My current work in progress:

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


Yarn and Needles Questions and Answers

There have been some questions over the past few days that I will attempt to answer today.

Hannah said:

My swatch is too big! Should I go down a size or two in needles? Do we want to match your gauge? In other words, if I use a fingering weight yarn and the gauge is off, will the end result look terrible?

You don’t need to match my swatch — unless you want to. The objective is to have a swatch that you like in terms of size and lacyness. If you knit up a swatch, block it, and it is HUGE and the lace is too open and sloppy looking, then do try again with a smaller needle. But if you like the way your blocked swatch looks, then you are good.

Everyone knits a little differently, so you very well may need to use a different needle size than I did (I used a U.S. size 7 — 4.5mm — for my swatch).

Dr. Jackie asked:

Do you think the pattern would be better in a dark or light color, or doesn’t it matter?

I don’t think it matters. I think the pattern will show up very nicely in both light and dark colorways.

Catherine asked:

Would you consider this KAL fit for a lace beginner? Also, I’m not really fond of circular needles. Would it be possible to knit this project on double point needles?

I think a beginner could do this shawl. None of the lace patterns are difficult. There are no particularly tricky techniques. I think the most fiddly part of the shawl is the cast-on, and that is easily conquered.

But knitting the whole thing on double-pointed needles? I would not recommend this. You would need quite a few needles to be able to fit all the stitches on once you have done the final increase. And then you have the danger of dropping stitches off the ends of all those needles every time you pick the piece up to work on it. I know I’d have a problem with that. If you want to give this project a try, I strongly encourage you to give circular needles a try. You start out knitting on double-points, and you can work on those needles until you have a fairly good-sized piece, then switch to a circular. I don’t know what your objection to circulars is, but transferring a piece in progress to a circular might be more pleasant for you then past experience, if your experience was starting a piece on a circular.

Celestine commented:

I have some wonderful cashmere and silk in my stash. I have never knit with either fiber. Do they both work for lace?

Absolutely! You can definitely use non-wool yarns. Another good idea would be sea silk, if you happen to have a bunch of that.

LoriAngela commented:

I ordered yarn based on the gauge. I’m worried it’s more lace weight than fingering because of the vague terms.

I wouldn’t worry about it. Once you get your yarn, knit a swatch and see what you think of the results. That’s the beauty of a project like this — it will work for many different yarn weights!

Elianastar said:

I’ve got six 440yd hands of Knit Picks Gossamer in Sweet Pea (discontinued yarn/color) lace weight yarn.

I took a look at this yarn and think it would work very well for this project. The Ravelry link to projects knit with that colorway that Elianastar left in the comments is here. Isn’t it pretty? 🙂

Beth said:

I ordered Kauni after you did your blue/ browns shawl and wondering if that will work.

Absolutely! I think a self-striping yarn like Kauni would be great fun for this project!

I’m planning on posting the first part of the Shetland Pi on Sunday. Stay tuned . . .

In Current Pi News

I am coming down the home stretch on the EZ Anniversary Pi. Just a few rows left to go!

It’s a good thing, because photos of it on the needles are not particularly inspiring, are they?

And Lucy is still stalking her fuzzy rat.


  1. linda-kay says:

    Hi Wendy – just had to tell you. I’m currently on the road, but had my favorite sugar and cream yarn and size 9 needles with me. I just finished the prettiest lace dish cloth from your pattern! Tomorrow I’m hoping to hit a yarn shop and find something a little more appropriate – but I love the pattern! :))

  2. Thank you for answering my question and the others too. I understand now that it is up to each of us to determine what gauge will be just right. I did go down one size needle and like the way that looks.

  3. Thank you Wendy for answering my questions and all the others too.

    My biggest issue with circular needles is, as I tend to knit quite tightly, I seem to loose a lot of time trying to push back the stitches from the cable to the needle. They always seem to get trapped at the junction between the cable and the needle. Maybe I’m using needles that are too cheap (they’re plastic ones from Walmart), but it’s really not agreeable to work with those. It’s to the point that when I use your toe-up technique for socks (which I absolutely LOVE), I switch to double point needles as soon as I’m able when the toe is forming.

    Thank you again for everything!!!! You’re an inspiration and a great master on my self-taught discovery of knitting!
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Petit lapin automnal =-.

  4. I am so excited about this Pi shawl KAL! I was a couple of weeks behind in my blog reading and caught up last night. When I read you were going to have this I was so excited I ran to my sock and lace stash to see what I had. I decided to swatch a lovely 50% merino/50% Tussah silk lace-weight to see what I think — it is gently variegated and just hasn’t seemed right for many projects. Even though I was already well past my bedtime I put up my swift and ball-winder to wind up the yarn but sternly squelched my desire to cast on for the swatch RIGHT NOW. I can’t wait to swatch when I get home tonight. Thanks for doing this.

    Catherine — if you can, I would definitely try different circulars. It can be so frustrating (and tiring) to have to push and strain to get your yarn over the join. I love Addi Lace needles but if those are out of your budget, I would recommend KnitPicks interchangeable needles. They are inexpensive, pointy and the wooden and acrylic needles have just enough grab to them to help me keep my yarn on my needles. They also have metal points if you prefer more slippery needles. And, I’ve heard that people thread their lifeline through the “tightening” hole so it just trails along while you are knitting a round without any effort. Cool.

  5. Bonnie H. says:

    I think your EZ Anniversary Pi shawl will be very pretty, but I can’t help but say that the shawl photographed on the needles looks rather “sponge-like” – you know, like something you might see in the ocean….

  6. Not really any comments on the questions and answers, but you really rock for taking the time to answer everyone’s questions and research yarn and stuff.

    The EZ shawl is gorgeous. I’m REALLY loving that color. Can’t wait to see it finished. And I am in awe at how quickly you knit.
    .-= Virginia´s last blog ..Great day! =-.

  7. Alexandra Graziano says:

    Where do I find the pattern for the lace shawl everyone is talking about, I m very interested in it. It looks very beautiful, and I think I am ready to try a lace pattern.

  8. Thanks for answering all our questions with patience and encouragement. I was in two shops today and now they’re going to knit with us!
    .-= LoriAngela´s last blog ..Alls Fair =-.

  9. Thank you for commenting on my question, Wendy… I successfully talked my daughter into using it for her KAL shawl, but your comment helped too! 🙂 I think it’ll make a really pretty Pi Shawl!

    ~ Catherine, trust me, the issue isn’t circular needles in general… it’s the circular needles you are using in particular. I completely agree with Robin! Get thyself to and get yourself some really good circulars… since you say you are a really tight knitter, (I knit pretty tightly myself), I’d suggest the Nickel Options or Nickel Fixed circulars. These are almost the only needles I use… for everything, including slippery yarn… and I adore them! My second choice would be Addi Turbos… from which I migrated when Knit Picks came out with their line of needles, and I’ve never looked back! You won’t believe the difference nice pointy needles and really flexible cables will make, and being a tight knitter, you’ll really appreciate how the yarn flows off your needles!

    I refrained from commenting about the DPN part of your question earlier; there is no reasonable way to knit a 60″ circular shawl on DPNs unless you are profoundly masochistic! 🙂 Wendy says you can use a 24″ circular cable, but the latter parts of this project will be more comfortable on a 32″-40″ cable for a little “breathing room.” With Options interchangeable needles, you can change over to a longer and longer cable (if you get the extra lengths) as the projects gets ever wider with the increases.
    .-= Elianastar´s last blog ..To christen our new blog =-.

  10. I’ve knit a few pi shawls and your current pi shawl is in the “car cover” stage. Always exciting when the edging starts, the shawl starts to come off the needles, showing the pre-block pattern. Thank you for deciding to do a knit-a-long. Now if I can just decide which lace yarn to use…

  11. OK, you’ve got me. Despite a serious lack of time (and other projects on the needles) I am in.

    Bought yarn today…don’t tell my DH.

    I’ll probably be the last one to finish, but I’m playing along. Someone’s gotta bring up the rear…right?

  12. Oh Dear!!!, I hope you write the pattern out as I do not know how to read a chart…I have ordered my yarn and needles and they should be here soon. Since I’m new I don’t have a stash of yarn to fall back on. if you’r talking quilting I do, but just give me a while and I’ll have a stach of yarn too. Looking forward to this…thanks

  13. That’s a great reminder. I bought 4 skeins of yarn for Tempest in a blue and a blue-green-brown variegated. They might be just perfect for this (and I have a different yarn in mind for the Tempest) with changing the colorway with each new pattern.
    .-= Seanna Lea´s last blog ..blessed! =-.

  14. fibercrone says:

    Can’t wait to see the post-blocking size! Now I’m going to hijack your blog comments to respond to Catherine.

    CATHERINE FYI, Schoolhouse Press, of Zimmerman/Swansen, fame sells 16″ metal double points in alternate sizes up to 6. I wouldn’t recommend them for a lace shawl, but just so you know.

    That said, I agree with Wendy’s advice to start with the dpns and switch to a circular. It will be a whole new experience with a well-made circ. My recommendation is Addi Lace. You may find your knitting loosens using metal. Mine did. My username is the same on Ravelry. Message me there with the size you think you will need and if I have a bamboo and metal circ in that size I will send it/them to you. As you can quess, I’m not parting with the Addis, but have other metal circs that work just fine.

  15. I am brand new to your blog, having just picked up reading your book. I am just now learning from your toe up sock book, too, and like a goose just put all three together!

    I guess I jumped on board here at the right time, as I have been looking for a shawl to do for a friend. I’ve never done a KAL like this before. Should be fun, though I may be slow. I’ll be using Knit Picks Shadow in discontinued eggplant.

    Cheap or stiff circulars are miserable! I will offer another voice to the advice to try the Knit Picks nickel points, either interchangeable or fixed. Love the lifeline idea, thanks!

  16. I love my Addi Turbo Circs and have them in various sizes. After reading your blog about Signature Arts circs I purchased a pair and, even though they are expensive, I would trade all of my Addi’s for more of them. I also have a pair of size 7 bamboo circs that I really don’t like at all but when you are on vacation and leave your needles at home you take what you can get at Michaels. I’m so excited about this KAL – I’ve never done anything like this. Swatching tonight – Dream in Color Starry, Prairie Grass in fingering weight.