January 2021

A lump of fuzzNeedle managementColumn guidesUse the “Check the knitspeak” buttonThe Wool ChannelThe Violet Protest

A lump of fuzz

I’ve been making steady progress on my entrelac lace stole... though I haven’t posted any photos on Instagram because, quite frankly, it’s just a pile of fuzz right now.

IG worthy? I think not

At this point, I’ve finished knitting all 60 units of the body, and I’m picking up stitches in preparation for knitting an edging. It’s taking some time, since we’re talking about a lot of stitches: after picking up from selveges, retrieving stitches from provisional cast-ons, and knitting across live stitches currently on hold, I ought to have 722 stitches on my needles. Or thereabouts.

Then it’s time for a few rounds of garter stitch, and maybe an attached edging like Tiny Edging or Basic Lace Edging. Some swatching will be required.

Needle management, courtesy of Debbie New

As I’m picking up stitches around the stole’s body, I’m dividing them onto three circular needles.

(Why three? ’Cause that’s all I could find that are the right size, and that aren’t currently in other WIPs or UFOs.)

No doubt, I could fit them all onto one circular – but I’m pretty darn sure I wouldn’t want to. Why? Because shoving 700+ stitches around a single circular is nobody’s idea of fun. Instead, I plan to knit off the end of one needle onto the other end of the same needle. That way, I won’t need to shove more than 250 stitches around a given needle.

I learned this trick years ago, when reading Debbie New’s Unexpected Knitting.

She had had to use it when knitting one of the sweaters in that book. Alas, I don’t have the book at hand, and can’t check to see whether it was the Labyrinth Sweater or the Ouroborus Jacket. It could’ve been both of course, but I bet it was the Labyrinth Sweater that clinched the deal.

If you’re not familiar with these designs, I encourage you to check them out. They’re simply ingenious. The Labyrinth Sweater is particularly fascinating: it’s knit in one super-long piece (hence the need for multiple circs), with increases and decreases at strategic points. When the knitting is done, you have a weird piece of knitting that doesn’t resemble anything... but with some origami-like folding and seaming, presto! You have a sweater.

Ooh... now that I see what others have done with the Labyrinth Sweater, the Ouroborus Jacket, and the related Tam Jacket, I’m tempted to make one of my own. Check out:

Hmm... if I were to knit an Ouroborus like IsabelG’s, what yarns and colors would I use?
See all of Debbie New’s designs

Column guides are awesome

Last week I got a lovely email from a knitter new to She wrote:

Oh my goodness! Thank you, thank you, thank you for this website! Stitch maps have been such a blessing to my eyes, having almost doubled my working speed. It’s the column guides that help tremendously. So much easier to track the columns than count every horizontal stitch separately. I am a fan!

You know, I have to agree: column guides are awesome. Though I can’t guarantee they’ll double your knitting speed, they will make it easier for you see how the parts of a lace pattern are supposed to fit together. Some of my favorite examples include:

In each of these cases, column guides make the motifs “pop.” And any time you can more easily see what a pattern is supposed to look like, the knitting gets easier. Imagine: instead of counting stitches, knitting until the stitches line up on your needles like the symbols line up in the stitch map.

Have you tried knitting from a stitch map with column guides enabled? How’d that work for you?

Let me know!

Use the “Check the knitspeak” button

Speaking of awesome things at, have you tried out the “Check the knitspeak” button?

This button lets you find out if the site can understand your knitspeak, without taking the time to draw any stitch maps. Clicking it will either give you a “This knitspeak looks good!” message, or a detailed description of what’s not quite right – all while keeping you on the same webpage. I tend to use it a lot, like so:

  • *Type in the knitspeak for a couple rows.
  • Click the button to check the knitspeak.
  • Fix typos or other goofs.
  • Repeat from * until everything is typed in and checks out.

Then I click the “Go for it!” button to actually draw a stitch map.

Clicking that button repeatedly might seem a little neurotic – “Is my knitspeak okay? Is it still okay?” – but I find it saves me time in the long run.

Learn more

The Wool Channel

Do you follow Clara Parkes? You should. She’s the Yarn Whisperer, the author behind Knitter’s Review and several awesome books on yarn and wool. And now she’s also the instigator behind The Wool Channel.

It’s just getting started, but I look forward to seeing how the channel celebrates “nature’s original miracle fiber.”

Follow The Wool Channel on IG

The Violet Protest

This last snippet is for everyone out there who’s tired of partisan bickering in US politics.

The Violet Protest is a collaborative art project in support of core American values, including compromise, compassion, creativity, and country over corporate influence. The plan is to solicit 26,750 textile squares, each half red and half blue, from all parts of the country. After display at the Phoenix Art Museum, 50 squares will be sent to each member of Congress.

I’m inclined to take part. I could crochet squares, or knit squares via entrelac, double knitting, or mosaic knitting. But I’m currently leaning towards quilted squares, maybe a disappearing block of some sort but more likely a five-point star created via foundation paper piecing.

What do you think? Want to take part too?

Learn more
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