My current work in progress:

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


Fir Cone Wrap

Thank you so much for all the nice comments about the Fir Cone Wrap!

This morning at “holy-crap-it’s-early o’clock” I unpinned it, pulled out the blocking wires, and released the Fir Cone Wrap from its bondage.

Here it is, being ably modeled by the lovely Gwendolyn.


I am extremely pleased with how this turned out. It’s always something of a crap-shoot knitting lace in a variegated yarn, but the simple all-over pattern seems to be just the ticket for this colorway.


The measurements pre-blocking were 18″ by 56″ and after blocking it grew to 25″ by 66″ — just about perfect for me. I like rectangular shawls to be about as long as I am tall, and I am 65″ tall, so this worked out well.

The Sea Silk blocked beautifully. I soaked it briefly in warm water with Eucalan, then gently squeezed out as much water as possible. I used blocking wires held in place with pins and blocked not too severely. Silk doesn’t have the stretch that wool does, so it didn’t block out as large as it might have if I’d made it with wool. I left it pinned out for about 16 hours. It was bone-dry when I unpinned it, and I was pleased to see that as I pulled the pins out, it didn’t bounce back to a smaller size.

To recap, this wrap was knitted from Handmaiden Sea Silk in the “Paris” colorway, on 3.75mm needles.

I’m putting the finishing touches on the pattern, and I’ll post it as a freebie tomorrow.

I have to say, Lucy was extremely “paws-on” all during the blocking process. As soon as I put the wet shawl down on the carpet, she had flung her furry little body on it. As I was threading the blocking wires through the edges, she was helpfully batting the other end of the wires. And as I pinned the wires in place, she was head-butting my hand.

In short, I couldn’t have done it without her.


Shawls for Beginners

Michelle asked me for recommendations for first shawls and yarns to use.

I think a good shawl for a lace newbie is one that doesn’t have a lot of complicated construction, like knitting on an edgiing after completing the body. So, the pattern for the Fir Cone Wrap will be a good one — the edges are simply garter stitch, knitted as you go. Other good beginner shawls are the Leaf Lace and Flower Basket Shawls, both by the extremely talented Evelyn Clark.

As for yarns . . .

For a first attempt, something heavier than laceweight. One of the nice things about the Evelyn Clark shawls I mention above is that they are written for several different weights of yarn.

If you are unwilling to make a shawl in a heavier yarn because you really want something light and airy, just go up to fingering weight. I’ve knitted a number of shawls from fingering weight wool, and they are beautifully light and airy. The Sea Silk I used for my Fir Cone Wrap is, I think, closer to fingering than laceweight.

Looking For One Perfect Button

And it doesn’t have to be the fifth element.

Okay, peeps, I’ve googled my fingers to the bone. I’m looking for a button. A button that’s 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter, to use in conjunction with a loop as the single button closure for a knitted jacket. The fabric of the jacket is handpainted purple/lavender/blue tussah silk:


I’d love something handmade, or something antique. In my mind’s eye, I see and irregularly-shaped purple shell button, or a one-of-a-kind glass button. Alternatively, an antique filigree or engraved silver button.

I’ve spent a fair amount of valuable knitting time searching for such a button, to no avail. I’ve searched eBay, and a bunch of button sources.

Do any of you know of a source for uber-cool one-of-a-kind buttons? Or do you happen to make one-of-a-kind uber-cool buttons? If so, leave me a comment!


  1. Your shawl is lovely – just lovely. Wear it in good health! Love to Lucy!

  2. Wendy – as always enjoying your parade of beautiful knitting.

    Out of the depths of my computer I have pulled up this site for custom made buttons. Hope that it might help now or later. I have never bought any of them but it looks like something that would interest you.

  3. I don’t know if these of interest

  4. Here’s a few links that hopefully you haven’t seen.

    I love your blog. I’m catching up with the old “issues”. Beautiful work!

  5. This one looks like they allow you to sample buttons for 21 days and return them… looks like lots of potential matches in the inventory too.

  6. Hey Wendy-
    I don’t usually post comments but I just saw this the other day and I thought “now I will HAVE to remember that!!”-I was at Wal Mart of all places looking for something in the crafts depart ment and they had all these accessories for making purses-handles, magnet clasps and…. BUTTONS. Now I know you’re not thinking of a Wal Mart button, but they had these really beautiful, thin, irregularly shaped shell buttons, I think only one in a pkg, that were all a little different from each other b/c they are one-of-a-kind. I was planning on going back when I finish a sweater for my Mom b/c they are the perfect “more than a button” button-the kind that really ” finishes” a piece. So anyway, don’t know if that is helpful or if you have a Wal Mart near you-if not, email me and I could send you one (button, not walmart-haha!)

  7. what about one of the buttons from ?


  8. Totaly beautiful. The color the pattern everything. Lucy looks so cute with her little paws curled up.

  9. Oh wow the shawl came out great. That stitch pattern worked out perfectly for the yarn.

  10. That is SO pretty! I’m dying to work with the sea silk yarn, but can’t find an online retailer that carries it, or has more than two colors in stock. Do you mind sharing your source?

    There are many interesting buttons both in the czech glass and the lacy glass button categories.

    Your shawl is very beautiful!

  12. catbookmom says:

    A knitting friend in New Zealand introduced me to the glorious colors in their paua shells. Paua is a NZ variant of abalone, as I understand it. The colors in paua would be perfect for your jacket.

    I don’t know this vendor, but I found her Etsy shop while googling for paua buttons. Most seem to be boring plain circles, which with the paua colors would be nice, but this is the first vendor I found who works with unusual shapes. Maybe this is a new area to explore.

  13. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Michelle asked me the same question, I told her one of my favorite beginner shawl books (not specifically lace) was Folk Shawls. There are a lot of good basic patterns in there, and even some more complicated ones as one graduates or is ready to try something more challenging.

    Lucy, you are as adorable as always. And please, send out good kitty vibes to Iowa, my mom and dad’s cat Sly has gone missing. He’s a spoiled housecat who got spooked and ran out an temporarily open door when people were carrying a computer in. I’m hoping if all kitties send out good find your way vibes, he may find his way home.

  14. The shawl is gorgeous! I look forward to the pattern, as I like green, I think fir cones would be a good motif.

    For buttons to DIE FOR (although I have only “window” shopped)–antique, celluloid, new, Czech glass, vintage Italian, enamels, metals, etc., etc.

  15. Gotta use Moving Mud for one of a kind glass buttons.

  16. If you want really unusual buttons, you could always try – for glass handmade buttons, made by Lionel Nichols, in London, 1946-66. His daughter is slowing selling his collection. I can’t say I’ve ever bought from her, but I have drooled.

    Lucy, excellent blocking supervision, and I shall be passing on your tips to my own mis-behaved mongrel cats.

  17. Your shawl is beautiful and inspires me to try lace. I checked the Susan Clarke website recommended by a previous reader-absolutely beautiful, unique buttons, but they only sell to wholesellers.

  18. Absolutely gorgeous work. I hope one day my Siamese will be helpful the way Lucy is. Once she served as a yarn snipper in my lap, but unfortunately I wasn’t actually ready to change colours at that point ๐Ÿ˜‰

  19. Hi Wendy- the Ernsts – beautiful, exquisite buttons, I saw them at SMW.
    I love your “dummy” mine are called Fred and Ginger. I particularly like Fred, he’s a man with no head, and therefore, is silent.
    Perfect guy!

  20. WOW. Your shawl turned out beautifully. Love the way the colors work throughout, love the pattern, love everything about it. Very inspiring – even to a non-shawl-knitting-person!

    And your comments section is now a veritable treasure trove of button resources. I’ll have to check those out. Thanks to all who shared!

  21. I second Lorraine’s suggestion. The buttons that Shiela makes are amazing. Plus she’s a super nice lady and her husband is totally cool. I purchased one of their “Organic” buttons for a purse and I’m sooooooo happy. Don’t forget to check out their knitting needles while you’re there. Lifetime repair warrantee on their stuff. Can’t beat that! They make circulars and DPNs too.

  22. Fir Cone Wrap is quite lovely, Wendy. I’m going to put the sea silk on my list of yarns to try out.

    And… I do in fact make buttons. I work with hot glass, making beads and buttons. Send me an e-mail and we can discuss it further!

  23. Jenn Kelly says:

    Just saw that I was suppose to post this in comments but I already sent you an e-mail (sorry). I make glass beads and can make you a custom glass button.

  24. My favourite button store is Button Button in Vancouver, BC. They don’t have a website but here is a link to some info: (scroll down a little) They definitely have vintage buttons and even button covers to protect your buttons when they’re in the wash.

  25. Hunt Country Yarns in Middleburg carries some very simple and lovely buttons that look like sea glass. They are made in Africa (I think) to create sustainable income for the village. I bought some there about a year ago- still haven’t found *THE* project for them though. Good luck!

  26. Raye, mother of the other Capricorn Wendy, in NYC says:

    Hi Wendy,
    A few years ago I found Bonie Maresh at Stitches.

    She makes handmade glass buttons which are out of this world. I don’t think she has her own website, but uses retailers when she’s not selling directly at conventions or trade shows. I think she’s based in East Falmouth, Massachusetts.

  27. Buttons you say? Try: Dana at or JJ Handworks who Dana often recommends at

  28. OK, I’m going to have to make that shawl.

    Dammit, woman, I’m spending this week of vacation cleaning up the house, clearing out the crap and reducing the “to do” lists and you do this to me.

    I intend to take it personally.

  29. I see Mary Pat beat me to the punch with Moving Mud. I recently bought quite a few of their uniquely beautiful glass buttons and closures at Stitches. You won’t regret it, especially because the owners will personally match your fiber. Just drop them an email to set it up.

  30. Wendy, thanks for the info on the shawl patterns. I’ve decided to attempt the leaf lace and am taking your advice. I will go with a slightly heavier weight yarn this first time around. Do you always block on the floor? I guess it’s probably about the only area large enough to spread out a shawl.

  31. Love the shawl, it turned out really well.

    Eunny Jang has a pretty good beginner’s stole too. Print O’ the Wave.

    I hope you find your button. Wish I could help.

  32. very purrty ;o)

  33. I have a friend that does custom pieces in dicroic (sp?) glass. I would be happy to ask her about buttons.

  34. I work in a yarn shop and we have some one-ofs that are felted with ribbons, etc. I will get the contact for the artisan who makes and get the info to you later in the week.

    Love the new shawl, I’ve got to get me some sea silk.

  35. Absolutely beautiful shawl! I am in awe! Wish I could help with the button but it lokks like you have lots of suggestions without any from me!

  36. Hi

    so, I don’t usually leave comments, but a knitter in need is always something I’m willing to help out with. Although I admit that i am farily new in the button making game, i have a few glass one’s that I’ve made lying around my room. If you happen to be in dire dire need of something just give me a good description and if I don’t have something of the like around I’m sure I could whip one up for you.

    otherwise, happy knitting!

  37. Hi

    so, I don’t usually leave comments, but a knitter in need is always something I’m willing to help out with. Although I admit that i am farily new in the button making game, i have a few glass one’s that I’ve made lying around my room. If you happen to be in dire dire need of something just give me a good description and if I don’t have something of the like around I’m sure I could whip one up for you.

    otherwise, happy knitting!

  38. I love the wrap, it’s very beautiful. I have never heard of blocking wires…is this something you purchased at a LYS? Or did you make them?

  39. Judy in MN says:

    I need to get on my torch anyway… Let me see what I can come up with in the way of one-on-a-kind handmade glass buttons. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Judy in MN

  40. What a beautiful shawl. I am looking to make a wrap from Wool in the Woods Helix. What type of a stitch do you suggest? I’m new to lace, but would really like to try something with this beautiful yarn. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

  41. Love the shawl.I make buttons from polymer clay. If you have something specific I could try and make it for you.

  42. Absolutely GORGEOUS – I’m drooling – love it, love it, love it!!!!

  43. Wheeeeee…….what fun……not only “insider” secrets on shawls, but lots of wonderful sites for buttons…….thanks to everyone……and doncha love an assistant that is furry & helpful when you just didn’t know you needed help?……

  44. for buttons – have you looked at

    and..if you are ever in Portland Oregon – a ‘must go to’ is the Button Emporium – a downtown shop that is ALL buttons — amazing, boggling, beautiful!

  45. Fire Mountain Gems has a fab selection of buttons.

    Here is a link to one button I like:

    and check out this link to a pattern for tiny barbie doll socks:

  46. Wendy, I so love to see you knit lace because all your beautiful lace knitting in the summer of 05 made me knit lace. And I could not wait to see what you had made next…
    About the buttons, there is a site for doll supplies and they have some fabulous buttons, maybe not the kind you are looking for now, but worth a look anyway sometime

  47. have you looked at fire mountain beads? they have unique beads that may work as buttons.

  48. Your shawl is beautiful! What a simple, yet so very elegant project.
    I have a question for you – what is your source for lace blocking wires? I’ve used extra long bamboo skewers in conjunction with pins, as well as, some heavier wire from a small ornamental easel that the spouse took apart for me. The bamboo isn’t often long enough and the wires are a bit heavy. Thanks!

  49. How about an adventure in button acquisition? I have found the coolest vintage buttons at flea markets and/or antique shows. I don’t limit myself to just buttons, either. Check out the costume jewelry for one-ofs like nifty pins, earrings, parts of necklaces.

  50. I don’t know whether I have commented here before, but I had to say that the shawl is very beautiful! So is Lucy, she looks just like my friend’s cat Fifi.

  51. Love, love, love the fir cone shawl – I’ve been itching to get my hands on some seasilk!

    I make glass buttons for the bags I knit & felt – they’re suitable for garments too. I can custom-make you a button specifically for your jacket. I’ve got a variety of glass in stock & can sort something out to compliment your jacket.

    Email me if you would like something made.

  52. Iยดll join the chorus by saying what an absolutely lovely shawl, the combination of the pattern and the variegated yarn could not be more perfect and this is said by someone who does not like variegated shawls – but this one, hm, want to buy the yarn, but must not, but well…hope you state how many skeins you used. Temptation whispers. Give Lucy a nice extra pat.

  53. My favorite button store is Tender Buttons in NYC. I googled to find out if they have a web site, but alas no. But they do have a Chicago location. Perhaps if you phoned with your request, they might help you. If you have plans to visit either city, then consider a stop in one of the stores.

    My first shawl was from the Myrna Stahman book (and is also in the Knitter’s Magazine book of shawls and scarves), and the instructions were so clear that I had no trouble with the attachment of a border. I used the yarn called for (from Haneke), which no longer seems to be available–but it was fingering weight and lovely to work with. The shawl was fun to knit and not terribly complicated, although I did some serious ripping at times. Does anyone know if Haneke is still in business?

    Your shawl is lovely, Wendy. Sea silk is now on my wish list too.

  54. I see you are well covered in the “where to find the button you’re looking for department” so I have nothing to add there … otherwise I would perhaps go out and rummage through our barn or ask the woodchuck out there if he’s seen anything that would work.

    The wrap is beautiful, of course.


  55. Has anyone recommended Sheila Ernst yet? Her stuff is gorgeous and most of her buttons are over an inch.

  56. I’m in awe, once again, Wendy. This shawl is elegant and inspiring. I’ve just bought some beautiful glass button by Sheila Ernst. I got them from Lisa Souza to go with some of her handpainted yarn. As for blocking wires, I read somewhere that stainless steel welding wire works perfectly and is much less expensive than the ones designated for blocking. So I bought some and used them last week on the Icarus shawl. They worked perfectly.

  57. Could you explain a bit about blocking wires — how they work, what they are used for, etc. — for those of us who aren’t familiar with them? Thanks!

  58. Thank you as always for sharing so much of your creative bad self with all of us! The shawl is so lovely and wow, blocked beautifully. We await the “bathroom” shoot!

  59. The shawl is beautious! I really love that colorway. Here’s a place that may be of interest to you if you have not already been there.

    distinctivebuttons dot com has some unusual things. If not, when I get home from work, I’d be happy to go through mine! I have tons…

  60. I make fine silver jewelry (one of a kind, by hand, all designs straight outta my head) and have taught someone how to make silver buttons in the past. It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that I could design something for you. It would be fine silver – but I antique everything so it would have the right look. Take a look at my site (the Jewelry by Christine section) and contact me if you are interested. My work is VERY organic so if that is your thing, we can work together. Also, I am in Northern Virginia so not too far from you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  61. Tender Buttons. Right? But you knew that. Right? Tender Buttons. In NYC. Here’s a linky to a review:

    As always, such beautiful, motivating work you do!

    Question: Any yarn from KnitPicks you might recommend for your Melody sweater?

  62. Lucy is obviously an excellent knitting snooper-visor – the shawl is lovely!

  63. I bought a button at G-Street, 7 corners that sounds like just the thing. I will e-mail a picture of it to you. It is a glass swirl with hints of the colors you used. I bought 2. One for the pentagonal purse from Modular Knits and one for insurance since the button is glass.

  64. Hey, thanks for the fabulous shawl pattern! I’m still learning to knit lace, and have some gorgeous yarn that I’ve not been sure what to do with yet – needs to be simple enough for a lace idiot like me. I think this may just be the thing for it!

    Does your Lucy have any advice for a new Knitter’s Kitty? My little friend Kumba is coming to live with me on Friday, and since he’s still just a baby, he’s new at all of this. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  65. Hi Wendy…..and thanks to all who suggested my buttons in their comments. I would be pleased to make you a special button, to order…size, colors, etc. for your jacket. We could even warp it a bit and make it a shape all your own. Just let me know.

  66. Why don’t you make one yourself out of Fimo clay? You can then do it just the way you like.

  67. In the past, I have found some exceptionally nice buttons at Curran Designer Fabrics in McLean. Its on the second level on the Old Dominion Drive side of the mall.

  68. Aw, Wendy, it’s BEAUTIFUL! Really, really lovely! It’s interesting how your pre-blocking photo shows the color pattern (the vague, big dots), but the finished photo makes it appear much less noticeable.


  69. My source for one-of-a-kind buttons is local, but they also sell online. The link below is to shell buttons, but they have others.

    Silk Road

  70. It’s done! And it’s just lovely. If only I weren’t sick to death of knitting Fir Cone lace just now… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Good luck with the button. It’s out there, somewhere, on the Internet. No doubt about it.

  71. – groovy pewter buttons

  72. Did anyone else mention They have some pretty interesting buttons.

  73. We are all out here just giddy to help. I will never need to seek a button again! You’ve got the best ‘mignons’

  74. Heather, at A Chance to Knit, makes fabulous silver jewelry, and also makes beautiful buttons, solid silver.

    Fabulous with silk!

  75. Your Fir Cone Lace wrap is beautiful. I just love it. Thanks for making the pattern available. That may be just the ticket for some Claudia’s Handpainted that I have at home. And I like the reverse stockinette for the jacket you are making. I tend the like the stockinette, but with the yarn you’re using, I think that’s a good choice.