My current work in progress:

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


A Field Guide

In the comments yesterday, Sherry asked:

How would one find you & L-B at Stitches East?

A valid question. So I present:

A Field Guide to Recognizing Wendy and L-B in the Wild

  • Wendy and L-B will both be wearing “I’m With Stupid” t-shirts.
  • Wendy and L-B will be constantly squabbling and fighting over who gets to buy that one-of-a-kind skein of yarn.
  • Wendy will be knitting and L-B will be frogging (because she is such a freaking perfectionist).
  • L-B will be counting rows in her knitting and Wendy will be yelling at her, “For the love of God, get a row counter!”
  • The one knitting socks with two Harmony dpns, two Inox dpns and one Pony Pearl dpn is L-B. Wendy’s needles match.
  • Approach with caution: Wendy and L-B startle easily, particularly when in their natural habitat — a convention center full of yarn.
  • When the glow of yarn lust is in their eyes and you are holding a particularly plummy skein of yarn, back away slowly. Make no sudden movements.

There, that should help.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .

Aside — I googled the phrase “meanwhile, back at the ranch” and came up with this nugget of information:

The “Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins” by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on Files, New York, 1997) says: “meanwhile, back at the ranch. An expression that originated as a movie caption in the silent film era at the beginning of the century, these words are used humorously today when someone wants to get back to a story after going off on a tangent.”

No need to thank me for that information. Happy to help.

Here is the first On Hold Sock.

On Hold Sock 100307

On Hold Sock 100307

And a close-up.

On Hold Sock Closeup 100307

On Hold Sock Closeup 100307

Thanks for all the lovely good wishes on my upcoming surgery. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, or to the post-operative pain (which the neurosurgeon warned me could be fairly bad), but hopefully in the long run it’ll fix my issues.

And the timing is good. I’ll be at home recuperating for most of the rest of the month. Then to work for a couple of days, then off for a relaxing mini-vacation at the beginning of November. This marks the beginning of my favorite time of the year: when I get to use up my use-or-lose leave. I ought to be as good as new by the start of 2008. I hope.

Lucy is still playing with her new toy.

Lucy 100307

Lucy 100307


  1. I can’t say I feel your pain, as I am the only one in my family who hasn’t had back surgery yet (knock on wood) as back problems run in my family, but my mother just had surgery at the age of 57, and at first she swore she wouldn’t have done it if she’d known how badly it hurt, now she is so very glad she did. Technology and medicine have come so far that recuperation time is much quicker, just ask my sister who had hers 24 years ago). Didn’t help me when I was in the ICU with her, but just keep in mind, that this pain *now* will (hopefully) reduce the pain in the future, and remember, that in the right position, with the right drugs, knitting is therapy. Best wishes for a uneventful surgery and quick as lightning recovery.

  2. Ah, don’t you just love “use it or lose it.” Managers think it’s cool until…November and December. When we all say “hey, you finally HAVE to let me use it because if I ask for vacation and you don’t approve it, then you have to PAY me for it.” It’s going to be mighty empty around here the last half of December (I’m already approved for lots of time off so can’t whine).

    Have tons of fun browsing the yarn booths and checking out new toys. I hope your recovery is very speedy and you are soon out of pain so you can get some enjoyment out of the extended time off.

    Love the new sock (actually, I just love that color too!).

  3. It still blows me away how all you long-term government workers get that much annual leave built up. I am finally in the 6 hour/pay period category. I am always happy to take leave donations.

    I wish I could go to Stitches East just to test out the Wendy/L-B field guide. What fun to be a casual observer!

  4. I love use or lose leave too! That’s what I was doing last week. I have it down below the limit, but will still have plenty to use at the end of the year. Four day weeks from now on!

    Wish I could go to Stitches E. to see you and L-B in action:
    Marlin, we now see the two knitters circling the handspun while guaging each other’s grabbing speed…

  5. Debra in NC says:

    Wendy, I do hope that you find comfort after this surgery! I know that back problems are horrible (I too have problems with mine) and that while you may be in pain afterwards, it’ll bring you relief.

    And with such a gorgeous nurse (Dear Lucy!) you’ll have waiting at home for you, I’m sure things will be right in no time!

    Have fun at Stitches East!

  6. Well, if it’s unavoidable then it is. I hope that you get the relief that you need from it – chronic/recurrent pain really sucks.

  7. Best wishes with the surgery. There are very many folks thinking of you.

  8. i love the newest sock. this one and the garden path are my favs. i hope you will be making the pattern available from the loopy ewe!

    best wishes with the surgery!

  9. I love the sock — what a good use of on-hold time. I hope the back surgery goes well — your neuro is right, it’s not much fun afterwards, but it only gets better from there! Enjoy yarning around with L-B ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Hey, where’d you get the nifty ravelry button?

    (Oh, and you’ll be in my thoughts and prayers during your surgery and recovery.)

  11. Wendy in Cambridge says:

    Wish I was going to Stitches East, just to look for you and L-B! And maybe to buy a skein or two of sock yarn…

    Although I haven’t gone for a few years, I’ve always really enjoyed Stitches. Hope you two have a great time!

    Very best wishes for your surgery. There are tons of good thoughts coming your way!

    Love to your beautiful little nurse Lucy–

  12. You WILL be as good as new…attitude is half the battle. Yes, there will be pain at first but take the drugs they offer to you! The pain will go away and then there will be no pain…you will be OK again…I just know it. Take care and best wishes.

  13. Sorry to hear you have to have surgery. So many people will be sending good thoughts your way, with all that positive energy, you’ll be good as new in no time!

    Have a blast at Stitches East, you deserve it.

  14. Lee Cockrum says:

    Hope that your surgery and recovery are better than anticipated so that you can enjoy the time off!
    I am sure that Lucy will be the most dedicated nurse/cuddler!

  15. We’ll be thinking of you as you recuperate from your surgery…I’ve heard that the spinal surgeries these days is less invasive than in the past, so let’s hope that’s true.

    Wendy, I have a question…what kind of row counter do you use with circular needles? I’ve not figured that out yet. In fact…I’m with L-B…I use the low-tech kind!!!

    Beautiful sock, incidentally!


  16. Having had ankle reconstruction one year ago on Oct. 26, I can say the Vicodin is your friend. Do not be afraid of the narcotics — they’ll help you through the worst of the pain. Best of luck and good wishes for a speedy recovery.

  17. You forgot to mention “L-B will be the one with three ‘I’ve been Blue Mooned’ bags draped strategically over her person.” Too bad you’re not taking Lucy. That would help people identify y’all.

  18. Karen Wong says:

    I hope your recuperation is speedy and relatively comfortable….

    I want to thank you for your beautiful designs. I have only been knitting socks for a few months and even took a class on toe-ups to bllow me to make your gorgeous designs. I even finally managed to snag some at “Loopy”. I feel most fortunate….

  19. I just loved your post tonight. It struck me as being very funny. I have a great mental picture of LB, with all of her different needles. And both of you wanting the same yarn. Have a great time. Wish I was going, but I will be at the N.Y. sheep and wool festival this month and off to Vermont for a knitting weekend, actually 5 days.

  20. It is a little disconcerting when the dr. says its a rough recovery… I just underwent major foot surgery on Aug 13th.. bone & arthritis removal, plate and screws inserted… I put it off for years, I am definitely relieved to have it over with. You will have some fan-ta-bu-lous knitting time for sure! And lots of Lucy time too! I know when your back hurts its as bad as when your feet hurt… debilitating… You will be so glad you had it done ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Good luck with your surgery and recuperation. Love the latest sock….and I came home today to find my prize for guessing 19. How thrilled am I??? Thank you thank you!!!

  22. I was just catching up. In answer to the sock needle question from the 1st, I have been using bamboo, but today I started a sock with the harmony dpn’s. So far, I love them and an added bonus, the set comes with 6 needles!!!

  23. I love the field guide. The socks are looking great. I just got my patterns from the loopy ewe and am very anxious to get knitting….

  24. my favorite way of saying it?

    “meanwhile, back at the ranch, the lone ranger, being unaware that tonto had disguised himself as a screen door, banged him”

    sorry, couldn’t resist.

    good luckw ith the back surgery.

  25. The blog of a person who recently experienced back surgery. It’s a good description of the various stages of recovery.

  26. I hope the surgery is uneventful and the recovery faster and less painful than expected.

    I do like the On Hold Socks. Very pretty. I really want to see you and L-B in the wild. It would be quite an informative field trip on the workings of “Knitters in a Feeding Frenzy” sounds like a good live tv show.

  27. A note of caution to vendors (listen up,Kaci!) ; We’ve been known to toss skeins of yarn about and at each other. We will try to maintain some decorum, but no promises.
    I’ve been very withdrawn this past month, but getting away may snap me back to my impish self.

  28. I had a 9 1/2 hour back surgery, thru my abdomen, in 1993. I woke up in less pain than I had lived in and refused pain meds as itwas so much less. If I ever got a twinge of the old pain I would hop back on to the table and let them open me again. Enjoy Stitches, good luck with the surgery. Do’t lift anything heavier than 5 dpns for the first few days.

  29. I wish I could go up to Stitches this year and meet you in person. =) I’m going to SAFF though (it’s a bit closer for me). Someday though, I might just convince you to come to Charlotte. If our knitting guild can ever convince you to come down and teach a class or speak or something.

  30. I’m going to be doing exactly the same thing for you that I’m doing for Chris…keeping you in my thoughts and prayers (where you’ve been all summer, hon) till this back surgery is done and you’re bouncing happily on two feet again!

    Have a GREAT Stitches event and BUY BUY BUY!
    (and KNIT WHAT YOU WANTO….! I would knit, too, if it happened to – oh shoot it won’t rhyme – YOU (Me!!!) lolol)
    gentle (((((hugs)))))

  31. I wish I was coming to Stitches East. It sounds like so much fun!

    I’m sure the surgery will help so much! Hopefully you’ll be able to do at least a little something to take your mind off the pain. I know I always find it easier when I have something to do to take my mind off the pain when my back is acting up severely. I’ll be sending good vibes, and I’m with the person above- don’t be afraid of the painkillers! I’m sure you’re not, but they are a godsend in situations like this.

    I love the color of that sock. The pattern is pretty too, but it’s the color that’s catching me.

  32. ahhh..use it or lose it leave…I have some of that. Hopefully I won’t have to use it in the same manner. *hugs* Lucy will take great care of you.

  33. You two sound a lot like my good friend Sue and I, I am the one with the matching needles and perfectionist knitting, which drives Sue crazy! Enjoy your time with your good friend LB, and replenish that yarn stash!

  34. I hope that you have a great time at Stitches, followed by a successful surgery and speedy recovery! You deserve all good things, and Lucy needs her Moma in good condition. The mini-vacation sounds like a dream.

  35. Good luck on your surgery. May your recuperation be easy and full of knitting.

  36. I like the On Hold socks. When I look at them in the closeup picture, the design makes me think of little bats with outstretched wings!

  37. Theresa in Italy says:

    Great field guide; too bad Stitches East is not QUITE far enough east for me to make it! You girls have a swell time (to use my grandmother’s favorite expression) and don’t throw too many skeins of yarn around, you’ll strain your arms….

  38. Hi, Hope you enjoy your time at Stitches. You people are so lucky to have Knitting conventions to go to! All the best for your surgery – hope it goes well. The colour of your latest sock is just beautiful and the pattern too of course.

    Cheers Dianne

  39. Your list made me laugh!
    I think my favorite part is that L-B is a perfectionist, yet her needles don’t match! Love it!

  40. Here’s a Dilbert cartoon on “use it or lose it” vacation:

    Hope all goes well with the surgery, wishing you a speedy recovery and less pain in your future!

  41. When I had surgery after trying alternatives for nearly a year, I couldn’t believe how much better I felt. The first 24 hours were a bit sketchy pain-wise but they kept me nicely doped up so it wasn’t a big deal. I just had to shout for more anytime the drugs started to wear off. By the next day, I was walking around town.

    Seriously. Granted I walked for a couple of miles and then had to hail a cab to get back home to prevent myself from falling over, but most of those couple of miles felt great.

    There is pain, but I found that it was nothing compared to what I had endured before the surgery. The only advice I can give is to force them to give you lots of physical therapy. If you’ve been trying to avoid surgery, your muscles have been over compensating for the pain in all sorts of odd and interesting ways that will cause you continued pain unless you retrain them to be normal.

    I was lucky and had great follow-up care but I have friends who were not so fortunate.

  42. Hi Wendy,

    I would like to add my good wishes to your speedy recovery after surgery. Although you’ll endure pain, I hope this really fixes the wrongs.

    Take care,


  43. Cute socks and gorgeous yarn! Is this the “big” surgery coming up? Will it be after Stitches? I am hoping it is the cortisone (still major treatment but no so extreme) procedure. I will be thinking good thoughts.

  44. Uh, Wendy? You just described half the people at Stitches. In fact, you’ve described all the people at Stitches — they all get that yarn lust look in their eyes at some point or other. *smiles*

    Damn, I want a government job. I need more than 2 measley weeks vacation. Or else I need to go work in Europe.

  45. Hope all goes well with your surgery. A co-worker put off suregery for her back because of fears and other concerns but when she finally bit the bullett and had the surgery she was so happy afterwards that she was kicking herself that she did not do it before. Yes, she had some pain to go thru afterwards but…. after that all was much better.

    So have a great time at Stitches East.

    P.S. Love the new sock!!!!!

  46. Oh, so jealous of Stitches East! I guess I can’t complain, though. I’m going to Rhinebeck, after all. Hope you’re feeling better! ๐Ÿ™‚

  47. Have fun at Stitches, I’ll be going to Stitches west, but not till Feb, so I must be patient a while longer. Just got my Harmony DPNs yesterday, OMG, they are fabulous, perhaps the very best DPNs on the market so far. sooo pretty, so lightweight, and just the right amount of slipperiness… take care, good luck with the surgery — modern medicine has come so far, you’ll be back knitting and blogging in no time flat. -patti

  48. I hope I run into you at stitches!

    I got my contest yarn in the mail today – what a great end to a LONG work day, thank you SO much, you are very generous! The color (moonlight) is SO BEAUTIFUL.


  49. Warning Will Robinson! Don’t let the use of the word “impish” lull you into lowering your guard if you should spot L-B…That same “imp” indicated she might “chomp” the hand that held the particularly plummy yarn if they didn’t hand it over!! LOL and running fast for cover!!

  50. your field guide is hilarious & i haven’t read something so witty all week! thanks! (and good luck with surgery)

  51. I’m way behind on blog reading thanks to the move/baby/life so I’m just now reading that you’ve scheduled the surgery. Best of luck, and though I’m sure you’ve already got great care lined up, if Billy can be of any help in any way with questions or anything at all, please don’t hesitate to ask. We’ll both be thinking of you.

  52. I love your socks!!! How did you learn to design your own? Is there a book you recommend for us relative newbies to the addiction?

    Thanks for sharing your blog.

  53. I’m holding you in my thoughts as you approach such a major surgery – it’s was a big decision to make, but now that you have, I’m sure that it will get easier. Constant chronic pain can ruin a person’s life – I’m so glad that will be behind you as soon as you get through the surgery.
    I’ll be sending many good thoughts for a speedy recovery.
    love the socks and Lucy yoga.

  54. Wendy, i was looking at your patterns for sale and i noticed that not all of what you knit is there. are some of the socks we see someone elses patterns or do you make up all of them. i really like your socks. i would like the chance to buy them all. how do you make up those patterns and them knit them so fast. i am amazed!