My current work in progress:

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


The Agony and the Ecstacy

Jojo got it right — my new project is Mara, a fair isle design by Alice Starmore. The pattern is in the long out-of-print and virtually-impossible-to-find The Scottish Collection. I like how Jojo referred to it — “the mythical Scottish Collection.” I am making the cardigan version.

A number of you inquired about the canvas box where the yarn for my fair isle is stored. It’s a sock organizer, and I bought it several years ago (bought two of them, actually) online. I did a quick search, and I believe the first item on this page (item #55955) is the same thing. Pretty nifty, eh?

You can buy plastic organizers as well, but I like the canvas one because it is more flexible, and you can mush more yarn in one compartment and less in another, as needed.

So why is this blog entry titled “The Agony and the Ecstacy?”

Long-time WendyKnits readers will remember me whining about a certain technique in fair isle knitting. A technique that fills me with loathing and dread.

Corrugated ribbing. Gah!

Mara has 29 (gulp!) rows of corrugated ribbing. I have a theory that as soon as I start working on corrugated ribbing, there is a rift in the time-space continuum. How else could it be that it takes me three frigging days to complete 29 rows of ribbing?

Because it does. Take three frigging days, that is.

Here is the ribbing a bit past the halfway point.


And just for grins, the wrong side:


The only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that the reward for completing the dreaded corrugated ribbing is that I get to start on the fair isle pattern! and I did — just barely.


Viewer Mail

Tina asked:
I’m looking at that laceweight stuff, and I’m remembering the Harlot’s references to Rowan Kidsilk Haze (“crack”), and I have to ask what would be a good first lace shawl thing for one who has recently conquered an irrational fear of yarnovers (yophobia). (I’m actually fairly intrepid, but in weird ways.)

A good first lace shawl . . .

I think either the Leaf Lace or the Flower Basket shawl (both by Evelyn Clark, both available from Fiber Trends) are good shawls for new lace knitters. They have a relatively simple overall pattern and there is no complicated construction, like knitting a border onto live stitches.

Another good beginner project, I think, is the Kimono Shawl from Cheryl Oberle’s Folk Shawls — it’s a rectangular shawl with garter stitch borders that are knitted as you go. Again, it’s a relatively simple pattern that you keep repeating.

Debi asked
Have you used the Anne before? I’m interested to hear what you think of it, I hear it’s yummy but alas it’s an experience that eludes me πŸ™

I’ve not knitted with the Schaeffer Anne sock yarn . . . yet. I now have a couple of skeins of it in stash, so it’s definitely in the rotation!

I’ve been making a point of acquiring as many different sock yarns as possible. I want to try ’em all!

It Was Only a Matter of Time

There is now an errata page for Wendy Knits: My Neverending Adventures in Yarn. The link will remain over in the sidebar. Sigh.

However, big thanks to Stephanie C. for finding and pointing out the error!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Lucy is rehearsing her moves so she can costar with Miss Lulu Kitty in a Kitties Gone Wild video.



  1. Corrugated ribbing is evil.

    Lucy is pretty. My Packet got her clothes shaved off today…can she be in Kitties Gone Wild, too?

  2. I love the colors in Mara! How is corrugated ribbing different from regulo ribbing? Besides that it’s the work of the devil, I mean. πŸ™‚

    Belly-rubs to Lucy!

  3. I had the same question as Julie: corrugated ribbing? It’s looking good, though. And (a day late here) loving the “Pink Clouds” sock yarn. Gorgeous stuff! Almost as gorgeous as Miss Lucy, but lacking the winsome face and hypnotic blue eyes.

  4. that ribbing and color is ALOT likt the sweatrer on the cover of the Starmore fairisle book everyone lusts after!

  5. Beautiful sweater! You are amazing. I am finishng a pair of socks in Anne and I have really enjoyed it. It doesn’t split and the colors are great. Its not very “springy” but overall its very agreeable.

  6. To each their own I guess, because I love corrugated ribbing. It looks so cool. I usually hold the purl color continental style and Norwegian purl it. I’m actually doing the one color ribbing of a fair isle vest as corrugated ribbing (using both ends of the ball) so the ribbing will be the same thickness as the rest of the sweater.

  7. After watching you knit so many fair isles, I paid an insane amount of money for a copy of “The Scottish Collection” on ebay. When I saw that corregated ribbing, I wanted to chant, “Go Wendy! Go Wendy!”

  8. Lucy and Lulu…that could only spell magic…or trouble!
    Watching you knit an AS FI is such a pleasure. Thank goodness I have that mystical book in my collection.

  9. Love the fair isle! As an FYI.. in the last year or so, I do beleive, they have taken on rewritng older patterns at a one off price. Not sure if they still do…

  10. Oh, lordy! The ribbing and Lucy both! I just hope Lucy and Lulu don’t do a strip-tease like poor Halley. (It’s growing back in nicely.)

  11. Thanks for the box info. I went right over there and ordered one. So I can put MY Mara yarn in it. Sigh – I’ve had my Mara vest on the needles for a while now – keep getting distracted. I love it. But I don’t have a pattern, so I’m winging it with my vest (I have the chart from Fair Isle Knitting). Perhaps seeing yours in process, along with those of the Yahoo knit along group, will get me back into gear.

  12. thanks, Wendy. Ohhhhhhhh boy. (Trouble ahead, I feel it in me bones.)

    That Lucy, she’s a bathmat kitty.

  13. thanks, Wendy. Ohhhhhhhh boy. (Trouble ahead, I feel it in me bones.)

    That Lucy, she’s a bathmat kitty.

  14. Oh, and the corrugated ribbing, hellish, maybe, but oh! So beautiful. YOU get to wear it.

  15. I see that Jessica has already suggested Norwegian purling and I concur heartily! I just completed my short row toe in two colors for a PG-R Bazaar sock and it did take a while but was much less excruciating with Norwegian purling than it would have been otherwise. Lovely sweater so far!

  16. I’ve been on the lookout for that book for a long time. At least I can enjoy it in real time through this project. It should be interesting.
    Miss Lulu Kitty is ready to get her portfolio together so she can get into the movies now.

  17. I agree that knitting the corrugated ribbing is torture, but it DOES look good!

  18. Not that I would ever be the sort to try to distract one from one’s corrugated ribbing, or the ensuing Fair Isle one gets to do as a reward for all that corrugated ribbing, but the instant you get a chance to pick up that Anne yarn, please do so with all speed. The second pair of socks I ever knit was in a yellow/orange/green Anne colorway , and I couldn’t stop looking at the gorgeous gradations in color. I know there’s a store somewhere in this vast and wacky city that carries it, but for now I’ve been getting it online, and getting all swoony over it.

    I will indeed hug everyone at Estes for you, and I will actually drop you a proper note before I do, honestly. πŸ™‚

  19. tell debi that schaefer anne is simply fabulous, but to proceed with caution!
    it all started simply enough for me, with someone giving me a skein for my birthday because, literally, this yarn has my NAME on it! ha-ha! i thought, how cuteβ€”i love it. then i knit with it.

    my name is anne and now, i am a schaefer anne addict.

    evidence of my complete corruption by this yarn can be seen here:
    i never meant to do it; it just . . . happened. before i knew it, i was in deep. real deep

  20. I have to say that I like the corrugated ribbing… you’re inspiring me to pick up my OLD fair isle WIP and finally finish the thing.

  21. Could you do corrugated ribbing by working one color at a time, slipping the unused color and working it every other row? You’d have to use some sort of dpn (think circular since they aren’t circles but just long dpns) but I think it could work. Of course, I was at work until 9 pm and am on my second glass of jug red and haven’t swatched so maybe I’m missing the obvious. Wouldn’t be the first time.

  22. Such an informative post – I’m going to track down those lace patterns you recommended – thanks!

    Question for you: there’s a picture of you on Beth’s blog ( when you were at the Yarn Lounge and there’s some absolutely gorgeous reddish-purple yarn on the table next to you. Is that stash enhancement, and if so, do dish details, please! It looks heavenly! πŸ™‚

  23. I love seeing the wrong side of knitting that involves colorwork. How gorgeous!

  24. wow, I’ve never heard of the collection, but that start for the sweater is looking good. Another helpful hint for the first ever lace shawl is maybe to take a yarn that is easy to handle, some basic wool really. I found working with mohair really difficult in the beginning because it kept getting stuck and the pattern in the knitted item was difficult to figure out at places. Plus, knitting lace with black yarn in front of TV is just asking for trouble. πŸ™‚

  25. Corrugated ribbing isn’t evil! I swear!

    Seriously, corrugated ribbing isn’t so hellish if you knit continental with one strand and English with the other. I think I first saw it done this way by the lovely folks behind Philosopher’s Wool. It’s a really great way to speed up any fair isle project. Some people say it makes their fair isle look messier or a little more uneven, but in my opinion it’s miles better than trying to use the slip stitch method.

  26. Thanks for the linkage Wendy! πŸ™‚

    I too want to try every sock yarn out there, and I’m workin on it! Oh to have an LYS!!!

    P-Man says when the Kitties Gone Wild DVD is out, he’s so THERE…meeeeeYOW ladies!!

  27. marjorie says:

    Your ribbing is gorgeous. Could you tell us which caston method you used? I’ve not yet tried corrugated ribbing, but it is on tap for later this year.

    Until I read Montse Stanley’s article on alternative caston techniques in an old edition of “Threads”, I used a cable caston almost exclusively. I agreed with her view that the caston should not look visible, and yours does not. Do you use a tubular caston even for 2×2 ribbing? I’ve since used other caston methods, but I find there is nothing as quick as the cable caston (which I still use for gauge swatches).

    Don’t sweat the errata sheet. I’m a book editor, and I’ve never yet published anything that was 100% perfect, even after the best proofreading. I just hope you go into second, third, fourth…printings of your fine book to make those corrections in print.

  28. Not only long-time blog readers, but your book readers as well. I think you mentioned your Fear and Loathing of Corrugated Ribbing in WendyKnits the Book as well. Just finished reading it last night. It was one of those books I was sorry to end. It was so much fun reading it every night before bed… putting thoughts of knitting in my head before slumber. Thanks.
    Can’t wait to watch Mara progress.

  29. That Fair Isle is spectacular. And Lucy is, well, Lucy!

    My first lace knitting project was the Kimono Shawl, but I found the 24-row pattern repeat too daunting – in part because I chose charcoal- colored yarn, in part because I didn’t learn about lifelines until I’d spent a frustrating week ripping back to the border.

    So I substituted a 6-row repeat I found in a stitch book. The finished shawl is lovely, and I “got” lace knitting well enough to move on to bigger challenges.

  30. I’m strange, I like knitting corrugated ribbing. It’s rhythmic (K2-wrap-P2-wrap-repeat) and I like how it looks. I love Mara for that red with the blues, so I can’t wait to see it unfold.

  31. Corrugated ribbing is hell but looks so cool when finally complete. Can’t wait to see Mara!

    Errata? Glad to know that no one is infallible.

  32. I am delighted to have the pleasure of watching you work on another fairisle. Thanks for you tips on lace knitting, too.

  33. Wow! Mara is looking amazing!
    Thanks for the lace tips…I’ll be starting my first *real* lace [other than socks] this summer.

  34. Arrrgh– I recently completed corrugated ribbing on a Ron Schweitzer Fair Isle. As usual, your knitting looks great, and I have loved Mara from the first time I saw her. I can’t wait to see more!

  35. Regarding a first-time lace project: I just finished knitting Sivia Harding’s Diamond Fantasy Shawl, and it was my first completed lace project. The pattern was easy to follow, and easy to understand. The way I see it, if I can finish this shawl without glaring mistakes, anybody can. I’d recommend it to anyone as a first lace project.

  36. I hear some people have difficulty confessing their ignorance but I am so glad I’m not one of them. ‘Corrugated Ribbing’ shocked me so much, I couldn’t go on reading until I’d worked a picture of it out in my head. Yikes, I’m just beginning to feel bold enough to try basic colorwork! I’m going to go lie down for a while.

  37. The corrugated ribbing may be a pain, but it’s SO PRETTY.

  38. Thanks for the canvas box info Wendy. It’ll be perfefct for my Osterdalens. Beautiful corrugated ribbing.

  39. Yes, the corrugated ribbing. THAT’S why I haven’t started Laleli yet. Or could it be that I’m simply bogged down in that stupid second Torino sleeve you made me knit? Harumph! Enough of your saucy knitting ways, Wendy. You’re not going to make me order a kit for that sweater, even though I’d really like to and it’s soooooo pretty and….and….

  40. Had a hunch that you’d still be interested in who’s going to fair isle….

    We leave in 7 weeks ! saterday the 5th of august 2006 we become the newest resident crofters on the island ! We had the sheer & humbling experiance of beating hundreds of applicants to be invited to rent Burkle + 5 acre (its the orange & blue house on the fair isle web site) So,myself will be knitting for the co-op (hand knit mostly) Himself will replace the current builders on fairisle who are all looking to retire & we will be breeding shetland sheep.

    To those who have never visited the island, you are missing out on an experiance which will live in your hearts forever.


  41. Sheri in St. Louis says:

    Oooh – the colors in that new sweater are gorgeous. It will be fun to see it all come together! And Lucy makes a great “wild girl”!