My current work in progress:

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


Old Dog? New Trick?

Is it possible to teach an old dog a new trick?

I might have mentioned once or twice how much I hate doing ribbing. I hate ribbing because I hate switching the yarn back and forth between knits and purls. So I have wondered from time to time about Norwegian purling.

But usually when I Google Norwegian purl, I happen not to have a piece of knitting in my hands (inconvenient, no?) and can’t try it out on the fly. And I read the instructions and go “Wha–?”

During my lunchbreak today, with unfinshed tiger sock in hand, I once again Googled “Norwegian purl” and started checking out the links. There are a number of pages with instructions, some of them with photos. But the site that really did it for me was, which has videos of techniques. Be still, my heart! This page has the link to the video showing the Norwegian purl technique.

I played the video approximately 4,572 times and actually figured out how to execute a Norwegian purl. And did a couple of rounds on the ribbing on my sock. Successfully Norwegian purling the purl stitches, I might add.

Okay, for the record, I am not continuing to Norwegian purl on the sock ribbing. The Norwegian purl technique requires a little extra movement per stitch. I’m doing a 5 by 5 rib. If I were doing a k1 p1 rib, I would use the Norwegian purl, because the little extra movement on each stitch is still quicker than moving the yarn from back to front and front to back between each stitch. But with 5 purls in a row, I find it quicker to purl in my usual manner, because I’m only moving the position of the working yarn once every 5 stitches.

It’s all about economy of movement, ya know?


So yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. You just have to show the old dog the new trick over and over and over again.

I’m sooooooo close to being done with the second tiger sock. Sooooooo close . . .


I ought to be able to finish this baby tonight (provided I don’t pass out early like I did last night).

The tiger socks remind me of something I purchased (via eBay) a while back. Lookie here:


This is Siberian Tiger fur. I bought it from this eBay seller. And this is the description that accompanied the auction:

1 ounce of beautiful Siberian Tiger – yes, it’s true. This is definately an exotic!!! It’s just beautiful. It’s very cool to spin on a spindle. Tiger is quite short (1.5″ – 2″). No vegetable matter. It’s fun to spin. This has to be the most rare exotic. Who the heck would chase a tiger around?? I am fortunate enough to know a couple in Western Washington who has raised 2 Siberians as pets, and they do shed occaisionally … if you want to get in there and touch them. These people have a zoo permit, wonderful high fenced in acreage for them to roam free, and most likely nervous neighbors! They are just gorgeous, huge animals, who are alive, well and happy. This fiber resembles Chiengora in that it fluffs out when knit. Softness resembles Malamute dog but they are definately BIG CATS. Siberians are carmel, black and white so this fiber is all of that mixed up. Treat yourself to this unusual and certainly one of a kind fiber from one of the most endangered species of BIG CAT.

Will I ever spin it? Am I capable of spinning it? Who knows? But I did know that I had to have it.


(FYI: At the time I bought the fiber, the seller stated she had 6 ounces of it and was putting it up on eBay an ounce at a time — I purchased one ounce. I don’t know if she’s sold the rest of it at this point.)

Tour Dates

Okie dokie — the last tour date has been scheduled: Knitty City in NYC on May 21. The upcoming dates are listed over there in the sidebar. I’m removing past dates as they . . . uh . . . pass.

Lucy seems impressed.



  1. Umm, did you let Lucy sniff it? I would love to see my cats’ reaction to REAL TIGER FUR!!

    I wish I had some of this for the KAL last month at , it would have been perfect for the Life of Pi book.

  2. Isn’t heaven? I love it.

    So…when are you coming west, hrm?

  3. Ok now THAT is ummmm unique! How does it feel to touch? You’ve gone off the deep end. In a good way. For you. Heeeee. I would be afraid, if it were me but I collect cats, not spinning wheels, right now, so I’m safe, right? Right.

    You knit lefthanded, so I’m surprised you could follow online videos which are rightie typically. Got any secrets?

  4. Tiger fur? Interesting. Lucy definitely looks very impressed. I’m sure her fur is much more luxurious than some dumb tiger.

  5. The Norwegian purl is tricky…..but once you “get” it, it becomes much easier.

    I still purl faster the other way!

  6. I’m so glad you’re coming to Knitty City. It is my favourite NYC store, and your visit gives me another reason to trek uptown to go there! Much more room than the Point. KC didn’t have your book yesterday either, though.

  7. Yeah right my cats get that impressed look too…

  8. I was so proud of myself, a year or two ago, for figuring out the Norwegian Purl method–off of written instructions yet, no video! But really, I find it easier to just move the yarn forward and purl like I’ve always purled. EXCEPT at the beginning of a needle when knitting in the round. I’ve always hated trying to get that first stitch on a DPN purled, when my sock ribbing worked out that way–trying to get the yarn in front, deal with the extra points, all that, just for one or two stitches always irritates me. Enter the Norwegian Purl–the perfect purling method for the beginning of a DPN or Magic Loop row.

  9. Ooh! Ooh! I also recently learned how to Norwegian Purl (from, too)! Kismet, or what? Not one of my knitting circle friends have even heard of the technique — apparently, it’s a bit uncommon. I like to think of executing the stitch as a ‘little dance’… :o)

    And, it’s more useful in certain situations than others.

  10. Tiger fur?!? Holy cow!! That’s pretty damn cool. You really should try and spin up just a bit just to see what it’s like.

    Unfortunately looks like I won’t make it to see you in NYC but I’m going to try for Philly or NJ. Any plans for anything further north?

  11. Was the Ebay seller named Sigfried? or Roy? You have to make something for Lucy out of that tiger fur, so she can remember her ancestral past!

  12. Tiger??? Lucy’s fur looks long enough to spin! Try it, then knit her a kitten!

  13. betty j says:

    Wendy, I LOVE reading your blog, watching your projects progress and, of course, pics of Lucy. But the tiger fur thing has me a little concerned. I hope that people don’t get all excited and want tiger fur to knit with. It is bad enough that they are hunted and killed for their pelts and to be turned into somebody’s aphrodisiac. Such gorgeous, majestic creatures shouldn’t be killed to fill human desires to have, own or possess “stuff” just for the sake of having, owning or possessing it. Just saying.

    I do hope that that fur REALLY was collected by the people in Washington and that they REALLY do take good care of them. I recently went on a field trip with my daughter to a big cat rescue place. And some of the stories that those folks tell about the condition of the animals when they arrive and the former living conditions that all of those creatures survived, just make me cry. All in the name of having, owning and possessing. Guess going on a safari or going to the zoo just isn’t good enough for some people. (Step down from soapbox.) Thanks for letting me get that out there.

  14. You’re coming to Knitty City– my LYS! YAY!

  15. Whoa. Tiger. I am so impressed. I hope you are planning to try it out soon-I’d love to see the results!

  16. Now you can make real, honest-to-goodness tiger socks!

  17. Wild Thing: is that the theme song today!…..great news on NYC…..hope there is a parade planned!

  18. Jennifer says:

    My 19 month old son was helping me read your site tonight, and he has fallen in love with Lucy.
    Congratulations on your book!

  19. Hmmm…there is a Big Cat Refuge a short drive from where I work here in Florida…tempting. Imagine this place near a mall and a shopping plaza set back in the woods. Let us know how it works out. Hoping you make it to Florida for a signing.

  20. I went to the bookstore (Barnes & Noble, University Village, Seattle) last night after work to pick up a copy of your book, but they were SOLD OUT. Nothing but a BIG hole in the knitting books between I and K. (I even prowled through the rest of the store, hoping that someone had left a copy at a table, but no dice.)

    Curse those other Seattle knitters, they obviously got there before I did! ๐Ÿ˜€

  21. Typepad’s servers must have suffered a major meltdown tonight. Even the Sixapart status page is unavailable. (But oddly, the Dilbert blog IS available… Scott Adams must be some kind of God). Good thing WendyKnits uses Movable Type hosted on a non-Typepad server.

  22. At first glance of your page, I thought “Lucy in the plastic bag?” Interesting. I am looking forward to seeing what will emerger from the fur. My copy is expected to arrive this late evening or tommorrow morning from Can’t wa-a-a-a-ait.

  23. Norweigan purl, maybe that’s what I’m not doing right…hrmmm

    Whooo hoooo, picked up your book tonight that I had Barnes & Noble put aside for me. It’s teriffic .. thanks for having a couple of patterns out there for what I hope might fit my plus frame.

    Have fun with the spinning.

  24. Tiger fur…wow! You might have mentioned this before, but I don’t remember…have you ever tried spinning Lucy’s fur?

  25. I KNEW I hadn’t seen-or heard-it all… but Tiger fur? Who thinks of these things? I’m most intrigued– and look forward to seeing the um, progress.

  26. Why do anything other than the German purl?
    I learned to knit from my Swedish mother, and she always used the German purl.
    I have honestly never reflected over the difficulty of purling.

    Norwegian and all others seem to be unecessarily complicated!

    Something completely different…
    I moved back to Sweden in January and sooooo miss the yarn shops and farms of the East Coast. My greatest comfort is Wendy Knits online. I miss Silver Spring! I’ve missed your tour! I miss the Sheep and Wool Festival!

  27. Wendy, I thought I read in your schedule that you were going to be at Knitting Sisters in Williamsburg in June for a book signing and now I don’t see it listed on the tour date. I am going to MS&W and want to meet you there but in case the line is SOOOOOOOO long I thought I could have a plan B-Knitting Sisters. Do you think you will be going there in the future?

  28. Lisa, Mike, Jack, Della says:

    Hey Wendy, does “last tour date” mean you won’t be adding any more? (I’m lobbying for an appearance in S. MD…) Oh, and in my experience, it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks–I’m training Mikey to fetch my coffee in the mornings ๐Ÿ˜‰ So maybe I’ll try that Norwegian Purling…thank you for the tip!

  29. Our knit group finally found your book at B&N last night! Can’t wait for you to come to Richmond and get them signed! Congratulations! Jane

  30. I finally rec’d my copy of the book and am loving it so much that I’m forcing myself to read slowly. ๐Ÿ™‚

    For your next book, Wendy ::hint hint:: I would definitely be willing pay more for some color photos. I understand the cost prohibition for the first book, but now you’re a successful author and your designs deserve some color. Just my opinion.

  31. I love using the Norwegian purl for 1×1 ribbing. It has really changed my feelings about ribbing. I used Bobby’s site with a great pictorial to learn how to do it:

    Congratulations on the book! The new Dierdre looks gorgeous, and I bet it feels gorgeous too.

  32. I finally picked up a copy of your book last night and I love it. I can’t wait to read it cover to cover. Now I’m fully prepared for MDS&W!

    I hate ribbing too but I’ve had occasion lately to do a few projects where the ribbing is done knitting through the back loop and I found the motion oddly pleasing. Weird!

  33. The only reason why I learned Norwegian purl was so that I could get closer to gauge for Garnstudio patterns with their recommended needle size. No other reason.

    Of course, since I knit Continental, my purling is still rather quick.

  34. I never know what to expect when I click on your blog each morning – there’s never a dull moment – from Norwegian perl to Tiger fur for spinning – life is an adventure when you hang out at Wendyknits that’s for sure- And, thank you for the great link to – Love to Lucy!

  35. I hate seed stitch for that very same reason – wonder if that link will cure me? I’m all about economy of movement!

  36. Tiger fur. Who woulda thunk it?…

  37. Yep, you’re definitely going to have to spin at least enough to make cuffs for socks or something. It’s just too cool not to do something with it.

    How does it smell?

  38. Hmmm… I’m guessing my cat allergy will include tigers. That’s facinating, though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. LOVE – isn’t she a smart cookie for coming up with such a great idea? Can you tell I’m jealous because I didn’t think of it first??

    Tiger fur… You must very secure, and Lucy must love you very much. My last cat would have looked at the bag, and made it clear that the house wasn’t big enough for tiger, cat, and human.

    And I have no doubts that I would be the one thrown out, as she loved fiber and yarn!

  40. HELP! But first, the tiger fur is very cool. Okay back to the HELP!

    I finally decided to take the plunge and try out your toe-up socks. Thanks to your book, even though I like my tried and true, and memorized top down, I thought I’ll never know if I like it better if I don’t try it.

    Okay, so I did my toe last night, and am working on the foot. But here’s my question, How do you make the wrapped stitches once knit again when doing the second half of the toe, not be so bulky? Am I doing something wrong. Maybe I wrapped them incorrectly, or slipped them wrong, I’m not sure, but there’s a definite added thickness and wierdness. Maybe this is just a product of the double wrap and there’s nothing that can be done, as I haven’t worn the sock I don’t know if it will bug my toes or not, but I am curious if I’m messing this up.

    Sorry for the long comment, and in advance, thanks for your help or thoughts.

  41. Knitty City is in my ‘hood! Hooraaaaaaay! (If you get to missin’ your Lucy, mine is just 2 blocks away…) is terrific. I’ve learned a lot from it, and passed the link along to several new knitters.

  42. Awwww…who loves her penguin pillow? ๐Ÿ™‚

  43. Oooh – thank you for the link to learn Norwegian purling! (Although as I read your comments, now I see there is also a German Purl?) I think I have my own unique technique to purling, so I’ll have to see if what I’m doing has a name (I mean, a name other than what I call it “my screwed up version”). ๐Ÿ™‚

  44. Ok that has to be the coolest fiber EVER! Or at least the riskiest ๐Ÿ™‚

    I wanted to let you know the Lizzie’s Lacy Rib pattern is up on my blog so feel free to enjoy it and share it as you wish! I know some of your readers were interested!

    It would look mighty good in that mahogany yarn…just sayin’!