My current work in progress:

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


Whoring For Comments: It’s a Good Thing

Because I get to “meet” so many people who in the past have been lurkers!

And it is, after all, National De-Lurking Week.

The 22,000th comment was left by Dene. Woo-hoo!

Dene wins this:


Four skeins of KnitPicks laceweight “Shimmer” in a pretty blue.

Some Aran Questions

There was a question in the comments (though I now can’t find it, of course, so I don’t know who asked it) about how easy it is to size down arans.

It can be pretty easy. Look at my Halcyon Aran in its uncompleted state:


(Please excuse the large furry ass in the photo.)

All the cable patterns are pretty close together, flanking the center large cable. The different sizes are achieved by the number of “plain” stitches on either side of the front and back, and of course on the sleeves.

I’ve made other arans that have more plain stitches in-between the cable motifs, and the number of plain stitches between each motif varied for the different sizes.

For pretty much every aran I’ve made, the cables themselves do not vary in the different sizes, only the “spacer” stitches. (I know I’ve seen at least one that had varying cables, but can’t put my finger on it now).

Lorraine asked:
I’m doing Mariah from Knitty in Elann’s Sierra Aran, and cabling without a cable needle is just killing me with this yarn! I have had no trouble doing it with 100% wools, but the 20% alpaca content makes the yarn just a bit too slippery. Since you’ve made the most incredible cabled sweaters I’ve ever seen, I was wondering if you have any advice on cabling without a cable needle when using slippery yarns.

Are you using metal or wood needles? I highly recommend using wood needles with slippery yarns — the wood “grabs” a little and keeps the yarn in place better.

If you are still having too much trouble with slippage, you might wanna go ahead and use that cable needle. It might make things go faster in the long run!

Denise asked:
My question has to do with yarn – how do you know if a yarn will be good for knitting an aran sweater with? Do you have any favorite brands? Yarn choices are always the hardest for me.

You, of course, want a yarn that has good stitch definition. Nothing nubby or loopy or too fuzzy. And you want a mostly solid color. Heathered yarn is great, but variegated yarn will obsure your cables.

That reminds me of an encounter I had in a lys eons ago. I was buying yarn for an aran and had selected a nice heathered blue. As it happened, the author of a knitting book was in the shop that day, signing copies of her book (which was the reason I went to the shop in the first place). I had met her when she was doing research for her book and she actually remembered me. We were chatting a bit and she asked me what I was going to do with the yarn I had selected. I told her it was for a Starmore aran and she said to me “Why on earth would you buy that plain yarn when you could knit it out of something like this?” And she picked up a skein of a wildly variegated blue/purple yarn.

I was surprised that it wouldn’t occur to her that the yarn was totally inappropriate for an aran.

Anyhow . . . favorite yarns?

I’ve made a number of Starmore Arans that called for Scottish Heather out of Brown Sheep Naturespun Worsted. I love this yarn — cheap, huge palette of colors, and it’s worn very well over the years.

For Starmore Arans that called for Bainin I would substitute Bovidae Farm’s fisherman weight wool — lovely stuff and a great aran yarn! Bovidae Farm sadly does not have a website, but a Google search on their name will get you their contact info.

I used Peace Fleece for one of the Starmore St. Endas that I knitted. Very nice.

And I love the Virtualyarns 3-ply Hebridean that I knitted my last Inishmore from. Love, love, love.

Mary in Maine asked:
Now that you are getting through the sleeves for Halcyon, what will your next project be?? I don’t want to sound demanding (I’ll apologize up front), but when will we see Torino? The Olympic Games begin next month!!

Yup, nearing the finish line on this aran — it’ll be done by early next week, methinks. Sorry — Torino is not next. Torino is in stash and I’ve no immediate plans to knit it.

Next will be one of my own designs that I’m working out. At 8 sts/inch. Here’s the yarn:


Meow, baby!

Kat asked:
Does Lucy ever try to undo your projects? She seems to be the truly perfect cat.

Lucy is, of course, perfect in every way.

Seriously, though, she is very good about leaving my knitting alone — apart from lying on it now and then.

Her worst habit, I think, is her fondness for chewing on plastic bags. She will hunt them out and start chewing on a corner. Over the holidays I gave her a large piece of bubble wrap to play with and she was in kitty heaven!

Lucy did look like SuperCat wearing her little sleeve cape yesterday. But I don’t think I’ll be knitting her a special SuperCat cape any time in the near future.

But here’s her deepest secret revealed:


She likes to dress up and pretend she’s a bride!


  1. I love that Lucy picture…and you got the 22,000 comments even before I got home from work… congrats… lovely yarn and lucky winner!

  2. I don’t comment very often, but I have to say — love Lucy as a bride. (Actually, I love all the Lucy pictures and sometimes skip right to the bottom to see her first).

  3. OMG – that yarn is perfect for the Pi shawl I want to do and it is my favorite color πŸ™‚ Thank you again. And Lucy looks lovely as a bride πŸ™‚

  4. The “large furry ass” picture is a classic. I have the “black blob” problem with my knitting pictures, so I can relate.

  5. Hi Wendy,

    In honor of de-lurking week, I post my first ever comment on a blog. I also live in Virginia (Alexandria) and work for the federal government (legislative branch). I’ve been reading your blog for a year of so and credit you with my renewed interest in knitting. I’ve been an on-and-off knitter since I was a teenager and am now a knitting fool, although nowhere near as prolific as you. Current WIP is a coat from a recent Vogue knitting, and will start Hanne Falkenberg Lastrada as soon as the coat is finished – I hope this weekend. No blog of my own, no time to keep it up. Thanks for keeping us all inspired!!

  6. Hi Wendy, long time lurker, first time commenter. You make some beautiful things! I love Lucy too πŸ™‚

  7. Well, isn’t Lucy just the prettiest bride ever. Thanks for the info on aran sweaters and yarn substitution. I always learn so much hanging out around here.

  8. With all this praise, The Bride demands another bubble wrap! Lucy’s sweet as usual. Your next-planned project is in one of my colorways….I can hardly wait!

  9. That’s such a funny picture of Lucy! And I’m glad to see Muffin’s not alone in her penchant for chewing plastic bags. What is it with cats and plastic bags? Does she chew on them because she knows the noise will drive me crazy?!?!?

  10. I really love Peace Fleece. Good stuff.

    Hey, my ex-husband used to like to play dress-up, too. Wait, let’s not go there.

    No plans to knit Torino? You made me buy that damned sweater, gave me a lust for creating it, and now you’re not going to knit it before (or even during) the Olympics? ACK! I’ll get you, my pretty. And your little…erm…bride, too!

  11. I eagerly read your blog every day! I’m also a first time commenter. I only hope that one day I’ll become as good a knitter as you! I’m just blown away by the beautiful finished products and the complexity that you make seem so easy. Keep inspiring us all…….

  12. National De-Lurking Week? Fun! I’ve been here a while, though, so I’ll have to go de-lurk on Gromit’s blog. πŸ™‚

    Lucky Dene! I LOVE Knitpicks. Too bad they had to raise their minimum free-shipping order, but they’re still the best yarn deal on the internets. Andean Silk and Sock Garden are wonderful!

    What a lovely bride Lucy is!

  13. I love “Lucy the Bride”!

  14. Fenchurch says:

    Since it’s time to de-lurk, I figure I’ll post up a comment on how much I adore your aran. I”m currently trying to design up a cardigan with cables, but it’s not happening. I’d also like to tell you that your cabling without a cable needle is awesome, and I love your toe up sock pattern.

  15. I suppose I’ll delurk as well. Your patterns are inspiring, if daunting, and Lucy… Lucy! I love your cat.

  16. lurkin still!

  17. Wendy,
    Yet another long-time lurker, 1st time commenter here. I’m originally from your neck of the woods (Annandale, VA), but now live in Southern California. My cat Marmalade has a real thing for plastic bags too, and I wanted to let you know that my vet (who’s a cat specialist) said plastic munching can be a symptom of cat IBS (irritable bowel symdrome). Who knew there was such a thing as cat IBS?? The thinking is that cats chew on plastic to alleviate stomach cramping. The vet said to add a tiny amount of canned pumpkin to Marmalade’s wet food a few times a week to help regulate his digestive system. Even though Marmalade had no other really obvious digestive symptoms, the vet seemed pretty convinced that this was the problem.

  18. I have to say it – I love Lucy! What a beautiful bride she is!

  19. Does Lucy have a groom? I’d offer Troy, but I suspect Marble would have something to say about that! Marble, like Lucy, has a penchant for plastic bags, but she doesn’t chew them – she LICKs them! LOL


  20. Wow, I thought we had the only plastic addicted cat around. Our Sam has discovered where we store blank CDs and chews off all the plastic wrapping. Plastic shopping bags do not last long when out in the open.

    I’ll tell Sam he has a soulmate out in blogland. If he had opposable thumbs and separating digits he’d be leaving love letters in the comments.

  21. My three year old just said Lucy looks like a “princess cat! Hers a beautiful princess cat.”

    Of course, you knew that alread.

  22. Yep, Lucy is certainly a beautiful princess bride.
    Over 100 comments! Wow!
    Halcyon looks like it’s gonna be another beautiful project.

  23. OK, Wendy I read religiously, but I vow to a higher power and de-lurk! But is it really lurking on a blog? Aren’t you really just here for my entertainment, or am I really one of your minions????
    Speaking of whoring…. I have just thought of the worlds best knitting tip. And I am holding out for a contest….

  24. Remember Gilda Radner as Judy Miller, “who is also a bride!”?

    Lucy has the perfect Ragdoll profile.

  25. I’ve barely lurked, being a brand new but enthusiastic reader. I’m incredibly impressed by your designs, energy, and prolific output. OK, here’s my problem. (Blush) I can’t wear wool. I can knit with it but feel terminally scratchy, shivery, and unbearable wearing it, even over a t-shirt. So, I knit with cotton, often Rowan calmer, 1824, or whatever’s interesting online or at my LYS. Can you imagine making an Aran out of cotton? Any alternative suggestions? Thanks, Penny

  26. Thank you for the furry ass picture. Makes me feel good to know I’m not the only one that can’t get a decent pic of my knitting without a furry ass plopping down on it!

  27. Not delurking, I’ve commented many times. All brides are beautiful – but especially Lucy.

  28. She’s blushing!

  29. Tee! What a sweet bride picture! That’s just adorable. And the Shimmer? Exactly the yarn I used for my Peacock shawl–loved that yarn. I wish they’d make it in a solid color, though (grin).

  30. My cat LOVES to lick plastic…strange.

  31. I check your blog everyday, even if I know you are out of town, you and Snow. 2 years ago I was googling for fairisle advice and found you and now have progressed from ribbed hat to giant Torino sweater. I love the inspiration and tips — I’m sure I was one of the first 10 to preorder your book. Enough stalker gushing, it’s back to quiet admiration for me.

  32. Kate Lathrop says:

    and here I thought my cat Louie was unique in chewing on plastic bags. The noise is bad enough but scooping the box – yuck!!!

  33. I’m still in a Bohus state of mind. Do you have the Bohus Stickning book from I wanna see more photos etc. I’ve had the Threads book and Poems of Color for a long time but I wanna see more! Or, do you know of any “gallery” on the net? I’ve looked around but only found a couple photos. Thanks for the link to Solveig…I’m happily knitting 2 kits.

  34. Lucy is soooo cute in that picture…I must admit, I wanted to play bride all the time when I was little.

  35. While we’re all comparing yarns, what do you think of the KnitPicks lace weights? One of my knitting resolutions for 2006 was to do a *big* lace project. No one in my town sells lace weight anything, believe it or not, so it’s mail order time. Preferably from a Canadian source but not necessarily.

    What would you recommend? The KnitPicks is affordable, but are there other good alternatives?

  36. You mention it’s easy to downsize Aran sweaters – easy for you, maybe – but how about upsizing them? I have trouble finding even men’s sweater patterns big enough to fit me, let alone something for very Rubinesque ladies like me. Any tips?

  37. So, that explains why Lucky was grooming his tuxedo this morning! πŸ˜‰ Of course VY Hebridean is my favorite for arans, but I love Frangipani Knitwear’s Guernsey yarn for the finer gauge designs,like Fulmar!

  38. I don’t think *I* can delurk because I’ve commented before, but this time it’s….Bicoe. Yeah, Bicoe is delurking, that’s it. Mrow!

  39. Hi Wendy–delurking here–been reading for a while and I bow to the queen of fast knitting. I live in NO VA as well and know that if I ever see you I’d recognize you by the blur of your fingers and needles.

    Since you mentioned Peace Fleece I have a question/comment. I purchased some for a sweater for DH. It has a considerable amount of dirt/dry grass/stuff in it–what the Peace Fleece folks call ‘veg’ and talk like it’s perfectly normal and acceptable. I pick it out as I knit–slowing the process and making it less than fun. I see so many comments about how folks love Peace Fleece, but I’m not so enchanted. Did yours have ‘veg’ and if so what did you do about it if anything?

    Thanks–and keep those fingers flying…

  40. Oh Miss Lucy, maybe someday your groom will come. BTW, Wendy, how long does it take you to get to Kathy’s (HSH) from here? I was chatting with her yesterday and I’m planning to go on a road trip down there. I can’t wait to see the goats!

  41. In honor of De-lurking week I have to say that I am amazed at how fast this Aran has flown off of your needles! Love the blog! Thank you!

  42. So, is that some sort of lace curtain or dustruffle that the Luce is emerging from behind?

  43. Well, in honor of the delurking week (and my new year’s resolution to actually post comments), I’m leaving a comment πŸ™‚ I’ve been reading your blog for a while and find it very entertaining and informative.

    Ps. Your cat is adorable!

  44. Ooo, what beautiful yarn! I must say, I am jealous of your yarn haunts – In North Dakota, our selection is rather limited. It’s hard to buy yarn online with no idea how it “really” looks or feels!

  45. Hi Wendy- My male Siamese also chews on plastic bags and I’ve had to move or hide them. What concerns me about it is that a wad of it could lodge and cause an obstruction. I found a chewed regurgitated piece so apparently he does swallow the pieces. You might want to watch Lucy about that.


  46. I thought I was the only person who had a cat that chews on plastic grocery bags. I absolutely cannot leave pastic bags around or he will chew and swallow a huge piece. It usually comes right back up but I have to watch him all the time.

  47. martha in mobile says:

    I’m getting a ragdoll kitten tomorrow, tra-la-la-la! She’ll be far too young to be a bride, though.

    I love the peace fleece colors, and feel confident it will wear like iron, but I found it not at all soft — maybe after a few more washings it will mellow out.

  48. Oooh…I’m eager to see what you’re designing!

  49. In honor of de-lurking, I must tell you, I ordered a Bohus kit today. Forest Darkness in black.
    I think I shall go insane working on it, but it’s not like I was using my sanity to begin with.

  50. I am a lurker for a year or so.What you are knitting is wunderfull.Lucy is adorable. I stay lurking while my english is not enough to give comment.To read your blog is fun for me.I live in the netherlands and at the moment I am knitting the inishmaan.Dear Wendy I hope you stay knitting.I also lurking by the KOARC.

  51. Is that malabrigo yarn in your upcoming projects?? I just bought a couple skeins of the malabrigo especial something-or-other and I keep fondling it, unsure of what to make with it.

    but mrrrowr, is it soft….

  52. Catherine says:

    I can’t knit worth beans. I mean it: my hands won’t hold two needles and yarn at the same time. I can get them all in the right position but somehow then when I try to ‘finger’ the yarn over in the direction of the needle it doesn’t reach.

    I crochet a lot instead. And drool over other people’s knitting.

    Carpal tunnel syndrome has really slowed me down, but I still have a pile of a dozen afghans, even after house-warmings, Christmas exchanges, one per friend, wedding gifts, baby gifts–but I enjoy very much working with the colors and different patterns.

    Why give up what I love doing and find both restful and rewarding just because the results pile up? They’ll get used eventually.

    Thanks for your blog. I enjoy it a lot.

  53. de-lurking now – – – with a followup about Arans for petite people. I don’t think the “boxiness” problem is only the circumference of the sweater. It’s also in the sleeve construction. Most Arans that I have seen have drop shoulders rather than raglan or set-in sleeves. With a thick sweater (as most Arans are) drop shoulder construction creates a big wad of extra fabric that can be really overwhelming on a smaller person.

    The problem is, though, that Arans are drop shouldered precisely so that the gorgeous texture patterns can continue uninterrupted.

    Any suggestions for overcoming this problem?

  54. Hmmm…now that Book #1 is done, perhaps Book #2 could be a children’s book starring Lucy the WonderCat! She is a natural! I read your blog everyday to see what Lucy has been up to! πŸ™‚ Oh, and for the knitting, too! :^)

  55. Lots of kitties seem to like the plastic bags – not mine, but I once had a pair of guinea pig brothers who would rather eat a plastic bag than a carrot. Had to be veeerry careful with the plastic bags at my house. πŸ™‚

    Marie, I like Knitpicks Shadow laceweight yarn – I haven’t actually finished the scarf I’m currently knitting with it, but I like the way it’s working up. I also have the Faroese Peaks pattern and enough Gossamer to knit it, but I’m having trouble finding a nice long size 3 circular needle. Wish me luck!

  56. it’s “Bridal Lucy! (TM)

    it’s funny how much cats like plastic bags. my little one will drag one out of the garbage and lug it around the house gnawing on it. he’s never happier than when he has a plastic bag. but mommy’s never less happy than when he has it at 2:30 am and is under the bed with it.

  57. Lucy and my Skittles would get along perfectly! Skittles loves to sleep in my knitting bag on top of the yarn ignoring a beautiful cat bed. I must get around to making him a knitted bed so I can get my hands on my yarn without having to move a sleeping cat. The Aran looks great

  58. Hi Wendy – de-lurking!
    Large furry ass… ha, ha!

    I, too, love Brown Sheep but I’ve never knit a Starmore with it [actually, I’ve never knit a Starmore with anything!] It’s hard to tell the color of the yarns you are using for your next project. Is that a variagated orange?

  59. Hi Wendy — Long-time reader, first time commenter. I’m just outside of Baltimore — so if you ever do a yarn crawl near me (some nice shops in Howard Co. and Baltimore Co.), let me know!

    You’re an inspiration to all … steeking doesn’t frighten me but for some reason the colorwork you make look so easy shares the beejesus out of me πŸ™‚

    Lucy is adorable and I can’t wait to see what she’s up to each day.

  60. De-lurking to say thank you for sharing all of your beautiful projects with the rest of us!

  61. Robin Williams once said….”All cats are drag queens….who loves kitty!”

  62. Hi! ::waves:: Newbie lurker here. just stumbled across your blog recently, but I thoroughly enjoy reading about your knitting adventures. πŸ™‚

  63. Mary in Maine says:

    I can’t wait to see your new project! It looks orange-y. πŸ˜€

    I recently found Peace Fleece. I like it alot. I plan an aran sweater in the near future using Peace Fleece. You are an inspiration.

    Thanks for sharing you amazing work. πŸ™‚

  64. Hi Wendy,
    I always love reading about your projects. Your cabling without a needle is a brilliant idea and I am using it for making Knitty’s Namaste with Panda’s fdk yarn in the black and off-grey shade. I was wondering if you can refer a book that would have a v-neck aran sweater for a dear male friend. I have been searching a number of distributors, but no luck so far. πŸ™
    Hope you can help!

  65. Be careful with that plastic Wendy! There was a Emergency Vet Show on the Animal Planet where a kitty was very sick with a hunk of shower curtain in its tummy! My Pumpkin loves the plastic too but I’m afraid he wont know the difference between bubble wrap and shower curtain!

    He is really good with my knitting too, he just LOVES to do “push-push” on the skank or WIP and he keeps his nails in so no snags!

  66. AnotherLurker says:

    I have been reading your inspirational site daily for some time now, and have taken up knitting again after a break of too many years. I am rather amazed at how much speed and skill one loses. I thought it would be like riding a bike, but it isn’t. I started off with a novelty yarn and found it too taxing. I am now knitting with a yarn that is much easier to handle. I do find that my speed is picking up again πŸ™‚

    I would like to make a gansey for my son, but he has inherited my allergy to wool. Even through a long-sleeved turtleneck, I can immediately tell when a sweater I try on at a store has any wool content by the itch factor.

    Would some of you suggest various yarns that I could use instead of those containing wool? Also, any measuring tips would be appreciated. I know the standard tips, but I know that some of you must have some special tips that will make a gansey fit the man perfectly.

    Thank you, and happy knitting πŸ™‚

  67. Hi Wendy – LOVE Halcyon! I’ve searched your site and haven’t found an aswer to this question: With all the FOs you have around, some not being worn (I assume you don’t really take them out and lay them around the house admiring them or anything either) what sort of storage system do you use to keep these sweaters and shawls in good condition? I can’t imagine the bazillions of dollars of yarn you’ve got wrapped up in hand knits, which I know you don’t want damaged by whatever might like to eat them!

  68. Hi! I happened upon your blog via searching through a webring and found your link on one of the sites. I thought I would stop by and say hello!

    Your cat is simply beautiful! I love cats as well, and have one of my own; her name is Tinker Belle. She’s a simple dsh (domestic short hair), but she’s my baby and I love her.

    I’ll be bookmarking your site and will be back for more. It’s a great blog from what I’ve seen so far.

  69. Ok, ok…I will de-lurk. I have been reading your weblog for about 2 years, since I learned to knit. I enjoy seeing Lucy pictures. (waves) Hi!

  70. Another De-Lurker here raising my hand! Just wanted to let you know that I look forward to reading each of entries ;o)

    Knitterz Hugz!
    Lora AKA The Krazi Knitter

  71. shh… i dont think lucy would like the idea of you posting that on the web:)
    but tell her for me she makes a very lovely bride.

    i have a question for you how do you design things? do you make it up as you go along or do you sit down and plan it out first…?

  72. Hi Wendy, first post on behalf of de-lurking week. I love your work and can’t wait to see your next project. I have a question: When binding off an aran do you do it on the wrong side or the right one?
    Keep inspiring us.