theraineysisters knitting and so much more

March 18, 2007

From Sally — A Tale of Two Shawls

Filed under: Peacock Shawl -- Sally's,Three-Cornered Shawl — surly @ 4:04 pm

First, I want to thank everyone who has entered our Anniversary Contest; it’s been really fun to read all of your comments. If you haven’t entered, we will be taking entries until midnight on March 19th, Central Time. We’re using Central Time because that’s Susan’s time zone and it gives you an extra hour. (In other words, at 12:01 on the 20th, you are too late.) Details on the contest, the oh-so fabulous prizes, and instructions on how to enter can be found by clicking on the link at the top of the sidebar.

Okay. Now for the shawl update. I’ve decided to abandon the red silk shawl for the time being. I was close to finishing the first repeat of Chart C, when I realized that the chart contained an error. Basically, some of the double decreases should have been K3tog (right dec) and not SK2P (left dec). Although there was a symbol for the K3tog decrease, it was only used once on Chart C and I think, even then, it was in the wrong place. I had assumed that the symbol would show up on a later chart so I didn’t worry about it. (It doesn’t.) Seeing that lone K3tog symbol, however, is what made me really analyze what I had knitted thus far.

These are not great photos. If you look closely, you can really see how the left side of the little triangle shape at the bottom SHOULD be slanting to the right. It ain’t. I guess that’s something I should have caught earlier; it’s hard when you are still trying to see what the pattern will look like. Logically, though, I probably should have figured it out. The problem continues up that middle line of the shawl. The decreases are slanting the wrong way, pulling and creating an unattractive series of holes. I dropped down a couple of decreases and changed them to see if the look of the shawl improves. It does. (I don’t have a photo of that.) But I can’t really drop down all the way to the bottom. Moreover, this same problem is occurring on the sides of the shawl — less noticeable probably but it would forever bother me.

SO the question became leave it or start over. And if I start over, do I even want to use this yarn? Is it bad luck? Does it really want to be used for something else? Maybe I should knit this in my blush coloured KidSilk Haze, which was my original intention. I don’t know.

Once I start asking whether I should start over, I inevitably do. So I will, but not right now. When I do, I will make two other changes to the shawl. As a reminder, here’s what it looks like:

I know this isn’t a great photo — sorry. (I’m sick with the stomach crud today so I’m just not up for photography.) The wide bottom pattern (which is Chart C), uses the SK2P decrease in the center of each of the clover leaf motifs. I don’t think mine were looking all that attractive apart from the slanting problem, so I will replace that with a different double decrease. Finally, there is no strong center line up the middle of the shawl. I’m going to insert one. As long as I have to rewrite some of the charts, I may as well.

In the meantime, I felt like knitting on a shawl but I just didn’t have it in me to start this one for the third time right this minute. So I’m doing another head start project: the glorious Peacock Shawl from Fiddlesticks Knitting. Photographs of it can be found here and here.

I started this shawl a loooong time ago. It was the first time I’d ever knit lace. Yeah. I chose this as my very first lace project. It seemed daunting, so I put it away. Well, when I pulled it out yesterday, I realized that it’s a very easy and manageable project. It doesn’t take much lace experience to suddenly be able to read your knitting as well as the charts. Reading your knitting is a big help always, but especially with lace. It’s nice to see that I’ve actually learned something. I’ve been flying through it. I’ve just finished the fourth chart (out of seven). (If you’ve never bought a pattern from Fiddlesticks, the patterns are very well written and the charts are wonderful — they’re already very large so you don’t have to blow them up.) The fun stuff — the big feathers — starts soon.

I’m knitting it in a lovely, deep eggplant color. I promise photos when I don’t have to crawl to the camera.

PS from Susan:

I feel your pain — I have been sick all weekend with a cold. 

I also started the Peacock Shawl several years ago and left it roadside when I decided I was not enamored with the color I had chosen.  I thought it was “copper” but it looked more like rust.  Also, I think it was a bit beyond me at the time as well.  I am going to get a new color and start over.

On the Eris front: I finished all the hems and am wet blocking just the bottom.  I want to see how it looks after blocking before forging ahead.  If it looks crappy, I’ll redo the hemline without the cabling. 

I also made and felted two eggs, but have not yet embellished them. 

Hey, I’m sick, but not too sick to knit 😉

March 17, 2007

From Susan — Wow!

Filed under: Back Story — lv2knit @ 10:55 am

Miracles come in all sorts of strange and unusual packages!     

Kim is a window dresser for a local department store — which shall go un-named because it has changed hands and names so frequently the last few years that none of the locals even know what to call it!!   She is a wonderful knitter whom I met when she took some of my classes at Amazing Threads.  I enjoyed her company so much I asked her to come to our knitting group, and luckily for us, she has been a fairly regular regular ever since.  We also share our interest in Grey’s Anatomy — she is the one who lamented Meredith’s [unlikely] revival a couple of weeks ago. 

Anyway, Kim told me that she had a gift for both Sally and me — it was something we had mentioned on our blog; something that we really wanted.   I couldn’t think of a thing we had talked about  — had I mentioned a tapestry needle, pincushion, measuring tape?  How about a special type of knitting needle or maybe a particular yarn?  No, it had to be something we had both wanted.  Hmmmmm, I racked my brains, but couldn’t come up with a thing.  Well, Kim certainly did:


Click here for picture.  And another.

Oh my god — do you believe it?  I am still in absolute shock and was as giddy as a young child at Christmas when she hauled them out of her car.  Honestly, I never would have guessed this in a million years, because who would expect such a cool and fabulous gift?

My headless “friend” came in and joined us for coffee at Panera’s — she’s a very cheap date.  We got a few stares from some of the patrons and she actually got hit on by the manager (he is a little odd, though).  I am thrilled, Kim, and can’t thank you enough.  You rock!

FYI: The sweater pictured is an Elsebeth Lavold design featured in Knitters’ Magazine (Fall, 1999, I believe).  I made it out of GGH Mulberry Silk, 50% merino, 50% silk in Color Sage.   It was a total labor of love — in other words, I loved the making of it but rarely wear it. 


Conversation with Husband this morning:

Me: I have laryngitis.

Him: WHAT?

Me: I have laryngitis.

Him: WHAT?

Me: I have laryngitis.

Him: WHA-A-??, Oh.

From Sally: I can’t adequately express my shock and gratitude over this gift. When Susan said Kim was giving us something, I couldn’t imagine why — much less what.

I can’t wait to get my mannequin. I do plan on giving her/it a name, but it’s like naming a puppy. I won’t know what name to choose until she/it arrives.

I don’t live in Minnesota or go to Susan’s knitting group — so it is doubly sweet that she thought to include me.


March 15, 2007

From Susan — When chickens learn to knit!

Filed under: Uncategorized — lv2knit @ 9:39 am

I taught a class at The Yarnery in St. Paul (651-222-5793) the other evening and had such a wonderful time.  And, of course, some of that knitting-type fun had to do with shopping at a great knitting store.  On display was a basket of the cutest felted Easter eggs you’ve ever seen — shown in the photo below. 


The patterns were literally flying off the shelf!  They also had a knitted baby chick pattern.  Marie works at the Yarnery — great idea, M!  Anyway, I will embark on my own quest of knitting, felting and decorating some cute lil eggs for this Easter and post pictures when progress is made.  I have a lot of colors of Cascade 220 lying around, so it should be fun doing some mixing and matching.  I also have too many lots of beads and beading supplies for embellishments.  Sally insisted on a care package with all the necessities, so Happy Belated Birthday, Surly!!  It will be in the mail soon! 🙂


March 13, 2007

From Sally — Lace Needles

Filed under: Knitting Tips,Three-Cornered Shawl — surly @ 3:36 pm

Gale asked: “Are you finding laceweight silk difficult to knit with? I am wondering about how it behaves on needles.” Funny you should ask — I was planning to write about the needles I was using but I wasn’t ready to because I was waiting to try a new pair. They came in the mail and I’ve been playing with them a little bit this afternoon.

As I mentioned in my earlier post this morning (please scroll down and read it too if you haven’t already), I worked myself into a mini-frenzy about which size needle to use with my very fine lace weight pure silk. I originally decided to use a U.S. 4 (3.5 mm), and that is what I used when I cast on the first time. I’m glad that I was forced to start over because the second time I went down a needle size, which was the right thing to do. (I’m now using a U.S. 3, which is a 3.25 mm.) In fact, I keep wondering whether I should have gone all the way down to a U.S. 2 (3.0 mm), but I think I’ll be okay.

Anyway, the needles you can see in this morning’s photographs are not Addi Turbos (my usual needle of choice). They are the Knit Picks needles. Now, I know that my first pair fell apart BUT those were some of the interchangeable needles. In sizes smaller than a U.S. 4, Knit Picks only makes non-interchangeable needles. In other words, they are constructed like a “normal” circular needle, all in one piece, and are fairly similar to an Addi Turbo. There are differences: the Knit Picks circular needle has a pointier tip than the Addi and the cord seems lighter and more flexible. Perhaps even more important, I noticed that something about the surface of the Knit Picks needle gave it more “drag.” It didn’t feel as slippery as the Addi Turbos and so the silk seemed to cling to it a little better. (As an aside — I would have used Addi Natura bamboo needles with the silk, but since I rarely knit with bamboo needles, I didn’t have any in the right size. I ordered some but, alas, I did that when I was still planning to use a size 4 needle. So I have some beautiful virgin Addi Naturas waiting for a project, but this one ain’t it.)

However, as many of you may know, Addi has just started making a circular needle specifically designed for lace knitting. So I ordered some of those, too. (What can I say? Knitting is about collecting and possessing, at least for me.) They came in the mail today. At first glance (and by first glance I mean at first ripping the package open as fast as I could), I thought they looked bigger and fatter than the Knit Picks needle. It’s an illusion caused by the color (they are gold); the tips fit through my needle sizer in exactly the same way. So, I knit a row, transferring the shawl to the Addi Lace needle to compare the two. That was a purl row, with no patterning, so I figured it wouldn’t tell me much and it didn’t. Here is a photo in mid-transfer, with a photograph of what I am making as a backdrop.

I’ve now knit part of a pattern row with the Addi Lace needles. Like the Knit Picks needles, the tip is relatively pointy (but it doesn’t jab me in the finger). The cord is very light and flexible — these would be good needles for the Magic Loop method of knitting. These needles are hollow, coated brass whereas regular Addis are nickel-plated. They have as much drag as the Knit Picks needle — maybe even a slight bit more. So, in most respects I would say that the Knit Picks and the Addi Lace needles are both great for silk and almost interchangeable. Almost. I give a slight edge to the Addi Lace needles because, based on these two pairs, the join on the Addis is noticeably smoother. It is, therefore, much easier to push the stitches up to the tip of the left needle when necessary.

Some photographs of the two different needles with no knitting on them. (The Addis are a 24-inch; the Knit Picks are a 32-inch. My Addi 32-inch Lace needles are in use on the shawl.)

Finally, to finish answering Gale’s question: the lace weight silk is interesting to knit with. It’s very slippery, and yet at the same time it has a kind of dryness that makes it sticky. What I mean by that is the yarnovers I make will often stick to the knit stitch that is next to it, so that I have to separate them on the following row. It’s not a big deal, but something to be aware of. It looks as if that is happening a bit less with the Addis, but I haven’t knit enough to know that for sure.

Now aren’t you sorry you asked?

From Sally — New Lace Shawl & Eris

Filed under: Eris Cardigan,Three-Cornered Shawl — surly @ 9:13 am

Well, Susan’s Eris is actually starting to look like a sweater. Mine is looking more like a bolero or a very impractical shrug with no sleeves. Here it is in all its “glory.”

This is a closeup of where I have divided for the sleeves so you can see the provisional cast on. Once I finish the body, I will pick up the sleeve stitches (which are on a holder), undo the crocheted provisional cast on, and knit up the twelve stitches I cast on. That way, there will be no underarm seam (just as with The Blue Shimmer). If the picture is confusing, my thumb is resting on the cord of my circular needle.

I’m way behind Susan with my Eris, in part because I got distracted by that red silk Sundara yarn I wrote about the other day. Once I recovered from the trauma of my lost cast on (thank you for all the sympathy), I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to put the whole project away for a little while or get it started to have as a second project. I was also spinning wildly on what size needle to use — I kept trying to do swatches and getting bizarrely inconsistent results. I decided to put it away for another day and concentrate on Eris. Then I made one small mistake. As part of my excessive worrying about needle size, I googled “Sundara silk” and “shawl” and found this:

It’s stunning and I was. Stunned that is. It’s the Icarus Shawl from Interweave knits, which I’ve already knit in Kidsilk Haze. Brook, whose blog entries on this shawl (including more photographs) can be found here, knit this beauty in the exact same color I had purchased. Well, one look at her Icarus and I was doomed. I had to play with my yarn.

I’m making the Three-Cornered Shawl from the Victorian Lace book. I don’t have an image handy; it’s on page 136 for those of you who have the book. The pattern calls for a backward loop cast on. I didn’t do it. Not only had I done it once, and not particularly liked the results, but I had come across some other knitters’ complaints about it. I swatched to make sure that the pattern would work with a different cast on and then decided to use a cable cast on (which I kept relatively relaxed because I didn’t want a tight edge). It looks fine. The backward loop probably gives a more invisible, delicate edge, but in the context of the whole shawl I don’t think it matters.

I’ve done the four-row beginning (Chart A), Chart B, and have just barely started the first repeat of Chart C. The pattern difficulty is categorized as “experienced.” It’s really not a hard pattern, though (apart from that cast on). The lace repeats themselves are small and fairly obvious — that is, they line up over each other nicely so that it is not hard to figure out where you are or whether you’ve miscounted. I initially put in markers to separate the repeats (just to make sure I had the initial counting correct when I set up the repeats), but I removed them after Chart A. Not only was it annoying to have so many markers, but — and this may be why they listed it as being for experienced knitters — the markers need to be moved fairly regularly as the number of stitches changes. Still, it’s a simple pattern with no lace patterning done on the wrong side rows (which makes it more of a lace fabric than a true knitted lace).

I have very little to show of it, but here is what I have:

I’m not sure that my shawl will be as exquisite as hers, but I’m hoping. If I hadn’t already knit Icarus, I’d probably be knitting it in this right this moment.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter our Anniversary Contest if you haven’t already. We are taking entries for another week. Details can be found by clicking on the link at the top of the sidebar (to the right).

March 11, 2007

From Susan — Underwhelmed

Filed under: Eris Cardigan — lv2knit @ 7:27 pm

I am definitely not enthralled by my cabled corners on Eris.  They started out okay — I was pleased with my short rows (after three tries!).  I used nonaKnits instructions, which are very nicely written and easy to follow.  Here is a picture of the back of my Japanese Short Rows:


Why is it so “hairy?”  I used thread instead of safety pins, because I couldn’t find enough pins.  Anyway, I was happy with the way the short row shaping ‘shaped up.’  I’m not so sure about the cabled corners.  The knitting seems coarse, like the yarn should be finer and knit to a tighter gauge.


I still need to add my 5-stitch applied i-cord edging.  I prefer to do it afterward so it is smoother and I can adjust it to fit.  I found with the Rogue Hoodie that I preferred doing the i-cord edge after (click here for picture).  I also realized that I should have done the front corners first because the front edging needs to overlap the back and mine is set up wrong — oops.  Not to worry!  I’ll fudge with grafting.

I continued onward and completed the I-cord edging across the lower back hem:


And the hem as a whole — albeit, a bit washed out in color:


I’m still not sure what I think about this project.  The hem wants to roll in a funny way.  I did a light steam before I picked up my edge sts but it still rolls.  I hope that wet blocking solves the problem — wet blocking certainly cures a lot of what ails my knitting 😉 ! 

PS — I completed the shirt-tail hem shaping on the right front and then tried the lil puppy on — I realized that in an effort to de-emphasize my tummy, I am now emphasizing my fat ass hips!!  Ruh roh! 🙁


March 10, 2007

From Susan — My Brain is “Clogged”

Filed under: Uncategorized — lv2knit @ 12:42 am

I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of comments about my lil clogs.  They really are a nice, very practical project and would make great gifts. 

I finished the second one today and felted it right away.  Melanie  commented that she thought I was stupid brave to felt one clog at a time.  When I started felting the second one, I myself had “second” thoughts!  How will I get them to match???  They kind of do…..


These are an extremely quick knit — you could make a pair in one day.  I used my bread and butter yarn: Cascade 220.  I love it for felting, and agree with Wendy O’C about the lack o’fuzz. 

Here is another case of

From now on, I will read directions. Really. I will.

I neglected to read the fine print in the pattern.  Just looking at the clogs, it seemed to me that it would take more of the lime green than the fuschia — au contraire, my friend!  The opposite is true!  But I bought 2 green and 1 fuschia mistakenly and did not figure it out until I got to the part in the pattern where it said to start the second sole.  Ruh roh!  The soles are double thick.  Anyway, it took me 4 skeins because I needed to buy another fuschia.  Here again, had I not felted the singleton, I could have done some fudging, but since I had to match the two, it became a fairly expensive pair of clogs!  Next time I will know better.

Thanks for all the great comments. 

PS — Don’t forget to sign up for the contest!

PSS — In response to your questions:

Michelle asked about the Cascade 220 — I buy it at my LYS.  It’s about $7 a skein for 220 yds (hence, the name ;)).  I don’t really bother with on-line for that because it’s so readily available.  The pattern is from Fiber Trends AC-33x.  It is also available everywhere.  There’s even a class set up at my LYS for this very pattern. 

And look at how gorgeous these can be:


The picture’s not great, but these were in the State Fair last summer next to my socks, which is why I have a picture.  They are so beautiful!  Sorry that I can’t give you the knitter’s name.  So, you can go wild with these and really make them special.  I don’t think I’m up for that right now, but I am thinking ahead to Christmas and may make a pair or two for relatives.


March 8, 2007

From Susan — It’s MY Turn!

Filed under: Uncategorized — lv2knit @ 8:50 am

Yes, I know — everyone LOVES Sally’s Feather and Fan Shawl and everyone LOVES Sally’s Bohus and everyone LOVES Sally’s Berry Cluster Pullover — Sally, Sally, Sally (geez, she’s finished a lot of stuff lately!).  I’ve been feeling a little neglected of late — I haven’t finished anything in MONTHS.  So, I embarked on a “quick knit” project, just to feel the juice of getting something done.  And I did finish something.

Well, I finished one of a pair of items.  And it is really impressive.  I KNOW it’s impressive because when I showed my family, they stared in slack-jawed wonder, completely speechless .  Honest — no one said a word!  My thoughtful husband suggested that I finish the first one completely before wasting investing my time on the second.  I’m taking his advice.  I hope I haven’t built it up too much — you know, oversold it!  Click here to see the item before felting. 

Click here for a picture of the FO — needs one more run through though, I think.  I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a classy, timeless and very practical project — to be enjoyed for years to come.   Take that, Surly! 😉


Response to question: the “wonderment” was pre-felting!

March 7, 2007

From Susan — Another Trip to Oregon

Filed under: Oregon Cardigan — lv2knit @ 12:19 pm

Thanks to all for your congratulatory comments and best wishes AND for registering for the contest.  We will have another reminder next week, but have also provided a link in the upper right hand corner to sign up for the fabulous prize drawings.

Now, back to knitting!

A few days ago, Charm asked for some progress pics of my second sleeve.  I regret that I am unable to comply BECAUSE THE SECOND SLEEVE IS DONE!!!!  No more inch-by-inch pictures as it moves along at a glacial pace!  I worked on it the entire Snow Day (last Friday) and finished all but the ribbing, which I completed last Saturday morning.  I knitted until my arms and shoulders screamed!  Owie! 🙁

Here is Oregon with TWO SLEEVES!


Now what, you might ask?  I was thinking that I should just motor along and keep going, but I am so sick and tired of this project, I need to back off for a while.  I will return to it soon, but I just can’t make myself do it today!  I have a small, quick project in mind and if I can get the pattern today, I will start immediately!! 

Eris is going well, also.  I am a smidge away from starting the shirt-tail shaping.  I’ll talk more about our changes to the pattern once that is underway.

In answer to Alison — I am very embarrassed to admit this, but I do not do my two-color fair isle knitting with both hands.  I am a thrower (not a picker) and therefore carry my yarn in my right hand.  I drop the yarn and pick up the second color.  I can do two-handed knitting, but with fair isle I have found that I cannot spread out the just-knit sts as easily (to prevent puckering) AND hold the yarn in both hands at the same time — or chew gum for that matter! ;) 

March 6, 2007

From Susan & Sally — Happy Bloggiversary!!

Filed under: Back Story,Contest — lv2knit @ 9:59 am

To us! 

Yes, March 20 — two weeks from today — marks the One Year Bloggiversary of The Rainey Sisters.  It has been a fun year for us, tracking each other’s progress and sharing our knitting adventures and misadventures with all of you in the knitting community. 

To celebrate this milestone and thank our loyal readers for their ongoing support, we are having a contest, with PRIZES!!!  Some pretty fabulous prizes, actually, all of which relate to the blogging we have done during the past year.

The Prizes:

Prize Number 1


A copy of Poems of Color by Wendy Keele.  We’re sorry we cannot provide the yarn to make your own gorgeous Bohus, but this book will inspire and inform!  Even if you never knit a Bohus, this book is a fun read.

Prize Number 2


A copy of Susan’s “Lace Tam and Scarf” pattern, with 2 skeins of Rowan Silk Wool DK — enough to make the tam:


The color is called Velvet (the picture is very true).  The yarn is 50% Merino and 50% Silk; gauge = 5.5 sts per inch; very soft and lustrous.

Grand Prize:


12 skeins of Tahki Jolie in color #5016 (mint).  Sally has generously donated the yarn to make the Berry Cluster Pullover as featured in Nicky Epstein’s Knitting on the Edge.  Twelve skeins will make the largest pattern size, in the yarn used in the book.  Pearls and book not included! 

How to enter:
Send an email to and put “Contest” in the subject line.  Share something you like about our blog.  Three winnners will be selected at random. 

Enter by 12 midnight, Eastern Time, on March 19.  Winners’ names will be drawn and announced on March 20. 

Thank you so much for being here with us this first year.  We embarked on “The Rainey Sisters” without knowing how much fun it would be and how much we would enjoy sharing our knitting lives with all of you.  We want to say thank you, and please keep reading!


« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Powered by WordPress