My current work in progress:

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


A Shawlette for Beginners

Reader Sue asked in the comments yesterday:

I have not knitted much lace.ย  For a beginner, which one of your shawlettes would you suggest?

Anyone have any suggestions for Sue? I have a hard time answering this objectively since I created them. For those of you who have knitted my shawlette patterns, which one or ones do you think easiest?

I am working along on my new shawlette and still loving both yarn and needle. ๐Ÿ™‚

There was more discussion of the Signature needles in the comments yesterday. Yes, I like them better than my Addi Lace needles. I think they are pointier (my stiletto tips are anyhow) and they are better quality.

It’s my opinion, and I stand by it. Most needles are mass-produced. The Signature needles are hand-crafted and hand-polished. Of course they are going to be better. And of course they are going to cost more. It is up to the individual knitter to decide how they want to spend their hobby bucks, and how much they want to spend on their tools and yarns. I have no problems with that. I think I’ve used every brand of knitting needle under the sun at one time or another, and I have never used a needle I like better than these babies.

More on the needles — my understanding is that the next sizes they are going to offer are U.S. 3 and 4 — I can’t wait. But what I really can’t wait for is when they get down to size 0 — because that is my sock needle of choice. I’ll be happy to invest in two size 0 circulars with stiletto points for all my sock knitting. (Hear that, Signature Needle Arts? I’m waiting!)

Lucy sez:



  1. Claudine says:

    Wendy I appreciate your frank comments about not finishing projects that just won’t work for you. You’ve inspired me to be guilt-free about frogging a summer sweater that looks gross on me – I’m little and even the smallish size just looks like too much fabric on me ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Megan S. says:

    I think Lady Betram would be a good place to start, particularly if the knitter has done some sort of lace before.

  3. I’ve done two of your patterns, Talisman and Argus, and I would recommend either of them for a beginner. The charts are very well done and the instructions are clear and detailed. About the only assumption you make is that the reader knows how to do the basic stitches involved. Everything else is explained and that’s a good thing.

  4. I succumbed to the call of the Signature needles at Maryland Sheep and Wool this year. Bought one set of size 2.5mm double points on Saturday – drove home – started a pair of socks that night. Went back on Sunday, and purchased 3 more sets. Love them!!!! Love the points!!! And worth every penny – dime – dollar……I do find that I knit tighter with them than with the bamboo sock needles I have used for years. Next purchase will be a circular so I can learn the art of lace knitting and make some of your beautiful shawls.

  5. Thank you so much for all your input on the Signature needles. You convinced me!

  6. Sandra D says:

    When they get down to sock sizes, I think I’ll be making the investment, too. Assuming they make my favorite sock needle size, the “in-between” 2.5 mm. If I knitted much lace, I’ll bet I’d already have a pair.

  7. I would love the zeros too, but I didn’t mention them before because I just finished a pair of size zero socks and I’m a little burned out. But yes, when Signature comes out with them, I’m sure I’ll purchase them–as long as I can get the bank to loan me the money. Ouch! Six Signature circulars=$$$.
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Not another pair of socks- And tips for TAAT =-.

  8. and of course, there are those of us (the SNAholics) who plan our projects around the current sizes ;o)

    I also have a complete set of the straights, which greatly expands my scarf knitting potential …

    just talking about them makes me want to order more – but – must. be. strong.
    .-= margaret´s last blog ..Back to the Blanket =-.

  9. I am making Lady Betram now and think it would be good for a newbie lace knitter. I am probably an Intermediate lace knitter, I love to knit lace.

    My one suggestion for a newer knitting would be to use a magnet board and when you get to the repeat of the row, block it off so you can’t see around it. I had to tink back 2 1/2 rows once and part of another row once because I can’t see (and I had my reading glasses on) because I kept glancing ahead (at least I think that is why – since blocking it all off, I have been fine). I can usually memorize the repeat and move along the row but I was just spacey or something last week.

    It is coming out great, only about 8 rows to go. I have more of your patterns ready to go.
    .-= Suzanne´s last blog ..Ten on Tuesday =-.

  10. I know I’m going to invest in some Signature needles sooner (I wish) or later. I think I’m waiting for the 3 and/or 4 circulars. I think I’ll put them on my Christmas/Birthday/anyone wondering what to buy me for a present? list.

  11. Yes, please. US0 dps Signature needles will be a dream come true.

  12. I love my Signature Arts needles. I only own two pair, but they’re gems!
    .-= Diane´s last blog ..Wedding hanky for Joanne =-.

  13. Not to belabor the Signature needles issue but I’ve read some complaints (Ravelry) about the smoothness of the join. I like super sharp points too, but I don’t like shoving my yarn onto the needle–especially when it is lace. So how do you find the join on these needles compared to Addi Lace?

  14. Maria Neill says:

    My question exactly. I am an avid knitter, bur never ventured into shawl making. One of your readers asked which would be a good beginner’s shawl pattern, I want to know too. I will be making it for my elderly ailing Mother….maybe I will turn it into a prayer shawl…. I want it to look like lace, but I want to finish it in my life time!

  15. They had a problem when they first came out and offered to replace them once the problem was fixed – I think there’s a time limit on it though. Anyhow, I find the join smoother than any I’ve owned – and I’ve owned them all over the years!

  16. Melissa says:

    Wendy, I love the new shawlette pattern and color! I think I may have to put that one on my list.

    Hey, Lucy! ๐Ÿ˜€

  17. I was ready to order Signature circs for my sock knitting this afternoon. They were going to be a reward for meeting my first goal in my sock challenge. I was so disappointed to see they didn’t have them in a size 3, my sock needle of choice.

  18. Barbara Petraske says:

    Love the progress of the new shawlette, can’t wait to see more.

  19. Dorothy says:

    I have several sets of the 14″ straight needles and 3sets of double pointed needles from signature and they are definitely worth every penny. I am going to try their circular next. The quality is amazing!

  20. Susan Deeter Murphy says:

    I have been hoping that you might design a shawlette that has more ‘lace’ and less plain knitting (Hours and hours of garter stitch is just not my idea of fun).
    This design is very exciting. It may be my next project.
    I love to watch your creations grow from day to day, Wendy’s Time-lapse Knitting.
    It is fascinating to watch.
    Thank you for sharing with us.

  21. It’s not a shawlette, but my first big lace project was your Exonumist Shawl – a circular shawl that I found simply addictive to knit. I made it in white bamboo, sport weight, and still believe it is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever knit. I thought it was for me but it turned out to be my MIL’s Christmas gift…it was just hers and I knew it as soon as I finished it. She loves it too!

  22. I agree with you whole heartedly on the Signature needles, and am waiting patiently for size 0’s to come out (hoping it’s around my birthday XD is it sad that all my knitting supplies for the year can be attributed to the holidays because they all know me so well? XD)

    As for the shawl pattern question, my very first shawl and very first lace project was your Argus shawlette for my grandma who’s in a LTC facility. I had absolutely no problems with it (although I also used a skein of Cascade Baby Alpaca and so wound up making it a second time for mom because I didn’t use it all up with the first shawlette!) The charts were easy to read and the pattern was a snap once I got into the rhythm. Although I was bouncing up and down running around the garage holding my work up in the air shouting ‘i’m finished, I’m finally finished watch me bind off watch me watch me watch me!!!!!’ when i was done ^_^;

    Any of your shawlette patterns though, would be absolutely fine. As long as they can read a chart, or have the patience to flip back and forth between the legend and the chart a lot, and know basic stitches, none of them would give anyone a problem. I do recommend investing in stitch markers if they don’t already have them though…speaking from experience, with lace, paperclips dont work! ^_^;;;

  23. Gahhhhh. Signature Needles are made in Kenosha, WI, but I can’t find a retailer ANYWHERE in my state that sells them. Milwaukee was a dud. Pooh.

    I will find them….
    .-= Sandra´s last blog ..ManyhorsesMane shares Eagle cemetery rests in pieces =-.

  24. I am going to check out Talisman and Argus. I’d like to improve on lace!
    .-= Christina Bieloh´s last blog ..Two to Tango- I ainโ€™t much of a dancer =-.

  25. I knitted the Seaside Shawlette, and I found it really easy and a relaxing knit. Argus is coming up in my queue- very excited! ๐Ÿ™‚
    .-= Dana´s last blog ..Handspun superwash merino wool yarn- Ametrine 148yds sport weight =-.

  26. oh and thanks for putting this up!

  27. Kathie Brownlee says:

    The new shawlette is looking gorgeous! I just got my first pair of Addi lace needles and love them so I’m sure I’ll love the Signatures if I can afford them!

  28. Caty Bach says:

    I agree with you on the Signature needles! I have the sock needles and some straights… from my brother and his wife. They are peerless! I do love the 0’s in doublepoint. Expensive, but very worth it!

  29. I’m going to ferret out some Signature needles and give them a try. On the advice of my LYS owner I did try some Kollage square needles for knitting socks and I’m absolutely sold on them. THere’s something about the way the squareness feels in my hands–feels like I have more control over the stitches. They’re pretty spendy, too, but I’ve decided that I’m going to use the tools that make knitting more productive and enjoyable for me. Think about it, when the husbands need a tool, they go out and get the best, newest gadget on the market. Am I right? ๐Ÿ˜€

  30. Add me to the Signature Needle Fan Club!! DPN’s in #0 and #1 and a pair of #7 straights are in my collection! I have just knit my first “toe-up” sock out of one of your fabulous books, Wendy and loved every knitting every stitch! Signature Needles please listen to the “Queen of Toe-up Socks” and make some pretty circs. in sizes 0-1-2!!!

  31. Based on your review & others, I really, really, really, really, really want me some Signature Circular needles. I’ll have to accumulate them over time, but I think the high craftsmanship is worth it. Besides, they’ll be an excellent reward for good behavior. I just wish they would come out with 16 inch circulars.
    .-= Rich´s last blog ..Sock Progress and a Resolution =-.

  32. You’ve really sold me on these signature needles here–I’m looking forward for sizes 0-3, too, and think I will at least invest in those sizes if nothing else.

    I don’t know what a good lace shawlette is to start with, but I sure do love making lace! Whatever it is that Sue decides to work on, make sure to start in a quiet place with little distraction and count, count, count!
    .-= The Unraveled Librarian´s last blog ..Im back- =-.

  33. 0s are my sock knitting needle, but I’m a dpn girl. I am almost positive that my Signature dpns are that size, and I really need to start another pair of socks with them. I have some gorgeous yarn just waiting to be made into socks.
    .-= Seanna Lea´s last blog ..Tuesday- =-.

  34. Angela Z says:

    The Argus Shawlette was the first shawl I knit and I found the instructions and charts to be very easy to follow. I had knit some lace before – mostly scarves.

  35. I must say that I agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts on the Signature needles. Fortunately for me, the kids are all grown and moved out of the house, so I can purchase the needles I want for my knitting hobby/obsession guilt-free. I am also waiting for the smaller circular needles, since I use the magic loop method almost exclusively when knitting socks. Size 0 is my go to needle sรญze for socks, as well, so I am going to console myself with a set of size 0 (dreaded) dpns until I can get a 40″ circular in that size. They may very well be such a pleasure to knit with that I won’t be bothered by their dpn-ness.

  36. Lovely beginning shawlette is Ishbel. There is a lot of stockinette, and the pattern instructions are immaculate.
    .-= Cindy in Happy Valley´s last blog ..Yes- I live in Wild Kingdom =-.

  37. Thanks ladies for the shawl suggestions and info. I am starting one today… just as soon as I decide between the three suggested.

  38. michele says:

    I just ordered my first set of signature circular needles….I can’t wait for the to arrive…if you love them, they must be good! Love your blog and books and patterns and Lucy, of course.

  39. Interesting to read the array of opinions on the Signature needles. I just ordered my first pair (size 0, 2mm), after knitting with someone else’s (larger) needles at Spring Fling. And, unfortunately, I don’t much like the 0s. I think they’re a different material than the others, somehow. It was a bit splurge, and I think I’m going to end up returning (or exchanging them). Sad about that, but not sorry I tried them out.

  40. S. B. Moon says:

    Wendy, your reputation is supreme. If you could force yourself to finish the green sweater, it could easily raise hundreds of dollars for your favorite charity– knitting or otherwise.

  41. Wendy, you mentioned that you would like several size 0 circulars in the aforementioned brand when they are available. Knowing you like to do socks from the toe up, how do you start them on circulars? I have been investigating switching from dpns to circulars as I am sick of second sock syndrome but I have yet to find information on how to use them to do socks from the toe up. Thanks!