enjoy-knitting-for, my 17-year-old daughter, recently asked me to make “one of those white textured sweaters.” Aran or gansey, I thought, I can do that. But as we looked at pictures together, primarily in Alice Starmore books, she — who’s a slim 5′ 3-1/2″ — kept saying that the sweaters were beautiful but too wide and boxey for her.

    I ask you, as one of the Queens of Textured Sweater Knitting, if there are any patterns you’d suggest for the petite but not child-sized?

    Thanks for your wonderful ever-entertaining and instructive blog!

  33. Ok, I have supressed a giggle here and there reading these various comments. But the central focus for me and something that gave me an epiphany moment was that you look at knitting the way I look at spinning. Spinning is my passion. I have tried to spin as many different types of fiber that I can find. I think I am up to about 70 types, including about 50 sheep breeds etc. Many people ask me “What are you going to do with all those little one ounce samples?” They ask this in a way that implies that I should “DO” something with them and that they have no value unless used. I disagree. The fact that they exist at all and that I got such joy and education from trying the different fibers is satisfaction enough for me. Maybe I need to start a “Bad Ass Spinner” manifesto! ๐Ÿ™‚

    On another note, do you ever get frustrated with Lucy’s “help” when you do your make up? I have been having 2 kitties help me lately as opposed to the one I was used to, and it’s more challenging than just one! Just curious of course and kitty help is always appreciated, if not welcome Lucy. Honest! ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. Had to chime in — I love to knit, love to wear my hand-knit sweaters, and love being in a cold enough climate to do so. That said, to each his/her own! Knit what you love. As my dad would say, we are not getting serum to the troops. It is a HOBBY, a past-time, something to do for enjoyment. Enjoy it the way you want to enjoy it!

  35. Grime in the metro? Wow.. seems everytime I am there the escelator breaks so hey the grime is persperation from hefting one’s self up the steps!
    oh you need a home for some Kuyreon? I like Kuyeron.. I can give it a good home..

    I also knit things I don’t wear. But I do it for design purposes. Working out patterns. Most of the items go to charity or my church auction and the proceeds go to charity. But I do have a few things that I rarely wear!
    And a few in process I know I will not wear very often but I am learning from them!!
    always learning so I guess I tend to lean toward the process

  36. I had to add a comment here that might have already been mentioned, so I apologize if it is a duplicate. Do painters or other artists ever worry that they are producing more items of art than they can display in their homes? Would they ever give those items away just because they couldn’t hang them? Would anyone ever question them for creating those works just because they didn’t use them? Many of us knit because we just love to make beautiful things even if we can’t always wear them. We don’t always want to give them away unless we know that the receiver will cherish the beauty in them as much as we do.

  37. I find the Metro to be so much nicer and cleaner than the El here in Philly. In either case, I don’t touch handrails.

    Homeless people pee and then hold the handrails. Gross.

    Thanks for the link.

  38. I’m cracking up at Christy’ comment. Oy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    That photo of the sleeve is killin’ me. I love that!

  39. Wendy and others —
    I’m most definitely a process knitter — I love the challenge, the flow when you are “in the zone,” and the meditative aspect knitting has – it is definitely better than therapy. What has saved my house from being stacked to the rafters with unworn items is charity knitting. I started a group (Crafty Angels) a few years ago to knit and crochet items for families served by the food pantry our church supports – the Friendship Center here in Chicago. Now except for Christmas gift knitting, 99% of my knitting goes there – and is appreciated by the needy folks who receive it. Our group has grown to nearly thirty other “process knitters” (half from Chicago, half from around the country) who knitted over 2000 items for the families this past year! That’s a LOT of process knitting! WHOO HOO! Long live process knitters!!! THEY ROCK! And they can rock people’s lives!

  40. Thank you for the review I asked for about a thousand comments ago; it helped, apparently, to provoke an interesting and inspiring discussion. By the way, I don’t see questions that imply an opposing point of view as “sh*t that you have to put up with.” I thought that honest exchange was one of the points here, but I’m a fairly new lurker in the world of bloggiing (and an old curmudgeonly lover of thoughtful argument). Am I mistaken?

  41. Hi,

    This is the first time I’ve chimed in on someone’s blog. I usually keep silent because although I knit, crochet is my first love. Your site is inspiring because I’m a process crocheter and make no apologies for it. I love working on a project for no other reason than that I want to do it. So keep knitting (or crocheting)!

    PS: My cat Callie sends greetings to Lucy. We live in Alaska so we’ll wish for some cooler weather for you.

  42. I agree with previous comments that we should give respect to our finished projects. But we should also respect each other as knitters, whether we are process or product knitters. I am a product knitter, personally using or giving away everything I make. I admit that I cringed when I read your list, Wendy, of all the things you had knitted in 2005 and hadn’t worn yet. But it’s your time, your money, and your skill – you should do with it what makes you happy. I love reading about your projects (and Miss Lucy) on your blog, so keep on knittin’ on!

  43. Hey, you probably posted this and I missed it but… what fiber are you using for Halcyon?

  44. Lisa C.Q.H. says:

    Lets think about why we knit.
    The society we now live in has evolved without the humans evolving with it.
    I strongly believe we are born with, and have thus genetically inherited, passions.
    I knit because I have to knit. It is my drug of choice, and I cannot help myself.
    This is also how trades were established thousands of years ago. You found your nisch in life, were passionate about it, excelled, and thus made a living by trading with others that were passionate about, say, basket weaving or hunting.

    There are alot of surpressed talents out there.
    If one can find their passion, they are truely a whole human.

    I stockpile, and gladly give away. I am a process person. And I collect enough yarn and patterns for 20 lifetimes.

    Knit on and thank your parents.

  45. THe Halcyon is gorgeous. Where could I find that pattern? An answer to Pam who asks for a nice Aran sweater for a petite person. Try “Must Have Cardi” by Patons.

  46. I am definitely a process knitter (and crocheter) as well. I crocheted a gorgeous bedspread about five years ago and it has been on my bed maybe twice (including one time for pictures). It’s stuffed in a drawer. But I enjoyed making it. Same goes for my knitted shawls. Most of the time I forget I have them and opt for an ugly old sweatshirt around the house.

  47. Hi Wendy,

    This all makes sense now! I read your blog daily, but have only been lurking for the last year and a bit, so I have been always wondering where these items were going! I can’t wait until I have the family supplied with enough sweaters that I can start to process knit – I just feel if I’m a knitter, then I have to at least look like it!

    I would so love to be the archeologist who finds your stash in a century or so!