theraineysisters knitting and so much more

August 30, 2010

From Sally — Letting Go

Filed under: Back Story,Luiza — surly @ 3:24 pm

As Susan mentioned the other day, I just took my baby to college.  (Fortunately, he doesn’t read our blog so I can call him my baby without his knowing.)  We are now officially a bi-coastal family:  Sterling is ensconced at Reed College in Portland, Oregon and we, of course, are in Washington, DC.  It was much harder to leave him than I had expected.  I know that we’ll adjust and if he is happy, we will be, too.  Perhaps what is hard is the feeling that there may never be a coming home to DC to stay.  Nora loves Colorado and I suspect that Sterling will feel very much at home on the west coast.  We’ll see.

Here are a couple of pictures of his first encounter with the Pacific (at Cannon Beach).

Finally, a last shot just before I left town (then back to knitting, I swear):

Le sigh.

I’m also “letting go” of my most recent knitting project, which is a shawl I knit specifically for charity. The charity is The National Inclusion Project. The shawl is Luiza, designed by Jane Araujo. Mine will be auctioned in October as part of the Project’s Champions Gala.

I had trouble getting good photographs of this shawl — not just the color but the beauty of the lace work. But here are a few. (The last shot is probably the most true to color.)


After blocking:

I knit this shawl using Merino Silk Lace fromSweet Georgia Yarns in the Blackberry colorway. I loved the yarn and I loved knitting this shawl. Once I figured out the method to the charts and translated a few idiosyncratic uses of terminology, it was a simple and quick knit. The pattern, including the border, was easy to memorize and just flowed very naturally. I plan to knit another for myself.

It’s a somewhat smaller shawl than I usually knit (the finished dimensions of mine are 30″ deep and 60″ across). It’s easy to enlarge, but alas I had only one skein of yarn. The original was designed for fingering weight; I used lace weight. I added additional pattern repeats (16 flowers total on each side), but would have added more if I’d had a second skein.

I hope Luiza finds a good home, and I hope that Sterling will be happy in his new one.

August 26, 2010

From Susan — 5-4-3-2-1-1-1-1

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 10:56 pm

The State Fair Countdown!  I spent today at the Minnesota State Fair with some very special friends.  I’ll elaborate on their “specialness” in more detail later.

I always like to get to the fair on the first day to see if my knitting entries fared well in the judging.  This year was a mixed bag, but I am not here to complain!  I did better on some things than I expected and not as well on others.  This pretty much happens every year.  Other peeps I spoke to felt the same way about their items: “Not quite what I was expecting.”  The ribbon distribution is based on many variables and luck is just one of them!!  I always feel pretty lucky to win anything when I see the other beautiful entries. 

I entered eight things this year and received the ribbons listed in the title: 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, first, first, first , first.  The sweepstakes went to one of my favorite people: Shelley Monitor, MKG president, for her Large Lace Collar Bohus Cardigan:

Shelley Monitor’s Bohus, Sweepstakes (on a night-of-the-living-dead mannequin!)

Shelley is an excellent knitter and very deserving of the sweepstakes award!  Congratulations, Shelley!

I took pictures of my knitted items and very few of them turned out.  The glare on the glass coupled with the hopelessly unattractive mannequins made a good shot almost impossible!  All of my pictures have a yellow caste which I was unable to adjust.  Edited to add: Sivani, bless her heart, fixed several of the pictures for me and removed some of the yellow.  Thanks, Sivani!!

Ode to Joy Vest, 2nd Place

Olympic Reindeer Hat — 3rd Place Ribbon

Lace Beret, 4th Place

Whisper Cardigan, 5th Place (my biggest disappointment!)

Sleeping Baby’s Castle Blanket — this was entered in the Garment Category under Afghan less than 42×42

Yes, this is Sally’s design!   The color is off white but here it looks VERY OFF white and is not displayed to its full advantage.  You cannot tell there is a castle on the blanket, but I was excited to get a blue ribbon for Sally’s wonderful pattern.

Alexandria, First Place

Aeolian Shawl, First place and JRB Associates Award (terrible picture — lots of glare!)

Brage/Dragon Sweater, First Place and Three Kittens Award (OMG, the picture is horrid, plus they covered up the dragon with the ribbon)

I really have to give a shout out to a couple of people: my friend, Kim, entered a gorgeous hat that received a second place ribbon.  If I was the judge, she would have gotten a blue, but I’m not so there you go.

Ellen De Silva won the Thursdays at 4 special award for her blue ribbon gloves!  I am so happy that it is going to a friend of mine — yay and congratulations (no picture, though 🙁 ).

Speaking of friends, my peeps (Janet, Deb and Martha) really are fantastic people.  I have known them since college.  We made plans to go to the fair together.  As you may recall, I hurt my heel about 4 weeks ago.  The “heeling” has been slow and so I have been severely limping for three plus weeks.  That in turn caused my bum right knee to flare up in rebellion, due to my crazy gait.  I really can’t walk very well right now.   I went to the fair knowing that I would not be able to stay long and certainly would not be able to partake in all of the fair festivities. 

We arrived early (about 6:30 am) and by 10:30, I was done.  I’m out.  Time to leave.  My dear friends said, “Au contraire, Limpy.  We are going to get you a wheelchair.”  And they did.  They pushed me around the fairgrounds until 5:00 pm.  Then they pushed me all the way to my car.  No complaining at all — they just acted like they were having the time of their lives, this is no big deal, we will always remember this and laugh…you name it!   They are true friends in every sense of the word.  I love you guys!!

One of the great things about going to the fair with four people is that you can share food — we got to eat everything and get just the right amount.  Yum, yum, yum!

One more thing: Sally has been busy getting her son settled into college and so she has not been doing much blogging of late.  She’ll be back this weekend and has a beautiful FO to share.  She is now an empty nester.  Crying face

August 23, 2010

From Susan — Love Among the Runes

Filed under: Brage (aka Dragon Sweater),Updates — lv2knit @ 7:38 pm

No, it’s not a spello!  The word I wanted is ‘runes,’ as in the ancient Viking written characters. 

Last spring I was working on a stealth project — stealth just because I wanted to keep it close to the vest.  This sweater was a labor of love and an homage to a very talented designer: Elsebeth Lavold.

Elsebeth Lavold created a special design for her travelling exhibit “Knitting Along the Viking Trail.”  The exhibit made its way to the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa last fall and I was thrilled to travel there with good friend Kathy to see it (I posted about it here).  The REAL reason I wanted to go was to see the Holy Grail of Lavold knitting in person: Brage (aka, The Dragon Sweater).  I even called the Vesterheim ahead of time to make sure the “dragon sweater” was indeed part of the exhibit!   I wanted to see it because I wanted to knit it. 

There is no specific pattern for Brage.  Part of the quest is making the pattern your own.  When there, I was able to photograph it in some detail and get really up close and personal.

alt text

Dragon Back by you.

Several Ravelers have finished their own versions of Brage, one of whom is Dicksie.  Her sweater was very inspiring and her notes extremely helpful. 

The next step of the quest?  Finding the right yarn.  The original Brage was knit in a fairly large gauge (4.5 sts/inch) with very “wooly” yarn.  I also think it had probably stretched out somewhat in its travels.  I wanted to use something in a finer gauge.  Because it was knit in a golden color, I kept seeing in that way in my mind’s eye,  but decided to go a different direction.  I finally chose Shepherd’s Wool by Stonehedge in color Berries.  It is gorgeous 100% wool and butter soft.  I used it for Alexandria, as well.  I knit it using US 5’s for the ribbing and US 6’s for the body.  I wanted it to be firmly knit to make the cables pop.

Many of the components for the design can be found in Lavold’s book, Viking Patterns for Knitting.  The main cable, runes, and the head of the dragon are found there.  There is a cool website that translates words into rune characters, which I used to create the name I placed on the front of my sweater: “lv2knit” — my knitting moniker!   Lavold’s version says Brage.

The next step was putting the pieces together into a pattern that would fit moi.   The actual knitting went smoothly.  The last piece was the dragon itself, which is appliqued onto the front.  No pattern for the dragon, but the photos and Dicksie’s notes served as a guide. 

Here are all the pieces of the Brage puzzle put together:

Brage by Elsebeth Lavold; Rendered by Susan Rainey, Shepherd’s Wool in Berries

I grafted both shoulders (which I never do except in fair isle because sweaters need structure), so I added a strip of bias tape along the “seamline” on the inside for stability. 

I used French knots to create the spine and added a bead the same color as the sweater to create the eye.  I really had to putter with the sewing to get it the way I wanted!

This motif reminds me of a tattoo because of where it is placed on the shoulder!  This was not in the Vikings Book, but a Raveler charted it (some corrections were necessary, so I recharted it).  I placed my motif closer to the wrist because I did not want it in the crook of my elbow.

And here is a close up of my name.  I did not use “Susan” because it looked too much like the English word, and I wanted it to be a bit more cryptic.  I added two French knots for the “two” because there wasn’t a character for the number.  Yes, I know the two dots are not in the correct place!

Besides the dragon, the fussiest part was getting the ribbing to work.  I wanted it NOT to cinch in a lot, so I used a k2, p2 rib and decreased the 2 purls down to one on the last rib row (except at the main cable).  The ribbing also had to line up with the main cable, which took some figuring.

So there it is.  The quest is complete.  And worth every minute of knitting, worth every mile of driving.  I love this sweater.  I really love this sweater!  It fits like a dream.  It’s soft and yet feels like “real wool” (which it is!). 

Pattern: A+
Fit: A+
Yarn: A+

So my dragon tale comes to an end!  I entered it in this year’s Minnesota State Fair and will see how it did in a couple of days.  But no matter how it fares, I am truly happy with this project.

PS — Tiger is available if anyone is interested! 😉

August 21, 2010

From Susan — Just Call Me Sparkles!

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 7:54 pm

Have you ever googled your name?  Some other Susan Rainey goes by the stage (?) name Sparkles the Clown for kids’ parties — IT IS NOT ME!!  But there are some sparkles in my knitting life!

I usually opt for very traditional yarn and colors.  I have tried to branch out from time to time, but I seldom stray.  When I went to The Yarn Garage last Wednesday, I saw some gorgeous yarn.  They had variations of it kitted up with a sequined yarn for a simple shawlette (price: a mere $89).  I am all about the shawlette lately and I love the yarn, so here I be.  The proud owner of sparkly yarn!

The kits come is a very cute and functional bag.

I want to start this NOW, but I have a couple of things to wrap up.

This looks like something my alter ego, Sparkles the Clown, might be interested in! 😉

PS: A couple of you have asked about the pattern I will use.  The kit came with a pattern, and I am using the pattern they provided because it looked great and is made for this yarn.  It is the Zephyr Shawl by Lauren Scarpo.  The Rav pics do NOT do it justice!!!  It apparently was in the June 2010 issue of Knit ‘n Style.

August 19, 2010

From Susan — Southern Exposure

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 7:41 am

Yesterday I had to drive to the far side of the moon for me for a work related event — way on the south side of the Twin Cities.  SO, I thought I should stop by Steven B.’s Yarn Garage, since I rarely get down that direction.   First off, I was no where near Yarn Garage!  I was southwest and YG is southeast!   Oh well.  My lack of knowledge got me there because I may have changed my mind otherwise.  I live northwest, so the drive home was 1.5 hours 🙁 .

They are so nice at YG.  And an announcement: they now sell Madeline Tosh yarns!  I’m not sure that it’s available in too many places in town.  They opened the box just for me and it was swoon worthy! 

I did buy a LITTLE something, but no time for a picture now.

August 16, 2010

From Susan — Lunch with Romi

Filed under: Updates — surly @ 11:11 pm

I am sure that most of you are familiar with Rosemary Hill, aka Romi Hill


She is the talented designer of beautiful lace, such as the Ice Queen Cowl, Brandywine Shawl, Maia Shawlette, and many other incredible designs.  She is well known for her stunning shawl pins and knitting-inspired jewelry.   She is the author of Elements of Style (fabulous knitted jewelry).  Her designs and  jewelry have been featured in Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits and more.

Romi is also my friend.  I met her through blogging and then in person at Yarnover.  She is a sweet, lovely, generous person; talented beyond description and truly creative and original.

Romi lives in the breathtaking wine country of California with a husband and two growing boys.  Both Romi and her husband work from home and also home school their kids, so “close knit” really applies to their household.  Romi agreed to be subjected to an informal phone interview with me as I attempted to find out what makes her tick as a designer.

S: Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for our blog!  Sally and I both admire your work tremendously.

R: My pleasure!

S: When did you really start to feel like your design career was taking off?  Was there a moment when you thought, “I have arrived?”

R: Have I arrived?  I live in my myopic little world and am unaware of what’s going on out there [in the knitting world].  There are a lot of people who don’t know who I am, but then someone will come up to me and recognize me!  I think things started to take off at the end of 2009.   I was asked to design for a few magazines and then Brandywine came out.  I don’t know if it was the combination of it being a quick, one-skein shawl and the charitable aspect of it [Help for Haiti], but things seemed to take off then.

S: I always thought of Ice Queen as a turning point [Ice Queen appeared in Knitty in Winter 2007 and there are over 1400 projects in Ravelry]. 

S: And seeing  your shawl pins discussed in Vogue!  How much time do you spend a day on your jewelry and designing?

R: I spend probably more time per day than people with regular jobs — at least 8-10 hours a day, and also one or both weekend days.  I kind of pick away at it all the time.

S: I associate your work with lace.  Is that your focal area?

R: I love lace, I really do.  I love the negative space.  Before I started designing shawls I did a lot of texture and sweaters.  I would love to combine cables and lace into something.

S: Sally and I are both making Leyfi (pronounced Lie-Fee, shown above).  What inspired that particular design?

R: It started when I saw a lace cowl and thought, “That type of thing would look great as the neck of a sweater.”  Then the concept of a doily and a round yoke took shape.  I wanted to make an Icelandic-type sweater with lace.  Eunny [Yang, Interweave Knits editor] thought something softer would be better and suggested Tinka [Merino Roving by Tahki] mixed with cobweb weight cashmere and silk [Superior by Filatura Di Crosa] would be softer next to the skin.

S: Ya think?  It is very pricey yarn!

R: True!  But I needed something chunky to achieve the look I wanted. 

S: How do you come up with appropriate sizes?

R: I use standard guidelines and reference books.  Plus, I check the fit along the way.

S: My Leyfi appears to be fitting perfectly, so something is working! 

S: Sally and I are also making your Maia Shawlette (above).  It, too, is an extremely clever design!  We love the variation you came up with on the garter tab cast on [incorporating a large leaf].  I also love the fact that the border works with any number of repeats.

R: I have started doing that with all my shawls.  People have different amounts of yardage and want different sized shawls.  This way they can make it the size they want.

S: I love your shawlettes: they make use of one skein of sock yarn.

R: I like that, too.  I love sock yarn but do not like to knit socks.  This way I can use the sock yarn I have accumulated!

S: I’m with you there!  I love sock yarn and don’t like knitting socks either!  What inspires you?

R: Taking walks [in the wine country] inspires me.  It is beautiful!

S: What’s next for you?

R: I have three secret projects going, the 2011 Pins & Lace Club is coming up, and I am continuing to work on my Seven Shawls to Knit E-Book.

S: I’m going to have to knit faster to keep up!

R: I’ll try to design faster to give you something to knit!

I want to thank Romi for taking the time to talk to me today.  My next Romi project will be the stunningly beautiful Fiori di Sole:

Stop, Romi!  I’m way behind already!

August 13, 2010

From Susan — Death by Finishing

Filed under: Updates,Whisper — lv2knit @ 4:02 pm

8-13-2010: Perhaps it is fitting that I finished this on Friday the 13th!  It has been the project from…anyway, it is done and so am I!  I spent countless hours finishing this jacket: and I mean countless.  I cannot describe all of the steps and missteps that went into the final production, but it is done and I am now at peace.  I should say somewhat at peace, because once I actually completed this sweater (and I had to make it in order to figure out how to “fix” it), I came up with all sorts of improvements to eliminate the headaches that I incurred.  More on that later.

Here are some pics.  The collar is the soul of this design and its downfall.  It is a b@llbuster to sew into the garment. 

There is supposed to be a folded hem, but I outsmarted myself and ended up having to cut it off.  I like the rolled hem very much, so I don’t feel too bad about it — again, this is fixed in my revised plan.

Whisper Cardigan by Kim Hargreaves for Rowan

The buttons are shell and sewn with beads between the holes.

Yarn: Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK, light gray (no longer available but other yarns are available that are similar) — A
Needles: US 6
Fit: A+
Garment: A
Worth the work? — Not sure yet!

Okay, what did I learn?  The collar is a PITA and needs revision.  Of course, I did not know that going in and would not have known what to do about it at that point anyway.  The way the pattern is written, you end up with 5 layers of knitted fabric at the center front of the garment — way bulky and almost impossible to get to look nice.  The whole construction of the collar and its attachment to the sweater is bulky. 

If I were to knit this again (Huh?  Do I look that crazy?), I would knit the collar as a single piece with the front.  In other words, the collar would be part of the front and would not need to be seamed.  No bulk. No sewing.  Use short rows and 3-needle bind off for the shoulders; use short rows and grafting for the back neck join (instead of multiple binds offs and seaming).  “Graft” the front facing provisional cast on sts to the bottom of the hemline.  Less bulk everywhere.

Larger copy here.  I hope this helps others, but to be honest, this is not a project that is upper most in people’s queues as it is a few years old.

Another thing I did was kind of invent a buttonhole (?), at least I think I did.  The pattern has a front with a facing that is folded back: two layers of fabric.  Hargreaves simply put BHs on each of the layers.  They are not attached in any way — I guess you just button through both buttonholes when you want to button the jacket.  I wanted real buttonholes that joined the two layers.  I know you can graft stockinette buttonholes but when I swatched, that type did not look very good, so I tried something else.  To learn about my buttonholes, click Susan’s Stockinette Bound Buttonholes.  There is certainly not a lot of use for this buttonhole: it only works when two stockinette layers are joined…but, I think they are kind of cute.

Death by finishing, for sure!!

PS: Lori K informs us that this Kim Hargreaves design (referred to here as Whisper) is also called Merry, so it is featured in two separate queues in Ravelry.  Interesting!

August 6, 2010

From Sally — Sweet Dreams

Filed under: Sleeping Baby's Castle Blanket,Updates — surly @ 11:08 am

Earlier this summer, I mentioned I was doing some stealth knitting.   As I said in May, Danielle at Fibre Space in Alexandria, Virginia asked me to design a baby blanket for her Bundles of Joy Club.   Club members have received their kits so I can now reveal my  Sleeping Baby’s Castle Blanket.

Here is a close up of the central castle panel:

The yarn used is Lorna’s Laces Shepherd’s Worsted in a color that was custom dyed in limited quantities for this project. It’s lovely yarn to work with and it’s machine washable. I really liked the color. (The first photo of the entire blanket is truest to the actual color of the yarn used.)

This design is exclusive to Fibre Space until early next year. There are a limited number of kits for the project — in this one of a kind color called “Astro Baby” — which you can purchase here.

From Susan — I can attest to the fact that this is a beautiful blanket and a very well-written pattern…I test knit it for Surly!  So, I have my very own that will be revealed when Sally is able to sell the pattern independently.  It is called a baby blanket, but actually fits into the “home decor” category.  I don’t have a baby in the house and I love the blanket as a throw.  Mine knit up very quickly (one week) but I do not recommend doing this — I kind of blew out my arms knitting it so fast!  But it could be done reasonably in 3-4 weeks.  My knitting peeps love the design and cannot wait until the pattern is available — but why wait?  If you love it, buy the kit now from Fibre Space and have it ready for Christmas!

August 4, 2010

From Limpy -er- Susan — Greetings

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 7:38 am

Thank you for all of your sympathetic comments!  You would think I would be knitting up a storm, but every night I am so tired, I flop on the couch!  I am hoping that today I’ll be a bit perkier. 

The dinner went extremely well.  We had a very casual menu so it wasn’t a lot of work.  I need to do this more often as my house is STILL clean!  I don’t hate my house when it’s clean!  I wish a neighbor would stop by so I could invite them in instead of standing guard at the door hoping they can’t see past me! 😉

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