My current work in progress:

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


Shaky Old Geezers of the World Unite

I’m happy to hear that I’m not the only one who finds the lack of a viewfinder on a point and shoot camera unacceptable. Yes, even with image stabilization, I find my photos too shaky. But most of my blog photos are taken with this:


That’s a Canon SLR camera. It’s an older model — I bought it in 2006. There are newer models now that do much more, but this one works very well for me.

Speaking of stuff that works well, I recently bought the new Boye electric ballwinder. It retails for around $70 – $90, depending on where you buy it. If you do a Google search on “Boye electric ballwinder” you’ll find a bunch of buying options. Here it is in action:


It has a big suction cup on the bottom of it so you can attach it firmly to pretty much any flat surface. And it has variable speed, which you adjuct by sliding the on/off button.


And it does a nice job of winding.


What’s that yarn I’ve wound up?


That is a skein of MacKintosh Yarns Iona fingering weight, which is a blend of 80% superwash merino, 10% nylon, and 10% cashmere. The colorway is “Maude.” I’m doing a sock design for MacKintosh Yarns. But I’ll talk about that later.

That means that I finished my Cloister Socks.


Lucy has taken to mountain climbing. Here she is on top of the wall unit in my living room.


(I had to get up on a step-stool to get her down because she was scared to jump down.)


  1. I’m scared of electric ball winders….the ones I’ve seen wind too tightly. I’ll bet yours does NOT wind too tightly though! Poor Lucy – did she forget how she got up there? Hoping your well on your way to feeling better!
    .-= Cindy K´s last blog ..A Gathering of Knitters =-.

  2. I so want a camera like your cannon. And Lucy mountian climbing, ha too funny
    .-= Aunt Kathy´s last blog ..Monday- We Have A Winner… =-.

  3. Aww poor Lucy be careful kitty

  4. So….. will the Cloister pattern be available sometime? Just hoping. Love the ball winder, btw. Sure beats the hand cranked one I have.

  5. Poor Lucy! You’ll probably find her stuck a few more times before she forgoes her new mountain climbing hobby. With no front claws to give you some breaking and holding power it’s really scary on the downhill side.

    My Sassy climbed a ladder onto the roof one time and was scared to come down so I sent hubby up for him. We never kept the ladder upright near the house again either.
    .-= Leslie´s last blog ..Halloween Tale =-.

  6. I’m dashing right over to check out that electric ball winder. Looks like something I MUST have.
    .-= southparknitter´s last blog ..This weasel won’t pop =-.

  7. What swift do you use, and how large a skein (circumference) will it accept? I purchased a wooden swift, and it is so heavy that the yarn is then wound too tight.

  8. the ball winder looks awesome!!!
    nice looking camera too!
    the socks – thumbs up for sure
    Lucy. poor little thing! good thing mama was home to take care of her!
    .-= Susan Mohr Krupke´s last blog ..not fun. =-.

  9. That ball winder looks awesome, but I think it would lose a lot of the “gadget” appeal that my hand cranked one has. When I got it for Christmas 5 or so years ago, my husband promptly used it to wind all the yarn I received for Christmas, and then wondered if I had “any other yarn to wind.” I lied because Christmas morning hardly seemed like the opportune moment for full disclosure. 😉

  10. picadrienne says:

    Lucy, you silly kitty! One of my mom’s cats, as a youngster, got scared and climbed a tree too high for him to get down, and her (at the time) oldest kitty climbed up and coached him down.

  11. My husband has a Canon DSLR that we got back in 2006…it works really well. I have such trouble with my Nikon Coolpix in getting a non-shaky pic. Oh, and I can definitely sympathize with Lucy’s climbing adventures. My childhood kitty, Puss (rip) used to get on top of bookshelves and get mad because she couldn’t get down…she’d actually hiss at whoever rescued her, out of embarrassment, I think.
    .-= Melanie´s last blog ..The Story of My Tattoos… =-.

  12. Thanks for the camera info – hubby wants one for Christmas and I’m clueless – my camera is old, and I’m shaky, so I have no reference point.

    I was watching a demo of the electric ball winder at a craft store open house last night. The girl who was operating it seemed fairly inept making the ball winder look slow, ineffective and kind of fiddly. Are there some special tricks involved? So far I can still get my kids to volunteer to crank up my yarn if my arm is tired, but any day now, they’ll probably decide they’re too busy or cool to wind yarn.

  13. I forgot to share that I had a beefy cat (around 20#) who somehow could sit on top of doors (open interior doors). He’d also sit on top of the shower door on the metal frame to observe whoever was in the shower. Most of my houseguests were family and if they left the bathroom door ajar, they’d get big surprise.

  14. I bet that without you there, she gets down fine. She just likes to see her human at working for her benefit.

  15. I enjoy the “process” of my manual ballwinder so I probably won’t spring for the electric one. As prolifically as you knit though, I’ll bet it’s a great help to you.

    When I first saw your FO picture of your Cloister socks, I thought you had added a hot pink, picot edging to the top and I was going to say, “Oh, honey no!”. Then I looked at the larger photo and calmed down. They’re gorgeous.

  16. Now will you knit me a parachute?
    .-= LUCY´s last blog ..Binge Knitting =-.

  17. How many times will Lucy go up there and need to be rescued, before she either learns to get down by herself, or won’t go up there any more? Kitties are too funny!
    .-= pdxknitterati/MicheleLB´s last blog ..Verdict? =-.

  18. I may be the only one here who actually likes to wind yarn by hand!

  19. I want da boye! What knd of swift are you using? it looks like it has some sort of adjustment knob on the top?

  20. I love the movement of my Royal hand winder, too, it’s so fascinating. But if I went through yarn as fast as you do, I’d go for the electric.

    I once heard a fireman assure a child that her kitty would come down by herself, saying, “When was the last time you saw a cat skeleton in a tree?”

  21. I so agree re the viewfinder. I bought my daughter’s point and shoots for their 21sts and recently gave my mum some advice re a point and shoot … and being able to use the viewfinder, especially in certain kinds of lighting, is a must in my book.
    .-= Susan L´s last blog ..Project 365 Tue 10 Nov 09 =-.

  22. I never thought I wanted an electric ballwinder, but now I think I might.
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..UM…Snuggly =-.

  23. Well … now I want an electric ballwinder! And I’ve had several kitties who were jumpers, but never one that was then afraid to jump back down!
    .-= janna´s last blog ..Long time, no blog…. =-.

  24. Lucy even looks scared. Kitty up a tree now what? look. I know that look.

  25. When I was a kid, I had cats that would do that with trees. My parents finally got fed up and decided to get the ladder and teach the cats how to ciimb down. The neighbors thought we were torturing the poor kitties. Ah, those were the days.

    Love the trim on the cloister socks!
    .-= Virginia´s last blog .. =-.

  26. Hubby’s comment on cats in trees: How many cat skeletons have you seen in trees?

    Once had a completely indoor cat that when taken outside for a romp ran up the nearest tree. He was bright enough to let us coax him down, though, but it took a while.

    I don’t go through as much yarn as you, so my hand-cranked one is fine. But I will have to rethink the having-to-clamp-it-down part. Now if someone would come up with a swift-and-winder combo that magically transforms into a normal-looking end table – I could go for that!

    We use our digital SLR for serious pictures, but the smaller ones are sure nice to keep parked in my purse, or for dauighter to take on a trip.

  27. Left out the part about the cat that persisted in jumping up on top of the stereo center. Problem was, it was in three parts, and there were gaps in the top between them, but they’d been (past tense, you note) covered. Came home from work one day to faint meowing. Took me a while to figure out what had happened. Cat (definitely the dumbest one we ever had) wouldn’t climb up a large beach towel dangled down to her, so I had to take everything out of the end cabinet, detach it, and move it to let her out.

  28. Ah well, that explains it then. We’re both Canon users! I know they all say it’s not the gear but the photographer that makes the photo. I have handled Nikon models and cannot for the life of me figure out what the buttons do! Canon is K.I.S.S. come to life. I have a 400D, been thinking about upgrading but do not like the new LiveView and HD video features. So if I ever trade up I will go semi-pro and buy a 50D.

    The ballwinder looks interesting, but I need to buy a swift more than I need the electric ballwinder.
    .-= Jocelyn´s last blog ..A day at the park =-.

  29. I’m glad I’m not the only cat-owner whose boss needs rescuing from scary places. Except Packet gets up on top of the dryer and expects me to bend at the waist so that she can gingerly step on my back and be transported to a softer, safer surface.

    .-= Kristen´s last blog ..Welcome to another episode of WTF IS HE WEARING =-.

  30. I too thought “how creative” and moved on when I saw the pink picot tops on the socks. Thanks to the replier who posted about it. I went back and realized it was the sock blocker . . . would love to some info on the blocker itself 😉 . . . I’ve wondered about those winders for our store as the electric commercial ones are $$$. I might give it a try, keep us posted. Lea-Ann
    .-= Lea-Ann´s last blog ..Its not my hand in the box . . . =-.

  31. CathieJones says:

    I also need a swift more than an electric winder; however, retirement has not turned out to be as lucrative as I had hoped, so I’ll keep winding off an upside-down chair!

  32. Dear Lucy,
    You really need to talk to Wendy about that knitted stairway. Or , even better, she should take you shopping for one of those really nice climbing poles that are carpeted with a perch and go right next to your latest perch! If that fails, I’d write to Santa , and ask him!

  33. When I was little my cat climbed a tree and got “stuck” on the roof under my mom’s bedroom window. So I opened the screen and let her in.
    After that the cat expected to always be let in that way, much to my mom’s annoyance.
    Of course, the cat wasn’t stuck. She was just being lazy.
    .-= Ann in CT´s last blog ..Can’t Account For Taste =-.

  34. oh dear lord – – look at that face!!!!!!!! She is just too damn cute – – she looks a little crossed eyed in that shot – – so freakin’ cute. She was channeling mountain lion until she got up there – – and then . . . . “Mommy!!!” Thanks Wendy for the tip on the electric ballwinder. I officially must have one now. (you enabler you).

  35. Where did you buy yours? I just found one for $65 at the Fabric Depot but I’m nervous.

  36. Belinda Giliberti says:

    Kitties are so funny! Have you ever watched the show “It’s always sunny in Philadelphia”? It is kind of raunchy, but very funny. They have had a couple of recent episodes regarding cats that have been hilarious. Your Lucy being stuck on top of a wall unit made me think of them. One was regarding kitten mittens and the other was regarding a cat in a wall. Both very funny.

  37. My kitty Wabi always thinks that going up into the rafters of my studio is a great idea, but coming down, not so much.

    Love the Mackintosh yarn!
    .-= Michele In Maine´s last blog ..Custom Order for knitnurse =-.

  38. The Cloister Sock pattern is a perfect showcase for that yarn. Or maybe the yarn is perfect for that pattern. Whichever, they look like they were made for one another.

  39. I have four feline furballs. Of those who are jumpers, they’ve never really thought through the whole process of jumping. They’ll sit for quite some time estimating the distance from point A to point B. They’ll look for alternate ways to jump onto the intended target. After a couple of false starts, they master the jump up and are king of the castle. Never once does it occur to them that they’ll want or need to get down. I’ve helped them down once or twice. Generally they figure it out on their own. >^.^<

  40. Someday I will get a ball winder and swift. Now I’m just winding them by hand on the train when I manage to get a seat or doing it after dinner. It feels like it takes forever though, especially for a skein of sock yarn!

  41. Melissa McKee says:

    Poor Lucy. Stuck with no place to go. Also I’m now in love with your electric ball winder. Christmas list here I come.

  42. I’ve never been able to take very not-blurry pictures with my digital camera, and now it occurs to me that it may be that I take better photos with a viewfinder. Which I like better anyway.
    .-= Caroline´s last blog ..TV Shows I have seen and liked =-.

  43. Lovely book. Pick me, please?
    I love your new phone!

  44. The book AND your review…beyond words to describe!! The cover itself is so enticing..and I love your enthusiasim (not spelled correctly!) enjoy the ongoing dialogue with your kitty!Really look forward to her picture and your caption on every blog! The mountain climber really made me laugh!!

    Sandra in Colorado BTW …knew Kirsten when she worked for Classic Elite those many years ago…wonderful,creative person!

  45. Kris Riddle says:

    Love your blog!! I wish I had your talent to make your own patterns.
    I taught myself a few years ago and can’t stop, I love it!!

    I love this book. I’m a color person so I think this book would be great!!

  46. patricia retlick says:

    I would enjoy a copy of Kirsten’s book.