Ah – the sweet smell of success. After last week’s negative knitting fiasco, I have actually made progress. I decided I was not satisfied with the purple lace scarf – just too much air and not enough yarn for me. So I tried this:


Much better! The exciting part about all of this (at least for me – remember, my life is pretty dull if this constitutes excitement!), is that I charted this pattern from written directions. To find a pattern, I went to this book in my library:


Take a look at the price. Yes, that’s right! I paid $1.48 for this book – eons ago and who knows where. The problem is that the patterns are not charted, they are written out. Well, I’m a charting kind of knitter. I just refuse to do lace or Aran patterns that are not charted. In fact, I have a pattern for a beautiful Celtic cardigan that I would love to have, but have been putting off because it is not charted. However, I downloaded the Knitter’s Fonts and decided to give it a go. Here is the result:


Pretty cool, huh? It was challenging at first. Although we may read left to right and top to bottom, we knit in exactly the opposite directions – right to left and bottom to top. Therefore the pattern must be charted in that direction, which means reading the pattern that way. Once I got the hang of it, though, it wasn’t too terribly hard. So far, I’ve charted six patterns and test knit one – the purple scarf. I thought this would be a really fun project – making up a lace notebook. I could test knit the patterns out of scrap lace yarn (I have loads!), then mount them on the page with the chart. It would be a nice reference and would give me the opportunity to constantly cast on a new project!! Woo hoo! Semi-guilt free, too, because I wouldn’t be taking on a large project. Sometimes I just amaze myself with my ability to rationalize. But then I remind myself – this is a hobby, for Pete’s sake. I don’t need to rationalize!

Rats! Dagnabit! Poop! I hope no one has been offended by my outpouring of profanity. I spent last night in what I euphemistically call “negative knitting.” You know, the times when you sit down to knit and end up with less than you started with? The problem began when I picked up the Lily of the Valley stole. I hadn’t knitted on it in a week or so because I really wanted to finish this:


Yes, the only positive element of the week (knitting-wise, anyway) – I finished the front of St. Enda. As I was working along on my little nupps, I thought, “Gee, these aren’t as hard as I remembered.” After four rows I realized there was a good reason for this. I was making 5 stitch nupps instead of 7 stitch nupps. Since it was only four rows, I laboriously tinked back. I was ready to start again, when I realized, to my great horror, that about halfway down there were a couple of nupps where I had not picked up all 7 stitches and there was one lone little stitch poking its head out! How in the world had I not noticed this before? Now, the directions tell you this can happen and that you can just go back later and tie them in. But I have this great aversion to having extra yarn ends to weave in, in addition to having a somewhat obsessive personality. And since I was still so early in the shawl, I decided to frog. So I took it off the needles, frogged back to one row before the errors (at least they were on the same row!) and tinked from there.

I have discovered the way to prevent this in the future is (drum roll, please), to actually PAY ATTENTION to my knitting. Novel concept, huh? It is a relatively easy task to check each nupp on the return knit row. You can obviously see if any stitches have failed to catch on the previous purl row and correct them immediately, without frogging, ripping, tinking or anything resembling such. And I found two on the very first row. Made a believer out of me.

Anyway, I was so upset that I decided to cast on for another scarf. I know, I have the attention span of a fruit fly. However, after three tries, I was not pleased with any of the patterns. This is the latest attempt – what do you think? I think it is too open – not enough “fabric”.


Meanwhile, Izzy, back in England, was blissfully unconcerned with all of this, because she found someone to hold hands with while she sleeps.


Ain’t these purty? (Oops! My Missouri accent snuck in there):


My Knit Picks order came yesterday. It took about 10 days – a long time to wait, but I guess you can’t complain with free shipping. The photo doesn’t do them justice, not just because it doesn’t adequately show the soft, heathery colors, but because you can’t pick them up and cuddle them. This yarn is so soft and wonderful. I started right away on the Dainty Bess from the Elizabeth I pattern and I’m zipping right along:


I thought about stretching this out for the photo, but decided to wait. The magic of blocking lace in the end is what makes it all worthwhile, so I want to hold off on the prize! If you’re on my lace knitting gift list, you might want to pick your color now, except for the purple, which I’m sure my mother has dibs on. How do you know if you’re on my list? 1. You are related to me by blood. 2. You married my child. 3. I am your “Secret Santa” at work and then only if you are really, really nice to me and make my job easier. That’s it. Oh, and maybe my best friend who oohs and aahs over everything I do and generally tells everyone I’m a genius. Oh, and you have to promise to wear it faithfully and take good care of it. ‘Nuff said.

I have not abandoned the Lily of the Valley stole. In fact I’ve made quite a bit of progress (you might want to click on the photo for a better look):


I have made peace with the nupps and as long as I remember to keep them loose, they are, if not exactly a piece of cake, at least a crumb or too. I like the more compact nupp that the K1 P1 makes instead of using the YO method. I have also not abandoned St. Enda. I only have one more repeat on the front before decreasing for the neck. I won’t post a picture because guess what? It looks exactly like the back so far!

Am I the only one that wakes up in the night with the most amazing and interesting posts floating through my mind? I don’t know if that’s why I can’t sleep or vice versa, but by the morning it’s all gone with the wind. I should get up and write it down while I can remember! I suppose if I worked on my writing a little more I could come up with some zingy posts. My best friend, who was also my English 101 professor (we got special dispensation from the head of the English department who pointed out that some professors had their own children in class) told me I am a very good writer, but also drilled into me the value of not going with your first draft, but revising, revising, revising. Something I’m not willing to do for weekly posts. And she would kill me for that incomplete sentence. And starting a sentence with “and”.

Well . . . I was determined that hell or high water, I was going to start some lace this weekend. When my Knit Picks order did not arrive, I was forced (yes, forced I say!) to start the Lily of the Valley shawl. This, however, is not going to be a quick summer project so I reserve the right to start several scarves in the meantime. The problem is TDN – The Dreaded Nupps. You may also substitute another word for “dreaded”, if you catch my drift. Nupps, for those of you who are blissfully ignorant, are not just glorified bobbles. They are quite challenging! They call for you to make seven stitches in one stitch and on the following row, purl all seven stitches together. Sounds simple, huh? NOT!! After much trial and error and some advice from other bloggers, I offer the following tips for those who might see nupps in their future:

1. Make those little puppies far looser than you ever thought possible! In fact, when you think they’re loose enough, loosen them up a little bit more. It may be possible to make them too loose, but not in my experience (limited though it may be).

2. The directions instruct you to K1, yo in the stitch for a total of seven stitches. Debi suggested alternating K1, P1 instead. This works much better. It gives the bottom of the nupp a little stability for the return trip. It also seems to make for a neater, more compact nupp. Technically, this may make them more bobbles than nupps, if you really want to split hairs, but the difference is too minor for me to worry about.

3. Watch your stitch count! It’s easy on the purl row to pick up an adjacent stitch. It’s almost impossible to count the seven stitches, so just watch the stitch count before and after.

4. I’m knitting on size 4’s, but I’m keeping a size one double point handy for those nupps that I make just a little too tight. I can purl them with the size one and then slip them back on the size 4. But with practice, I’m finding I don’t need to do that too often.

And without further ado, because I know you’re just waiting with baited breath . . . Nupps!


This shawl is made in the Estonian manner, so this is the border, knitting outward, Soon I will, cast off, then pick up stitches from the provisional cast on and start knitting the body of the shawl, ending with knitting the second border. That way both borders are identical. I have never used a lifeline before – in fact, I had never heard of one until I started blogging. But if I am ever going to use one on a project, it would be here. We’ll have to see. When I finally did get the hang of nupps, it was like an epiphany and it’s gotten easier ever since. Maybe I’ll even pick up a little speed.

And, in case you think St. Enda has been totally abandoned – I’ve made progress on the front. Our weather has been relatively cool lately, so perhaps I’d better knit on that before it becomes too hot.

Oh no!!! I signed up for the Summer of Lace knitalong and in preparation was updating my finished projects photo album. I realized that I didn’t have a picture of the Shetland Lace shawl I designed and knitted about ten years ago. So I laid it out on the floor to take a picture and found this:


Yes, that is a m**h hole!! And I found not one, but two. Several years ago I pulled my woolies out of the winter storage box and found out that the m**hs had eaten up my favorite cashmere sweater and chewed a few holes in my Starmore gansey. The cashmere (thankfully store bought, not hand knitted) was toast, but I was able to laboriously repair the gansey. I thanked my lucky stars that my shawl was not affected, or so I thought. I guess I didn’t look closely enough. I am heartbroken! Although I have great confidence in my skills as a lace knitter, I do not feel confident as a lace repairer. Any suggestions out there?

This just about put me over the edge and caused me to cast on for the Lily of the Valley stole, but I steeled myself to work out my disappointment on St. Enda (too bad he’s not the patron saint of lost causes, or m**h holes). I have two repeats done on the front and have just started the third. I think I really want to wait on starting any lace until I get my package from KnitPicks.

And look at this – isn’t this a face to die for?


No, that is not Hester, that is Edward. We received an e-mail from the breeder asking if we were interested. Apparently Edward, although quite handsome, does not enjoy being a show dog. He is just a little too shy. We were tempted for a few minutes, but decided that two dogs is the max for us. And I’m not sure Kirby would forgive us a second time!

I cannot tell a lie. Marguerite made me do it! I tell you, that woman is a bad influence on me. First, she blogs about how exciting it is to start a new project, and the next thing you know – I’m casting on! Then she blogs about her new Knit Picks order, which of course causes to me pull out my newly arrived catalog and bingo! I’m hitting the “Checkout” button and an order is on its way. Ok, I can’t really blame her. I’m really entranced by the new Knit Picks offering. So far I’ve only tried the Alpaca Cloud, but who can resist their prices? This time I also ordered the Alpaca Cloud – seven skeins in a variety of colors. A true bouquet! I also ordered the Elizabeth I scarf pattern, and as all of these will be destined to be gifts, it was a pretty guilt-free order. What a deal – a stunning present for $3.99 and a labor of love. Perhaps these will give me a lace fix and keep me from casting on for the Lily of the Valley stole, at least until I’m finished with St. Enda (here’s a link to the real St. Enda , courtesy of Lorette). Speaking of which:


A completed back! This has got to be a record for me – I cast on for this last Sunday. An entire back on an Aran sweater in less than a week. I did have some extra time, though. I was off for the week. I told my boss it was not in his best interests to ever let this happen again. The week after I bought our non-refundable tickets to England, he announced he was going to a dental conference and the office would be closed for a week – the week after I returned. I was a trifle annoyed because if I had known earlier, I could have coordinated my vacation with his. As it was, I returned to work for two whole days and then was off an additional week. It was actually quite wonderful, but it gave me a little taste of what retirement looks like and you know what? I liked it! So I told my boss he’d better be careful. I’ve already told him he only has me for another four years at the most, but I think he’s living in denial.

Anyway, I’m pleased with the progress on St. Enda. I was a little suspicious at first. Usually on Starmore sweaters I have to go down at least 3 needles sizes to get gauge. This can be especially challenging on her ganseys when she starts out with size 3 needles! This time I only had to go down one, but my gauge across the middle is spot on. I loosened up a little at the shoulder level, but I can use a little width there so I’m not worrying. I think the Cascade 220 may be slightly thinner than the yarn she recommends, but I like the fabric it’s making.

I got a little discouraging news on the school front. I thought I would be an official senior when I finished my current class, but I received my new study plan from my advisor and it appears I miscalculated. Can you tell I’m not a math major? I will actually need 3 more credits (one class) before being a senior. Ah well. For those of you new to the blog, I am a late-in-life student working on my bachelor’s degree at Washington State University. Since I work, I can only go part time, so by the time I’m done, it will be about a 10 year endurance test. The good news is that my grade point average is 3.88 – only .02 points away from summa cum laude status. Way to go, me!