My current work in progress:

Stornoway, designed by Alice Starmore from her book Fishermen’s Sweaters, knit in Frangipani 5-ply guernsey wool in the Aran colorway, on a 3.0mm needle.

Archives for March 2007

Biasing and Vacuums and Paws, Oh My!

A couple of questions on yesterday’s post about what biasing in yarns is.

Sometimes yarn that is constructed of a single ply is overspun and that causes the fabric knitted from it to slant in one direction. The yarn needs to be balanced for the fabric to not slant.

This is my highly unscientific take on it, and no doubt someone can explain it better. I did a quick google search but came up with nothing succinct and definitive on the subject, so you’ll hafta google for yourselves.

And it is certainly true that not all yarn composed of a single ply is overspun and will bias. The Morehouse Merino seems not to be, because there is no biasing in my knitting here.


But in the skein, it does look a bit overspun to me.


Go figure.

Penny T. asked:
Would you consider using some of your own handspun singles for lace?

Probably not, because I tend to overspin my singles. When I ply ’em, that pretty much takes care of it. And besides, plying is my favorite part of spinning!

And Vacuums

Yep, I have a Dyson and I love it. That is, when I actually use it. I used to have an Oreck, which was wonderful because it was so lightweight, but it actually kind of sucked at sucking. I gave it away and got the Dyson last year. Another thing I like about the Dyson is that it’s bagless and the cannister that collects the yutz you vacuum up is clear. It’s a tad alarming to see how much you can suck up in one vacuum session, but also nice to see what a good job it does. And it’s easy to take the cannister off the vacuum and dump it in a trash bag.

Last night when I was doctoring the photo of my Dyson by circling the on/off switch, I actually circled the wrong place on it and had to go back and look at it again to locate the on-off switch. At least I now have photographic evidence to refer to when I forget, the next time I vacuum. I think I need to follow Chris’ suggestion and paint the on/off button on the vacuum itself red or something. Strangely, I have no problem figuring out how to empty the cannister.

(When I first bought my condo in 1994 I vacuumed once a week. Ha ha ha ha ha! Wasn’t I funny?)

And Paws

If you mess with Lucy’s paws, she daintily withdraws them and looks offended. Sometimes she will say “meow” in an offended tone of voice.


A couple of you mentioned that you remembered that Lucy had been declawed by her former owner before she came to live with me. This is correct, and could possibly account for her aversion to having her paws touched. However, I’ve known declawed cats in the past who loved to have their paws fondled.

Lucy does have her hind claws, and she trims them herself from time to time by biting them off. This enchants me. (I’m easily amused.) I’ve had some cats in the past who did this, and some who didn’t.

Oh, and Books

As I mentioned a little while ago, I read fiction while eating lunch and knitting (ooh! I multi-task!). A little while back I was having a discussion of books with a coworker, and she gave me a book that someone had passed on to her and told me to pass it on to someone else when I was done.

This gave me an idea — always a dangerous proposition. As I finish the books I read at lunch, I’ll offer them up on my blog to whoever wants them. Unless I want to keep them for myself. I do have books I will never part with — I own everything written by Barbara Pym and everything written by Iris Murdoch. I would not part with those books for love or money. Or qivuit.

But a lot of stuff I read at lunch is stuff I don’t feel the need to keep — I’d rather pass the book on to someone else. Before we had our office suite renovated, I filled three shopping bags with books I had sitting in my office, left over from lunchtime reading. I offered them up to my coworkers first, and gave what was left to a sale to benefit the daycare center in our building.

So anyhow. I’m now gonna offer my books up to you guys, as I finish reading them. You can pass the book on to someone else after you finish it. Or donate it to a book sale. Or something like that. Whatever.

The first book I’m offering is Seeking Sanctuary by Frances Fyfield. I’ve linked to the listing for it so you can read the reviews there to see if you might like reading it. It was a little slow at the start, but all in all a very good read.

Would you like my copy of it? Send an email to blogcontestATcomcastDOTnet before noon Eastern time on Sunday March 25, and I’ll use the random number generator to pick a lucky recipient. Once again, anyone with a mailing address on Planet Earth is welcome to enter the drawing.

A Bias?

Reader Meribeth commented:
I thought singles, even in lace weight would cause a bias, unless the pattern compensated.

I think this pattern compensates well for any inclination to bias, because I see no biasing at all. This is a fairly dense lace pattern. The outer border of diamonds has patterning on both the right and wrong sides.


The inner pattern of the the rose leaves has the lace patterning on the right side only.


There are a whole heckuva lot of yarnovers and k2tog (or p2tog) and ssks, etc. in this puppy.

And let me reiterate how much I love this yarn. Suzann commented “I especially love the rose leaves. They look like carved ivory against the patterned background. I have an over active imagination, but the whole thing reminds me of the sort of tracery you see in mosque stonework.” Suzann, I know exactly what you mean, and I love the look of it too. I think this is going to block out beautifully.

Lace Books

Carol commented:
I’ve been looked at the shrug in A Gathering of Lace. Are you familiar with that book? Any thoughts on the patterns?

I own the book, but have never knit anything from it. Truthfully — none of the patterns have called out to me.

But I am extraordinarily picky about lace. I have strong likes and dislikes when it comes to lace patterns. (No, really?) I recently bought Lace Style and found that to be a huge disappointment. Nothing in there that I want to knit. But I know many people are very pleased with it.


I’ve been reading reviews of the new Addi lace needles on blogs the past week or so. So although I’m happy with my Knitpicks Options needles for lace, I decided to try the Addis out, and ordered some from Angelika’s Yarn Store. (I ordered these needles last Friday and they arrived on Monday. From Oregon to Virginia — can’t say much better than that.) I put the Alpine shawl (sorry, I can’t call it a scarf) on the size 4 Addi needle to try it out.

Love the Addi lace needles! The resin-coated brass surface has a tiny bit more grab than the Knitpicks needle, and the cable is beautifully flexible and and join is superb. I think the tips on these needles are just about the same pointyness as the Knitpicks. Here they are — Addi on the top:


And the join. Again, Addi on the top:


So that’s my take on Addi lace needles. I love them.

Poodle Skirt Socks

The first one is done:


Linda asked:
I purchased some Scarlett Fleece also (different color) What size needles would you use for that yarn? It is kinda fluffy.

It is kind of fluffy, but it knits up beautifully at 8 sts/inch (which I achieve with a size 0 needle). The foot of my sock is knit with a 0, and the leg with a 2.

Lucy Sez


“You can kiss my tummy. You can stroke my tummy. You can brush my tummy. But please don’t mess with my paws.”


For Knitnana:


Hee hee hee!

In Celebration of the Vernal Equinox

I am knitting socks in an insanely bright and fun colorway.


This is Scarlet Fleece sock yarn in the Poodle Skirt colorway, purchased from The Loopy Ewe. These are definitely “Frank” socks, as Sheri would say.

(Psssst! Did you see that The Loopy Ewe is now carrying Cookie A. sock patterns? Woo-hoo!!)

I’m doing my usual toe-up pattern and have incorporated the texture pattern from the Blueberry Waffle Socks that has been available online since the dawn of time. Instead of increasing stitches to accommodate my fat ankles, I have switched to a larger needle size for the leg.

The Scarlet Fleece sock yarn is wonderful to knit. It feels like 100% wool, but has some nylon content for strength and wearability. It’s cushy and soft and a pleasure on the needles. And the colors are amazing. I have several skeins of it in stash, of course.

Onward . . .

Thanks again for all the great Cromarty comments!

There was a question about how to size it up (The Cromarty pattern is one size only). I think this could easily be achieved by adding a couple of the small cable motifs at the sides. Or a bit of reverse stockinette stitch. It’s just as easy to size down — just remove a couple of the smaller cable motifs.

New Lace!

A number of you knew that my new lace project is the Alpine Knit Scarf from Victorian Lace Today. That’s the name of the pattern, but I think it’s too large to call it a scarf. Just my opinion. It’s really a rectangular shawl, at 18 by 65 inches. And mine will be wider than that, judging from its unblocked state.

I’m using Morehouse Merino laceweight in a natural cream color. This is fabulous laceweight. It’s a single, and has a nice rough-hewn look to it, but it will block out beautifully. I purchased it about 18 months ago (still knitting from my stash — woo!) and forgot about it.


My Stitch ‘n Bitch calendar had a page devoted to it yesterday — made me smile when I tore off the page. Good timing!

Here is my progress so far:


No, I did not knit this insanely fast last night. I was off work yesterday to take care of a number of odds and ends. One of them was a trip to Wiygul Automotive for routine maintenance on my car. So I had some “sit and knit” time there while I was waiting.

I actually like going there. The place has a very good reputation and guys who work there are extremely nice. Of course, they always tease me about the low mileage on my car (less than 7500 miles in over three years) and call it “The Virgin Honda.” And a couple of them come back to the waiting area and check on my knitting.

Car Guy: Have you finished my sweater yet?

Me: Actually, I’m knitting a lace shawl (holds up work) but if you think you’d like one, I’ll make one for you.

Laughter all around.

Good times.



Lucy would like to thank everyone who emailed me about the pet food recall. Fortunately, Lucy doesn’t eat any of the foods listed on the recall.

Bonus pic of Lucy’s incredibly fluffy tummy (she was on my lap while I took this picture):


By the Way

What does it say about me and my housekeeping abilities that when I hauled my vacuum cleaner out this afternoon to vacuum up the big chunks it took me a few minutes to figure out how to switch it on?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.


Hey, thanks for all the nice comments about Cromarty!

There were a couple of questions about how Cromarty looks being worn by a “real” person. Well here you go.


The color’s a little off – it’s a richer teal. (The person is a little off too, but we won’t go there.)


Warning: Opinion ahead.

Nope, it’s not haute couture, but I don’t like haute couture knitwear. I like a sweater to look like a sweater. It seems lately that there is a movement to design knitwear that’s more fitted, with design elements you would find in tailored clothing. That may appeal to a lot of people but it is not for me.

I love traditional knits. While I see nothing wrong in updating traditional knitting for modern wear, some of the stuff I’ve seen recently takes the idea a bit too far. A heavy cabled sweater or a stranded fair isle is a warm sweater, and I don’t think they lend themselves to being extremely fitted. I like my warm sweaters to be relatively loose-fitting, otherwise they are too warm for me.

End of opinion.

There were a couple of questions about how I fitted the neckband. Without the neckband, the cast-off edges of the square neck on Cromarty really spread out. So much so that it was falling off my shoulders when I tried it on.

I measured the width of the cast-off edge of the neck, and knitted the band to be an inch and a half shorter, then pinned it in the neck and mattress-stitched it in place, easing in the fullness. Worked like a charm. And it made the neckline much more reasonable. While a wide neck might look attractive, it’s not practical for the type of sweater Cromarty is — a winter sweater knit from wool.

While knitting it, it occurred to me that Cromarty would look great knit from Rowan Calmer. And in that case, a wider neck would be more appropriate.

Rockin’ Socks!

I finished my Inside Out socks. Here’s the out-side out:


And the in-side out:


Totally reversible!

The toe, foot, and heel were knit with a size 0 needle, and the leg was knit with a size 2. Because the leg is cabled, you need to work it loosely so it wn’t be too tight. These came out perfect for me.

What’s Next?

Can anybody identify what this is the start of?


Lucy Sez


“Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .”


Cromarty is done. We are pleased.


Of my 21 skeins of Koigu Kersti, this is what remained:


23 grams of Kersti.

Interestingly, although my stitch and row gauge on my swatch was spot on, my Cromarty is longer than the 22 inches the pattern states — it’s closer to 25 inches. I am very happy with that!

My friend Johanne had warned me that the neck on Cromarty is very wi-i-i-ide. (Incidentally, Johanne made Cromarty in cotton. She is either terribly courageous or quite mad. You be the judge.)

I tried Cromarty on, neckband-less and confirmed this.


So I made the neckbands shorter and eased them into the neck opening.

That did the trick!


We are satisfied!




So, in celebration, on to the give-away for The Celtic Collection.

Thanks for all the emails — I received 847 of them, so clearly, you guys want this book.

I chose the winner using a random number generator. And the winner is . . .

Wait — would you like to exactly how the choosing works?

I have all the contest entries in one directory in Outlook and I sort them in order of date received, in descending order.

I export the contents of that directory to a spreadsheet. I open the spreadsheet in Excel and see what the range of numbers is.

I go to’s Random Number Generator and tell it to generate one integer within the range of numbers on my spreadsheet.

So the random number generator selected number 417, which is:

Wendy O. in Herndon VA!


And a very big thank you again to Shirley in PA for her generosity in donating her copy of The Celtic Collection for the contest.

By the Way

The video I posted on Thursday is a music video for the Gena Rowlands Band, for a song from their upcoming album. I’ll tell you the “secret” of how the scarf was filmed, because the director David Wilson told me I could. 🙂 In his words:

“There were two scarves – one 24 foot scarf knit by a team of three people and then a 90 foot fabric scarf, made by my friend (and seamstress) Jaime Supan. She “quilted” the fabric to give it some texture so it would match the knit scarf better.

No computer trickery, though, that’s real “scarf” in every shot.”

Pretty cool, huh?

Lucy would agree if she wasn’t busy napping!