My current work in progress:

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


Buttons, Blocking Wires, a Free Pattern, and Socks

Wow! Thank you for all the great resources for buttons you all left in the comments for me. It amazes me that I hadn’t stumbled across most of them in my quest for the perfect button. A few of them I knew about, but the majority were new to me.

If you are in need of buttons, check out yesterday’s comments — there is a wealth of resources there.

I ordered some buttons based on recommendations for sources, and will have a button-off when the time comes to choose one.

So . . . what exactly is the button for?

I’m knitting a kimono jacket from aran weight tussah silk, handpainted by that dye genius Jennifer, of Spirit Trail Fiberworks.


(It photographs bluer than it actually is.)

The yarn has actually been marinating in my stash for a while, waiting for me to find the perfect use for it. One of my favorite article of clothing is a silk kimono jacket (by Chico’s) that looks fabulous over a plain tank dress.


So it occurred to me to try to duplicate the jacket in knitting. Fairly easy to do, as the construction of the jacket is pretty simple.

I’ve got the back done.


The bottom border is seed stitch, and the body is reverse stockinette stitch. While the yarn label recommends a gauge of 18 – 20 stitches to 4 inches, I’m knitting it to a gauge of 16 stitches to 4 inches (on a 5mm needle) because I want the fabric slightly looser and drapier.

Blocking Wires


A few questions in the comments about blocking wires. They are long thin slightly flexible steel wires that you thread through the straight edges of your knitting and pin in place while blocking. By using wires, you ensure that your straight edges are straight, and you don’t have the little points in your blocked piece that you would have if you just pinned it out. Very hand things!

I have two sets of them. Both acquired ages ago. I have several different thicknesses of wires — very handy. You’d want to use the finest wires for very fine laceweight.

I’m afraid I can’t quite recall where I bought my wires, as it’s been a number of years since I got them, but if you google “blocking wires” you’ll find a number of sources, including Knitpicks.

And as PennyT pointed out in the comments:
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.

Speaking of blocking . . . I’ve uploaded the free pattern for the Fir Cone Wrap. You can dowload the pdf file here. It is linked to from my main knitting page as well, in the “free patterns” section. Enjoy it in good health. ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh, I almost forgot — I finished the Cherry Tree Hill Potluck blues/purples socks.


Alert the media.



  1. Lucy get in the catnip again?

  2. Will the Chicos-like jacket pattern be available for sale? I certainly hope so. I adore Chicos.

  3. Do you get 36 hours in your day? If so, where did you sign up for that? I want to sign up too, so that I can get as much knitting done as you do. You’re amazing…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Thanks, Wendy, both for the info on blocking wires and for the Fir Cone Wrap pattern.

    The color of those latest socks is great! It works very well with the wavy leg pattern.

  5. I’m a day late, but I too, make buttons. I’m a potter in real life, it seemed like the thing to do for this knitting hobby. I just posted a few pictures on my blog.

  6. It looks like “Wendy’s Summer of the Blues” to me.

  7. Thank you for the beautiful pattern. I think I found what I want to knit with the Alpaca Roving I have to spin up.

    Your work is beautiful.

  8. I have become addicted to pictures of Lucy. I am inspired by your knitting and designing but I have discovered that I anticipate the bottom of your post to see what Lucy is doing. I too have a friend of the feline persuasion and her name is Pansy.

  9. There should be a whole new category for the Nobel Prize: Bending the Space-Time Continuum with Sticks and String!

    Yikes! You’re scary fast and oh, so talented. Thanks for the pattern. This may be the destiny for my Sea Silk as well. I’ve got the softly golden “Straw” colorway in stash.

  10. Out of curiosity, why did you choose to do the jacket with reverse stockinette on the outside rather than on the inside? I must admit to having a personal aversion to the look of reverse stockinette in variegated yarns, and was wondering what, stylistically, you were aiming for.

  11. An entire jacket of handpainted, iris-colored, tussah SILK?

    I’m fainting here, but I don’t know whether it’s from the gorgeousness, or the contemplation of the sheer expense.

  12. My blocking wires are actually stainless steel welding rods (the kind without the flux). A little bit of file work with a very fine metal file on the ends so they don’t snag is all it takes. You just need to knock the burrs off. Cost was about $15-20 for a dozen wires in a size close to a US1 needle.

    I’ve also seen a nice set of blocking wires (8 medium, 4 fine, 2 very fine and pins) on the KnitPicks site for under $30. That would probably satisfy most needs. You could supplement them with the weights you need the most from the welding supply place.

  13. I bought my blocking wires from Knit Picks and they are fine.

  14. i love this pic of lucy.

    also i cannot wait to see the pic of the finished jacket.

  15. blocking wires are great things to keep handy.. Love the socks and kitty!

  16. Lynn in Tucson says:

    I got my “blocking wires” at Home Depot, per Aidan’s (Mollywobbles) suggestion. They’re probably heavier than a person would want for lace, but for blocking Clapotis, they were perfect (they’re about 6′ long). I believe they’re the wires used for suspended ceilings? Took a bit of looking for them but they’re super cheap.

    And if anyone is in Tucson, I have plenty to share!

  17. Wendy, how do you keep Lucy’s fur in such great condition? It looks like you brush her twenty times a day. Do you use a slicker brush? Or is it MAGIC?

  18. I assume you knit in your sleep, too, or something.

    This week, while I’m on ~vacation~ I’ve finished two dishcloths, quarter of a mitred square baby blanket and part of a small stuffed rabbit.

    That’s it.

    And that silk jacket is fabulous, btw ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Didn’t I see a piece on my local news about those socks last night? I’m sure I did.



  20. Bridget Graham says:

    Thank you VERY much for the Fir Cone Wrap pattern! Bridget

  21. The color of the silk is too gorgeous for words. What a beautiful project.

    I, too, would be lost without my blocking wires. For small projects or for the area above an armhole on a sweater with a fitted sleeve, I use steel dpns. My husband’s great aunt died many years ago and left a box of dpns for lace. No one wanted any of that stuff so I got it all. Woo Hoo!

  22. Thanks for the tips on the blocking wires. Good info mentally filed for later.

  23. Wow! A whole sweater from that tussah silk sounds like a gorgeous (and expensive) thing. I too am amazed at how productive you are. I just can’t imagine how you do it all.

  24. I like the jacket. I’m looking forward to seeing how yours turns out.

    Thanks for putting up the tip on the Welding wire. I was just sitting here wondering if there was anything I could use that was cheaper and didn’t have to be shipped in from somewhere.

  25. Ok I know I’m the LAST person in the world to try out your toe-up sock pattern with the feather-and-fan cuff, but whatcanIsay :p

    IT”S YOUR FAULT!!! Now my laceknitting is set aside and the whole sockknitting sickness has returned and overcome me!! It doesn’t help that i love those self-striping yarns, and handpainted yarns….that look SO great in that pattern…..and oh….what took me so LONG to try those short-row toes and heels????

    I have sweaters and shawls waiting to be knit, and 25 pairs of handknit socks in the drawer!! And ohhhhh it doesn’t help that my new job thinks wearing handknit socks and clogs is just fine…..

    LikeIsaid: It’s all your fault. And your book is on order, BTW.

    You ENABLER!

  26. adamboysmom says:

    When you buy yarn for adding to your stash, how do you know how much to buy? Do you just see something you like, say ‘hey, I will pick up a few of these’ and then look for something to make with it? How do you know what a useful quanitity would be? Is it just years of experience? Or do you have a gift?

  27. theroseherself says:

    Thank you, thank you thank you!! (Fir Cone Wrap, you’re finally *mine*! Woohoo~!)

  28. Be careful with buying wires at the welding supply/hardware store. Some wires (those intended to be worked with machines) come with a thin oil coating. When shopping, be sure to bring a long a white handkerchief or cotton cloth to test that they don’t leave a mark.

  29. Oh that jacket is going to be GORGEOUS!
    Now, for something else entirely: Tara, the sweater. I recently got the book from the library, because, well, my name is Tara and I must be an ego maniac. I really love the cable, but I wondered how wear-able that sweater is, in your opinion. It seems a bit short and I wondered what you thought. I’m thinking of using the cable on a bag or some other garment….just curious as to your feelings on the sweater!

  30. I’m intrigued by the kimono jacket. Is this a pattern available on the ‘net or one of your own designs? I have a few bought patterns and some free ones. Will be interested to see yours’ when it’s done.