My current work in progress:

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



Hey, it’s actually somewhat cold in Northern Virginia today (compared to earlier this week when we had record high temperatures). It was in the 20s (Fahrenheit) this morning for my commute. But because it is in the upper 70s to lower 80s in my office, I did not go nuts with the wearing of the knitted garb. Nothing like a 50+ degree difference between the outside and inside temperatures to really mess you up.

Shortly before I got home from work today, some power lines were downed accidentally by the power company a couple of blocks from where I live. When I got home I could see that the power had been out, but it was on then, and has been since then. But I just got an email from the city stating that a “warming center” in a local rec center had been established for residents in my area who were without power due to the accident. So I am feeling really lucky right now! Brrrrr! I hope they get the problem fixed quickly so the unlucky people without power aren’t displaced for too long (the email estimated that power would be restored around midnight tonight).

ETA: A couple of you pointed out that people without electricity would have a hard time getting the email. You can sign up for email alerts as text messages to cell phones too. So people with cell phones but no electricity would get ’em. ๐Ÿ™‚

I subscribe to all emergency alerts in both email and cell text message formats. It’s been very useful from time to time!

I got some new toys in the mail yesterday that were timely indeed: a Knitpicks chart keeper and a Knitpicks options needle set. I had offered both these as gift suggestions (along with a lot of other stuff) to my holiday gift-givers, so waited until after Christmas/my birthday to order them. They took freaking forever to get here — but judging from the tracking information on the package, the postal service seemed to have sent it back once and it was re-shipped. Gotta love the postal service.

Anyhow, my chart for the Maltese shawl went on the chart keeper immediately. I like how you can stand it up and snap the little strap to keep the thing standing open like an easel, then unsnap it, close it and re-snap it to secure it.


While I no longer know anyone who thinks it is cute and/or funny to screw with my row counter or the magnetic row finder on my chart keeper (or to suddenly reach out and pull my needle out of my knitting, for that matter), I still like the idea of securing the chart within a portfolio. While it does not matter much for the 6-row chart of the body of this shawl, there will be other future situation where I will find this quite useful.

Ah, the options needle set. I saw Margaret’s set in person last autumn, and was quite impressed with the smoothness of the join and the flexibility of the cord, hence my desire for my own set. I ordered 40- and 60-inch cables as well, so I’d be set for large lace knitting.

As the body of the Maltese shawl is not terribly wide, I put the 4.5mm tips on a 24-inch cable and I’m happy as a clam. I had started the shawl on my Inox needle, but even after a bit of manipulation, the cable on the Inox needle was stiff enough to annoy me. I switched to a Lantern Moon ebony 32-inch circular, but the tip is a tad too blunt. The Knitpicks needle is perfect — nice flexible cable and very pointy tip. I was a tad concerned about the needle being too slippery, but the Kidsilk Haze is not what I would call a slippery yarn, so no problems so far. Ask me again if I use the Knitpicks needle with a slippery silk yarn.


Ah, the Maltese shawl! A bit more knitting on it was accomplished.


A couple of you asked if this was the project that L-B and I were discussing that requires 5 balls of Kidsilk Haze. Actually, no. While this does indeed call for 5 balls of Kidsilk Haze, this is not the project we were discussing. That’s a future “to-do.” ๐Ÿ™‚

Carol B. asked:
Did you try the provisional cast-on from the back of the book where you tie the working yarn and waste yarn together, and pick up loops of working yarn from alternate sides of the waste yarn? It’s pretty cool, once you get the hang of it. And no unzipping of crochet loops!

Nope — I really like the crochet chain provisional cast-on. I like unzipping the crochet loops. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sock Questions

Becky asked:
How do you get your two socks to match without knitting them at the same time? Do you count rows or just hold them up and compare? Do you sometimes have one come out bigger or longer than the other – what do you do to fix it?

I don’t count rows, unless I’m knitting a specific pattern, like feather and fan, for example. Then, of course, I count the number of repeats and make ’em match. If it’s a plain stockinette sock, I measure with a ruler. Doing that, I’ve never had any problem with mis-matched sizes in socks.

EricaLynn asked:
I have been wondering, how much yarn does it usually take you when you make knee socks? I have a skein of 550 yards that I’d like to use, but I am afraid of running out.

Well, it depends on the yarn. And the length and girth (heh! I said girth!) of the leg you are knitting the kneesock for. I’ve only ever knit two pair of kneesocks, so I’m not what you would call an experienced kneesock-knitter. Anyone else have any guidelines?

Lucy Sez


Momma caved and turned the heat on last night. But maybe if I fluff myself up and look chilly, she’ll turn it up a bit.


  1. I’m glad you & Lucy have power! I find your appraisal of the KnitPicks needles helpful, now I have an alternative if the Inox needles start to annoy me.

  2. I got a set of options for Christmas, and I love them, except that I keep stabing my thumb with the tip of one.

  3. Last I saw, they’re predicting SNOW for DC within the next few days. I immediately thought how you would appreciate snow to be able to wear a wooly lovely!

  4. Wait, someone who liked to pull your needle out? That someone had better not be an adult is all I’m saying… Grrrrrrr!

  5. If you’re knitting your knee-socks toe up, 550 yards should be more than enough (unless you are the jolly green giant, or knitting at 11st/in, etc.) If you’d like a little more security, dig out (or buy) a skein of yarn that matches to use as your leg cuffs in case they come out a wee bit too short!

  6. Wendy, thanks so much for answering my sock question so quickly! I guess when doing stockinette socks I’ll stick to measuring instead of counting rows – it’s easier and I’ve learned the hard way that counting doesn’t always work.

    I like the chart keeper too! My current chart is big so I have it spread across both sides, but am looking forward to using it in the manner you have pictured on a future pattern.

  7. Kidsilk Haze is not what you would call a slippery yarn??! Wow. I did my first Kidsilk Haze project a couple months ago and it was the most slippery, difficult to work with stuff I had ever encountered! I tried knitting it on my Options set and was ready to pull my hair out! I have vowed never to work with it again. You are clearly a better woman than I!

  8. My boys used to pull my needles out, I don’t think Jake was even born yet. I ended up putting the knitting away for a couple years because I didn’t want to be furious with the kids over projects I could only knit a round or two each night without falling asleep. Three under the age of four will do that to you.

    The shawl looks gorgeous I’m awaiting 3 balls of kidsilk haze in jelly to do the one on the cover.

  9. so, um, do computers run on solar where you are? How on earth would a person whose electricity was out get an email about a warming center? Or am I missing something?

  10. I just finished my first (successful) pair of socks and liked the way I solved the matching sock issue. I got a packet of coiless safety pins. On the completed sock I put a pin in a stitch every ten rows, then it was easy to keep track of how many rows done on the second sock by putting in safety pins as I went along.

    As for the email on the warming centers… how many folks without power have email?

  11. I have that chart holder and I love it! Keeps everything a lot neater when I schlep everything to the office. Only problem I have is that I have to refold the paper every so often if the pattern is too large. On the other hand – I’m swapping my Knitpicks needle set with another gal. They are just too pointy for me.. they kill my finger point which tends to push the end. I’ve tried and just can’t use them.

  12. Wow, I am glad the power did not go out here in Sacramento this last week. It is record breaking cold here (nights of low 20’s & teen’s with the wind chill). All the plants are dead and we blew out the main water pipe to my mom’s casita. We Californians didn’t have a concept of windchill until now. I haven’t even been this cold skiing in Tahoe. Even my husband whines about the cold and he is from Chicago. At least I have 11 kitties to keep me warm.

    Comment about the Knit Pick Options needles. Be careful using them in the humidity. I took my set on vacation to Cancun in November. After using them on the beach to knit, the needle tips became discolored and rough. I was able to make them smooth by buffing them with beeswax. It is possible someone (above referenced husband) may have touched them after drinking a key lime pie martini that we made on the beach, as the bucket hat I was knitting had a faint smell of lime juice. The other needles in the case were fine, but the a/c in the room keeps the humidity down. Anyway, I emailed KnitPicks and they had no other reports of problems. I have not had a previous problem, but Sacramento is a dry climate. Will be interested to try them on our next trip Florida or Mexico. Anyway, I really like the needles and the convenience of having all of the sizes in one place. With the extra sets of cables and end caps, you can work on multiple projects with the same size needle or you can buy extra pairs of needle tips in frequently used sizes. Also larger size tips are available then in other sets. The chart keeper is great too. I just wish they would make a 16″ cable (KnitPicks said they have no plans of manufacturing them). By the way, I hated my set of Denise needles, so I was reluctant to by this set, but am really glad I did.

  13. Clearly, Lucy is freezing! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I had not seen a chart keeper before, but it looks like something that would be really useful. I may have to look into one, since my BD is in a couple of months.

    Wow, is that Kidsilk Haze pretty!

  14. I like KnitPicks needles, too; very pointy. However, have you had trouble with the flexible length separating from the joint? I have and it’s frustrating. Your chart stand reminds me of a contraption I used when I was an assistant many, many, MANY years ago. Is that a Knit Visualizer chart on it? The software Franklin and Marilyn reviewed?

  15. Kat…

    Maybe if we all band together to ask them for what we want, they’ll listen. I’ll try to remember to ask for 16″ cable lengths whenever I order anything.

    I would like for them to include 2.25 mm needles in the classic circs and dpn’s, because that’s what I usually get gauge on for a lot of sock patterns.

  16. The Maltese looks great! I know I’ll soon cave and buy the book. That’s not a bad thing really. Aren’t the Options great? I just love mine! Glad you and Lucy are warm and lit.

  17. I may have to buy one of the chart keepers. How do you like it? The Maltese shawl is gorgeous even before you block it!

  18. I love my Options set and my chart keeper too. I don’t know how I ever lived without them before. I would love a larger sized chart keeper though for those projects requiring multiple or large charts. Maybe someday my wish will come true. Beautiful lace, by the way!

  19. Poor Lucy!!! She’s so cold her eyes are crossing a bit – have mercy Wendy!!

    (though I’m a bit of a heat Scrooge too!)

  20. I have learned using your toe-up pattern that my foot is one hand length from toe to where I need to start thinking about the heel. From there, I can go one hand-width high. As long as I use the same hand, I’m okay. No need to carry the ruler with me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. My cats have a message for Lucy:
    Our momma turned on the heat but only today! Geesh you’d think she thought our fur would keep us warm!.

    Yes, I finally turned the heat on -= but with great sadness as I loved how little gas I used last month.

    oh well, it goes off in a few hours! And then I dive under the electric blanket!

    Boy your morning commute must be COLD!

    I am thinking of getting that pattern holder too… had hoped someone would get it too.

  22. You think that’s cold, you should move to Utah where it got up to maybe 11 F today. (I know, I know, it’s the South; I used to live in the woods behind Kilmarnock, VA.) Congrats on your knitpicks needles. I had bought one size to try out and loved them, but was going to hold off getting the whole set until Mother’s Day or something. But then my friend got them for Christmas and showed them off at her holiday party. I couldn’t stand it. I just got mine, too. Something I really like about them is that the cables are so flexible. You can actually curl them up in a pouch for storage without having to run them under hot water before using them.

  23. Glad to see you like the chart keeper, that’s on my wish list.

  24. no kidding about that nova weather! apparently, it was 70 degrees here while i was on vacation in florida and california. meanwhile florida and california were having cold spells, and now, i return to this cold weather in virginia. maybe it’s me?

  25. Thanks for bringing my question to everyone’s attention, I did get a little advice about the knee socks. I remembered seeing your wild thing socks, which is why I posted my question here. I’d really love a set of those options needles myself, I’m hoping for a set for my birthday!

  26. I’ve been thinking about getting the KP Chart Keeper. I think it’s going to go on my “to buy” list now!

  27. Hi, I have the chart keeper and the options set. I love both of them. I did inquire about smaller needles and a 16″ cable. The company did respond and their answer made sense. Currently the connections they use for the set would be too large for the smaller needles. They also said that the length of the needles would not work with a 16″ cable. In the past, I have noticed when I buy a needle in 16″ length, the actual shaft of the needle is shorter. They would like to do it, but it’s just not feasible at this time. That’s the response I got. I hope this helps.

  28. People would actually reach other pull the needle from your knitting? Please tell me these were children and not adults.

    Looks like it’s getting cold everywhere all at once! Now granted, I live in Canada, so we routinely have polar bears in our streets (:p), so maybe I can’t complain too loudly.

    The Maltese Shawl’s looking good!

  29. You have revolutionised my sock knitting, thank you so much, I loathe , no , LOATHE , grafting stitches together , and was (almost) , thinking of BUYING socks, and then, I found your toe up pattern, I just love it to pieces, it is the best ever and I am now happily knitting away . The bohus is next on the needles and my copy of Victorian knitting is on it’s way from Amazon ,only one problem, we can’t get knit picks to deliver to UK , otherwise I am a very happy bunny thanks to your blog . Bless you .

  30. I want to echo annie’s comment about sock knitting. I love it now that I know how to do the toe up method. Thank you (and my daughter thanks you too, I just keep casting on new pairs for her).

    I have a question about lace knitting. I’m doing the Icarus Shawl from Interweave knits. THe yarn I’m using is lace weight, and I’m working on a size 0 needle, should I go up a little? The stitches are very compact. I imagine your answer will be to the effect of do what you want, but I figured I’d ask anyway.


  31. Hey Lucy … stay warm girl.


  32. Just a note about power outages, as we just had a 42-hour one. Cell phones can’t be used much if they’re going to survive not being recharged for 2+ days.

    And knitting by candlelight or flashlight means a very simple project in yarn/needle contrasting colors. Just sayin’

  33. Hi Wendy. Your finished Bohus is just amazing. Congrats on a job very well done. I’m about 1/2 way through the yoke on mine (I’m making the Dark Forest cardigan) and it is a lot of fun. Solveig’s pattern is so clear.

    I received the Knitpicks catalog and was eyeballing their Knitpick needles AND the chart keeper you just got. I own Turbos in every size and length. The Knitpicks are tempting because the tips look pointier than the Turbos. Do you find them a little pointier or a lot more pointier – – and all the way up in size? I find I’m o.k. with the Turbo smaller needles (but sill would like a pointier tip) but when I go up in sizes the tips become even more blunter – blahh! I’m also reluctant because of the join – – does it come unscrewed while you are working?

    Thank you!!!

    P.S. Wow – – just turning your heat on now? I get cold so easily and especially my hands – – can’t have that while your knitting! I have a little space heater that I place in front of me while I knit and all my kitties gather around to sit in front of it too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. I, too, love the Knitpicks needles. Pointy is good in my book. And the cable is nice and flexible. Never thought I’d find anything better than Addi’s, although I still love my wooden dpns.
    We’ve got the woodstove loaded down at our house :~)

  35. Ooo, KnitPicks Options! I got a set for Christmas, and loved them so much I prompty ordered their DPNs in three different sizes. The pointy tips are the *best!

    And I know what you mean about the weather…it’s been like Florida here in Georgia, and then we go and –bam!– it’s 30 degrees and plummeting. Sheesh!

  36. So many things to comment on! I chuckle every time the football announcer guy says “penetration.” Juvenile/gutter humor gets to me every time. :o)

  37. Your shawl is looking so beautiful. I like that the Options set isn’t so slippery that you can’t use it to knit a mohair/silk blend. Now, if only Knitpicks would take money orders from Canada.

  38. I just got my Options, also. I LOVE ’em!

    Glad your power was on….Wouldn’t want Lucy’s tootsies to get cold!

  39. I, too, have the Options set. I ordered everything and like it a lot. My only complaint is that there is no 16″ cord. Maybe they’ll rectify it one day.

    By the way, if you ever see Shelley (Purl Side of the Moon), please tell her Hi from me. She hasn’t updated her website in many months. I hope that she’s okay.

  40. Ann in CT says:

    Not only did they mess with your row counter they, gasped, pulled your needles out?! I had to read that sentence twice. Never thought I’d see such horror on your blog. With friends like those, who needs enemies?

  41. The cold has made it here too. Still no snow though. ๐Ÿ™

    Love the pattern holder. It looks really easy and nice to use. I have never tried the Inox or the Knitpicks kneedles. It is good to know that they might be an option one day.

  42. Hello Wendy! I just want to let you know that your blog keeps me very entertained(and thinking about knitting)while I am at work. I do have a question, who is L-B? I read about her on your blog and have seen the name while cruising some others. I was just curious and there is not a blog linked to the name. Just wondering. Thanks for the entertainment!

  43. so, whats the big deal with rowan kidsilk haze? I live in Montana and don’t have access to any rowan products so I don’t get the obsession. I’d see about ordering some, but alas, don’t have a credit card with which to order any.