My current work in progress:

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


Alpine Lace

Thanks for all the nice comments on the Alpine lace!

alisonmc asked:
As a devoted cat owner/slave and new lace knitter (socks and small scarves only at this stage) I can’t help but wonder how you keep your very cute little helper away from the projects you’re blocking out. I believe cages and stun guns would be required in my house. Any tips on blocking whilst avoiding prosecution for animal cruelty?




I’m sorry . . . can you repeat the question?

My little helper helped me with every step of the blocking process.

The foam blocks worked great — thick enough that the t-pins stuck down in them very easily and didn’t budge. I used blocking wires strung through the edges of the shawl, and pinned them into place.

And this morning I unpinned the lace. Voila!


I did finish one of my Panda cotton socks last Friday.

It is incredibly soft and nicely squishy, and fits my foot very nicely. The yarn has a lot of stretch in it so I think the socks will bounce back nicely. I used my usual number of stitches for sock weight yarn and they seem just right.

And I’ve knit more miters.



  1. Stunning!

  2. Cathy-Cate says:

    How loverly!
    What a productive weekend!
    I think I’ll have to get my old foam floor mats out of the attic, whence they were banished after the children outgrew them. I suffer from a lack of flat surfaces suitable for blocking (think hardwood floors and no spare beds, as well as an inquisitive feline).

  3. Gorgeous as always Wendy! So did the Morehouse Merino meet your expectations? I have some in my stash and have used it for small lace scarves but it seems a bit overspun – lots of twisting. Did it block as well as you expected (it looks perfect from the photos.)

  4. Oh, what extreme fun that patterning on the Panda sock is! I love how it changes from the foot to the ankle. Serendipity!

    Thanks for saying more about the blocking foam panels. I’ve been wondering about the pins.

  5. What an adorable helper you have. She’s the quality control part of the process, right? LOL

  6. Does Lucy always roll around so much, or are we just seeing her cutest moments?

    That lace does look lovely, by the way. Almost ethereal, the way it’s so white and light.

  7. Ooh the Alpine blocked out gorgeously…it’s really a lovely size too. Boy, you’re really trucking along on the mitres…that’s gonna be such a cool sweater…

  8. Mason always likes to help me block my lace things, too. I think he and Lucy would get along quite well.

  9. mary anne says:

    Do you ever have to rip anything? I am working on a lace veil from Victorian Lace Today and I have ripped that sucker out so many times. Now I hate it. Am I the only one with this problem?

  10. That girl just performs for the camera. I have a nephew who was like that as a little guy, I took him to the Children’s Museum & he walked into strangers pictures & said cheese!

  11. Hee hee – you should be knitting lace from swirled browns and creams… Although Lucy would probably feel terriby thwarted then.

  12. Patricia says:

    The shawl is gorgeous! I like the sock- what bright fun colors for the spring.

    I think anything on the floor is a cat magnet- newspaper, human, lace. It’s at their level and they consider it their territory and have to check it out. My cat will leave the comfort of the recliner and join me when she sees me sitting/lying on the floor reading, snacking, etc. And I’m on the floor in the first place b/c she is hogging the chair. Sorry alison; try elevating the lace.

  13. Wendy- You make it look so easy, but I find that even the simplest lace patterns require a certain level of concentration.

    I’m glad it’s Lucy approved.

  14. That Alpine Lace looks just great! And I think it is hilarious that Lucy is your little helper. She is too cute!

  15. Did Alison in New Zealand suggest stun guns and cages for cats? She should have her fingernails pulled out slowly with rusty pliers, then implanted and pulled out again!

    Yeah, I know Alison didn’t really mean it in quite that way… I just like the idea of pulling out fingernails with rusty pliers!

    And yes, I AM feeling particularly hostile and evil!

  16. Wow – Alpine is gorgeous, and I love the colors in that sock!

    Hi Lucy! You good little helper!

  17. Truly beautiful Alpine Lace. Just gorgeous.
    Lucy looks like a very gentle helper. Far too refined to cause havoc.

  18. As one who is distinctly not a fan of wonky pooling, I have to say… the flashing on the legs of your sock is WAY COOL!

  19. Lace is absolutely gorgeous and as always so IS Lucy!

  20. Wendy, when you first showed us the mitered squares you explained that you’re alternating brown and green (with a dash of other colors) and that you’re not keeping the colors in any sort of order.

    Now that the piece is larger, are you still eyeballing it or do you have a some sort of a master color plan? Also, will you have enough yarn for the whole sweater in all the colors? Do you anticipate running out of anything? And are the front and back going to match?

  21. Thanks for the great idea Wendy. I went to the $1 store and bought the kid’s foam blocks that interlock. I’m not sure they’re not going to leach the colours, so I’ll wrap them in plastic first.

  22. Your Alpine lace is sublime–brava! The miters are looking great too.

  23. Penny T says:

    Mmmm, Alpine Lace. You’ve inspired me to hurry and finish spinning enough Rambouillet singles to make my own attempt.

  24. Beth P. in Maryland says:

    A little bit of cat hair is the finishing touch for every project. Just as no meal is complete without at least one cat hair in it! Hee Hee!


  25. Cats sure do love handmade items, don’t they?
    I made a queen sized quilt over the summer (inspired in a moment of crack overdose, I think) and every time I laid it out, the cats were either on it or hiding underneath it in about .5 seconds.
    You’re making quick progress on the mitered sweater-I’m impressed!

  26. Valerie says:

    Your Alpine lace is gorgeous and I like your Panda sock, too. I also just finished a sock from Panda cotton and I agree about the qualities of the yarn. I’m making the lace-cuff anklets from Favorite Socks and the stitch definition in the lace is great, too.
    I have a question completely unrelated to lace or socks that I’m hoping you can answer. I want to make an aran pullover for my husband (maybe the Starmore Maximilian which I know you have made) and am wondering if you could recommend a yarn that would be very hard-wearing. I’m making it to replace a Shetland pullover which I made him 5 years ago and he wears it virtually every day from October to May. It’s literally worn to shreds after 5 years of that. What about Hebridean 3-ply or Jamieson’s or is there another you would recommend? I don’t mind paying more if it will last. Many thanks!

  27. The Alpine Lace turned out beautifully! Lucy is a very good kitty to appreciate the lace but not try to eat the lace.

  28. Those blocks are a great idea. I must get me some of those. It’s probably cheaper than buying a bigger bed. My shawls are often too big for a Queen sized bed.

  29. The lace shawl is Gorgeous!

    Lucy is such a sweetie. Barkley loves all of her pictures today. He thinks she poses just for him!

    I am really enjoying watching the progress of the mitered squares sweater. Love the colors!

  30. Hey, those socks go really well with the miters!

  31. I have to lock Twinkie out of the room while I’m blocking anything. I have nothing against rabbit hair (Luckily, because eeverything here is covered in it) but she has a thing for pins. She is totally uninterested in knitting or knitted garments, but she *loves* pins. I’m worried she’ll swallow one, so I have to lock her out.
    And of course, she has major interest in anything she’s locked away fom.

  32. Cats instinctively know when something is ‘going on.’ This Sunday I was decorating my Easter cake with some Peeps, and my Puma suddenly developed an overwhelming need to eat a Peeps. She never eats anything I give her; she’s so darn fussy. But wow! when she saw the Peeps, she had to have one. I had to pry it out of her mouth! This is just to say that kitties will do what they want!

    The lace is gorgeous! So is Lucy.

  33. Mmmmm….lace. Beautiful, as always.

  34. Okay, so how do you keep Ms. Lucy from clawing the lace? Do I remember correctly than she is declawed, at least in front? My beasties would find a way to make any knit object even more lacy than it was to begin with, given free rein and their druthers.

  35. Beautiful stole! About the cats and blocking thing, I block in my home office, which can be closed off at both entrances. I do this to prevent the felines-in-residence from pulling up my blocking pins and playing with them.

  36. Your Alpine Lace is truly gorgeous. What a perfectly balanced pattern. The more solid leaves play off the more open sides and bottom. You should take it to The Alhambra and stand in front of the carved window screens.
    Bobbin lacers say, you must make 1000 leaves before you make a perfect one. Thank goodness you got to perfect before that.
    Blocked out it look even more wonderful then I thought it would. I find it very restful to the eyes to look at.
    Lucy as usual is showing her good taste by rolling around on the finished product.

  37. Alpine shawl is quite beautiful!

    I have to block my stuff in a seperate bedroom and close the door to keep my cat from rolling all over it. The moment knitted stuff is down, he wants all over it.

  38. Lorraine says:

    Phenomenal. It would take me months to knit that shawl. Maybe you could do a video of yourself knitting lace and post it on You Tube. I’d like to see you in action!

  39. Regarding the miters, it looks like you have waste yarn through the top of the last finished row – am I correct? I am studying it closely to learn the best way to connect the blocks. Will there be a lot of sewing when it is finished?

  40. Kat Barnes says:

    The shawl is absolutely breathtaking. Makes me want to try real lace work (up till now just simple lace like feather & fan). May have to get out the black suri and Kilamanjaro Cat Shawl pattern. Its a someday tribute to my late cat ElsieBoy. Love the kitty helpers … Clyde is my sous-chef and the rest love to “craft”. I have to lock up my blocking, as they want to eat the pins and don’t want any emergency vet trips. Our new kitten, Bandido, is forbidden to be near anything string-like after it took him 2 seconds to destroy my ipod shuffle headphones and he flat out lunges at my knitting. Miss Lucy is too sweet to do these things. I just bought the Panda yarn in 2 colors. Do you have a suggestion for using your pattern to make the heels and toes in a contrasting color. I am a new sock knitter.

  41. Blocking at your house looks like blocking at my house! The furriest cat always sits in the middle. Although if it is white, the black cat fights for the best spot and if it smells even remotely of Lanolin, the dog gets in there and leaves his long black, grey and white fur all over.

    I like the new growth look to the sock.

  42. I would be terribly worried about the claws. Still, kids are far more worrisome (well, the Irish Wolfhound has never done my knitting any favors, either.)

  43. You and Cara at January One with your miters…I think there is some kind of miter epidemic sweeping the blogosphere!

  44. Beyoutiful! (as per usual). It really did grow a lot in blocking! ๐Ÿ™‚

    My Little Helpers are yarn eaters, so my knitting/blocking/stash are all kept behind closed doors (and/or tightly sealed clear underbed boxes), or very high sealed clear boxes – for some reason, neither of them are great jumpers. They jump from the floor to the bed, but that’s about it. I have to go to my mom’s house to block, as she has a spare bedroom, so I can lay it out if I need to. Generally I have to be careful doing that though, because then she sees my knitted goods and wants to keep them for herself (as ‘payment’ for letting me use the floor of her spare bedroom to block them – she’s so magnanimous, isn’t she? Her little helpers have no use or interest in yarn, but I keep the door closed just to be on the safe side.

  45. Your Alpine Lace would win 1st place! It took my breath away -whew!

    Lucy looks as beautiful as ever and she compliments the beauty of the lace!

    Happy knitting..

  46. Love it! Cat blocking ๐Ÿ™‚ Miter fever seems rampant, your sweater is gorgeous! Panda sock too.

  47. You know the sound Homer Simpson makes when he lays eyes on Duff beer or doughnuts? Mmmm–arrgggaharrgh (drool). That’s what this shawl does to me.

    P.S. Looks like an excellent kitty life for Ms. Lucy. Go Lucky Lucy. The way things should be for all cat-kind and dog-kind. As it is in my house.

  48. Oh my goodness, that is a fabulous shawl!!

  49. Okay, based on your results, I’m going to (a) move the Alpine Lace shawl up on my list of to-do knits, and (b) buy a set of those interlocking mats next time I go to Costco. ๐Ÿ™‚

    As for the cat. . .the only way to keep my Ellie-cat off my items as they’re blocking is to do the blocking in my spare room with the door closed. Until the lace is off the floor, the cat is banished from that room. She doesn’t like that solution very much, but that’s the way the catnip crumbles! ๐Ÿ™‚

  50. My supervisor is also really good about not bothering my knitting and he has claws but I am always pulling long orange or white hairs out of everything. I imagine your stunning alpine lace has it’s share of tan and brown embellishments ๐Ÿ™‚

    I know you always say you get so much knitting done cause you’re a monogamous knitter but girl you are a speed demon! I’m monogamous too and I don’t make near as much progress as you!

  51. Alpine lace is gorgeous!!! I was curious how the Panada Cotton was. I have some of the Panda Wool, but haven’t worked with it. My LYS didn’t have colors I liked in the cotton…

  52. Oooh, I have a question I’ve been meaning to ask. I’ve knit lots of lace before, but I tend to head for fingering weight when knitting lace, because I find the tiny yarn with big needles thing difficult to deal with. Do you use big needles with small yarn or do you adjust the needle size down to suit?

  53. That lace is breathtaking!

    What size is each of the mitre squares? They are looking mighty (hoho) small to me!

  54. Another lace triumph! I’m glad to see Lucy has as much fun, um, ‘helping’ as my pusscats do. I find the rolling particularly helpful, especially with my fluffier knitting projects – nothing like a baby gift with extra cat fur padding. Thanks for your foam blocking tips too as being new to lace I need all the help I can get. The foam blocks are sure to be extremely popular with Lucy as scratching pads too ๐Ÿ™‚

  55. I have the SAME problem with blocking and my wonderful, sweet, mischievous kitties. I foster cats for the Southern California Siamese Rescue and I have my own cat that thinks all yarn is a cat toy (especially silk/cashmere blends).

    I think I’m going to have to get those foam blocks. My main issue, though, is that the little furry monsters try to bite at the blocking pins.

  56. My solution to keeping the animals (cats, dogs and ferrets) away when blocking knitting was to purchase a fold up blocking board from JoAnns. It is made of cardboards, so I covered it with plastic sheeting, to keep it from absorbing as much water, and when I use it I screw a couple lenths of 1×2 to each side to keep it rigid. I lay it on the floor long enoug to pin out my knitting, and then lean it up against the wall, with the knitting towards the wall. I live in a small house, less than 900 square feet, so when I am done blocking, I remove the 1x2s and take them back out to the shed. Then I fold up the blocking board, with the plastic still on it, and put it in the closet. This solves my space issues, as well as the animal issues. The 1x2s that I use are about a foot longer than the blocking board, so I have thought about hanging it from the wall using the ends of the 1×2, but I haven’t needed to do that yet.

  57. I have some blocking wires too. Can you describe *how* you run them through the edge stitches so as not to distort them too much? Which part of the stitch do you put the wire through?

  58. Wendy- how beautiful that shawl is. I’m wondering whether this is a gift for a special friend, or something you’ll wear for a special occasion. I’d love to see a photo of someone modeling it. Just beautiful!

  59. Meribeth says:

    That shawl makes me weep! It also makes me wish for two things. The ability, talent, courage, etc to tackle it. And the second wish is to have the opportunity to wear it..other than with jeans and sweats.
    I have a question since I have difficulty with “visualization” Would mitering look good with heathered yarn? A different color for each block?
    Does Lucy ever get tired of being adorable? She is such a flirt! I know my guys would make bee line for anything that is blocking.

  60. patty Bolgiano says:

    skipping over the comments, lovely shawl. Will you be going to Maryland Sheep & Wool this year? I would love to meet you in person.


  61. The Alpine lace is beutiful. I am just starting out with lace and simple dream of making something so wonderful. Good Job!
    p.s. I love Lucy. She reminds me of my youngest cat, who also likes to help.

  62. Every item is looking great, but the Alpine Lace is absolutely gorgeous – wow!

    And of course, it shows off Lucy beautifully. Which is, I’m sure the real reason you knitted it …

  63. Oh it’s just beautiful. And Lucy is quite the little helper. Hobbes likes to help too, and I’ve found if I just let him, he loses interest a lot faster than if I argue about it (with the exception of bed making, that’s a long process regardless).

  64. Beautiful!
    Must finish my LIP (lace in progress) so I can start on Alpine Lace

  65. Wendy….it’s gorgeous!! I’m in awe.

  66. Goodness….all the fibery goodness! And Lucy-cuteness, too…
    Alpine is just stunning…

  67. If I have such a lovely shawl, I might just tote it around with me everywhere I go since the malls in Singapore are just so cold!

  68. Absolutely Awsome!!!!!!
    Now for a question…..I’ve been knitting socks for about a year and love it. However, I occasionlly see someone mention, in blogging, about reinforcing the heel. What do you use for this in your socks. I’m happy to get to know you through your blog. Hugs to Lucy……… knitting friendship…..Sandy in South Dakota

  69. Lovely, absolutely lovely…just a sight to behold. Thank you. Love to Lucy!

  70. Just stunning! My cats a big helpers too, NOT!

  71. You really are an amazing knitter. That lace is stunning! I do admit that I cringed a little seeing Lucy on your lace!! I guess no snags happened..

  72. Wow, wow and WOW! Alpine Lace is just GORGEOUS. How the hell do you pump out so many freakin’ projects????? You are AMAZING!

    I was wondering this a.m. (as I was waiting to have my haircut while knitting) what do you do in this situation — I’m knitting away and about half way thru my row, here comes my hairdresser to collect me – – Do you abondon mid row? Isn’t that a huge no no? However, I think asking the hairdress or whomever to wait so I can finish a row is extremely rude.

    As usual, your pixs of Lucy are just adorable.


  73. You are so productive, I’m in awe. I have made small forays into lace weight yarn, which have been less than successful (read — 3 inches of a knotted mess in the garbage.) Can you share some tips on using lace weight yarn.. it’s so slippery and well, difficult to work with. (I’ve confined myself to fingering weight for now till I recover from recent lace weight traumas)

  74. My cats love a freshly blocked sweater, afghan, etc… I figure the cat hair adds extra warmth. My Lucy (also a cat) particularly likes to roll on a blocking project. Did I mention that my cats sheds so much that I could probably make a new cat daily.

    Alpine lace is gorgeous (as I’m sure you can tell by looking at it).

  75. Questions it would be terrific to hear your thoughts on:

    1) Do you wash and re-block all your shawls and sweaters, every spring, to prevent off-season moth damage?

    2) Have you found a particular method or product for warding off moth damage?

    3) Have you experienced (as I have, sigh) knitting up a project from older stash yarn, only to have moth holes form in it right after the first washing? Is there a way to tell if a ball is “safe” to knit up?

    4) Can you tell I’m worried about starting another project with stash yarn?

    Great blog. Your readership thanks you for it.

  76. Alpine Lace is beautiful. I finished my first piece of knitted lace this weekend, the Inky Dinky Spider stole. I kept checking your blog as I worked on it, just to make sure I was doing the right thing. It was like having my own coach. So, thanks for the inspiration and advice. Inky Dinky came out beautifully. I’d send a photo but I only have a film camera and I’m blogless. When I get the film developed I may send one if you’re interested.

    How is Lucy feeling?

  77. That lace is beautiful!

  78. The shawl is lovely!

    To keep our cats away from blocking knits we have to close the door to whatever room the knits are blocking in. This causes convenience problems (namely we can’t use the room where things are blocking either) and also explains why it takes me so long to block anything.

  79. Ann in CT says:

    Oh, some day I will knit lace. It is so lovely. And those socks are great, I like the way the foot is dots and the top is neat swirls.

  80. Beautiful! Blocking is pure magic =)

  81. oh, lucy is just so cute!
    and the lace turned out sooo wonderful! blocking is just amazing!
    and the socks?! i’m definitely going to give panda yarn a try! :o)

  82. Yet another beautiful finished lace. I admire your diligence in sticking with a project till it’s finished.

  83. The lace as always is absolutely gorgeous.

    And I’m really beginning to like your miter square sweater, at first I must admit I thought you were absolutely insane. But as it grows I’m liking it more and more.

    It’ll be interesting to see the final product.

  84. Lucy looks so cute! And that lace shawl is beautiful!!! I like the color in those socks too! And those miters are cool!

  85. Your miter square sweater is coming along nicely. How are you dealing with the yarn ends? Weaving in as you go? Or do you plan on weaving them all in when you’re done. Can you show us a sneak-peak of the back side? Thanks!

  86. The Alpine Lace is just lovely! I love how Lucy helps you to block. FYI, I have a favorite hand dyer of sock yarn and she’s going to make me some yarn based on Lucy’s coloring! Will let you see it when I receive! I can’t wait.

  87. Oh, the Alpine Lace shawl is a thing of beauty!

  88. The Alpine Lace is incredibly beautiful. And I love how the miters are coming out. Hope you are feeling better by now too! ๐Ÿ™‚