My current work in progress:

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


Archives for January 2014

Mmmmmmm, Leftovers

I am happily working along on my Leftovers Cowl.


There were some questions about this project in the comments so I will address some of them here.

Diane asked: How do you handle the “jog” at the beginning of a new color combination? Bury it in the purl stitch?

Basically, yes. The purl stitch on each side is worked in the background color and it occurs at the halfway point and at the end of the round.  The jog is not an issue anyway, because the cowl will be folded along these purl ridges and steam-blocked, so the start of the round will be on one side of the cowl and the end of the rounds will be on the other side.

Ginny asked: Do you separate your sock yarn into wool blends and 100% wool?

I do not . . . and that’s a good question! While most of my sock yarn is 100% wool, I do have some sock yarns with 10% nylon content and I am using these interchangeably with the all-wool yarns. What I am not using are yarns that have other fibers, like bamboo or mohair or alpaca. Another variable is thickness — not all fingering weight sock yarns are created equal so there is going to be some slight variations in yarn thickness. I have eliminated all yarns that seem to be bordering on laceweight or sportweight to try to keep things consistent. There are slight differences in thickness in the yarns I’m using, but it’s not enough to dramatically affect gauge.

Jamie asked: Are you using a particular book for pattern inspiration, or is it all “as the yarn speaks to you”?

I charted out the whole thing before starting. Each chart yields around 13″ of length, so I will work the chart 5 or 6 times. The motifs I am using in my chart are partially traditional fair isle and partially stuff I made up.

I am leaning towards working to charts 6 times and if I do, I have between a quarter and a third of the total piece done at this point:


For each “band” in the pattern I select two different yarns from my leftover sock yarn stash. I am of course making a point of selecting two colorways that contrast, and I am also keeping an eye on the colors I’ve used so I don’t, for example, have several bands of different shades of green in a row. I’m also making a point of mixing up the background and foreground colors, that is, switching dark/light and light/dark to make it more interesting.

At this point I have not needed to repeat a yarn yet, and I still have enough leftovers for several more bands before I have to start repeating yarns used. When I repeat them, I’ll mix them up so no two bands will be identical in colors.

I will write up the pattern and make it available (and that pattern will tell you how many stitches, etc., another question asked by several of you). While it is perfect for using up your leftover sock yarn, you could do the whole cowl in two colors. Maybe Rainbow Kauni and a solid? Or you could use mini skeins that are available from a number of yarn sellers. I know that The Loopy Ewe has sets of mini “cakes” of complimentary colors — Loopy Cakes! 🙂

Loki just does not “get” my fascination with this project. I do believe he is bored.



Now this makes me happy.


That is the start of a cowl. Unlike the Britta Cowl, which starts with eleventy-billion stitches and has you knit top to bottom (or bottom to top), this cowl is knit end to end. The green stitches at the bottom of the piece are a provisional cast-on. Once I have the cowl as long as I want it, I’ll graft the starting stitches to the end stitches to make a continuous loop.

Because it’s being knit in the round as a tube, it’s double-sided. I have one purl stitch running up each side to give it fake seams — this will aid in keeping the piece straight and flat when I block it.

I am using a U.S. size 3 (3.25mm) needle. The yarn is . . .

. . . leftover sock yarn.

People who have known me for a while know that I went through a long stretch of time when I knit socks, socks, and more socks. For each pair of socks knit, I have a ball of leftover sock yarn. I knit a lot of socks, therefore I have a lot of leftover sock yarn. You know the largest size L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Bag? This one, in Extra Large. I have two of those stuffed full of leftover sock yarn. So I have lots of raw material.

I strung together a bunch of Fair Isle motifs, picked out two nicely contrasting balls of yarn, and had at it.

Knitting this is so much fun. I’m doing each motif in a different set of colors, so it’s always changing and therefore, always entertaining. At least it is for me. It wasn’t until I started knitting this that I realized how “un-fun” my last project was. Now, knitting this cowl, I am having to speak sternly to myself every night so I will put down the knitting and go to bed. I’d rather sit up all night and knit.

This little guy is pretty good at convincing me to put the knitting down.


Snowy Wednesday

It’s snowy and very cold, courtesy the Polar Vortex. A good day for knitwear!

I got the day off (mostly) yesterday for our “snowstorm” but went in to the office today, bundled up in down coat and wool shawl. We don’t often get temperatures this low, but when we do, I certainly have an arsenal of wool handy to fight the chill!

I’ve made progress on my Midnight Waterfall. The back is complete:


(You can just see my knitting inspector’s head at the bottom right of that photo.)

I’ve started on a side front:


Photos taken in two different places with vastly different lighting. The first one is more true to life.

I’m on the fence about this sweater. I can’t decide if it’s pretty or if it’s a clown sweater. I’m afraid right now I’m leaning toward clown sweater. I really can’t imagine wearing something this loud, so I’m thinking at the very least I’ll put it in time out. Yep, I picked out the colors, but I’m not sure I like how they are going together. My opinion of the sweater is also colored by the fact that the pattern is a hot mess.

Anyway. I’ve got another project waiting in the wings that I’m actually excited about. All will be revealed in the fullness of time.

In other news, on cold winter nights, it is great to have a sleepy baby polar bear with whom to snuggle.


Check out the size of his paw in comparison to my hand. He’s a big boy!

Back Progress

First things first, the winner of a copy of Crochet Red by Laura Zander is Vicki. Vicki has been emailed and will receive a copy of this great book from Sterling Publishing. Thanks to everyone who entered and to Sterling Publishing for offering the giveaway.

Onward . . .

I’ve made some progress on my Midnight Waterfall.


That’s the back of the sweater. As you can see, I’ve finished the solid middle panel. It is not sewn to the mitered panels yet — I just laid it out so you could see how the pieces will go together.

The middle piece has interesting texture that looks great in this handpainted yarn.


I have picked up stitches along the side of one of the mitered panels and started knitting the side back. The pattern has you sew the center panel to the mitered panels before you do this, but I find it easier and more portable to knit the side backs before the whole thing is put together.

I am very glad I took the time to pick up and knit all around the mitered panels because it gave me a perfect edge from which to pick up stitches for the side back:


As I mentioned before, this pattern is very vague and still has a number of errors in it. But I am loving the sweater and I love the yarn I am using — Handmaiden Mini Maiden. It makes a lovely fine lightweight sweater.

My plan for the day: do laundry, continue to knit, taking plenty of breaks to play with this sweet boy:


Crochet Red

Last week I received a review copy of this book:



This is Crochet Red by Laura Zander, founder of Jimmy Beans Wool.

This is the third “Stitch Red” book to promote womens’ heart health. It contain 30 crochet designs from a number of well-known crochet designers. In addition to the patterns, there is a section of tips and recipes for promoting a heart-healthy lifestyle.

(There is a whole Stitch Red website here.)

Designers in Crochet Red include:
Nora Bellows, Marly Bird, Debbie Bliss, Robyn Chachula, Edie Eckman, Drew Emborsky, Nicky Epstein, Tanis Galik, Norah Gaughan, Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton, Vickie Howell, Kit Hutchin, Jenny King, Erika Knight, Melissa Leapman, Kathy Merrick, Deborah Newton, Kristin Nicholas, Deborah Norville, Dora Ohrenstein, Kristin Omdahl, Linda Permann, Iris Schreier, Sharon Silverman, Rohn Strong, Mary Beth Temple, The Double Stitch Twins, Charles Voth, Marie Wallin, Vanna White and Jill Wright.

The Heart Truth®, a public-awareness program sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, will receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book.

I am not a crocheter, but I can appreciate the cute designs in this book. They are some of the nicest crochet patterns I’ve come across. Some of my favorites:


A snuggly cowl designed by Norah Gaughan


Gingham Afghan, by Tanis Galik


A really cute shrug by Kristin Omdahl


Adorable felted purses by Nora Bellows (Noni Designs)


Lace Swing coat by Charles Voth

This is just a sampling of the great patterns in this book!

Sterling Publishing, publisher of Crochet Red has generously offered to sponsor a giveaway for WendyKnits readers. Who’d like a copy of this great book?

To be entered in the drawing for a free copy of Crochet Red by Laura Zander (generously supplied by Sterling Publishing), leave a comment on this post by 11:00am Eastern Time, Sunday, January 19, 2014. At that time the Random Number Generator will select a winner. (And I plan to give my copy to a real-life friend who crochets.)

Knitting Content

After I completed the first mitered strip for the back of my Midnight Waterfall Sweater, I decided to work a narrow edging around the sides and top to even out the edges and give the piece more stability. I pulled out a crochet hook, looked at it, and put it back. Instead I picked up and knit stitches around, binding off as I picked up. Like so — pick up and knit 2 stitches, *slip first stitch worked over the second stitch to bind it off, pick up and knit 1 stitch, repeat from *.


I have finished the second mitered panel for the back, and am now working on the center back, which is worked in one color in a pattern stitch. It’ll be more obvious when I have more done!



Loki Sez:


“Meow, baby.”