My current work in progress:

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


Lace Musings

As you all probably figured out, I recently got my hands on a copy of Victorian Lace Today. I received it as a birthday gift a couple of weeks ago.

I am quite delighted with this book. While there are (of course) several projects that I don’t like, there are far more that I do like and that I can see myself making. The book itself is lovely, with lots of beautiful location photos and a lot of interesting text on lace knitting in Victorian times. There’s a great section in the back about designing your own lace project. I think the author did a great job with this book.

This started me thinking about what I like in a lace project. I like symmetry and motifs that “go” together. I realized recently that I, for the most part, don’t like traditional Shetland-style shawls. I find a lot of them to be way too “busy.” I feel there are too many different patterns in one piece and to my eye they don’t really “go” together. I can certainly appreciate the incredible skill that goes into Shetland lace knitting, but, for the most part, I’m not interested in knitting one myself.

I have done some Shetland lace — pretty much my first lace project was a Shetland lace wedding handkerchief done in cobweb weight wool on size 0000 needles. (There’s a photo of it here.) But I don’t think it’s really very pretty. The Tina Shawl is a Shetland lace shawl, but I think the designer, Dorothy Siemens, did a particularly excellent job of picking motifs that worked well together and not overloading it with too many different patterns. Ditto for Sivia Harding’s Shetland Garden shawl, which uses Shetland motifs in a Faroese style shawl.

So, anyhow, what it boils down to is that I think I prefer Victorian lace to Shetland lace. Just my own personal preference.

(This, of course, did not prevent me from ordering Sharon Miller’s new book about Shetland Hap shawls. I am nothing if not inconsistent.)

Speaking of Victorian lace, I made precious little progress last night because a certain little someone:


was feeling all needy and snuggly, so much of the evening was spend in playing with and cuddling said certain little miss.

Gee, do you suppose that had anything to do with the temperature in my home? Maybe I need to shove the heat up a bit more? Not that I mind having Lucy happily snuggled up with me when I’m home, but I wouldn’t want the dainty little princess to be uncomfortably cold, ya know?

Here’s the state of the lace:


There were a couple of questions about the Knitpicks options needles. No, I’ve not had any problem with the cable unscrewing from the needle. And yes, the tips are very, very pointy. I’m using a 4.5mm needle on this project, which is a U.S. size 7, and I’m executing p2tog tbl on the Kidsilk Haze with no problem. I can’t see me doing that with an Addi Turbo.

Hey, look! I finished one giant clown sock!



  1. Wow! That IS one giant sock! I had thought you were kidding.

    Thanks for showing the chart keeper – I’ve joined the Forest Path Stole KAL and think this will make a prudent investment.

    Have you thought about a heating pad for Lucy’s favorite place? It might be cheaper than heating the entire apartment.

  2. I didn’t realize Sharon Miller had a new book. I purchased the patterns for Tina and the Shetland Garden Shawl after seeing them on your blog. I enjoyed reading about your musings about lace, I will be sure to look up Sharon’s new book.

  3. I just got my copy of Victorian Lace Today and I LOVE it. I mean, I’ve only flipped through it briefly, but I just want to knit everything! I think you’re right about the patterns in each shawl “going” with each other. One of these will soon become my first real lace project, and I can tell I’m going to have a really hard time picking which one.

  4. I’ve heard that those who have trouble with their kp options have a recalled(-ish) set. There were a couple batches that are faulty. All you’ve got to do is call them and they will send you out a new cable. I’m far too lazy to call them up. I found the greatest invention ever- skin safe crazy glue. It fixes all my kp option needs

  5. It’s the 32″ cables that were bad in the set. A friend of mine was having problem with the 32’s coming unscrewed from the tips. In my set, the 32’s wouldn’t sit in the needles. The post was a tad too wide.

    We both called KP and they rushed out new cables ASAP, free of charge. Neither one of us have had any problems with the new cables whatsoever.

    Just an FYI for all your great readers out there!

  6. Hee hee – for a second, I thought the clown sock was on your sock blocker and just really spaciously sized. Wait, maybe it is…

  7. Hi Wendy- Thank you so much for this post. I just bought Victorian Lace Today also and I want to make many of the projects. The thing is I have never made lace before and even when I started with the easiest one in the book (and it was a swatch too boot) once I got through the pattern repeats I always had an incorrect number of stitches left over. Usually what happened (more times than I care to mention)is I would work the first 2 stitches (edge),knit the specified # of repeats and then there were no stitches left to work the last 2 edge stitches. Any thoughts? I have triple checked all the instructions and diagrams. help! I want to make lace!

    Also about the Options needles- when they first came out the cables were wonky, and Knit Picks recalled them. If you (or in this case your reader)contacts them, Knit Picks will replace the cables. Thanks!

  8. I love Lucy’s attempt at an innocent look. And that sock is huge!!! Does your brother have clown shoes to go with his feet?

  9. I love the book Victorian Lace Today and already made the Spider’s Web Hexagon. The pattern was perfect, no errors that I found. I really like the one you’re doing.

  10. Oh I like the clown socks a lot. I have a question for you about them, in fact. Is there enough yardage with the Opal 6-ply DK weight skein for your pair of clown socks? I am thinking that my hubby deserves a pair of socks but his wide, size 13 feet intimidate me as far as yardage goes!!

  11. I think Lucy could use that clown sock as a sleeping bag!

    Lovely, lovely lace!

  12. Poor Lucy! Cold AND neglected!

    In the picture of the lace you posted, I love how there is a slight hint of pink (at least on my monitor). Is that how the Kid Silk Haze really looks in person?

  13. That is a very large sock! The lace is looking wonderful. Makes me want to try lace again! (I’ve tried lace several times, it always ends with me wanting to hurl it across the room)

    Lucy is looking very skritch-able!

  14. Hmmm, that sock reminds me of the giant “husband socks” I knit for Socktoberfest! And yeah, maybe little miss is a tad chilly. Or she could have a furball. I know it’s cold in my house because my Pagan-kitty wants to sleep with me. And I know she has a furball because she gets really needy when she does!

  15. Yep. I cannot cable w/o a needle on my current aran ’cause it’s on Addi’s. Maybe I should get more Knitpicks needles, eh?
    Pretty lace!

  16. HOLY S***! That is one big sock!

    Beautiful lace too!

    Keep that puddy cat warm… maybe a nice warm WOOL blankie…?

  17. Glad to hear your happy with the knitpicks needles. SI just ordered a set for my friend’s birthday. Now share with us if you will, what size are clown feet?

  18. I had trouble with the options cables, too. One was a 40″ and one was a 32″. The longer wass purchased separately from the set, and I was told that they had problems with the first batch. I had the cable pulling out of the metal threaded end in both cases. They did replace them, but would only ship the replacements to my MIL, who purchased the set for my birthday. Bummer, because my MIL is out of the country til February. But they wouldn’t “bend the rules”.
    BTW, I tried the super glue. Didn’t hold.
    I love the needles though.

  19. Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

    And that’s a biiiiiiiiiiig sock.

    I don’t think I’ve ever found a knitting book in which I was completely delighted with all of the patterns. Do you think such a thing exists? I know there have been numerous books where I like most of the patterns, but all? I think I might almost be disappointed if I liked all of them because then there would have to be something wrong with the book ;>

  20. I’m positively in love with my Options needles as well. I even bought their circulars in #2 and #1 for my socks. So far, I love everything about them.

  21. I love my knitpicks needles…but you do have to use the little pin (ok, any pin works…safety, straight pin, whatever is handy), to tighten the needle REALLY tight. Then it doesn’t unscrew. If you don’t, the motion of knitting with joggle it loose (this is they way of the world, when you have metal screwed into metal). But with the pins, it’s easy to really tighten them, and easy to loosen them again. And pointy needles…oh so pointy! I love them!

  22. Such a sweet kitty. She needs her laptime!

    I’d love to know what your favorite patterns in the Victorian book are 🙂

  23. Doncha worry! Our little babies-in-fur-coats are plenty warm in their natural fur coats. My Puma insists on my full attention when I’m knitting; maybe that’s why I have so little progress.

  24. Let’s see… I need one more birthday gift for your brother Dave. Checking eBay now for “Giant Clown Shoes.”

  25. That’s one huge sock!
    The lace looks wonderful

    (you have the same laptop as I do ^^)

  26. cold cold cold, and i know its not just me even though i have the heat dish going all night long i have kitties climbing under the down blankets, and this is in California.
    I was going thru my rather small collection of kid silk (collection started after reupping with knitrowan, one of the gift project called for 2 balls never knitted it but loved the colour and just touching it) I have about 14 balls i all. my thought was to do a lacy cowl out of one to get a feel of how it works up for me. actually right now one of my cats is curled up in that particular collection using it all as a bed

  27. I am working on a GIANT sock as well. I am making a pair for my hubby…. he has a size 17 foot!!!!

    The lace is so pretty. I really love the Victorian Lace book. I still need to decide what I want to make, but that will be for another day.

  28. My house is very cold and the heat is up! We just found openings in the molding joins in the windows. Brrrr! Must caulk…all the kitties are “loafing” to stay warm.

  29. How funny that you reviewed this today! I caved and ordered a copy earlier today and glad I did. The Giant Clown Sock (name) cracks me up-that is one big sock. Could we see one of yours next to it? Looks like you have some Lucy Lace there today.

  30. Inconsistency is the sign of a flexible mind.

    I had the same kitty issue last night. It’s unseasonably cold down here as well.

  31. My only problem with Victorian Lace Today is that there are a lot of errors. In fact… Do you know where one would normally submit errors? I found one today in the pattern I’m working on that’s not yet listed in the errata section and I want to inform them of it.

  32. I adore Victorian Lace Today too. Haven’t had a chance to start a pattern yet, but that is probably the most reviewed book in my knitting library. I got it about a month ago and I think I flip through it most nights before turning out the light–makes for very creative dreams. Glad to be reading your posts tonight and the issues about accuracy–a good reminder for me to be sure and check carefully before starting a particular pattern.

    I saw someone suggesting a heating pad for Lucy upthread. There’s a nifty little thing at the pet store called a “Pet Snuggle” if you’re interested. It’s known as The Pink Frisbee in my house. You heat them in the microwave and they stay warm 8-12 hours. It was a godsend for my elderly cats–I knew they would have something extra warm to sleep next to and I didn’t have to worry about them overheating on a heating pad. Only problem with the SP is that it *is* hard so should go under blankets. I’ve seen other microwave heating pads–softer–since. >

  33. I had some trouble with my Knitpicks needles coming unscrewed at first. My friend who has them pointed out that you are supposed to tighten them using that little pointy key. After I retightened them with the key I had no more problems. I was only half way through a little sweater when I did it, so I think the key did the trick.

  34. Thanks for your useful comments on the book. I am waiting for it to arrive from Amazon and so far haven’t heard anything negative about it. And how I wish Knitpicks delivered to the UK.

  35. Ann Carpenteer says:

    I wanted to agree with you about the lace. I do so love the Victorian Lace book and all the patterns from the Weldon books. I like some Shetland lace, particularly the Feather and Fan veriations. They are some of my favorites. What Sharon Miller book? The old one or is there a new one? Do I need to go to her site and browse?
    Oh yes, and kitty cuddles. They are so distracting aren’t they. Right now I’m trying to type with a little black and white magpie kitten named Cookie in my lap. I started to call her Oreo but, living in a highly diverse neighborhood as I do, I figured my black neighbors might take offense! So she’s Cookie with the snotty nose and the sneezes right now and the need for cuddles.
    Ann Carpenter in COLD,ICY Dallas, Texas

  36. I’ve got the KP Options too but I do have a problem with unscrewing! But then I haven’t been using the little key thingy so that could be the problem…the Victorian Lace Today book hasn’t filtered its way to the UK yet so I’ll have to bide my time..

  37. I tease my son about his “Satchquatchian” feet because it took me “forever” to knit socks for him. But I think even his socks were smaller than your giant clown sock.

    If you knit a shawl from Victorian Lace using fingering rather than lace weight, do you think there would be much of a difference in the finished shawl? I have lots of fingering weight yarn in my stash, but next to no true lace weight–and I do want to knit from my stash until at least September!

  38. So Lucy’s fur is purely ornamental? My Bailey was a long hair Tortie–same issue. Difficult to knit with kitty on your lap but the cuddles and purrs are worth it!

  39. Beth P. in Maryland says:

    I think the best part about Stitches East (for me) was that Jane Sowerby was there and had all the projects from “Victorian Lace Today” on display for touching and drooling! I bought my copy then and got it signed. What a neat lady!

    I received the Knit Picks Options for Christmas! I have had some other things going on and so have not used them yet. I have heard that using a rubber jar gripper to hold the tip while tightening with the key can help.

    I’m hoping to cast on some lace this weekend! I’m sure that won’t grow as fast as your Maltese Shawl! It’s looking quite beatiful (as expected)!

    Kitty attention time should be a priority for everyone!


  40. I think we should execute the person who thought up p2tog tbl. I hate that stitch. It’s truly, truly evil.

    Just MHO after all. LOL

  41. Thanks for the discussion about the VL book. I’ve been flippity floppity about it but I hear the siren call of lace now.

  42. Lucy looks like she’d be such a fun cat to snuggle with. :3

  43. Sigh. I’m plodding along with my VLT project, and you’re nearly done. It’s unnatural, I tell ya. ;-}
    For anyone feeling timid about tackling lace, there is a helpful KAL in progress:

    It was a two-kitty night here. Husband noted that with the space they take up, we’re effectively sleeping in the single dorm bed we shared in college.

  44. Thanks, Wendy! I *really* needed a new book to order, let me tell you! But it’s on its happy little way to me, within five minutes of firing up your blog.

  45. Thank you for the information regarding the KP needles. I’ve have wondered what others who have tried them thought of them. I think they will go on my purchase list!

    Lucy might enjoy a heated bed – of course then maybe the time on the lap would be less and that wouldn’t be desireable.

  46. I completely agree with you on Shetland lace. I haven’t tried any lace yet, but would like to. I’ve been searching for months for some patterns that I really like but have found very few. The one I love most can be found here:

    Granted the description “This is the perfect project for experienced knitters who love a challenge” frightens me more than a little. So, I don’t believe I will start with this shawl.

    Do you think you could send me the specifics of the clown sock? I don’t have measurements for my brother’s own clown foot, so it would be very useful to know how many stitches to cast on, how long the foot should be, how much yarn I really need, etc.

    Your Victorian lace is lovely!

  47. Your shawl is coming along nicely – you’ve made really good progress on it. Lucy snuggles have to win over knitting any day.

  48. Yes, love the Victorian Lace Today book! I bought it for my daughter (just a teenager, who loves lace knitting – I’m so proud!) and plan to try one myself. I hope there aren’t errors because I’m not good enough at lace to find them and fix myself.

    And my old kitty (17) snuggles and sleeps by the fire all the time now. He’s got a bad heart so snuggles always come first for him since we don’t know how long we’ll have him here with us.

  49. Hey, what if you left the thermostat where it is and devised Lucy a little “hotspot” that gets truly toasty: a nest made out of down blankets or fleece, maybe with that reflective space-blanket stuff underneath? I myself hate to dry out the house, enrich my utility company and churn out carbon emissions just to keep my aging sweetheart spaniel warm, but she clearly needs more than 67 degrees. Let’s have a readership idea exhange online!

  50. Poor Lucy. All that fur really does nothing to insulate.

    Your lace is beautiful and that sock is gigantic!

  51. Lucy needs a Kitty Komfort Heating Pad

    It stays at room temp until a cat lays on it and then it warms up to cat body temp, no more. It has safety features and is made for cats.

    My 2 cats have had theirs for about 6 years now and while they usually take turns nicely, occasionally I have witnessed “King of the Heating Pad Wars”. I put a pillowcase over it that I remove for washing, otherwise the fleece cover is hard to keep clean.

  52. I think your lace handkerchief is very pretty!
    Are your brother’s feet size 13? I made my husband, who is a size 13, socks for christmas. They were my first pair of socks ever, and it felt like an eternity before they were done. Sheesh. He loves them, though, so I feel like it was worth it.

  53. Your Victorian lace shawl is beautiful.

  54. Sue DeBettignies says:


    I have a sleeping bag for my cat. Keep it on the bed, and she actually crawls into it, and sleeps there during the day when no one is around to provide a warm lap. I bought it at a cat show many years ago. We loe it. Maybe Lucy would like one, too.

  55. My kids got me the Victorian Lace book for Christmas (smart kids!) and I do love it. My only complaint is that it needs pictures that show clear detail of each of the items, or at least as good section of each of the pattern stitches — I’m one of those who, if I had my druthers, would like to see each piece stretched out on a light table so I can really assess what’s involved before I jump in. The pics in the book are gorgeous, but often block the pattern in a fold of fabric or because it’s too much of a distance shot. (Shows off the locale, but not so much the stitches.) I still think it’s one of the best lace books around — and I love the attention given to the historical development of lace knitting. I guess I’ll just have to get busy to see the detail myself!

    For the question on knee socks — I use my digital scale to keep track of how much yarn I’ve consumed. On cuff down socks I allow 40% of the weight for the feet and 60% for the cuffs. So…if knitting off of a single skein, I’ll start the heel flap when I’ve consumed 30% of the weight. (Easiest to weigh the skein vice the sock so you don’t have to compensate for the weight of the needles.) That would be when 70% of the weight is left. It works out pretty well without leaving much yarn left over — I think I had about 6 grams left after doing knee socks for my daughter’s size 11s. If I have 2 skeins, I shift to the heel flap once 60% of the first skein is used up. For the second sock, I just match it to the first. You could allow more for the cuff if you’re knitting for a smaller shoe size.

    Ciao! Jan

  56. I think you’ll like the Hap Shawls book. They’re much simpler (and therefore more cohesive) in their designs because they were the ‘everyday’ shawl. I’ve got the book and I love it! The history about the shawls and shawl makers really interested me.

  57. maybe it’s not the heat, maybe Ms. Lucy prefers Shetland lace to Victorian?

  58. Dear Wendy,

    Great blog.

    I’ve just recorded a 399-page steamy knitting mystery novel. My wife, Kim, owns two yarn shops and she said the problem for knitters is they can’t read and knit at the same time. So she suggested we record it so knitters can download it onto their i-pods, MP3 players and computers so they can knit and listen to a goods mystery at the same time. Kindly take a look at it on our web-page — If you’d like a copy, e-mail me at and I’ll send you a complimentary download.

  59. Your lace is beautiful! Wow, purling tbl with HSK not a problem, I think I may have to reconsider these needles.

  60. You all have me totally inspired and anxious to give lace a try. What’s a good beginning project?