My current work in progress:

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


Pick and Choose

Erica asked in the comments yesterday:

Could you explain a little about how you chose the lace motifs youโ€™re using? Iโ€™ve only knit lace from patterns, but would love guidelines on how to pick and combine my own.

Ah, that is the $64,000 question.

What motifs “go” together? I am of the opinion that this is something that is really subjective. I am very very very picky about patterns and what motifs and/or separate elements I think go together. Note that I said “I think.”


I used to knit a lot of Aran sweaters, but I was very choosy about the patterns I’d knit. Very often I’d see a sweater pattern I liked — except for one element that did not seem to “go” with the rest.ย  It would stick out like a sore thumb and would ruin the design for me. Sometimes I’d change that one motif or element to something more pleasing to my eye, sometimes I’d just reject the pattern as a whole and move on.

I see this a lot in lace and sock patterns — I’m very picky about what I knit lacewise and sockwise as well because I have the same experience as I do with Arans. And many times I know it’s just me, because I’ll see lots of people happily knitting and loving a design that to me looks like a hodge-podge of mis-matched “stuff.”

This leads me to wonder — am I just weird or does everyone have similar experiences? Does what looks like a harmonious flowing design to me look like a pile o’ crap to others?

A lot of the time I think it’s just me. There’s at least one design out there (I can think of one right now) that many many people have knit happily, some multiple times, that I just don’t “get.”

This does not really answer Erica’s question, does it? I guess the answer is — put stuff together and see if it looks right to you. ๐Ÿ™‚


On the Road Again

I’m looking forward to this Friday and Saturday when I’ll be at Stitches With Style in Newark Delaware for book signing, fun, and classes. I’ve updated my travel page, by the way, removing events that have occurred and adding a couple of new ones. Almost all my events for the rest of 2009 are now scheduled and listed there (with one exception that has not been set in stone yet). As you can see, I’ve been invited back to Oklahoma in October! ๐Ÿ˜€

Sock Bags and Sachets, Oh My!

Remember the beginning of last week when I showed a photo of a box bag and sachets that my friend Aimee made for me? This photo, to be exact:


Well, Aimee is now selling her little box bags and sachets on Etsy. Just sayin’. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Then let us tell you a story . . .

Lucy Sez


That’s just silly!


  1. I’ve added Aimee’s shop to my faves. I prefer drawstrings but buy box bags too. I also will order sachets for moth control. I must think the motifs you put together look good too because I keep buying your patterns. I agree that one should do what appeals to one’s eye.

    Now I have a question. I know that you divide your yarn into 2 balls when you knit socks. How do you determine when balls are approximately equal? I think I heard you say you weighed. Please explain how you do this.
    .-= southparknitter (aka Timmie!)´s last blog ..On the go =-.

  2. Thanks Wendy! I’ll start trying new combinations to see what I like. Love the story!

  3. Thanks for the link on the site.
    .-= Roslyn Hazen´s last blog ..What to do? =-.

  4. I know what you mean, some patterns sing to me while others fall flat. But then, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. Oh so trite but true.

    BTW I love Lucy. I read your blog just to see what she has to say ๐Ÿ˜‰
    .-= maryeb´s last blog ..July Joy =-.

  5. My sock hangup isn’t stitch selection per se but symmetry. I’ve been known to rearrange stitches so that the pattern stitches on the instep are more-or-less symmetrical. Even when the stitch pattern isn’t symmetrical, if there’s exactly one p on one side, there has to be exactly one p on the other side. And a toe-up sock has to be constructed that way; I refuse to cheat by moving an instep stitch to the sole (or vice versa). I know that this part of a sock won’t show, but I don’t care; I’ll know.

  6. Funny story! Can’t wait to see how (and if) it ends!

  7. I agree that the choice of stitch patterns is a personal choice. I have seen designs where the stitch patterns seem to be placed randomly into the design so that the pattern doesn’t seem to flow together. I have the same experience sometimes with the combination of yarn and pattern. Sometimes I think the pattern would be great in another yarn, (or vice versa), but the designer’s version just doesn’t do it for me.

  8. Priceless!!!!!! How creative you Plurkers are!!!!!!! What fun!!!!!!
    .-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..Then and now……. =-.

  9. patricia says:

    regarding picking and choosing and pattern preferences, as my mom says, ‘whatever floats your boat”.

    I enjoyed the story- silly, yes, but oh so fun!

  10. Thanks for the lovely Plurk story!
    .-= Leslie´s last blog ..Life is Good =-.

  11. Wendy,

    I like your response to Erica’s question.

    I’ve recently decided to design my first lace shawl. The inspiration for the design is a friend who is a gardener. I want to include the initial of her name in the pattern and have the floral design elements build from there.

    I think the big step, at least for me, was the “oh can I do this”. Then recognizing that yeah I probably can and acknowledging that if I get stuck, I’ve got resources.

  12. Sarah W. says:

    Still trying to figure out for myself what makes a good design. I would love to see what others say.

    Absopootlee fanstatic story. Our family’s favorite way to kill time. Thanks for the link and the laugh.

  13. I think it’s just really subjective. Beyond design elements, there are garment lines and styles – some things leave me FLAT COLD, others are things I wish I could make RIGHT THEN. Most things are somewhere in between. I have a girlfriend with a really (to me) eccentric, kind of flamboyant style when she picks things to knit (she doesn’t actually buy a lot of stuff like that off the rack). I’ve actually reached the point where I can now spot something that I know she would really like even though it leaves me totally uninspired.

  14. Dorothy says:

    I love the expression on Lucy’s face! Has she ever met any ferrets? Just wondering as I have adopted two from a shelter in Louisville KY. They get along great with my house kitties. My shop kitties wonder about them though:) If you ever get near KY I would love to come to one of your book signings or classes. I do agree about patterns being subjective to your own feelings. And as I tell my quilting students everyone sees colour and design a little differently. It all depends on how our brain interprets what we are seeing.

  15. I might just be a terrible person who is a sweater hater, but I see a lot of patterns and stuff out there and wonder if anyone has any fashion sense at all… so maybe I’m in your “weird” category (though not with the pattern bit, cause I’m terrible at creating patterns).
    .-= Deinera´s last blog ..Who needs to walk =-.

  16. Valerie says:

    We lovz dat Lucy. specially when she poses like a crazed ballerina.

  17. Debra I says:

    About those lace patterns — no, you’re not the only one who questions some of the so-called lace designers. Sometimes there are just too many elements in a design — okay, I’m usually looking at shawl patterns in lace — and that turns me off, esp when they fail to flow into one another. I like patterns with symmetry, and it’s fun when there is some meaning behind them, i.e., an ocean theme. One little joke I’m going to knit into a shawl is that I recently purchased some yarn from TLE in “The Tide is High” colorway and I’m planning on using Crest of the Wave pattern for part of it. Now, let’s crank up our CD players and let Blonde rip!


  18. Well, whatever your thought processes behind your designs, they’re all fabulous. I’m working through your sock book right now and having a great time (well, if only the yarn would cooperate…).
    .-= Tabby´s last blog ..Catching Up =-.

  19. Love the Plurk story!

  20. I have no idea if it’s in print anymore but there’s a book called Creating Original Hand-knitted Lace by Margaret Stove (1995) ISBN 0-7090-5676-1 Your taste is your own (and yes I look at designs and often wonder What were they thinking?/Who wears this stuff?) Anyways perhaps the book has something to say about other considerations when creating lace

  21. I think it is the fact that you actually DO the designing and most of us just think about it…….
    .-= Cindy´s last blog ..Checking It Off The List! =-.

  22. Clapotis. I do not get it. But then that can’t be said to be a hodgepodge of elements. It only has one element.

  23. I love a lot of different lace patterns, but I don’t knit as many of them as I like. A lot of what I feel is really beautiful doesn’t also ping my fun to knit sensor (I sound like a robot). Sometimes what is most beautiful just isn’t as much fun to knit, and because I knit for fun that is much more important to me (especially for things that are going to be gifts, because something that isn’t quite perfect to me visually might be perfect for somebody else).

    Well, that was just a long winded way of saying that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.
    .-= Seanna Lea´s last blog ..swish and flick =-.

  24. That was a silly story. Drat, why did I choose Twitter!

  25. Loved the “story.” Have a happy day.

  26. Wendy – are you thinking of writing a shawl book?

    Is that the Talisman shawl you are wearing on the Swak link? Is it still your plan to write up and sell that pattern?

    Thank you,

    Mary Pat

  27. Are the design rules really so vague, for lace? I’m surprised.

    I only have experience with cable designing, but I would have thought the general idea of choosing patterns that have mathematical harmony would hold true as well. For example, with cables you usually want to choose patterns so that the longest row repeat is an even multiple of the others. You might have a central cable with a repeat of 32 rows, for instance, and in that case you’d most likely want to augment this with supporting cables of length 16 and 8 and 4, but you would NOT want to combine with a pattern of row length 24. If you did, the patterns would get “out of sync” with each other over the length of the garment, looking unharmonious.

    That’s for row count; as for width of cables, there’s nothing so well-grounded but I like to stick with the Golden Ratio as much as possible.

    I hope this isn’t dumb, but I’m having trouble seeing how the math WOULDN’T apply to combining lace motifs. Of course there’s a lot more to consider, but in cable-land this’d be considered the basics.
    .-= eightoclock´s last blog ..Seven and a half little coolie hats =-.

  28. When I look through a book like Barbara Walker’s Treasuries, many of the designs seem like I would never like them. I like cables, but only a select few. And I like lace, but not all lace, not any old lace! And yes, the parts have to match!
    .-= Evelyn´s last blog ..Summer knitting =-.

  29. Marie Woodman says:

    I can’t make cakes very well, but cupcakes are great! With a new grandchild born this week, I will be making lots,