My current work in progress:

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


The Knit Goes On


I love colorwork.

Catherine asked:
I had a question about colorwork. I have been knitting for a while and although I have done cables and complicated lace patterns I am afaid of colorwork. I decided to start small (with a baby sweater for a friends newborn), but I am worried about the stranding on the back of fair isle. Have you ever knit for wee ones and if so, do you worry about little tiny fingers getting caught in the strands?

When I am knitting for myself, I do not weave my colorwork. I have some pretty long floats on some of my colorwork!

But when knitting for a baby or small child, I weave like crazy — to make sure little fingers don’t get caught in the stranding and yank on it.

Knitting Challenges

Sharon asked:
What has been the most challenging item you have knit to date and why, and what is the most challenging item you can think of to knit now, and why?

And, of the AS Arans, which do you recommend for someone making their first? (I have Aran Knitting, Fisherman’s Sweaters and The Celtic Collection.) I’m thinking I might make one for the Yarn Harlot’s Olympic Knitting Event (or at least try). Thanks for the help!

To the first question? I dunno. Probably the shetland lace wedding handkerchief I made back in the early 1990s.


Diet Coke can included for scale.


Cat included for scale.


Fingertip included for scale.

This was . . . um . . . my first lace knitting project, apart from lace panels in sweaters. That should tell you why it was challenging. That and the fact that it’s knitted with cobweb weight shetland wool on size 0000 needles. I punched holes in my fingers several times with those blasted needles.

The pattern came from the book Knitting Around the World published by Threads magazine.

As for my recommendation for a first aran from among those designed by Alice Starmore? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Na Craga. It’s relatively easy, but extremely nice-looking. The yarn it calls for, Scottish Heather, is no longer available, but Jamiesons Soft Shetland is the same yarn. I’ve also made Na Craga in Brown Sheep Naturespun worsted. Cascade 220 or any other smooth worsted would work beautifully.

As for the most challenging item you can think of to knit now . . . well, I think I answered that yesterday. Sharon Miller’s Princess Shawl.

Marie commented:
Well, I’ve thought of a knitting challenge for you. You could *teach*. Something. To someone. In 16 days. After all, once a champion has conquered all, there’s always a coaching career to go to. Or is knitting more like ice skating, where champions settle into a career of soft-lob Ice Capade exhibitions?

As it happens, I am going to be teaching someone to knit, very soon. Probably starting next week. However, I’m not going to turn it into a challenge, because I don’t want to put pressure on the student.

The student is a member of my staff, an expectant daddy, who wants to knit something for his new baby. Say it with me: Awwwwwwwwwwwwww!

Lucy seems impressed.



  1. Awwww . . . that IS sweet! New Daddies are CUTE!

    Oh, and you were braver than I was. My first lace project was in DK weight yarn–just because it wasn’t so intimidating!

  2. Of course that would have been your first lace! Very beautiful. Rose is beautiful, too.
    How cool that a dad wants to knit for his baby. He must be a very caring person.

  3. Awwwwww. That is soooo sweet. Impressive first lace project – holy cow. Look how pretty Miss Lucy looks – all clean and neat. Why can’t dogs be so groomed (well, my dog anyway)?

  4. I’m sure you’ve mentioned this before, but do you have any recommendations for colorwork books? I’ve done swatches in fair isle and intarsia, but never anything substantial. I want to learn more about the actual technique (when to float, when to weave, what the back should look like, different ways to manage the yarn, etc). Thanks! You sweater is looking great.

  5. I appreciate the Alice Starmore recommendation. Would you have a different recommendation for a first Aran project?

  6. I read TWO pages of Alice Starmore’s book of Fair Isle knitting and my technique improved. My colorwork is now faster and prettier, can’t beat it. A trip to the library would be worth the effort.

  7. Awwwwwww! What a wonderful new daddy! And of course, that would be your first lace knit. Rose looks beautiful.

  8. I love your blog and can’t wait for your book to come out. I’m trying to “de-lurk” myself a little bit at a time…rather like working my way into a freezing body of I especially enjoyed reading about not caring about the Olympics (woohoo to you and me) and not playing well with others. That’s my motto. I’m off to knit since I feel all inspired.

  9. What a wonderful daddy! And Yay you for teaching him! P.S. My wheel came today!!! =)

  10. AW!!!!!!!! That is such a sweet thing for the new daddy to do. *sniff*

  11. That is SO sweet! Have you ever taught a man to knit before? I think a man who wants to learn might be more determined to get it right, just because a lot of people wouldn’t expect him to actually do it. Anyway – just a thought….

  12. Do you know anything about colourwork kniting resources for people with disabilities? I have trouble using my left hand very well, and much as I think colourwork knitting is absolutely beautiful, it’s very, very difficult for me. Can one do a Fair Isle piece with slip stitches?

  13. I have always admired your works. especially the Bohus pullover.

    One question on yarn subsitution:
    There’s this Bohus pattern in Handknit Holidays, it asked for Kimmet yarns. is there any yarn from Knitpicks that could be subituted for it?

    Thanks in advance for answering.
    a knitter from Singapore.

  14. the Rose is coming along beautifully – are you going to publish the pattern at some point?

    Thanks for the advice on yarn for Arans. My dad has long since worn out the one I knit for him long eons ago (20 years ago my very first knitting project was an Aran for my dad – obviously I don’t do things by halves!), and I was thinking of doing him up another, but wasn’t sure what yarns would be right for such a thing nowadays. He’s one of the only men I know who is *happy* to wear a cabled item. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Where were the knitting husbands when I was knocked up 21 years ago? For that matter, where are they now?

    I love colorwork, and I love arans, but I think my very favorite is still lace. Give me a few years for it to wear off, and I’ll have a different favorite. If it’s knitting, it’s good. (Crochet is strictly heresy except in edgings.)

  16. “Cat included for scale.” I almost lost my coffee on the keyboard! Too funny ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. ooo rose is beautiful!!, im making the “we call them pirates” had for the DBF right now, the edge is similar

    a question:

    how did you make it so the edge doesnt roll up?

    i HATE sweaters with ribbing that suck them in at the hips, ive always wanted to be able to make one knit straight down to the bottom



  18. Wow, that is sweet of Dad!

    That Princess Shawl is amazing…not sure I am up for it.

  19. Daddies are great! My dad crocheted vests for my sister and me back when long crocheted vests were cool (wait a minute, aren’t they cool again?) He’s the one that taught me how to crochet – Mom taught me to knit. He crochets baby blankets for the hospital now….he tried knitting but decided one hook is easier on his hands than two needles. Not bad for a guy in his 70’s.

    We should teach everyone these valuable skills (so we have someone to knit with us, go to the yarn store with us, swap stash with us….he,he,he.)

  20. For the first time colorwork, you cannot beat EZ and her 3/1 fairisle color system. Any Library should have Elizabeth Zimmerman’s books and color work does not get easier.

    The slip-stitch color work method is called Mosiac Knitting. I would think it would work great for the disabled who are enabled knitters.
    [I am re=designing a sweater coat in mosaic stitch to do in a blue tweed and navy because at a yarn sale I could only get enough yarn to do the sweater coat if I bought two different colors.]

    For the baby sweater in fairisle, it would help to use a wool NOT superwash, because the strands
    stick, felt together as it is worn. Stranding will get better with use and washing.

    Don’t you agree, Wendy?

  21. Uh-oh! I am afraid that the Isle of Lewis Knitting and Copyright Police are going to come after you now. They don’t take kindly to assertions that any yarn is the “same” as theirs. Even if it… well… *is*. (Oh geez, now they’re coming for me too!)

  22. another Wendy says:

    Your new colorwork design is great! I was jazzed to see that you’re back to colorwork–you see, I have just started my Frogner, thanks to your inspiration (back when you were making it), and I find it incredibly addictive. Have you ever done colorwork with Addi Turbo’s? I haven’t heard of the needles you described.

  23. I loved Ann Feitelson’s book The Art of Fair Isle Knitting for an introduction to fair isle. The book has a great section on color combinations and lots of charts.

  24. Awwwwww, indeed. Such sweetness!

    When you started that Shetland lace wedding handkerchief, did you know what you were getting into? I mean, I’d never expect you to start small, but to knit that as your first lace project…it suggests that you might be a little not-right in the head. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  25. that is so freaking sweet.
    new daddies are cute…especially when they are holding their new babies.
    i had tears well up when i read that.
    tell him thats awesome.

  26. “Cat included for scale.” Ha!

    But seriously, can you imagine blowing your nose on that thing? I think NOT!

  27. Ok…. that guy just might renew my faith in the male race. How cool is he!!!!

  28. To expand on Marie’s idea…….

    There are those reality tv shows “Dancing with the Stars” and “Skating with Celebs”, wht not “Knitting with the Stars”? You and your web-blog famous knitters could teach rock stars or politicians or celebutants how to to colorwork and arans!

  29. Love your new WIP. I have done several smaller fairisle items–bag, hat, etc. I really love colorwork I found out. I am a fairly good knitter in that my stitches are even, and I don’t make too many mistakes.So…my next project is a fairisle sweater. I can’t decide between AS Marina, AS Henry VIII, or Dale of Norway Sirdale (either cardigan or pullover, I think cardigan). Any reason you would think one would be better than the other? Dale wool v. Shetland? Pattern?
    Can’t wait for your book!Will you tour with it? If so, NYC is a MUST!!
    Cathy W

  30. Love your new colour work you are designing on the needles. Black & White always looks so classic for winter. Lots of bold neutral colours here in Stockholm this season.

  31. OH MY LANDS! What an awesome Dad!

  32. “I have trouble using my left hand very well” –
    I knit English style, have never mastered continental (even though I’m left-handed – go figure!) When doing color work, I simply wrap color 1 around my 1st finger on the right hand and color 2 around my 2nd finger, and knit with that finger. I tend to knit tighter that way so I really have to check gauge, but it works for me.


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