theraineysisters knitting and so much more

March 30, 2008

From Susan — Brief Hemmie Update

Filed under: Hemlock Ring — lv2knit @ 10:03 am

Literally thousands of people have downloaded the Hemlock Ring Throw pattern over the past few months.  But just recently I got wind of a little problem: why isn’t there a key to the feather and fan chart? 

I took the F&F chart directly from Jared (aka Brooklyn Tweed — with his permission of course!), and there was not a key with it.  The symbols are standard and I did not think a thing about it: / = k2tog, \ = ssk, etc.  But enough people have struggled with it that I thought I should add a key to the chart, which I just did.  The new Hemlock Pattern download has the key.

I’m sorry if any of you had problems due to this oversight!

Hemlock2010.jpg picture by lv2knit

I still love my lil Hemmies!!

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 26, 2008

From Susan and Sally — The Winners Are…..

Filed under: Back Story — Both Sisters @ 9:27 am

…not you!  Unless you received a congratulatory email ;)!

The winners of the yarn are:

Cindy M. won the Nature’s Palette Fingering Weight yarn in Dark Teal,

Nancy H. won the Nature’s Palette Fingering Weight yarn in Clover,

and Delores S. won two skeins of Fortissima Cotton Colori sock yarn.


Michelle M. is the lucky winner of our signature mug.  Now who would mind waking up to these young, pretty knitters??!!

But even Michelle is envious of Esther S., grand prize winner of The Rainey Sisters high-quality canvas tote.

Congratulations to all the winners.  We really appreciated all of your entries — we laughed , we cried, and we shrieked in horror.  We also noted several themes. Many of you chose an Elizabeth Zimmerman book as a favorite that you couldn’t do without on a desert island. Many of you wanted a good, basic wool (despite being trapped in the tropics). And many of you had tales of woe based upon troubles with gauge. However, the following story of a knitting disaster certainly struck a chord — especially since we had both mentioned Henry VIII as one of our favorite projects. 

From Jewel’s Purls

*What was your biggest knitting disaster?  
(Submitted from her blog post, dated August 20, 2006 –Jewel’s Purls):

“I’ve debated all weekend how I was going to write this or even if I should.   As you recall, my last post showed I was starting the sleeves on Hank.   I checked my gauge when I started Hank about a year ago, however, for some unknown reason I didn’t pay close attention to my gauge when I picked him up again.  I have no clue where my common sense was let alone my brain.  I was so captured by paying close attention to the charts and watching the design magically appear before me.   The size of Hank probably would have fit Henry VIII himself.  It was large.  Humongous Hank.

Really upset with myself I put him aside (in a clear plastic box with a tight-fitting lid) and decided to think about what I should do.  I had already cut the steeks and was picking up the sleeve stitches.  I consulted my fellow knit buddies and decided I was going to frog Hank.  After all, it’s about the process and the end result, right?  There was no way I could ever look at Hank again knowing he wasn’t done correctly.   I spent a lot of $ on the yarn and it was going to be done right!

The following day after work I decided my decision was the right one but I wasn’t in the mood for frogging.  I took Hank’s charts and was going to put it in with the yarn and unfinished sweater.  I should have immediately suspected something was wrong when I noticed the lid wasn’t on.  When I picked up the box it didn’t take long for me to realize that Poppy, our male cat, had decided that the half-off lid was an invitation for him to use the box as a litter box.   Hank was the recipient of Poppy’s business and did it smell!   Cat pee is one of the things that immediately makes me want to lose my lunch.  I put Hank outside and sat in my chair and cried.  And cried.   And cried.

Again, my knit buddies were a source of support.   This weekend I tried several techniques and products to try to get the smell out.  It may be somewhat better, but it has felted in some places.   I may continue to felt Hank all the way and use him for something – what, I don’t know – or I may just throw him out.  It’s difficut to spend so much time and money on something and then have it end like this.  I learned several things:  check your gauge again and again and even if you think you’re right-on-the-money – check your gauge again!   Also, I learned that the projects I knit not only have a lot of money invested, but emotion as well.  I am surprised how the demise of Hank affected me.”

Postscript:   I did manage to get the smell out of Henry VIII and over time I meticulously frogged what parts hadn’t felted.  I managed to find several hanks of the discontinued autumn and marjoram and now have a full kit to start it again if I feel inclined to do so.

We were shocked to hear about the tortures perpetrated upon poor Henry and hope for his/its recovery!!  This story was so makes-you-want-to-gasp awful that we decided to compound her misery reward her with one of our signature mugs.

Finally, Sally’s daughter and her little assistant (who helped with the random drawing), really wanted us to reward the very first person who entered the contest for her enthusiasm. To keep the results from being tampered with or chewed up, we agreed. Therefore, a mug will also be going to Valerie B.

Congratulations to all of the winners and thank you again to everyone who entered!

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!!

March 22, 2008

From Sally — He’s Ba-a-a-a-ck

Filed under: Back Story — surly @ 4:47 pm

My little assistant is back. He and my daughter will be helping to draw the lucky winners later today.

March 20, 2008

From Susan — Born to Knit

Filed under: Back Story — lv2knit @ 11:44 pm

If my arms were a wee bigger, I could get me one of these tatts:

Unravelled, Inc.

This is a bloggiversary card I we got today from a knitting peep!  OMG…I laughed until I cried.   Check out the innovative storage method for knitting needles … eye sockets.

Anyway, thanks to all for the anniversary wishes and for your fabulous contest entries — they ran the gamut from informative to endearing, and even heartbreaking.  We loved reading them all and will share some of your stories in the upcoming weeks.  Also, we’ll sort through the entries and announce the winners within the next few days.  You’re the best!!

From Susan and Sally — Happy Bloggiversary to Us!

Filed under: Back Story — Both Sisters @ 10:30 am

Woo Hoo!  We have made it to our second year!  We have really enjoyed sharing our knitting exploits with all of you and hearing from you about your own tales of wonder and woe through your contest entries.  Don’t forget you still have until midnight to enter our contest and win FABULOUS prizes! 

Here are the contest details one last time:

Send an email to and put “Contest” in the subject line. Choose one of the following questions to answer.

1. Of everything you’ve ever knit, what is your favorite? Why?

2. What was your biggest knitting disaster?

3. If you were stranded on a desert island, what one knitting related book would you want to have with you? What yarn? Needles and other knitting necessities would be hanging from the palms! That’s all there is to it! Five lucky winnners will be selected at random. The Rainey Sisters reserve the right to quote portions of winning (and non-winning) entries in a future blog. Deadline is midnight tonight.

We thought it might be fun to answer the three questions ourselves to celebrate. 

From Susan: I don’t think I can!  These were hard questions!

Q#1:  I can’t possibly pick out one knitted item as my all-time favorite.  That is because, like movies and food, I like too many to discrimininate ;).  There are things I loved to knit and sweaters I love to wear.  I loved knitting the Peacock Shawl, Lyra was like getting to the top of Everest, and Henrietta is my best ever fair isle. 

Q#2: My knitting disasters cannot hold a candle to the one Sally recently wrote about   (but really, whose could?) — yikes!  My consistent knitting disasters have been, like many of you who wrote in, gauge related.  When I started out as a knitter and making sweaters, the “first version” always fit Sally perfectly — who is 7″ shorter than me!  I ended up making two of everything.  I can’t count the number of sweaters I knitted twice!  The second time was often the charm, but that’s a crazy way to make a sweater!

Q#3: Can I be stranded on a dessert island instead?? 
On a desert island, I have no idea which book I would bring, but I do know the yarn.  My favorite all-around yarn is Cascade 220.  I would take zillions of skeins in zillions of colors and probably a book with a lot of sweater patterns.  I really would be sad to be limited, though.  As I have often said, I really love the variety that knitting provides and would not want to be stranded very long without access to laceweight, beaded knitting, felted projects, etc.

And one more little blog-related story. 
I was knitting in a public place not long ago and someone came along and said she was a knitter, too.  So of course we struck up a conversation about our knitting.  I wanted to refer her to something on our blog, so I said, “My sister and I share a blog called The Rainey Sisters…blah, blah, blah.”  She looked dumbfounded.  “You’re not a Rainey Sister.” Now, I looked dumbfounded (I think I’d know if I was a Rainey Sister!).  She went on to say, “I read the Rainey Sisters blog — they’re young and pretty.”  ::choke::gasp::  The implication being of course “…and you’re not.”  I had to burst her bubble and inform her that our signature picture is a wee bit old (by a few -er- decades) and that both of us have been knitting for over 40 years.  But, I did feel complimented that she thought we USED to be pretty 🙂 ….

From Sally: Hmmm. I haven’t been knitting for over 40 years (but then again, I’m the younger sister). Here’s my attempt to answer the questions.

Q#1: Several of our readers provided an answer that really resonated with me: My favorite project is almost always the one I just started or am about to start. I think that’s one reason I always have so many projects going at once and am so easily seduced and distracted by beautiful yarn or a striking pattern. That said, two of my all-time favorite projects to knit were Kimberly and Arches. I loved knitting each stitch of those two sweaters. I rarely wear either one of them, though. Kimberly is slightly shorter than I’d like. The yarn, Dunedin, had been discontinued by the time I decided to make it. I cobbled together enough of the black out of three different dye lots, but didn’t have enough to lengthen it. (I may reknit it in another yarn some day because I love the pattern so much.) Arches was a one-size-fits-none pattern. It’s enormous. I had to put a huge dictionary under Lucy to keep it from dragging on the table when I photographed it and it’s 50 — yes, I said 50 — inches around. I’m not. But I still love it. Other favorites are Henry VIII, Rennes (one of the first sweaters I designed), my Peacock Shawl, and my Cap Shawl.

Q#2: Some of you suggested that I should severely punish the person who left that felt tipped pen on the table. Let’s just say that the punishment (reknitting the front) fit the crime and leave it at that.

Q#3: I am going to slightly cheat on this question. I would take an Alice Starmore book. I’m not sure which one, though. Maybe Tudor Roses, maybe her Fair Isle book. It doesn’t matter; I would be happy with any of them. For yarn, I would take Koigu and Kidsilk Haze. With those (alone or in combination), I could knit anything from sweaters to gloves to socks to shawls and never get bored.

Thank you for reading The Rainey Sisters!

March 18, 2008

From Susan — One Stitch at a Time

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

I just got home from tonight’s Minnesota Knitters Guild meeting, and had a great time.  I ran into some favorite peeps (Hi, Cathy!) and got to meet noted author, Betty Christiansen — author of:

The book can be found on Amazon.

Wow — Betty was wonderful.  Everyone loved her!  I must say, she was not what I expected.  I thought I saw a picture of her on the jacket of the book — I obviously was mistaken!  The picture in my head was of a sweet little white haired lady.  Betty is young and very attractive…….Some of you may recognize her name from Interweave Knits and Vogue Knitting — she has written/edited for both. 

Betty talked about the intrinsic sense of good will and community/connectedness that comes from charity knitting.  It warms both the giver and the receiver, and can contribute to international peace building.  The book catalogs a number of well-established, grassroots charitable knitting movements, including stories and contact information, and some cute patterns for giving to charities or friends and relatives, too. 

And a little reminder: this Thursday, March 20, is “Wear a Sweater Day” to commemorate the 80th birthday of a truly famous sweater wearer, Fred Rogers:

I wear a sweater every day, so this will not be a stretch for moi, but a reminder for the rest of you! 😉

March 17, 2008

From Sally — Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

Filed under: Japanese Ironwork — surly @ 8:19 am

With the luck of the Irish, maybe you can be a winner in our fabulous bloggiversary contest. (Did you like that smooth transition?) There is still time to enter. For photos and descriptions of our fabulous prizes, please click here. Once again, here’s how to enter:

Send an email to and put “Contest” in the subject line. Choose one of the following questions to answer.

1. Of everything you’ve ever knit, what is your favorite? Why?

2. What was your biggest knitting disaster?

3. If you were stranded on a desert island, what one knitting related book would you want to have with you? What yarn? Needles and other knitting necessities would be hanging from the palms!

That’s all there is to it! Five lucky winnners will be selected at random. The Rainey Sisters reserve the right to quote portions of winning (and non-winning) entries in a future blog.

Deadline is midnight March 20, 2008 (meaning that you have all day on the 20th to submit your entries.)

Susan and I want to thank all of those who have entered thus far. We have enjoyed reading your answers to our questions. Some are funny, some are thoughtful, some are near tragic. We both have wondered how we would answer each of the questions. I think I know how I would answer numbers 1 and 3, but number 2 was a bit harder. Would it be my lovely Silver Belle — beautifully knit but large enough for two or more of me? Would it be the intricate cabled sweater I made years ago out of Vogue Knitting that looked great until I put it on (when I then looked as if I had a hunchback)? I took that thing apart and reknit portions of it multiple times. Then I gave up. It’s in a drawer somewhere because I harbor fantasies of turning it into a pillow. It won’t ever happen, but then that’s why it’s a fantasy. Would it be the beautiful sweater I knit for my daughter when she was three? It turned out, but got left behind in a hotel in Europe. Sigh.

Then there is this brand new horror candidate:

I hear the protests. What? Why that’s beautiful. How could you call that a knitting disaster? Sit down, take a deep breath, and then scroll. You might want to put your hands over your eyes, the way I do at horror movies.



That is what happens when someone leaves a blue felt tip pen on the kitchen table without its cap and a lovely piece of white knitting touches it. Just in case you were wondering what would happen.

I had to rip it back to here:

Now, I was upset but it could have been worse. I have far more yarn than I need for this project, so I knew I could re-knit this piece and not worry about running out. I finished the front for the second time last night. Whew. Now I’m off to finish the back, which I thought I would have finished yesterday.

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