My current work in progress:

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


Good Info!

There was some particularly good information posted in the comments to yesterday’s post. Most of it in answer to the question: “What’s a good dk weight wool for cabling?”

A synopsis of some of the suggested dk weight yarns:

Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool — 65% wool, 35% silk. 192 yards/50g ball. Gauge is 5.5 sts/in on size 6 needles

Black Water Abbey yarn — 220 yards per 4oz. skein, 2-ply worsted weight wool yarn, 4-5.5 stitches/inch

Knitpicks Merino Style — 100% Merino Wool, 123 yards/50 gram ball, 5.5 sts=1″ on #5 needles

Filatura Di Crosa Zara — 100% wool, 136.5 yards/50g skein, 23 stitches over 4 inches using stocking stitch and US 4 – 5 needles

Gems Merino Opal — 100% Merino Wool, 225 yards/100 gram skein, 5 – 6 stitches per inch on US needle size 3 – 5

Debbie Bliss Merino DK — 100% Merino Wool, 122 yards/50 gram skein, 22 stitches to 4 inches on US needle size 6

Jaggerspun Zephyr DK — 50% Wool/50% silk, 5 – 5.5 stitches per inch on sz 5 or 6, 1120 yards per pound

Shelridge Soft Touch DK — 100% wool, 22-24 stitches over 4 inches using stocking stitch and 4 mm (US6) needles, 100 g/250 m skeins

RYC Cashsoft DK — 57% extra fine merino, 33% microfibre, 10% cashmere, 142yds/50g ball, 22 sts/4inches on US 6

Chester Farms 3 ply — 100% wool, 290 yds/4 oz. skein, 5.5 sts/inch on US 6

Lily Chin Gramercy — 100% wool, 127 yds/50g, 22 stitches/4 inches on US 6

Jaeger DK yarns — you can check out the specs for Jaeger’s DK yarns on The Knitting Garden website.

Jo Sharp DK wools (check out the specs for the different yarns on the website)

Thanks to everyone who offered a suggestion!

Out-of-Print Knitting Books

I ached a little when I read this comment from Jane in PA:


I have absolutely fallen in love with the St. Brigid sweater! I never expected to knit an aran sweater (socks and quick projects are more my style) but now I CRAVE that sweater.

I immediately Googled the book title and…

JUST ABOUT CHOKED! There’s one on (out of print bookseller) for over $600!!! Amazon has one for – a real bargain! – $463.94.
There are three on ebay, for a good bit less, but who knows what they’ll be when the bidding ends.

Alas, my love will remain unrequited at those rates.

Kristin posted this comment a little while later:

To Jane in PA who was lamenting the price of Aran Knitting: your local library can be your best friend! Most libraries have an online search, look for Aran Knitting. You can check out the book and knit the sweater. That’s what I had to do with Pacific Coast Highway. Can’t find a copy for under $300. So, when I want to make anything from it, I check it out from the library. You usually get it for 2 months and can extend your use until you’re finished for a whole whopping 50 cents ๐Ÿ™‚

Excellent suggestion! I hope your library can get it for you, Jane.

I’ve been a fan of Starmore designs since the early days, so I bought her books as they were published. Who knew back then that I’d be able to sell them and retire on the proceeds of the sale?

Not that I’d ever actually sell any of them.

Hot and Cold

We got a couple of inches of snow last night, and is my habit when the streets are snowy, I leave extra early in case of delays. So I hit the office at 5:45am. (Sick isn’t it?) When I opened the office door, a blast of hot air greeted me. I checked the thermometer on my desk. 84.5 degrees.

The office suite has central heat that we can’t control, plus radiators under the windows that the office inhabitants can turn on and off. Some moron had turned all the radiators on full blast and left them on overnight.

The good news is that we are moving out of this temporary location into our own suite because the renovation is complete. They were moving the computer equipment this afternoon and all our boxes o’ stuff are supposed to be moved in the morning. Yee-haw! Our office is on the chilly side, and I love it. I might actually be able to wear a wool sweater.

That’s the way this lovely building is. Some offices are freezing, some are boiling hot. Gotta love federal buildings.

Sweater Storage

Dave asked me how I store all my wool sweaters. You know, the ones I haven’t been able to wear this winter because I’ve been stuck in a tropical office?

I’ve got two very large closets in my master bedroom, so some of the sweaters live in those closets. I also have a cedar chest. And to top things off, large plastic stackable storage drawers. They don’t look terribly elegant, but they hold a lot of handknits!

Anyway, I’m plugging along on Cromarty and making a wee bit of progress each night. This is a very labor-intensive knit — lots of cabling on every right side row, and the rows are long. I can’t knit on it for too long at a time because my hands get sore. Still, it is great fun to knit so I’m happy.


Lucy Sez


I’ve got this catnip mouse right where I want him!


  1. I’ll have to start searching for some of these books. Old bookstores that sell used books sometimes have great finds! And estate sales and garage sales of crafters are great places to find books.

    Keep your eyes peeled, knitters!

  2. I just sold a copy of Aran Knitting on ebay for $170. That is a pretty normal price for ebay copies of the book. Mine was essentially new. That’s still pretty expensive, but much better than the used bookstore prices. It’s up pretty often on ebay.

  3. sonja poor says:

    Your new sweater is looking amazing. One of my favorite things about how your blog is set up is the way you list your several latest projects at the side with the yarn and needle details. That way I don’t have to wonder and try to scroll back through past entries trying to find it (not that I think I could try the same project, but still….). Always ENJOY your blog. Happy new work home.

  4. Out of curiosity, what agency do you work for? I am a Forest Service lackey whose project has been banished to a modular building [read: slightly upscaled trailer). We have the absolute opposite problem. It is always cold in here, even in summer. When the temp drops below about 45 degrees outside (happens a lot. I live in Montana), the heater can’t keep up. Above that, the heater continues to work in overtime and it ends up stifling in the place (this is a very rare occurrence). It never actually shuts off. Rather, if it actally gets to the temperature set on the thermostat, the air conditioner kicks on. In summer, the stupid air never turns off. I use a little fleece blanket every day (including summer) in my office.

    We are getting to know the repair guy on a first name basis. Make a note people! This is your tax dollars at work!

    Mice! Yum!

  5. Christine says:

    Can we talk about sore hands?

    What kind of sore hands?

    I’ve actually found that switching from metal to wood needles helped me. I’m not sure if I need less grip on the wood needles or just knitting slower is the difference.

    For a while I had lots of pain in my hands and since I was between jobs pre-internet at home days, I knew it wasn’t from typing – it was having many hours to knit. If I limited my knitting to one hour a day I could be pain free. Any more than that, and the pain would come back.

    p.s. I’m trying a pair of socks on size 1 needles and then I’ll try a pair on size 0 and see how the “fabric” does.

  6. Another idea for finding out of print books is to ask at your local guild. Often there is someone willing to lend or even sell a book they never use.

  7. Well, that IS a lot of information! And, gotta say, I’m really enjoying the Silky Wool more than I expected too. And loved the Black Water Abbey yarn, which softens just enough when it’s washed. Cashsoft was delectable, too…. One of these days I really will do something with the Jo Sharp DK wool in my closet….

  8. Christine says:

    Wow! It never occurred to me that my shelf of craft books could be worth anything. I had no idea that there was a $200 book sitting there. Makes me want to make another sweater from it!

  9. You show that catnip mouse, Lucy! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Your office building sounds like my high school. The band room and the chorus room were right next to each other, but the heat/AC systems were mixed up. When it got really hot in the band room, the AC kicked on in the chorus room, and us singers would freeze about to death while the band kids sweltered. And vice versa. Good times, good times…

  10. Good, somebody mentioned Interlibrary Loan for the Starmore books. You’ll have to PROMISE to turn it back in. My library took my credit card number and threatened “REPLACEMENT” cost, not “LIST” cost if lost. So I guarded it with my life LOL.

    I think I’m going to have to request it again in the future. I LOVE St. B.

  11. The library is a great idea for finding those expensive books (I’m a librarian, go figure). If your library doesn’t have the book you want, ask them to Interlibrary Loan it. If they charge you, it will only be a few dollars, most likely. They’ll find a library who has the book and is willing to lend it, and it will be mailed to your library. Then you get to check the book out for yourself. Genius, no?

  12. I paid $150 for my Alice Starmore Fair Isle book, they run abtou $100 but i wanted it in spotless condition. I think it was worth it ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Your library can interlibrary loan (ILL) your books from all over the country.
    Ruth the librarian

  14. Wow, Cromarty is looking beautiful. I work in a climate challenged office too. My company occupies the whole building, but you can move from tropical to arctic temperatures just getting a cup of coffee. Makes dressing quite the challenge.

  15. Having previously fallen hard for St. Brigid, I was thrilled with the similar appearance of Cromarty. an ILL for Aran Knitting can wait–the Celtic Collection is in the mail to me right now!

  16. Just FYI, in my (and several others’ experience) Silky Wool grows an extreme amount when washed. My sweater went from cute and fitted, to being a tunic. One poor woman on knitter’s review knit a “regular” man’s sweater, then once washed, it grew into a mightgown! So wash, wash, WASH your swatch, cables and all, to ensure that this will not happen to you. (Can you imagine, all those weeks/months of work, all that cabling… and then suddenly having a very fetching aran bathrobe?)

  17. sally and zeppelin says:

    all this talk of Aran knitting….Kinsale is calling me…calling me…it has been waiting silently and patiently for 11 years over the mists of time in a half knitted state…it uderstands that it is an “easy” pattern from Alice Starmore but it was started in the original Rowan Wool Cotton and the pictured color from the Fisherman Sweaters book…so it has a good knows it is a good weight for the winters in central Virginia and it yearns to be finished…so I think I’ll rip a few rows back and rev up the needles.
    Lucy…hope you have a great Valentine’s Day! Here’s looking at you , kid!

  18. Lucy has so many catnip mice, it’s a good thing they’re small; otherwise they might gang up on her and to defend herself she’d have to bite all their heads off.

    That is, if all the mice were to suddenly come alive like some army of zombie catnip mice.

    Hmmm, I guess that’s unlikely to happen, but with the proper alignment of the planets combined with just the right solar flare, you just never know what might happen.

  19. Debra in the San Francisco Bay Area says:

    I saw the Black Water Abbey yarn last year at one of the West Coast yarn markets and though the colors are wonderful heathers, the yarn is pretty darned coarsed. I would not want to wear that anywhere near bare skin; don’t know if even a thick tee shirt would protect enough. Maybe canvas. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And be sure to keep your hand cream handy!

  20. I’m lucky. The Pike’s Peak (Colorado Springs area) Library system has all of the Starmore books (and multiple copies of some) in excellent condition (I’ve checked them all out at least once!). We have several knitting librarians so they are very good about keeping the knitting section well stocked with the newest arrivals too. Your book is in the system Wendy, but I have my own copy!

  21. Thank you, I was wondering where a prolific sweater goddess her her stuff.

  22. I, too, have a cat named Lucy, except that mine is just figuring out how much she wants to watch me knit or participate in the knitting by attacking the yarn and nibbling on the needles. Love your site babe.

  23. hmmm attacking mice?

    do you have a nutcracker handy perchance? Lucy may need it one day!

    All this talk of AS sweaters makes me long for one of my own = since I have all those books but in the past have been afraid of the complexities – but not so much anymore – so as soon as i finish the current aran from IK …

  24. If your local library doesn’t have Aran Knits, you can do an inter-library loan to get it. You’ll probably have to pay a little bit ($3 ish), but that’s a heck of a lot less than buying the book…

  25. Is is just the Starmore books that are so pricey and hard to come by? Would you post a photo of your book collection so we can live vicariously through you?

  26. i went to check out a starmore book from my local library and found out that it had been stolen. it was her fair-isle knitting. also someone took the Starmore color card from one of my favorite shops.
    on to a happier subject I have a black water abby kit(celtic dreams-designer beth brown-reinsel)it is knit top down cable in circular– i got stopped on knit two saddle shoulder*blank* what is a saddle shoulder would it be easier to just reverse the pattern and knit from the bottom?? its a beautiful sweater but the instructions make me feel like i am reading a chemistry text. the design can also be found in interweave fall ’97

  27. Lucy, you GO girl !!! Show that darn mouse who’s boss!

    I’m so glad the library came up as a suggestion. As a librarian 2 B (I have this semester plus one more to go)I hit the library FREQUENTLY for craft books, knitting books, etc. My local library is well stocked !! Used book stores are filled with treasures in waiting.

    The Cromarty is awwwweeesooommmmmeeeee! I have the Starmore book, Celtic Knits and looked up the pattern! Ay carumba! No wonder your hands hurt!

    And, on a final note. The office I work in (sometime) is located in a hospital and lemme tell ya, we gots hot folks and we gots cold folks… It’s usually a tug o war between them !(I, like you Wendy, am a “hot” folk) Up goes the thermometer, down goes the thermometer! The office manager has to send out e-mails asking everyone to “make nice”! I guess this is a common problem.

    Love the blog Wendy and love Lucy. I am thoroughly enjoying her calender! So are my two male (neutered) kitties (Yoda and Buster) who gaze longingly as this beautiful feline vision! ;-))))))) m.

  28. regarding getting books from the library: i have worked in a large library for 32+ years. we can generally get books for people from libraries outside of our system. this is called an Interlibrary Loan. however, the borrower cannot renew the books. so the borrower may use the book for 2 weeks. keeping the book out longer is a 10 cent fine per day. the reason it can’t be renewed is that it belongs to a system other than ours, and they want the book back for their own patrons. i am in ohio. we might borrow a book from california. the travel time and the borrowing time mean the book is “away from home” for a long time. so it is unable to be renewed.

  29. Great list of DK weight yarn however I must disagree on the Gems Opal. Louet calls this yarn a “light sportweight” and I can’t imagine knitting it on any needle larger than a #2 unless you wanted a loose, open garment. It really is more of a heavy fingering/light sport weight yarn…after all, it’s the base yarn for Koigu PPM – would anyone consider Koigu a sportweight?

  30. D’oh! That last line should be “would anyone consider Koigu a DK weight?” It’s really late, my brain needs sleep ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. *sigh* I have most of the suggested yarn in my stash! Should I be happy, or overwhelmed maybe?

    Cromarty is turning out beautifully! AS cables may be a lot of work, but the genius of her designs and the beauty of the end-result sure make it worth it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Lucy, you sure look snuggable and warm!

  32. Oh, thanks for compiling that yarn list! Cromarty has been lingering in the back of my mind for a couple of years, and though I don’t know if I’ll knit it anytime soon, that list will surely be a good place to start when I’m ready.

  33. Thank you for listing all of the yarn possibilities. I have the Celtic Collection on the way — just too beautiful not to give it a try. I’m grateful for the warning off of silky wool. I’ll keep looking for the perfect yarn.
    Love the daily update on Lucy.

  34. Last year I send Alice Starmore an e-mail with the question wether her books, which are sold out, could be reprinted.
    Amazingly I never got an answer!!!!

  35. That is good info indeed!
    I’m wondering if instead of taking a knitting book out of the library and keeping it for up to two months, one might be able to make a photocopy of a pattern from the library’s book for personal use only?
    I don’t know about the copyright law in this area (and am really and truly not interested in the lengthy discussion of same), but I thought I’d throw that thought out there. It’s certainly easier than trying to keep renewing a book for months, and one can then mark up the copied pattern during use.
    Just a thought.

  36. The good news about having the Starmore books is: automatic estate planning for those with non-knitting progeny! Now we don’t have to worry about leaving anything for the kids. They’ll be set for life. Although if they have any sense, they’ll keep ’em, learn to knit, and sell their blood to buy yearn…

  37. I’ve been gearing up to start Cromarty for a while now – the yarn search was the hardest part. I ended up chosing Kathmandu DK from the Queensland collection, which from what I’ve read/seen is the same yarn as the Jo Sharp DK tweed. I had to go down to a size 3 needle. Warning! I got gauge with size 4s, but when washed, the swatch grew quite a bit. It also softened nicely, and I love the way the tweedy yarn looks slightly rocky and rough like the stone carvings in the book.

    I considered the Lavold silky wool, but it’s got too much drape IMHO. I loved the Cashsoft DK, but was worried about pilling from other reviews.

  38. How would you rate the difficulty level of Cromarty compared to other AS Arans? I’ve had the pattern earmarked for several months to try as my first Aran (but not my first cabling), and I hope I’m not biting off more than I can chew.

  39. I know that you spin, too.
    What would you do if you wanted to SPIN the yarn for Cromarty or another Aran?
    Type of wool?
    Style of spinning?
    I spin, but I’m not that experienced. I have quite a bit of roving – I have a moorit merino/alpaca blend that I’d love to spin. Would that work for an Aran sweater?
    LOVE your Cromarty!

  40. I thought you closets were full of boots! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I too bought AS books as they were published. That was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. LOL

  41. All this talk about Koigu Kersti makes me really want to try it. I am a fairly novice knitter though and have not done any cables yet. Wendy, I know you have a pattern in your book for a sweater knitted with Kersti, but do you know of any other sweater patterns or books that are simple and meant to be knit with Kersti? I don’t need anymore scarves, shawls, hats or socks–I’d really like to knit a sweater out of Koigu Kersti. I read Maie Landra’s book and am a bit intimidated by the modular knitting patterns–most of which are too advanced for my skill level. I was looking for something more simple. Anyone have any ideas?

  42. I adore what you do for us, spreading information like you do. I’ve learned a lot from you, lady!

  43. polarbears says:

    The library is a great resource but I have seen some discussions that suggest that actually knitting from a library copy goes beyond the “fair use” provision of copyright law. These folks (designers and publishers) believe you should own the book to use it for an actual project. Reading a library copy is okay. This would parallel the standard practice in the music business which requires you to produce (and show to competition or audition judges) your own copy of anything you perform. You can then do the actual performance from a photocopy or whatever but you must own the published version.

    How do folks handle this in the knitting business? I’ve actually had people tell me you shouldn’t knit from a book borrowed from a friend much less a library copy and NEVER from a photocopy! I’d be more sympathetic if things would stay in print! With computers and modern printing processes publishing really should go to “on demand” printing and crank out fresh copies whenever people want them.

  44. Just yesterday I received my interlibrary loan copy of Tudor Roses. Yum, Wendy, thanks for drawing our attention to it with Elizabeth I.

    Very inspiring!

  45. I worked in a govt. office building for 30 years so I can relate to the heat/cold issues.

    Cromarty is looking good. I do like the colour you are using.

  46. I have hot office too. I’ve never seen it lower than 75ยฐ. The office i was in before for 4 years was never below 79ยฐ. Give me a nice cool 62 and I’d be happy!!

  47. Beth P. in Maryland says:

    Here’s my addition to the library book debate:

    Public Libraries are agencies of the county government (as least where I live). One could say that government agencies are “owned” by those who pay taxes in that locality.

    Does this not mean that those who pay taxes for that library “own” the books in them, and therefore have the right to make projects from them?

    My thoughts, I could be wrong, but it seems a good arguement!


  48. My library’s copy of Starmore’s Fair Isle book went permanently missing. Makes me want to cry since someone probably stole it just to make some money on eBay.

  49. That’s quite a list of DK yarns. I’m glad for you that you are moving back to your normal office. That must be a big relief as well as a good opportunity to wear the handknits.

    Lucy looks very comfortable on her mouse. No Princess and the Pea there is it?

  50. Jeeze, your office is hotter than mine and I live in Fla!

  51. On the subject of Interlibrary Loans: you can do a little extra investigation on your own by going to It’s OCLC’s website (On-line Catalog for the Library of Congress) and it’s free. They will list every library in the world that has a listing for a book/periodical, etc… I also tried looking in a few of my secret book-buying on-line places, but had no luck finding a good price on a copy. Sorry! Good luck finding one…(I’m tempted to borrow it from my own local library as Worldcat says they have one!).
    On the note about copyright: You can copy parts of copywritten books or periodicals for personal use unless the publication explicitely says you can’t (though almost all say it’s okay for personal or research reasons). You are not allowed to copy an entire work, however, that is copyright infringement. You are also usually not allowed to sell anything you make using a copywritten pattern (I know companies like Simplicity spell that out). Though it isn’t the case with this book, any publication too old to still be under copyright is fair game!

  52. Does anyone know why Alice Starmore doesn’t just reprint her books? Has she lost the copyright? Thank God our county library has several copies. I’ve requested it by interlibrary loan through our city library, but am now going to get a County library card and borrow it directly.

  53. I think exactly as you do. I knit a lot because I enjoy knitting and I usually do not need these garments. I seem to be a fast knitter because I also have a good memory of patterns. However I have been knitting for 30 years, so I’m faster than a beginner !