My current work in progress:

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


Life With Shetland

My Mara sweater is knitted from Jamieson & Smith shetland wool, which I purchased a couple of years ago from Jamieson & Smith Shetland Wool Brokers Ltd, which is located in Lerwick, in the Shetland Isles in Scotland.

Jamieson & Smith does not have an online store, but you can phone, mail, or email them to order yarn. Check out their How to Order page for details.

This is the yarn the original design was knitted with. In the pattern, the colors are listed by name, but with the book came a conversion key to tell you how the color names correspond to the J&S color numbers.

Amelia commented:
I am curious as to why you don’t carry colours up the side – I’ve been told off in the past for not doing so. I love the colours you’ve chosen, the overall effect is gorgeous.

First of all, I can take no credit for the colors — those are courtesy of the designer, Alice Starmore who, in my opinion, does fair isle better than anyone.

As for carrying the colors up the side — it’s simply not practical. This design has fourteen different colors and the colors change every one or two rounds. It could be forty rounds before a color appears again.

And in the case of Mara, the color changes happen in the middle of the front steek, which will be cut open to make a cardigan. There’s no need to carry the colors because, ultimately, they are going to be cut.

Speaking of Mara, here’s my progress:


And I finished my Black Violet socks on Friday:


After taking this photo, I took em off and washed them in water with synthrapol. They are now drying.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must return to Mara. Lucy is closely monitoring my progress.



  1. Your sweater is beautiful! Love the colors – I use to knit fair Isle many years ago and just looking at yours makes me want to do it again.

  2. Don’t feel bad, Amelia! I have been told off for doing many things, including (but not limited to): knitting socks on DPNs instead of circulars, knitting socks top-down instead of toe-up, washing with Woolite instead of shampoo, and floating the yarn across “too many” stitches (4) when working intarsia.

    A lot of people seem to confuse “The way I like to do it” with “The one true correct way, and everything else is wrong.”

    Do whatever you want with your knitting, and be VERY skeptical when someone tells you it’s wrong.

  3. That has got to be one of the most gorgeous Fair Isle sweaters I’ve ever seen!

  4. Can someone PLEASE drug test Wendy to make sure she’s not taking high amounts of speed? It is simply not human to make that much progress on a Fair Isle in such a short amount of time. 🙂 Gorgeous work, Wendy. I’m currently poring over my Starmore books to see which Fair Isle I’d like to try first. Everything she does is incredible.

    When I checked the prices on J&S’s site, I was suprised how affordable the yarn was, even with international shipping costs. It’s worth checking out, people.

    Happy knitting, everyone.

  5. Love the Black Violet socks!

  6. Wow! Mara looks amazing!

  7. I’ve been reading your blog for months now. In fact, it inspired me to do my own blog. I use your “Wendy sez” theme with one of my ewe lambs. Today I just HAD to comment…Speaking of “LIFE WITH SHETLANDS” I have an entire blog devoted to Shetland sheep (and their wool ~ which I spin into yarn and knit with!). All except today’s post ~ I was in need of a chuckle so added pictures to one of my favorite ‘verses’ and posted away. If you’d like to see where REAL Shetland wool comes from, check out my website: and blog:

  8. Mary in Maine says:

    Lovely fair-isle sweater! Out of curiosity: Do you have a particular length of circular needle you like for fair-isle sweaters in the round? (I’m wondering if that helps with maintaining even tension of the floats) or any sweaters in the round? I generally use 24inch circulars.

    Happy Knitting!

  9. Man, oh man, you’re a fast knitter. Mara is progressing along at lightening speed and is looking gorgeous!

    I was just browsing your ’06 completed work and am blown away by Dungarvan, Rose and Skogsmörkret, (which I’ll always think of as “Bohus”). Dungarvan is my favorite, I think — love Aran cardigans. And it is nice to see the Lorna’s Laces “Gold Hill” knitted up, since I just recently acquired some of that.

    If you go on another book tour, I think you should bring some of those fantastic FO’s with you to show off. Although perhaps you don’t want hundreds of hands fondling your FO’s, nor will you want the extra weight in the suitcase. But if I had my way, I’d get to see them in person! 🙂

  10. Mara is mara-volous! Love the socks, too.

  11. Your Mara is turning out beautifully. Your comments make me realize that I would be better trying a cardigan for my next Fair Isle project. I hate weaving in the ends.

  12. Wow, you’re really moving along on Mara now, and she’s beautiful!

  13. Wendy the sweater is simply beautiful! If you get a chance, can you post a photo of the flip side? Another question for you, you are obviously a very fast knitter. How much time do you knit on an average day?

  14. oh my — that picture of Lucy is a little … alarming. Did her head spin around immediately after? But I’m sure she’s satisfied with your progress and that everything’s fine.


    (hee — Mara rocks. I’m impressed and covetous.)

  15. another source for the J&S yarn, Schoolhouse Press (, in Wisconsin. Happy Fathers’ Day, all you knitting Guys!

  16. As usual I am utterly staggered by your progress! It’s beautiful.

    But what’s wrong with Lucy!?

  17. Lisa Mike Jack Della + Cousin Bear says:

    So beautiful! I’m very happy that you’re doing some colorwork as I love to watch how quickly your stranded knitting progresses. Thanks for the vicarious thrills 🙂

  18. Wendy – I love each and every one of your fair isle sweaters and would love to see an entire Wendy Knits pattern book of all of them. I’m not sure if I could ever knit one myself, but your sweaters and color combinations are so inspirational. The waistband alone on Mara is mind boggling and awe-inspiring. Thanks for the motivation!

  19. Wendy,
    I have been looking into Alice Starmore’s book, but I guess it is no longer being published… so the price is too high for me. Do you or anyone have any idea if the book might be republished??

    I love fair isle! I love knitting it because it goes so fast. I love the designs and colors!!

    Now, one more question – how did you decide on your colors and designs?? They work fabulously together, and could use some help in figuring out my own colors with smashing success. And advice??

  20. Wendy – thanks so much for posting your toe-up sock pattern. I tried toe-up from another designer and got little peaks at the toe. I tried yours yesterday and am knitting away past a lovely round toe. I actually found it quite easy because I only know how to do a short row heel and this was just a heel at the other end!


  21. Becky, I have seen most of the Starmore books through inter-library loan. get this– for free!
    Of course, unless you want to part with 300.00.


  22. Beeuutiful sweater! You’re getting me inspired to just try a fair isle…BTW, how many pairs of socks do you own? Bet your sock drawer looks like a candy store!

  23. I do like the color of those black violet socks. I’ve had a couple of hand-dyed yarns that left color on my hands and needles (one from Tracy Bunkers Bonkers yarn) so I’m also curious to hear how the synthrapol works out — hopefully you avoid dark blue feet 🙂

  24. Mara is fabulous but that’s the scariest picture I’ve ever seen of LUCY. ARRGGHHH!!

  25. Thanks belatedly for the birthday greeting! I love your fair isle. I have Oregon in the autumn colorway languishing in my stash, waiting patiently. Because I am a much slower knitter than you, I am looking at a 6-month time commitment, so it is a big decision for me to actually start a fair isle! I have been thinking about it for a few months now, so it is working its way up the queue.

  26. Love the Fair Isle. It’s not my thing, but I envy people who can do it, and do it so well. Besides, wool is impractical in Houston. I’d wear something like that maybe once or twice a year, and never to work (teacher in HS).

    As for the socks- beautiful. The colors are gorgeous. I finished my first pair of your toe-up socks, and I am in love with the pattern. They fit so much better than my top down. I’ve already ripped out a pair of top downs that I plan to do toe up. The yarn, itself, is in my favorite colorway (Cherry Tree Hill, Wild Cherry), but I knew I would probably never wear the socks because they came out too bulky in the instep. I also down sized the pattern to fit my 4 yo so she can have socks like mommy.

    How in the world did you get Lucy to”pose” like that? toooooo cute!!

  27. Isabelle says:

    Mara is inspiring! The socks turned out lovely, too.

    Speaking of socks, when using the “easy toe” construction method, is there a general rule regarding the number of stitches to cast on? In the last episode of my sock experiment, I started with 8 stitches, which was consistent with many of the patterns I’d looked at, but it makes for a long, pointy toe. (In self-striping yarn, it looks very Dr. Suess – amusing in context, but not ideal for all-occasion wear.) Could/should I start the easy toe on, say, 14 stitches, and increase 4 stitches every other round 8 times, to reach a 60-stitch circumference with a broader, shallower toe? (Because I actually enjoy working short rows, I think I’ll always return to your method, but I’m still exploring while I develop my personal sock style.)

  28. Mara looks great. I picked my Starmore fair isle up again last night and for the life of me I can’t remember why I put it down. Such fun.

  29. HEY! You snuck a new WIP onto your list! Is it ready for pictures yet? Please?