theraineysisters knitting and so much more

August 22, 2006

From Susan — The Earth Stopped Spinning on its Axis Yesterday

Filed under: Back Story,Current Projects — lv2knit @ 7:37 am

I did not knit yesterday.  Not a single stitch.  I cannot remember the last day that went by without knitting — they are few and far between!  When I said I started the front of my jacket, I had started it Sunday at the Como Zoo.  I did nothing yesterday — shame on me 🙁

August 21, 2006

From Susan — BRIEF Jacket Update

Filed under: Current Projects — lv2knit @ 8:46 pm

I finished the back and started one of the fronts.  I sure hope it turns out — you never really know.  I thought I got inspired to do this project last year, but my forensic evidence (I found the receipt) confirms that I actually decided on this project in June of 2004 — boy, time flies!

August 20, 2006

From Susan — Too Popular?

Filed under: Back Story — lv2knit @ 11:34 am

My dad once told me about the local grocery store that stopped selling one of his favorite items because they sold too fast to keep the shelves stocked. 

I am going to Washington, DC in September to visit Sally (I’ll be her unpaid personal attendant) and to collaborate on our sweater design — plus, of course, it is a good excuse to hit a few yarn shops.  I thought I would check to see when the DC Knit-Out Event is being held – what if it was held the weekend I was there.   Well, it is not being held this year at all because it proved too popular to be managed by the loyal group of volunteers that have been organizing it the past five years.  They had 8,000 attendees last year!!  WOW!  They have decided to regroup and try to involve yarn companies, etc. to help defray the expenses.  They hope to be up and running again next year.  2popular4words.

August 19, 2006

From Susan — Woman’s Continental

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 11:46 am

I have been making some progress on the jacket.  I am just a few inches shy of the raglan shaping.  I am clipping along because this is mindless stockinette and I am enjoying the yarn tremendously.  This shows the fabric — just picture a bigger rectangle!


Because I am sizing this up — for two reasons: one, because I am larger than 40″ and two, because I want it to fit as an outerwear jacket — I have had to make changes to the pattern, but nothing too drastic.  So far I am happy with the results.

August 18, 2006

From Sally — More on Designing

Filed under: Designing — Sally @ 1:47 pm

As I work on the sweater that Susan and I are designing together, I started thinking about some of my past designs. I believe that this sweater, named Rennes after the French city I lived in briefly while in college, is the first sweater I designed from scratch.

As you can see, it has a square neck, bold cables, and a shoulder strap. The shoulder strap is a traditional one, and was the inspiration for this design. With a traditional shoulder strap, the front and backs of the sweater are joined together as you continue the sleeve up the strap. (You knit the shoulder strap together with stitches from the front and the back.) The technical challenge is to get the number of stitches right (through planning, decreases, and luck) so that the shoulder drapes correctly and doesn’t balloon or pull. Here is a close up of the shoulder:

Although in the photograph the lines of stitches going between the sleeve and the shoulder strap don’t look straight, that’s because of my poor photography. The lines are straight, especially when the sweater is on.

Here is a more detailed view of the neck and sleeve:

I’m very fond of this sweater. It brings back memories — not only of Rennes but of knitting it while Susan and I traveled in London.


August 17, 2006

From Susan — Thursday Therapy

Filed under: Current Projects — lv2knit @ 10:20 pm

I just returned from my counseling session – er – knitting group.  What a great group of people.  It really is the highlight of my week. 

This afternoon I played hookie and went to the Yarnery (St. Paul LYS) to be the person who helps out during their open knit clinic.  I had 6 or 8 people stop in (pretty much all at one time!), asking questions about their knitting projects.  It was a little tough trying to figure out where they were in the pattern, help them out at their level of expertise, AND help five other people at the same time.  Whew! 

My on-the-go project may have found its legs.  I started working on a jacket that I fell in love with last year.  Idonis (from my knitting group) made the jacket for her niece for Christmas last year and it was so gorgeous I decided I just had to have one exactly like it.  She made hers out of Pastaza (Cascade 50% llama, 50% wool, 132 yds/100 gms, 4 sts/in).  I immediately went out and bought a bag.  It sat aging gracefully for the past year waiting for me to choose it as my next project.  OKAY!  I finally pulled it out of my stash and started calculating the size I wanted , etc. etc.  I should mention that the pattern Idonis used is at least 40 years old.  To look at it, you would NEVER think to make it — but as I said, I had already seen the completed jacket.  The sizing is outrageous: a size 18 is 40 inches around!!!!  That’s the finished circumference!  Were people in the 60’s midgets?  Anyway, mine will be a tad bit larger 🙂 As I started knitting, I realized that one bag o’yarn was not going to cut it, so I bought another bag today and tested the color difference — it passed the test, amazingly enough.  I’ll probably use the new yarn on the sleeves, front band and collar, but the color really is okay.

Here is the pattern — DON’T LAUGH (okay, you can laugh, but only because I’m laughing WITH you):


How will I ever get my hair to do that? 

Here is the yarn color:


It is called Rainier Heather (color 073): maroon, blue and gold mixed together.  Pastaza is absolutely fabulous to work with; I’ve used it several times before.  So you may be laughing now but just wait.  You’ll see…it will be cute…I hope…well, maybe!

August 16, 2006

From Susan — Awaiting Inspiration

Filed under: Back Story,Oregon Cardigan — surly @ 5:19 pm

Again, I settle into the knitting doldrums with nothing to inspire me.  I am slogging away on Oregon, but it progresses so slowly that it does not do much for my knitting mojo.  I have toyed with a couple of new projects, but none of them are quite working out.  I have some designs to work on but that takes too much brain power, and what I really want is something a bit mindless to take along with me.  I can’t design “on-the-go.”   So that is why I have had very little to post lately.  I just don’t have much goin’ on.

Here is a current picture of Oregon — looks strikingly familiar, right?


You can see there is a little bit of progress.  It was interesting the other night, though.  I was working on Oregon at a soccer game in the outdoor/natural light, and the colors were spectacular — incredibly bright and vivid.  It was surprising to see the difference.  The yarn really is gorgeous.

Knit Out Update — October 8 at Brookdale

I attended the Minnesota Knitters Guild meeting last night.  Knit Out 2006 is going forward as planned and should be a lot of fun.  Hope everyone within a 50-mile radius will be there!

August 13, 2006

From Susan — At a Snail’s Pace

Filed under: Sunrise Circle Jacket — lv2knit @ 8:44 pm

I finally finished Sunrise Circle.  The buttons are on.  They are made from snail shells and quite pricey, but I think they are perfect. 


And a close up of the button loop.  I did a “faux tatting” stitch instead of the buttonhole stitch I usually use for buttonhole loops.


So all my entries are ready.  I’ll do a little steam pressing, but everything is finished.

From Susan — In response

Filed under: Back Story — lv2knit @ 11:56 am

Marina asked (and thank you for the nice comment about my knitting):

That’s interesting, Susan. How many categories are there for “knitting”? Knitting just doesn’t seem to be “big” here in SW OH. So different from Perth, W.A., Australia, where I’m from.

I think “SW OH” is southwest Ohio (?) — Marina, correct me if I’m wrong.  There are 44 lots under Hand Knitted Articles (plus the two sweepstakes categories which you cannot enter).  There are additional categories for Machine Knitted Articles and seniors.  The entire booklet describing all of this is 50+ pages — and includes baking, canning, sewing, handpainting.  The other ribbons I have won have been in sewing and baking.  I missed the deadline this year for entering my Almond Shortbread cookies (I was bummed!).  Baking is VERY cutthroat!

Marina is a fabulous knitter and is a speed demon at fair isle — click on her name in the previous post’s comments to check out her site.

From Susan — Count Down to the State Fair

Filed under: Back Story — lv2knit @ 1:17 am

I know it sounds cheesy, but the Minnesota State Fair is quite a big deal to many Twin Cities knitters.  I have been entering stuff since the mid-80’s. 

There are many different categories for hand knitted articles.  They define plain knitting as stockinette and garter stitch (this is new this year — garter st used to compete against textured knitting); texture knitting is cabled, entrelac and lace; color pattern is fair isle or Norwegian; intarsia is intarsia; “limited use” means that only a portion of the garment uses color or texture.  They have separate categories for hats, socks, mittens, gloves, afghans, scarves, jacket/outer wear, etc.  So, even though you can only enter one item per category, there are many possibilities.  The prizes are VERY nominal (embarrassing really).

The judges give you a score sheet with point totals on different knitting elements.  They award points based on the quality of the knitting, the difficulty of the project and embellishments, if appropriate (i.e., buttons — they have a thing about buttons).   Sometimes they write in comments about why they scored your knitting the way they did.  Over the years I have learned quite a bit about what they were looking for — they tend to favor the traditional and place a lot of emphasis on finishing. 

It takes ~98-99 points to get a blue ribbon in a given category.  After all the ribbons are awarded they compare the blue ribbon winners and award the sweepstakes.  There is a separate sweepstakes for afghans. 

Mindful Knitting

Sally has mentioned “mindful knitting” before.  State fair competition is where I got my first hint of mindful knitting.  I had always just blindly followed the pattern, figuring it was the gospel from which you could not deviate.  When the judges would mark off points and describe what I did “wrong” I was shocked: I hadn’t done anything wrong, I had followed the pattern exactly as written!!  I didn’t understand how I could get points taken off for following the directions.  It slowly started to dawn on me – they didn’t care about the pattern, but how well the garment was executed — I told you I was a bit slow on the uptake!  I needed to think the project through ahead of time, anticipate the finishing and make sure I would have the best result.  It really made me think about my knitting, work on my finishing technique, and ultimately I improved my knitting quite a bit. 

The first time I won the sweepstakes was in 1986 for a Penny Straker shetland lace cardigan — to me it felt like winning Olympic gold.   Here are close ups of the neckline and the bottom:


A crocheted buttonband!  These are antique buttons that I got from my husband’s great aunt — I also used them on my Henry the VIII cardigan.  Unfortunately, this sweater has not fit me in years!


Since then, I have won ribbons every year and several more sweepstakes along the way.  It is fun to walk through the Creative Activities building and try to find your stuff and see how well you did.  It makes going to the fair much more fun and now is kind of a ritual.  I go to the fair on the first day and wait outside the Creative Activities door at 9am sharp to be one of the first in — I always run into other obsessed knitters, and we enjoy looking at the displays together.  It represents the culmination of a year’s worth of knitting.  They also have tons of other fabulous things to look at (amazing quilts, sewing, woodwork, etc.).

The icing on the cake is going to the September Knitters Guild meeting.  We bring our entries and read the judges’ comments — then we get to look at the items up close and talk to each other about our projects. 

This Year’s Entries — drum roll, please!  You will recognize most of the items if you have been reading this blog (please excuse some of the pictures — it’s hard to photograph full sweaters).



The buttons STILL need to be sewn onto Sunrise!  I will do that tomorrow and then take the stuff in on Monday.  Ballerina has to wait until next year — I already have entries in the two categories it could go into (either plain knitting – cardigan, or jacket).  It’s kind of nice to have something ready for 2007.

Anyway, there you have it.   I won’t know how I did until 9am on Thursday, August 24th….but who cares, right?


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