theraineysisters knitting and so much more

May 11, 2008

From Susan — Knitting 101

Filed under: Back Story,Susan's Mitered Cardigan — lv2knit @ 11:43 am

Today we will have a knitting lesson for all of you new knitters just starting out: when the pattern instructs you to cast on “x” stitches, cast on that number of stitches.  Any more or any fewer will cause problems and issues later on.  The stitch count requires three things: 1) knowing how many to cast on, 2) casting on that exact number, and 3) being able to count.  All three must take place simultaneously for accurate stitch count to occur.

homer.jpg homer simpson image by allybarton

Okay — so I can’t count!  No wait, I think I did count correctly, but was aiming for the wrong number.  Oh, well.  Whatever the reason, I ended up with 72 sts across the top of my sleeve instead of 78. 

What a doh!  This is a bit of set back as I will need to rip out the entire mitered portion of the sleeve .  Bummer.  This is the kind of thing that often relegates WIPs to UFOs…

Response to Twinsetellen: Her suggestion: “If you are going to lengthen it anyway, could you just lengthen and keep widening to the right stitch count?”  This is a great idea, but I would still need to redo a sleeve — it would just be the first one I did instead of the second one.  Darn those pesky sleeves!  They kinda hafta match!

May 10, 2008

From Susan — Knitting is Still Part of my Daily Lifestyle

Filed under: Back Story,Susan's Mitered Cardigan — lv2knit @ 10:53 am

It may not appear to be — since our blog has been knitting free for a while now — but, knitting is still an important part of my “activities of daily living.”  ADLs , for the non-healthcare folks out there, means what people need to do each day to function in a normal capacity :). 

Before I get into a knitting update, let me just announce that I am a winner!!  I won Closeknitfriends’ bloggiversary contest!  Woo Hoo to me and nannie nannie boo-boo to you!   Here is what I won:

My Winnings

It’s a felt-a-something kit: with feltable yarn, fun fur and beads for accent, all in a cute knitting-related basket!  Very cute!  Thanks, and I am honored to win!

Now on to the knitting!  I have been working on a stealth knitting project that is nothing fancy and not my design, but is a gift of sorts to be revealed at a later date.  Because that has taken up a lot of my knitting time, I have not made much progress on my Mitered Cardigan.  I did finish one sleeve and discovered it was too short.  No problem — I anticipated that I may have to adjust the length:

Mitered Sleeve

The length for me needs to be 25″ from very top to very bottom.  I will finish off the cuff with applied i-cord.  The other sleeve is finished to the point of adding the sleeve cap.  I am thinking I should knit that cap next and then figure out the adjustments to the other.  It’s not a lot of knitting!  I could finish the sleeves easily this weekend, but then there is a lot of finishing left to do. 

I really wish I had had this jacket done when I was in New York with Surly.  It would go great with jeans and I would have been able to wear some knitting, plus it would have been perfect given the weather.  Sally wore her Mermaid while we did our knitting shop round-about and got so many compliments!  “Oh, did you knit that?” “Why, yes, I did.”  “It’s lovely!”   PS: I enjoyed reading all of your comments about our trip.

Shepherd’s Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival is being held this weekend.  Last year I worked the MKG booth for a couple of hours and wandered aimlessly for a couple of more.  It was really fun and a great way to connect with the creators of our favorite past-time — the sheep and alpaca who make our knitting possible!  I may go for a bit tomorrow morning.

April 27, 2008

From Susan — No Bites, Except Pie

Filed under: Susan's Mitered Cardigan — lv2knit @ 10:12 am

Well, I stood around hoping that something new would bite me in the a**, but nothing did!  So I am back to the old Mitered Cardigan. 

You may recall that I am changing this into a more traditional jacket style, with set in sleeves.  I had originally thought that I would simply shape the garter stitch sleeve from the pattern.  I kept thinking about it and decided to try to miter it somehow while still ending up with a fitted sleeve.

This picture shows the bottom portion of the sleeve:

I did a provisional cast on all the way around.  The top edge will be “unsprung” and the sleeve cap knitted up from there.  The two side edges (sleeve “seam”) will be joined using a 3-needle bind off.  To get the sleeve shaping (wider at underam — narrower at wrist) I used short row shaping.  To finish off the bottom edge, I will add an applied i-cord edge.

The short row shaping acted just like standard sleeve increases on a regular sleeve — though I was going upside down and backwards to get there!

The cap is knitted straight for 1-2 inches — allowing for length adjustment — and then the cap shaping starts.  I used Actual Size Graph paper to plot out the cap shaping.  I did knit the first sleeve cap and it was a disaster — my gauge paper was off.  I will re-measure my gauge, adjust the shaping, and reknit the very top of the cap.  It’s not a lot of knitting.  If the sleeve ends up too short, I can pick up from the bottom and add some garter stitch OR reknit the sleeve cap with more straight knitting before the shaping.  Either way, I have a fix for the sleeve length.  It’s all about gauge baby — that elusive little minx!

On a non-knitting note:

Yesterday a friend of mine took two of us on a surprise excursion.  She told us months ago to “save the day” as a play date — no other explanation given!  We met at 10 am and she drove us to Stillwater, Minnesota — a beautiful little river town that is CUTE, CUTE, CUTE!!  She had signed us up for a pie making class at The Chef’s Gallery Shop with the “pie guy” — John Michael Lerma.  He has won many pie baking contests and appears regularly on the cooking network. 


John Michael is absolutely delightful and does he know pies! 

There were 20 of us in the class.  We broke into groups and each made one of the following pies:

As the pies were either baking or chilling, he gave a pie crust clinic, and then we got to taste all six pies!  OMG!!  The Vidalia Onion Pie was the best and is his signature creation.  He will be on Martha Stewart in May to share it!  It was a fantastic day and something so fun and unexpected.

PS to Rudee: I would definitely serve this as a side dish or light brunch entree.  It would go great with a salad and crusty French baguette!

PS2 to Peggy: Uh, maybe ice sour cream (?). 

April 20, 2008

From Susan — Shaping Up

Filed under: Knitting Tips,Susan's Mitered Cardigan — lv2knit @ 12:05 pm

I thought I would share a knitting tip that some of you asked about in reference to the Mitered Cardigan I am currently working on — it is still progressing at a snail’s pace (if a small, slimey, armless snail could knit ;)). 

This information can be applied to any knitting project as long as you create graph paper in the appropriate gauge. I use the Actual Size Graph Paper generator.  I know there are others but this one is the best one I have found.  It will allow you to create graph paper of any ratio.

Basically, you draw out the shape you want on the graph paper and then fudge around with the knit shaping to create it.  By “fudging” I mean that the sequencing should make sense to you as a knitter.  For instance, instead of “bind off 5 sts, 3 sts, 4 sts” I would make it “bind off 5 sts, 4 sts, 3 sts” to create the shape, even though either might work with your diagram.

The illustration on the left shows the general sketch for the neck and armhole shaping I used for the Mitered Cardigan.  The red line shows the shaping I was going for and the blue line shows how to recreate the shaping with knitting.  The graph paper shown is not to scale, but gives you the idea.

The picture on the right shows how the final piece matches up with the drawing.  When you use this technique, the knitted piece should follow your outline exactly as long as you use the correct gauge on your graph paper.  It is really cool!

Shaping Diagram

In the case of the Mitered Cardigan, I needed to cast on additional sts to create the shaping, due to the direction of the knitting — shown with yellow arrows.  This is not typical.  Usually, you will be binding off/decreasing sts to create your shaping — the principle is still the same. 

How did I know what the shaping should be in the first place?  For the armhole, I knew the overall width of the body and the width I needed at the shoulders.  The difference between those two numbers had to go!  The neckline is a standard jewel neck: 3-3.5 inches lower than the back.  I made it the same width as the neck in the original pattern (8″ total — 4″ each side). 

If creating your own pattern from scratch, start with some basic knitting books or design books that show the standard dimensions of various necklines and sleeve applications.  Or use other patterns you have liked as a starting point.  That is what I plan to do for the sleeve cap on this sweater: I have a sleeve cap that fits really well so I am using it as the basis of the sleeve shaping. 

I am sure there are various software packages that do this for you, but I am cheap and have not felt the need to invest in it yet!  The “free” graph paper has served me very well over the years. 

I am working on the sleeve right now and will post a picture when it is done — it looks pretty crazy in its current state!

April 15, 2008

From Susan — Back to Normal (?!)

Filed under: Susan's Mitered Cardigan — lv2knit @ 12:08 am

Whatever that means !  My knitting immersion therapy is over and it’s back to the daily grind (yes, Marie, I did go to work today, dragging my sorry behind behind me!).  I could have a “booster shot” by attending tomorrow evening’s MKG meeting, recapping the success of Yarnover and listening to Joan Schrouder’s knitting wisdom.  We’ll see if family obligations allow me off my leash for another night.

I must admit to amour propre after reading the Yarn Harlot’s description of our meeting the other evening.  Wow!  Thanks for the kind words!!  And I keep thinking back to all of the knitters we met — wonderful memories of a fun evening!

Now on to some knitting content.  I have some complaining to do.  I am a little peeved by the yarn I am using for my current project — the Mitered Cardigan.  I am knitting with Rowan Tapestry in the Lakeland colorway.  The yarn is not my favorite and I am praying that it doesn’t turn into one giant pill immediately upon cast off, BUT that is not what is bugging me today. 

I finished the left front a while back:

The shaping worked as planned, I knit the bottom square of the right front, and had made some headway into the top section.  Motoring along at a ‘slow-but-sure’ clip.  Then I looked at it.  The top section was about ten shades darker than the bottom section.  I had grabbed a ball of yarn from the same bag, with the same dye lot and it looked completely different!  Ugh!   It was way too obvious being right on the front!  I ripped and restarted with a new ball, but should I have to?  Isn’t that why they created dye lots?  I know handpainted yarnie la la’s can vary a lot, but this is standard Rowan issue.  (It doesn’t say anywhere that it’s handpainted). 

I am now concerned about the rest of the project and how I can scrounge enough yarn for the sleeves.  I know my Kauni sleeves were very different in color, but that was a design element ;)!  I don’t think having one pale sleeve and one dark sleeve will look quite right.  It’s a little frustrating…

April 13, 2008

From Susan and Sally — ….A Few of Our Favorite Things….

Filed under: Back Story,Susan's Mitered Cardigan — Both Sisters @ 11:03 am


From Susan:
The Yarn Harlot came to town! But that pales in comparison with the fact that Surly also came to town! Sally arrived today at 1pm. I picked her up at Minneapolis’ best kept secret: The Hubert Humphrey Air Terminal. Maneuvering through that airport is like time travelling back to the Fifties: an age when air travel was fun and uncomplicated.

First stop: two yarn stores — Borealis and The Yarnery. Borealis must have about the best selection of sock yarn in town…but I don’t really knit socks. At least not too many of them. They do have a wonderful selection of yarns and a lovely, friendly staff.

From Sally:
Borealis does have a fabulous sock yarn selection. I can’t even knit right now and I bought some lovely sock yarn from The Great Adirondack Yarn Company. What was I thinking?

From both of us:
The Yarnery hosted Stephanie’s book appearance. They, too, have a wonderful selection of yarn and a lovely, friendly staff. St. Paul is ground zero for some great yarn stores — the two already mentioned and Three Kittens are the trifecta of LYS goodness. Each has great yarns and great staff. We are really lucky here!

Now, on to the “Big Event.” The BE was being held at the University of St. Thomas. Despite the ridiculously horrible weather (from Sally — why did I leave 70 degree Washington to fly into a snow storm?) and need to hustle ourselves through the outside slop, it turned out to be a fantastic venue: roomy and yet intimate. The Yarnery staff had learned many lessons last year and the BE was greatly improved. It was very well organized.

Here are some knitting peeps as they ready themselves for the BE to commence:

They kicked off with a “Sound of Music” theme (hence the title of this post) — the Von Yarnery Family Singers (aka, Angie, Eric, and Jessica) regaled us with songs from the hit musical with a Harloty accent:

Could Eric be any taller, cuter, or blonder (????)

Shelly Kang has YouTube videos linked on her site — a MUST VISIT to hear these clever crooners!

Then out popped Stephanie and the crowd went wild! We laughed, we cried, we knitted — it was great fun.

Many of us stayed for the obligatory book signing/fawning session that followed. Here The Rainey Sisters meet the Yarn Harlot:

She said “hi” to Susan and then mentioned Sally — Susan said “she’s right there” OMG — all three of us in one room.

Friday was pretty uneventful as we tried to avoid the bad weather that continued to pound the upper Midwest. We rested up for Big Event #2: Yarnover.

Saturday — Yarnover
From Susan:
Yarnover was held at Hopkins HS for the first time — great venue. This year was the first that I was part of the planning committee. Sally was my trusty sidekick and very helpful (thanks for putting up with me!). We got there at 6:30 a.m. and got home at 8:30 p.m. Need I say more? I was a whipped pup, let me tell you!

About 300 people were registered and of course many drop ins checked out the vendor fair.

The list of instructors was a veritable who’s who of the knitting world, and I would hate to leave out any names, but let’s just say I was a bit knitstruck!

The highlight of the day for me was seeing (and touching!) Susanna Hansson’s incredible collection of authentic Bohus knitting. She brought a museum’s worth of priceless, vintage Bohus designs — here are a few examples:

Yes, that is a Blue Shimmer! Sally was wearing her Blue Shimmer yesterday so she fit right in and caught the eye of most of the people in Susanna’s class!

Oh, how I wish I spoke Swedish:

After BE#2, we got to dine with the aforementioned knitting Biggies and had a wonderful time. Here are some of the people at our table:

Sally with Ann McCauley

Chris Bylsma and Joan Schrouder (in a stunning but not-quite-finished Kauni sweater — knitting needles still hanging from the armholes!)

Susanna Hansson and Sally Melville

For all of the knitting-related “activity,” I got NO actual knitting done! Sally and I did pick up a little yarn along the way. Here is another mitered project for the near future:

Ode to Joy Cropped Jacket by Candace Eisner Strick

Sally ordered the Cape Cod colourway and I have the one pictured — Autumn. It is a bit unusual for me (some will challenge that statement!), which is why I chose it. In person, the color looks like water color, and very vintage. Part of it was that Sally and I were staffing the information booth the whole day and sat directly across from this sweater — its siren song proved irresistable!

Today it’s back to the Yarnery to teach a class and then Sally flies home. It has been a whirlwind of knit-tastic proportions. I wonder if this is a legit excuse for a sick call tomorrow? Maybe not! 🙁

From Sally:
Yes, I bought a sweater kit.  No, I can’t knit.  Is there a problem with that?  I met many wonderful knitters and lots of people who read our blog as I sat at the information desk pretending I knew enough to help people.  I can’t list everyone’s names, but I want to especially thank Shelley Hermanson and Anna Blomster for their warm welcome to me.  They were two of the nicest knitters I’ve met and I was in awe at how hard they worked to make Yarnover such a special event.

PS — just received this photo of The Rainey Sisters from Shelly K.: 

March 29, 2008

From Susan — Miter, Miter, Pants on Fiter

Filed under: Susan's Mitered Cardigan — lv2knit @ 11:10 am

I finished the back!  Woo Hoo!  It took longer than expected, of course, but I am pleased so far.  The front will be shaped differently than the pattern, too, with traditional neckline shaping (for notched collar) and added pockets.

The following picture shows the elements of this cardigan that provide structure.  The red, crossed lines run along cast on edges, which I did using a cable cast on for a firm edge.  If you follow the bands of color, you can see that the knitting is multi-directional as well.  This provides additional support for the garment that plain garter stitch does not.  Garter tends to stretch.   I know of some people who made this jacket and experienced stretching.  I think if you follow the instructions in the magazine and use a regular knitted cast on, there may be an increased tendency to stretch.

One of my peeps just finished her Mitered Cardigan and went to block it by soaking it in her washing machine and then spinning out the water.  She has done this many times….BUT, she had purchased a new washing machine.  Ruh Roh!  The new machine goes directly from soak to wash.  She was upstairs when she realized she was listening to the familiar (and unexpected!) whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of the wash cycle.  She said she screamed and bolted so fast her hubby thought she was on fire!  Anyway, the jacket was lightly felted.  I must say, it is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous in its felted state.  It does still fit her, but not in the generous, over-sized way she had planned.  Bummer!

I really enjoyed reading all of your comments about knitting and sewing.  I, too, love to sew and do agree that HAND sewing is portable.  Quilting has always had a strong social component and has been a major source of community networking for many years.  The StarTribune article was focused on sewing garments by machine which is a different story.


March 27, 2008

From Susan — Sewing is the New Knitting?

Filed under: Susan's Mitered Cardigan,Uncategorized — lv2knit @ 10:29 pm

That is a quote from the paper today (Startribune, March 27, 2008). 

Knitting was the new-again craze five years ago. Everyone was clicking needles, from young professionals in bars and cafes to superstars such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Roberts.  Now sewing is back in vogue.

“Sewing is the new knitting,” said Amber Eden, editor of Threads, a magazine for sewing enthusiasts.

Hmmmph.  I think it is great that young people are rediscovering how fun it is to get creative and customize your clothing and your look.  A return to our roots.  But the “new knitting?”  Au contraire, mes amies!!

Sewing is not and never can be the new knitting — because of one very important difference: knitting is portable.  Because it is portable, it can easily be shared as a social activity. 

The news article describes “sewing retreats” at hotels or on cruises, craft expos that attract thousands, etc.  But sewing enthusiasts cannot do what I did this evening: grab my knitting bag and hang out at Panera’s with my knitting peeps.  I didn’t have to drag a sewing machine, cutting table and iron with me to share my craft with others.  Sewers can host expos, have shop hops, blog about their projects — but the activity itself is either very solitary, or takes a lot of effort/resources/space to be a group activity. 

For many years, sewing was my hobby of choice — but I was hidden away in my basement sewing room, away from the family (not always a bad thing ;)), and isolated.  With small children, it just did not work.  So, I started knitting more and have never looked back.  It brought me out of the basement, into the light!!

Susan steps off soapbax…..Okay, let’s talk about knitting! 

Modified Mitered Cardigan
Mindless miters are mighty fun to knit!  I am liking this project.  You can really see the construction here.  The three sides of the 4th back section are on the needles.  The left and bottom edges are picked up along the adjacent sides of the previously knit sections and then the 3rd leg is cast on.  You can also see how I carved out the armhole shaping on the left side.

Mitered Cardigan by Norah Gaughan, Vogue Knitting (Holiday Issue, 2003)
Rowan Tapestry, US 6 needle

I am almost done with the back, so the project is motoring along nicely.  AND, it is very portable.

March 23, 2008

From Susan — Happy Easter!!

Filed under: Susan's Mitered Cardigan — lv2knit @ 9:52 am

I know we are supposed to be announcing the contest winners, but that may be a day or two more — busy lives, you know!  Anyway, I did not want to wait to wish everyone a Happy Easter.  This is one of my favorite cartoons of the season:

easter.jpg easter image by noelle_926

I also want to mention a new “freebie” pattern on our site.  I wore this sweater yesterday (yes, it is still “sweater weather” here — it is snowing as I write!).  It is my own design, done in Dunedin yarn.  The factory that made this yarn burned to the ground before I knit the last stitch, so any hopes of having this design go anywhere were dashed long before the sweater was finished.  I went ahead and wrote out the pattern for posterity and put it away.  When I decided to post this as a project on Ravelry, the pattern question became relevant once more.

Joan of Arc
by Susan Rainey of The Rainey Sisters
Finished Bust Measurement: 45″
Gauge: 32 sts and 48 rows to 4″ (US Size 2 and 3)
It is one size fits none, out of non-existent yarn, but knock yourselves out!

Now that we’ve had that lovely walk down memory lane, what am I knitting now?  I made Norah Gaughan’s Mitered Cardigan from Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2003, years ago in Mountain Goat Yellowstone and loved it.  It has a unique construction that provides a lot of structure to the garter stitch jacket.

MiteredCardigan004.jpg Mitered Cardigan picture by lv2knit

As I was contemplating what to do with my Rowan Tapestry (Lakeland), I kept going back to the Mitered Cardigan because it is so perfect for variegated yarns.  I decided to revise it a bit so it does not look identical — it will be more tailored, with set-in mitered sleeves, notched collar, and pockets.

This is the start of the back.  Even though this is lighter weight yarn, I think it is working out so far.  I’m not sure how the unplied Tapestry will hold up over time.  I love the look and feel of some of these yarns, but they pill so easily it drives me nutty!!

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