My current work in progress:

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


Archives for February 2009

Chart This

Reader Emmy remarked in the comments how quickly I crank out socks and asked:

Do you have any tips for committing the patterns to memory as you work, or do you find that working from a chart is easier/quicker than working from text directions?

One of the reasons I can crank out socks fairly quickly is because I’ve memorized all my basic sock patterns so I never need to refer back to the pattern. Just the chart.

And I’ve got a very good memory for certain things, like knitting patterns and charts. I vastly prefer working from a chart because I am a visual kinda gal — when I look at a chart my brain can kinda take a snapshot of it. So I find that I quickly memorize all but the most complex charts well.

(This, however, makes me a terrible test knitter, because I won’t notice mistakes. Rather, I do what my brain tells me is right to do.)

Here are some tips that might help you with the reading of the charts. Here’s a chart:


(You’ll want to click on the chart to enlarge it so you can actually see it, I’m thinking.)

This is the pattern chart for my Seaweed Socks (pdf link) for size medium. As you can see, the pattern repeat is 8 stitches: p1, then work 7 stitches of lace pattern. You work this repeat 4 times, then p1 at the end for a total of 33 stitches across, which is half the circumference of the sock.

Note that only the odd-numbered rows are charted. This means that on even-numbered rounds you will work: (p1, k7) 3 times, p1.

Okay, on Row 1 of the chart, the 7 stitches of the lace pattern are worked: yo, k3, ssk, k2.

On Row 3, everything is moved over 1 stitch: k1, yo, k3, ssk, k1.

On Row 5, it is all moved over 1 more stitch: k2, yo, k3, ssk.

The “meat” of this pattern motif is the “yo, k3, ssk” — note that this never changes. All you are doing is shoving it over to the left by 1 stitch on subsequent pattern rows. If you remember this, after you set the pattern you will know where everything is supposed to go.

Using a row counter makes a pattern like this much easier to remember, I think. Because rows 6-8 are all worked plain (no yarn-overs or decreases), I like using a row counter so I don’t have to remember if I’m on row 7 or 8.

Another thing the row counter is good for — measuring. My row gauge in sock yarn is 12 rows/inch. I know that I want to work (for example) 5 inches of pattern (after working the toe) before I start the gusset increases. 5 inches times 12 rows is 60 rows. Divide that by the 8 rows per pattern repeat — that’s 7.5 pattern repeats before I start the gusset. That saves time because I don’t need to stop and measure.

And if I keep track of how many pattern repeats I do on the leg of the sock as well, I can make the second sock identical to the first.

Book Giveaway

The Random Number Generator chose Alice in Portland, Maine to receive the book. Thanks to everyone who left a comment!

The Sock du Jour

Here is the first Flora sock, completed.


And a close-up:


Miss Lucy’s Signature Scent


Several of you wondered whether Lucy might prefer eau de poisson to eau de poulet. I asked her, and she was quite clear in telling me that she prefers eau de poulet. She still gets Wildside Salmon treats from time to time, but she is not as enamoured of them as she was in the past. I think she eats them to humor me.

But she is nutsy-cuckoo over chicken. I generally cook chicken once a week and as soon as the aroma starts wafting out of the kitchen, Lucy positions herself beside the dining room table, ready for some prime begging. We give her tiny tidbits of cooked chicken breast, which she accepts as her due.

My current front runners in the search for a new fragrance are “Close Your Eyes and . . . ” by  Miller et Bertaux, “Grapefruit” by Jo Malone, and “Prada” by Prada. Alert the media.

Knitting the Threads of Time


I received a review copy of Knitting the Threads of Time by Nora Murphy a few weeks ago, and just found time to read it this week.

This was a very enjoyable read. The author, a mom to two sons who lives in Minnesota, is asked by her younger son to knit him a sweater. The book chronicles in detail the creation of that sweater, from going to the yarn shop to pick out yarn and pattern, to the completion and wearing of the sweater.

Along the way, Murphy talks about cultures and traditions associated with textile creation throughout the ages and draws parallels between her knitting experience and the experiences of women throughout time. It was quite a pleasant little history lesson for me, without being dry or pedantic.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the play-by-play commentary on the sweater that the author is knitting. She was new to sweater knitting, and it was fun for me to guess what pitfalls she would find in the process, particularly because her son chose a rather challenging pattern.

It was a good read, very well-written. Who’d like to read it next?

Leave a comment to this entry if you’d like to receive my copy and the random number generator will select a winner tomorrow (that’s February 26) afternoon.


Thanks for weighing in with your experiences with the Kollage square needles. Based on your comments, I think I’ll wait until I have the opportunity to see them in person (in person? in needle?) before I plunk down the bucks for some.

I did, however, order a couple of Addi Turbos in the 20″ length, based on Annette’s comment that the 20-inchers have a shorter needle than the 24-inchers, and are easier to manipulate. I’ll be sure to report back when I get them. I’ve got scads of 24-inchers but nary a 20-incher.

I ordered them, by the way, from Angelika’s Yarn Store. Just wanted to tell you that  because I always get great service and super speedy shipping from Angelika’s. The store is located in Oregon, so it always surprises me how quickly my order gets to me here on the East Coast via priority mail. Now watch — I bet I’ve shot myself in the foot on that one. The postal service will probably lose my package. 😉

And that was a nice segue into my postal rant. What the heck is going on with the postal service? I have had priority mail packages (with tracking and delivery confirmation) sent to me in the past few months that have taken ages to reach me.  One from New York to me that took five days. One from Mississippi that took 9 days. (And the person who sent that one sent me something later first class that took 2 days.) And one from North Carolina that was mailed February 2 that still has not reached me.

There. I feel better. But I still want my package that was mailed on February 2.

The Perfume Quest

This week I have tested some Boucheron perfumes (Jaipur Saphire, Trouble, Miss Boucheron) and Amouage Dia. They are all nice, but none of them make me go “Wow!” so I’ll keep looking and testing.

Want to know a great site for buying perfume samples? The Perfumed Court.

It can be addictive. Be afraid.

Lucy Sez:


“My favorite scent is eau de poulet.

Oh, Hiya!

I’m happily knitting along on my sock.


Interesting to read of others’ experiences with the Knitpicks circulars. Some of you have the same experience as I, with loose joins and breaks, some of you have had no problems.

Several of you asked about the cables on the Hiya Hiya needles — are they as flexible as the Knitpicks? I don’t think they are — they seem a little stiffer to me. But they are flexible enough for me, and that’s all that matters, at least from my point of view.

I also find them pointy enough. I don’t see much difference in pointyness between these and the Knitpicks, at least in the 2mm size I usually use for socks. The pointyness may differ in larger sizes, but I’ve only got them in small sizes.


The Hiya Hiya is on the left — you can see it is slightly less pointy.

In answer to a question from the comments, with fingering weight sock yarn I usually use a size 0 (2mm) needle and get 8 sts/12 rows to the inch.

I’m intrigued by the new Kollage square needles, but unfortunately the shortest cable length that the circulars come in is 24″. I find that on a 24″ circular, the needle length is uncomfortably long for me to use knitting socks. On a 16″ circular (on my Hiya Hiyas), the actual needle length is 3.3″ and I find that to be perfect for knitting a small circumference item, like a sock. When I try to knit a sock on two 24″ circulars, I find the needle length uncomfortably long. The needle length on a 24″ circular is usually about 5″ long — that’s a big difference.

Is this just me? Am I being speshul? 😉

Lucy sez:


Momma kept me up too late last night!

New Sock

As soon as I completed Catriona, I cast for another sock project:


This is being knit in ShibuiKnits Sock in the Wasabi colorway and I’m going to call it “Flora” because the lace is in sort of a floral pattern.


Did you notice the needles?


They are Hiya Hiya stainless steel circulars, my new favorite sock knitting needles.

When the Knitpicks metal circulars came out, I fell in love with them for knitting socks on two circs. However, I’ve discovered that they don’t stand up to use very well. I can get two pairs of socks out of each needle before the join starts to loosen and I start snagging my yarn in it. (I’m talking about the “regular” needles, not the Options.) And with the number of socks I knit, I was throwing away needles at an alarming rate. They are certainly inexpensive, but false economy, I think, considering their short life.

Or maybe it’s just me and I’m really hard on my needles!

I’m so pleased you like the Catriona Knee Socks. The pattern will be at The Loopy Ewe soon.

Lucy sez


“Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . . “

Catriona Kneesocks

Here you go!


There was a question in the comments about how much yarn it takes to knit knee-socks. The answer is (wait for it) “it depends.”


It depends on the foot size and how tall you make ’em, of course. I’d say between 600 – 800 yards is about right.

Here’s a closeup of the toe:


And the back increases:


The pattern will be available for sale soon.


I really enjoyed reading everyone’s perfume suggestions. What fun! There were a few that were mentioned over and over, so I will be trying those out.

As much as I love perfume, I can’t stand it when I’m near someone who drowns herself (or himself) in perfume. There is a woman who works in the same building as I who comes in about the same time I do. I can smell her perfume at 20 paces (and it is not a nice scent, IMO). I will not get on the elevator with her because my eyes start watering.

My rule of thumb is if you are close enough to me to catch more than just the faintest whiff of perfume, you are too close. 😉

Book Giveaway

The random number generator chose Carolyn to receive my copy of Raven Black. Carolyn, I’ve emailed you!

Lucy . . .

Lucy would like you to see the silly mat in my kitchen.