My current work in progress:

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


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.



  1. paisleyapron says:

    That is absolutely beautiful! So glad that you are going to offer it as a pattern.

  2. KateJonze says:

    Loving all that colorwork!

    Have I told you lately how much I love Loki?

  3. OMG this is gorgeous! You inspired me to do colorwork like 10 years ago when you were knitting Dale of Norways. I haven’t done it in a long time, but this might make me want to do it again. I have tons of leftover sock yarn!
    Jessica´s last blog post ..It needs a quilt.

  4. Ha ha – he does look extremely bored by the topic! (I love the cowl so far!)

  5. Looking forward to the pattern and I love that cat!

  6. Absolutely gorgeous! You certainly have an eye for color. I think I’d get bogged down in color decisions. 🙂
    Lizy Tish´s last blog post ..Knitting Hits and a Miss

  7. once I figured out what I was looking at (the picture of Loki), I LOL’d… he is not bore, he is “cat”… haha. love him, love the knitting. Thanks for the post!

  8. This is truly beautiful and happy with all the colors you have used. But you say it is a cowl and from the photo, it appears long enough to be a skirt. How long is it actually?
    xharon massena´s last blog post ..Superbowl mystery and Beginners intro to Flying Geese

  9. Joan from Wisconsin says:

    OMG! What a beautiful piece of art with all the colors. I just don’t know how you do it. You are an exceptional knitter. And Loki! My goodness, he sure must be a “nut”. Lays around like the world should wait on him. What a beautiful gift from God he is.

  10. I absolutely love the mixture of colors in your leftover cowl . It reminds me of the making of a scrap quilt and they turn out so beautifully, just like your knitted patterns show up so well.
    Sometimes you just need to throw in all the colors and using some contrast , a masterpiece is born.

  11. I am so pleased to hear that you will be making the pattern available. I am new to color so I think I could have a real good time with this and learn a lot in the process. You have a gift for being able to see how things will look or should look before putting needle to yarn. I truly envy and admire that talent. Loki looks like a beautiful white lion, he is also a gift to all of us who get to see him. Thanks Wendy.

  12. Midnite Baker says:

    Am enjoying seeing this cowl come together. Can’t imagine Loki being bored with yarn around.:-)

  13. Aha! Just what I was hoping for – the pattern! I too have (just a little bit) of leftover sock yarn & was awondering what to do with it 😉

  14. Loki!! Flufferkitty!
    Kris´s last blog post ..Just Like Potato Chips

  15. This is so ridiculously awesome! I love color work, could totally see myself knitting this one up.

  16. Wow; beautiful colors. I had to look at the picture of Loki twice; it looks like his head is floating in air; then I saw the smaller table under him. He is so handsome and fluffy.


  17. One more question, Wendy, do you make sure that all of your motifs are divisible by a common number so that everything works out or do you fudge a bit as E.Z. and Meg Swansen mentioned they sometimes do on the Fair Isle Yoke sweaters in their Knitting Around DVD? They never quite explained how they added in the extra stitches in order to make everything work, so I am curious if you do so sometimes and how you actually do it. Thanks.
    Suzanne´s last blog post ..Adventures with Fair Isle

  18. This is so beautiful. Color work scares me but the result is amazing. And so many leftovers!

  19. I am so glad you will be offering this pattern. I think it is gorgeous.
    feather´s last blog post ..Great book “Essential Reiki”

  20. The cowl is beautiful! And Loki is playing upside down snowball. LOL

  21. Oh I just LOVE the colorwork!
    Cleo´s last blog post ..Abnegation Knitting

  22. What a fabulous idea! I haven’t done any real colourwork yet but I am taking a class this month. I love the idea of doing small projects in beautiful colourwork patterns : -)