My current work in progress:

Sundew,by Martin Storey, knit from Rowan Softyak DK, using 3.25mm and 4mm needles.

Archives for February 2006

LYS Guilt?

Mouse asked:
When you’re doing a project who’s yarn did NOT come from your LYS, do you feel guilty knitting on it in the store? Is there adulterous yarn guilt?

Heh! I was just thinking about that the other day when I was sitting in my LYS, knitting on Rose, which is made from yarn not purchased at my LYS.

However, said LYS does not carry the yarn I’m using for Rose, so I feel no guilt. I don’t think I’d feel guilt anyway, because a frighteningly large portion of my income goes into the LYS coffers.

I do think it’s wrong, however, to go into a LYS and ask for free help with a project being knitted from yarn purchased elsewhere if you never buy anything in said LYS.

What do you all think?

Late to the Party Again

While I’m in “asking your opinion” mode . . .

The other day Snow posed the question on her blog (and I quote):

Do you feel there’s an “in” crowd in your blogging circle, and if so, do you give a crap?

(Aside: Snow, darling, for some reason you disappeared from my bloglines and while I knew something was missing from my life, I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then it hit me this morning: I hadn’t read Snow’s blog this week! You are back in my bloglines and I’m now happy as a clam!)

I don’t really see an “in” crowd in blogs (but then I’m sorta lost in space a good part of the time). I do see cliques here and there, but that’s to be expected. Particularly cliques formed by people who know each other In Real Life.

This started me thinking about cliques in general. has an interesting page about cliques. As its most basic, a clique is defined as “a small exclusive social groups of friends, sharing common traits or interests.”

On this site, the up sides of cliques are listed as being: a sense of belonging to their members; a source of support; protection from other cliques; boosts to members’ self-esteem by making them feel wanted.

If you really want to stretch the definition, this could apply to the knitblog world, right? We have a sense of belonging and a source of support and boosts to our self-esteem.

And of course there are the down sides as well. But we won’t go into them here because I’m a happy little Pollyanna who wants only to spread sunshine and light.

Seriously though. What we’re talking about here is a big ol’ group of people so naturally everyone isn’t going to be best friends with everyone else. You naturally gravitate towards some people and away from others.

Anyhow . . . I noticed this is a question that’s been floating around in the ether lately and I’m curious what you think, if you haven’t weighed in elsewhere.

Okay, you can tell that I’m just babbling here, right? My knitting is progressing, but there’s not much to photograph that’s exciting.

Except Lucy, of course.


But the Teal Hogget is hoggeting along. No photo — it looks like it did yesterday, only a bit longer.

And the Rose is growing. Hopefully I’ll have a sleeve in full bloom soon.


Is today really only Wednesday? Honest?

My Steeky Technique-y

Nancy asked in the comments:
A question about your steek technique (it rhymes!)

I haven’t done a Dale, but I do plenty of fair isle in Shetland. I’ve always trimmed my steeks and then tacked them down with overcast stitches, ala Starmore/Swansen/Feitelson. Are you trimming the steeks, or just leaving the whole steek to flap?

And you’ve posted before that you don’t wear your sweaters all that often. Any idea how the flapping steek wears over time? I’ve always assumed that my armhole steeks, for example, would unravel over time with friction as I pull the sweater on/off.

For fair isles, I just leave ’em. They adhere nicely to the inside of the garment and never budge. The oldest steeked garment I have is the Alice Starmore Wave Cardigan I made in 1989. It’s gotten a fair amount of wear in the 17 years since I knitted it, and the steeks are just fine. No unravelling or movement.

Dale steeks — another story.

For the armholes, you are just stitching and cutting into the tube of knitting that is the body. You sew your sleeves into the cut armhole, and sew down a facing (a knitted extension around the top of the sleeve of an inch or so) over the cut edge on the inside of the garment.

I steek my Dale necks and pick up stitches around the neck, so I do an 8 or 10 stitch steek there. I machine stitch it, cut it, and I do sew that down on the inside. I don’t trim it. I could, but it really doesn’t add too much bulk on the inside of the sweater.

But then, I’m never steeking anything heavier than sport weight yarn. I wouldn’t attempt this technique in a heavier yarn — it would be just too bulky. I wouldn’t attempt this technique with a heavier yarn anyhow, because all my colorwork is sportweight or finer.

Anyhow . . .

I picked up Teal Hogget and worked on it for the first time since Friday. Here is the front, reclining gracefully on my lunchtime reading.


Said lunchtime reading is Charles Todd’s latest book, A Long Shadow. I’ve read all of Charles Todd’s books and enjoy them immensely. (Actually, Charles Todd is two people — a mother and son writing team.)

And back at home, Lucy checks my work on Rose.


Here, just because I think it’s cool, is an early morning shot out my office window. Hey! It’s not a dead guy in the street!


I love how the light reflects off the building’s facade on a sunny day.

Ex-squeeze Me?

Shelley commented:
Torino is different from many Dales in that the pattern has you knit circular then divide the front and back and do the colorwork. Why did they decide to do it this way? Also, if it is possible without causing major hassles, can it be done with steeks instead?

Huh? What? The pattern has you divide the front and back? WTF? I’m sorry, but that is unacceptable.

(Why did Dale do it this way? I dunno, perhaps because they are sadists?)

I have yarn and pattern for Torino stashed away, and you can bet your boots that I will be knitting in the round and steeking, when I get around to making it.

All the Dales I’ve made thus far have you knit a tube for the body, and stitch and cut on the sides for the armholes. I don’t see any reason why this could not be done for Torino.

And speaking of steeks, catspaw commented:
So, all these age-old steeking techniques seem to require machine stitching. What did people do before sewing machines were widely available? I mean, how many sewing machines were there on Fair Isle or in the Norselands in the 1800s? Could steeking as we know it be fairly new? Besides, they didn’t have what we call circular needles (really they’re straight) so how many doublepoints did they use?

Well, for fair isle steeks, there is no machine sewing. The steeks are cut open, stitches are picked up, and the sleeves and bands (whichever the steek is for) is knit. The knitter can then sew the steek down on the inside of the garment, but you know what? I never do. Yep, I just leave them flapping in the breeze. When I steam the steek after knitting, it sort of felts in place. And never budges.

As for the Dale of Norway sweaters, I actually didn’t say that their steeks were done in an age-old method. I just talked about doing steeks in the Dale method. Truth be told, I don’t know how Norwegian sweaters were knit before the advent of the sewing machine. Possible they were sewn by hand, then cut. I dunno.

About circular needles? Fair isle sweaters were indeed knitting on dpns in times of youre, and some still are today. I have several sets of dpns of the type that were used in the pre-circular era. They are steel, and 14 inches long, in sets of 5. And they are wicked looking weapons! On the cover of Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting is a photo of a fair isle in progress, being knitted on these long steel dpns. Here’s a link to the cover on

Incidentally, from all that I’ve read, I believe fair isle knitting — the multi-colored patterned work — only came into being mid-nineteenth century, so it really hasn’t been around that long — in the grand scheme of things.

Speaking of fair isle . . .

Morgan commented:
Being semi-new to fair isle (ok I haven’t actually finished a project thus the semi part), I want to change colors in the fair isle patterns that I see. That way the colors will suit me. Is there a process that you have for picking the colors that you are going to use in a fair isle project? Or do you always go with the colors in the pattern?

Most of the fair isle I’ve knitted are Starmore designs, and what attracted me to those designs in the first place were the colors used. So no, I’ve not done much changing of colors of fair isles, though I have a little.

If you are planning on subbing different colors, swatching is essential, to make sure the colors really work together. And if they do work together, to make sure that they provide enough contrast to each other so that the pattern is pleasing to the eye.

So . . . current knitting. Here is my Rose sleeve.


I’ve got maybe 6 inches left to knit on it.

Thanks for all the nice comments about my new haircut. I haven’t quite figured out how to operate it yet (heh!) so it wasn’t looking quite . . . ahem . . . the same today. Going from one length to layers can be alarming! Wouldn’t it be nice if one could have a stylist equipped with blow-dryer, ceramic brush, and product standing by, at the ready, to make you fabulous whenever you needed it?

Lucy sez:

I don’t need no stinkin’ stylist. I am already fabulous.


Steek This

A couple of comments recently about steeks.

Krista asked:
This is the second time today I have read about “steeking” Pardon my ignorance but what is this??

If you want to knit a sweater completely in the round, you have to figure out some way to get armholes in your “tube” of knitting. This is where steeks come in. A steek is nothing more than extra stitches used where you are going to cut the garment — for armholes and/or down the front for a cardigan.

If you use the search function on my blog (it’s over there in the sidebar) and search for steek, you’ll find many many entries where I talk about steeks. Here — I did the search for you.

And Clarelight asked:
Re:Rose…are you doing steeks for the armholes, too? If you are, can we have a peek? If not steeks for the armholes, what?

I’m doing the armholes in the way most Dale of Norway sweaters are done — you knit a tube, then measure the depth of the armholes on each side, machine stitch them, and cut ’em open. If you’d like to see a play-by-play of this technique, check out this article I wrote for Knitty a while back.

The sleeves are knitted in the round from the cuff up, increasing as you go. You knit a self-facing at the top of the sleeve. You then sew them into the armhole and sew the self-facing over the cut edge of the steek on the inside.

This differs from fair isle steeks. For fair isles, you cast on extra stitches for the steek, and you just cut down the middle when you are ready to open them up — no machine stitching. You can get away with this because the shetland wool used for fair isles is nice and hairy and sticky and when you cut it, well, it ain’t going anywhere. You then can pick up stitches for for sleeve or whatever along the edge stitch (this is in a few stitches from your cut edge) and knit the sleeve down from the armhole.

Again, check out my archives. I’ve got many many photos of this process.

Anyhow . . .

As predicted, I finished the body of Rose this weekend, and started a sleeve.


I did a bit of spinning on my wool/mohair Tintagel roving.


Lucy relaxed.


Me? I got my hair done. I got highlighted, lowlighted, toned and colored, and then got a long-overdue fun new cut. I am simply fabulous, dahlings.


Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

–Robert Frost

That’s my silent poetry reading, in celebration of the Feast of St. Brigid (though wasn’t that February 1?) and Groundhog Day. I read about the silent poetry in Anne’s blog entry yesterday.

Why did I pick that poem? Partly because it’s one I remember by heart without having to look it up. Partly because it’s short. (Conversely, I briefly considered posting “The Wasteland” in its entirety . . . but that would be wrong.) Partly because I love it. I love it because it’s about fleeting beauty and mortality and all that rot.

I remember very well where I first read that poem — it was quoted by a character in the book The Outsiders, by S. E. Hinton, which I read when I was maybe 12 or 13 years old.

Wow. This is the first time I’ve really thought about poetry in ages. I was a literature major in undergrad and graduate school. Back in them thar days, I loved poetry and read it by the boatload.

Some poetry I like just because how the words sound together just makes me so freaking happy, like these lines plucked from e.e. cummings’ stuff:

anyone lived in a pretty how town
with up so floating many bells down.

Some poetry I like because of the vivid imagery, like Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro:”

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Some poetry I like for the sheer beauty of it, like Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan:”

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

et cetera. 🙂

And some poetry I like just because it makes me feel so freaking sad, like these lines from Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality:” [edited — I corrected the title when Lauren pointed out my error!)

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass,
of glory in the flower

So I’ve been thinking alot about poetry today.


Because I am warped, I suddenly remembered the above anthology that I purchased way back when: The Brand X Anthology of Poetry. I linked to the book on because there’s blessed little info about it on

If you love poetry and love a good parody, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Out of print, but it seems to be available at used book sellers online at a decent price.

Too bad I didn’t know about it when I was an insufferable, pedantic undergraduate. But no doubt I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much as I did (and do) later.

Oh . . . You Came Here For Knitting, Right?

I’m getting close to the point where I will do a steek for the back neck shaping. Woot! Woot! Woot! I am cautiously predicting that I will be done with the body of Rose by the end of the weekend.


Assuming I don’t get caught up in spinning like I did last weekend.

Again, thank you so much for all your kind comments about Rose. A number of you have asked if I’m going to make the pattern available. The answer is probably yes . . . eventually.

Because Snow Asked

Snow commented:
Can I ask a technical question, Wendy? Ostensibly, we’ll say I’m asking it about Rose, since that’s more pertinent to your current knitting, but in truth this is about my Torino sweater you made me knit.
The Dale pattern wants me to knit back and forth for the neck shaping. I don’t want to. Not at all. Can I steek across the neck and wind up with a weirdly shaped but steekable object? And how many stitches would I want to insert for that? Or should I just suck it up and knit back and forth for the neck shaping?

Dearest Snow, check out this blog entry I wrote about doing the neck decreases for St. Moritz. You’ll have to fudge a bit on the shaping, but it is do-able!

Lucy Sez

I got Teal Hogget’s back! Ha!