My current work in progress:

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


Circular Thinking

Okay, so the 30cm circs aren’t that bad.

Emma in Seattle commented:
Wendy, have you checked out the elastic circular needles? Here’s a link
Maybe the 10″ stretchy circular needle meant for sock knitting will work for the lower sleeves.

Yes, I have seen them. The stretchy circulars only come in size 2.75mm. My fair isle is knitted on 3mm and 3.25mm needles.

I first saw them mentioned a few weeks ago, and was all ready to order one needle to try out. Then I saw that they are currently available in one size only. I use 2mm needles for socks, and as I said, 3 and 3.25mm for fair isle, so the 2.75mm that they are offering is of little use to me. They do state in their FAQs that they may be adding more sizes, so hopefully they will. If they make a size I think I can use, I’ll definitely give them a test run!

Renada commented:
You’ve knit Norweigian mittens on dpns would the fair isle sleeves be that much different?

The difference lies in switching from a circular to dpns, which is what I would be doing on a fair isle sleeve. While there are not many things that mess with my gauge, switching from a circular to dpns does. For the record, I don’t really like knitting Norwegian mittens on dpns, but it is a necessary evil. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hpny Knits asked:
Why not use 2 circs? it’ll make your life so much easier.

Why not? Because as I mentioned in my June 27th entry, I loathe the two circs method. For me, it’s almost as despicable as the magic loop method. Almost.

If you like and use either of those methods and enjoy them, more power to you! They are just not for me.

Christina asked:
I have a question about traditional fair isle motifs: is the XO pattern in your cardigan a traditional one? I ask because it is identical to a vest in “Folk Vests”

Okay, of course I had to go look at Folk Vests to see. ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t see a pattern in Folk Vests that’s identical to the Mara XO pattern, but there are several that are similar.

The Mara XO is a traditional pattern — a lot of the motifs that Starmore uses in her fair isles are. I remember when I was knitting Marina, one of the motifs seemed familar. And I realized it’s very similar to the one in Frogner. Check it out here.

LornaJay asked:
Brief technical query:
The sleeves on Mara appear to be more of a set-in style – but I can’t see any shaping after you’ve picked up the stitches at the armscye to knit down.
Is it cunningly disguised, or is blocking going to solve the “arms in the air” pose?

Apart from the standard decreases down the “seam,” there is no other shaping in Mara’s sleeve. So we’ll see how it turns out.

So, here’s where I am on Mara:


And for Sheila who asked:
When decreasing for sleeves, what is the best way to keep track of your decreases on the chart?

Here’s a picture of my chart:


It’s on a metal board, and the horizontal black magnetic strip marks the current row. The shorter vertical strip marks which is the first stitch of the round. When I do a decrease, I move it to the left. Low tech, yet effective!



  1. Wendy,I looked back at your 2003 link at the Marina green and white. What project was that? Is there another photo of it? The white and green is striking!

  2. POW!!! No 4th of July fireworks can compete with the brilliance of your Mara!

  3. In your shoes I think I’d be considering buying the stretchy needle for the cuffs, when I do fair isle with corrugated rib I find I have to go down a size for the cuffs relative to the other ribbing to get a snug enough fit, I shall be investigating them myself.

  4. Wow that is just beautiful.

  5. Mara’s still lookin’ good! I looooove those magnetic boards; it’s the only way I can keep track of what the heck I’m doing in lace knitting. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Mara is soooo pretty. You should SO wear it on the Fourth of July!

  7. Aww… how nice of Lucy to keep your bag warm for you.

  8. Thanks! I’ve still not managed to get beyond a fairisle swatch, so watching you is inspirational.

  9. Mara is so beautiful! I hope to follow in your footsteps someday. So far, just socks. Did you already comment on using Knitpicks Palette for this type of sweater? Is it sticky like shetland?

  10. I love your site. It is such an inspiration. Looks like that word comes from the word spirtual! I am new to fair isle knitting and I am still working on getting my tension correct. My fanaticism compels me to seek technique details. Norwegian knitting has alot of fleck patterning. How would you handle needle sizing when the pattern calls for repeating rows of; two rows of one colour, then one row of five and one. Would I move up to the correct needle size for that third row? I enjoy reading all your comments out there.

  11. The latest pictures of Mara take my breath away. It’s a work of art. Perhaps worth every agonizing corrugated stitch. I don’t know that I would have the patience or forebearance to even try. You are my hero.

  12. Mara is really looking gorgeous & I agree wholeheartedly with you that using 2 circular is horrendous – I tried & now I am back to my dpns!

  13. Catherine says:

    Wendy –
    This sweater is to die for! The color variation is incredible. Bravo! CMS

  14. It’s gorgeous! I don’t know about wearing it tomorrow, unless for some reason you find yourself in Antarcia, but you know, as always, yes, inspirational!

  15. I think I am working on the project nightmares (not to mention carple tunnel syndrome) is made from. I am working on a heavily cabled chemo cap for my mom, in microspun (for softness and for machine wash/dry) on, wait for it, 16″ circs. I can’t even hold the needles the way I like. I usually hook my right pinky around the needle and there isn’t enough needle to go all the way across my palm. *sigh*. Next one is going to be fair isle, if I can find a fair isle pattern. A girl can’t have too many hats, after all.

    I am shaving my head to “keep mom company” so I have to make twice as many hats-what a shame, eh?

    the pattern for the chemo cap is here ( just in case you want to commiserate.

  16. I am making the project nightmares are made of. A heavily cabled chemo cap from microspun (slippery!) (splitty!) on 16 inch circs. I can feel the carple tunnel building up. I am making progress on it quite quickly after false starts with other yarn. I have my heart set on a fair isle (hopefully argyle) hat next if I can ever find a pattern. I have 2 heads to outfit (am shaving my head to “keep mum company”.

    In case you want to commiserate the pattern is here”


  17. My daughter also lost her hair to that nasty chemo, but she did have a favorite hat. That’s when I started knitting seriously for my own therapy. I have this quandary about steeking and joining the shoulder seams. Everything is clear at the underarm because you have a cast off, but how do you cut open the steek without losing your live stithes at the edge of the shoulder. OK, back to knitting. Approching the underarm of my first fair isle.

  18. I like your method of keeping track of your chart. It looks like something a low-tech gal could really stick to.

  19. Lucy looks proud of her low tech, yet effective mom!

    Just a report about laundering Rowan Calmer. I asked about this awhile back, and am now able to report that one can indeed wash Calmer with no apparent problems. Shrinkage, but no problems . Actually, very little horizontal shrinkage (my swatch went from 4-1/8″ to 4″, but considerable (about 15%) vertical shrinkage. But the swatch still looks and feels great.

  20. Mara is beautiful!
    Happy 4th!

  21. Yeah Mara – You’re beautiful girl! Thanks for this continual inspiration. My Alice Starmore “The Celtic Collection” just came in the mail. Thanks for the motivation for actually making the purchase. You also inspired me (without knowing it, of course) to knit on smaller needles. My current WIP sweater is on US size 4s. Thanks for introducing me to Alice Starmore’s creative brilliance.

  22. A muse on LornaJay’s query: It looks like AS decreased the armscye as for a set-in sleeve, but then picked up the stitches as per a drop-shoulder sleeve. In the books on sweater design I’ve read, drop shoulders have no shaping, unless they’re modified, where they then have a “ledge” to set in slightly, not decreases like this AS sweater. I think it’s a great idea.

    Also: does AS instruct you to pick up all the stitches, or is there a ratio?

  23. Quoted from above “When I do a decrease, I move it to the left. ”

    Don’t you mean move it to the right?

  24. Wendy,
    I love your Mara – very impressive, gorgeous! Your Lucy looks just like my Frosty. About the Size 2 stretchy circulars… I was drooling for them, since I make most of my socks on 2s, but when I got them and tried them, I found the stitches didn’t want to creep back up on the left hand needle very well. There’s too much of a catch there. I’m an English-style right-finger knitter so maybe it’s just the way I squoosh my stitches up the left needle…….I would suggest trying someone’s out first to see if they fit with your knitting style. Great blog!
    Suz in Petaluma

  25. Vicki Maynes says:

    In your book on page 21 is the pattern for the Trellis Lace Scarf. The pattern instructions are fine, but the photo next to the instructions isn’t a photo of that pattern.
    Could you tell me from which pattern that scarf
    is knit?