theraineysisters knitting and so much more

January 31, 2012

From Susan — Have You Seen These??

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 1:25 am

I’m sure most of you have — I am usually very behind on trends! I received a similar pouch to those pictured below from a co-worker for Christmas, and it works great. The pouches are used for baking potatoes in the microwave with fluffy, “oven-baked” results.

The pattern linked below is a very quick sewing project — but you do need to use 100% cotton batt (I found it at JoAnn’s and I am sure most quilt shops carry it). I made a few for my family and friends and thought I would share the information:

Microwave Potato Pouch

Potato Bags 004

These make great potatoes and great gifts. 🙂

PS: My dad tried his and it really worked!

January 28, 2012

From Both of a Us — A Postcard from Italy

Filed under: Updates — Both Sisters @ 12:47 pm

We have received many comments over the years about our banner photo, such as: Where was it taken? Or, who are those gorgeous babes — they couldn’t possibly be you. Or, when on earth was that taken??!! You’re so old. We are always touched by your interest!

But never so moved as when we received this lovely photo from Helen, taken with beautiful daughter Susanne at her side:

photo from Italy
Channeling The Rainey Sisters

The Rainey Sisters

Helen found herself at the very spot of our banner photo (on the walk to Piazzale Michelangelo), and tried to explain to husband Steve and Susanne why she wanted this particular photo — because of The Rainey Sister’s blog. Steve accommodated and the rest is history. What a wonderful way to revisit this magical place in Florence Italy. Thank you, Helen and family!!

PS from Susan to Anne, who asked why we were in Italy at such a tender age: Sally was studying in France. Our grandmother wanted me to be able to see Europe as well, so she funded my trip. All she asked in return was that we go to Venice and take some pictures for her, which of course we did. We travelled through France and Italy — on a complete shoestring. I have never gotten back to Italy, though Sally has. I cherish those memories and that is why I was so struck by the kindness of Helen sharing her picture with us!

January 24, 2012

From Susan — Holier than Thou

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 9:59 pm

Not too much is holier than this FO!! When knitting peep and friend Kim and I went to Knitters Camp last summer, we fell in love with the Swiss Cheese Scarf (free pattern on Ravelry) made by a fellow Camper. So much so that we made a pit stop at The Yarnery on the way back through town to buy a skein of Kauni EQ (Rainbow) yarn. Kim started hers and finished it a lot sooner than I. But here mine is, in its subtle glory:

Swiss Cheess Scarf 111

And in a slightly different pose:

Swiss Cheese

Do you like to do buttonholes? Well this puppy has 171 buttonholes and 48 notches. If you HATE buttonholes, make this scarf. They will not bother you at all by the end!!

I must admit that I am not impressed with the traditional buttonhole of old:

Row 1: bind off “X” sts (in this case, 10)
Row 2: cast on “X” sts using backward loop method

These BH’s are usually kind of sloppy with a large loopy edge on one side. I experimented with a LOT of options and fell back on my standard for larger BHs: the one-row buttonhole, made as follows (for 10-stitch BH):

Note: Back and front mean as they face you, no matter if you are on the right or wrong side (back is the side facing away from you and front is the side toward you).
Step 1:
Work to BH, yarn forward, sl next st as to purl, place yarn @ back and leave it there; *Sl next st from LH needle to RH needle. Pass the first slipped st over it (counts as 1 bound off st). Repeat from * 9 more times more (not using yarn to knit the sts, just passing the sts over). Slip the last bound off st to left needle and turn work.

Step 2:
With yarn to back, cable cast on 11 sts, but on the last st, pass working yarn to front between sts 10 and 11 and then place st 11 on the LH needle; turn work.

Step 3:
With yarn in back, slip the first st on the LH needle to the RH needle; pass the extra cast on st over it to close the buttonhole. Continue to end of row.

Repeat 170 more times and voila!!

Swiss Cheese
Close Up of Buttonholes

I also slightly felted my scarf. Did I felt it enough? Did I felt it too much? I guess that is a matter of opinion. I do love the way it looks and how much it softened up, so I am very happy with it.

Swiss Cheese Scarf
Ravelry Project Page
NOTE: My Ravelry Page has all the details about how I accommodated the 74-stitches and my one-row buttonhole.

Kauni EQ, one 150 gram skein
Needle: US 4
Stitch Count: 74 sts
Finished Size: 10×60 inches, after felting
Grade: A+ for the smile it puts on my face when I look at it! 🙂

PS: 2muchfun asked why I chose to felt my scarf. Kauni is thin, fingering weight yarn and a bit uneven. Like Daniel Cleaver says to Bridget Jones (about her tiny skirt), I wanted to fatten it up a bit. It plumped up the yarn and filled in the spaces where the yarn was thinner. You can see from the photos that I did not felt it enough to lose the stitch definition.

PPS: Mary asked how I “lightly felted” my scarf. Basically, you felt wool by washing it. I placed it in the machine and washed it on a hot/cold setting twice. I checked it often to make sure it did not fully felt. I kind of thought it might because it is such a “wooly” wool. I consider something “fully” felted when you cannot see (or can barely discern) the individual stitches. I have lightly felted many things in the past…notably my baby Elefante:


January 21, 2012

From Sally — Leaving

Filed under: Leaving — surly @ 5:48 pm

As some of you may know, I have a fairly large stash of yarn. Sometimes I buy yarn because I see it and must have it. Other times, I buy yarn for a particular project, but — in part because I have the attention span of a gnat — I find something else I simply must knit and the once-must-have-it-now yarn sits neglected. Sometimes, for years.

Last month, I ran across a sweater-quantity stash of a rich brown yarn. I vaguely remembered that I bought it for a particular project because I liked the color. Surprisingly, I remembered that I had wanted to knit Leaving, a lovely pattern by designer Anne Hanson. Susan and I are always happy to find patterns that are not only well written, but well thought out. Unfortunately, a pretty design doesn’t always mean a great pattern. Anne Hanson produces great designs and patterns. She is coming to Yarnover this year, and we are both looking forward to meeting her. (On a related note, over the next few weeks Susan and I will highlight a few other designers whose patterns are of similar high quality.) To see more of Anne’s work, visit her at Knitspot.

But back to my own Leaving project. The yarn I had in my stash is Berroco’s Vintage DK. It isn’t a yarn you might think I’d like because — gasp — it’s not a luxury yarn. Not only that, it contains acrylic (50% acrylic, 40% wool, 10% nylon). The horror! I knew this yarn because I knit Ysolda Teague’s design Vivian out of it for my daughter. I chose Vintage because it was soft and it was machine washable; I had specifically wanted a machine washable yarn since I wouldn’t be the one caring for it. Moreover, it had great colors with a little bit of heathering for depth. Nora’s sweater:

I liked the yarn much better than I had expected when I made my daughter’s sweater. It knit up beautifully and it blocked nicely. And it’s definitely soft enough to wear right up against my skin. My color is called Chocolate; I think the color in the first picture is truest. Because this is a well thought out pattern, I have made only the most minor of changes. First, I decided to knit it in the round up to the armholes instead of in separate back/front pieces. I didn’t want to break up the tiny reverse stockinette edging with a seam. Also, given my short attention span, it’s often a good idea for me to knit as much of a sweater as possible at once. The other change I made was to the first pattern repeat. One pattern is ending as the next is beginning, so that there were two little stockinette triangles (the top of the leaves) at the bottom of the first repeat. I replaced the stockinette stitch with reverse stockinette just on that initial repeat. (Susan’s idea.) It is a subtle, and probably invisible change to most people. I also think that this may be one of the few sweaters that looks better on me than on Lucy! I finished the body yesterday (except for the neck band) and I’ve got about 5 inches of the first sleeve knit. So this sweater goes relatively quickly.

January 16, 2012

From Susan — Microsurgery

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 11:45 pm

I am not a surgeon and even if I was, I could N-E-V-E-R attempt brain surgery. I know this for a fact. I can’t even keep a steady hand when fixing lace knitting!

A week or so ago I was lamenting the fact that I had to wait for my Dale of Norway yarn. Project stalled. What to do? Hands are idle. Workshop for the big “D.” Must knit. I have a few easy peasy projects going, but when I have a big chunk of at-home time, I like a little challenge.

That brings us to a WIP I have been working on: Last fall I started another Niebling doily called Gloxiniaeflora.

Picture from Ravelry Pattern Page (on larger thread!)

I pull it out from time to time when I feel like it. It is being knit on Size 30 crochet cotton with Size 000 needles. With 75 rounds done, it is the size of a postage stamp. It has been one of the physically most challenging things I have ever knit. Some of the sts are literally impossible to do. But, I enjoy it. I am a masochistic knitter apparently!

So, with Dale of Norway out of the picture, I started working on Niebling again. Then I noticed a big mistake. One of the flower thingies was growing out of the meshwork instead of its own little set of yarnovers. The flowers are started thus:

Rnd 1: YO
Rnd 3: YO, k1, YO
Rnd 5: [k1, p1, k1, p1] in each of the 3 sts just created = 12 sts

So 12 sts essentially sprout from these 3 YOs. Mine had somehow sprouted from the background meshwork.

Glox BooBoo

I examined my options:

1- fudge the meshwork and try to keep going — did not work (believe me, I tried!)
2- rip it out — impossible to get the sts back onto the world’s smallest needles…doing k2tog is difficult
3- tink back the 5-6 rounds — I would have to commit myself!
4- repair it — eek!!

Of all my options, the 4th seemed like the [almost] sanest solution. I had read a blog post years ago by Romi Hill where she described a harrowing lace repair and showed some pictures. I decided to dive in.

First, I determined exactly where the problem was on the chart and how much I needed to rip. I enlarged the chart and drew a red box around the area I was going to repair.

Next, I assembled my supplies: Ott light with magnifier, reading glasses, tweezers, the tiniest dpn I have ever seen (from my husband’s great aunt), pins, small crochet hook, a dark colored bead mat, and some balls. Big brass ones.

I made sure the real knitting needles were placed so that they held the “good” sts on either side of the repair. Then I pulled out each row and pinned it in order of its removal:

Lace Surgery 002

I ripped down until I thought I had passed the point of the mistake. Man, at that point you are committed — there is no turning back!! I was sweating and shaking like a leaf! If I was in your brain, you would be toast!!

I then “knitted” each row back according to the chart. That sounds way easier than it was! I should have taken out more sts, but would have ended up into the previous flower section and that was way too daunting…so I just fudged that part of it.

The results:
Lace Surgery 001

There. I have moved past the mistake and it seems to blend in just fine. Whew! While I enjoy a challenge, this was truly ridiculous!

PS from Susan — Thank you for all of the great and supportive comments. Lisle asked me the following questions:

“You neglected to tell us how many hours it took. How many? I’d love to know. I’m so slow about that sort of thing. And pinning the rows in order–GENIUS! That’s the hardest part of repairing.”

I think it took 1 to 2 hours. I did not really time it. And the genius of pinning the rows in order is what I learned from Romi’s post. I could not find the original post to link to so I just linked to her blog, but that is what I learned from her and found so helpful. It gave me the confidence to make the attempt!!

January 12, 2012

From Sally — A Jewel in the Cowl

Filed under: Jeweled Cowl — surly @ 1:17 pm

Last week I was looking for a quick project. I wanted instant gratification. My requirements were: 1) it had to be fairly mindless, 2) had to be quick, and 3) had to use yarn from my stash. I happened upon the Jeweled Cowl, designed by Sachiko Uemura. It’s a free pattern on Ravelry.

I had just the yarn I wanted to use up: one skein of Viola Fancy Sock (a sock weight blend of 70% alpaca, 20% silk, and 10% cashmere; 437 yards for 100 grams) in the color Pebble. This yarn is so soft and lovely; it begs to be worn next to the skin. Plus I even had beads in an appropriate color. Perfect!

It was a fun and easy knit: a two row pattern that one can memorize in one repeat. The beads are added using the crochet hook method. My only issue is my own. The pattern calls for lace weight knit on a US 8 (5 mm) needle. I was using a slightly heavier yarn, but having used this yarn before I didn’t want it to be too open or stretchy. So I used a size 7 needle. I might have preferred how my cowl looks if I’d gone down another needle size to a US 6. I’ll have to see.

I’m not exactly sure how I’ll wear it, but Lucy was up for some experiments.

ETA: The pattern calls for a skein of Malabrigo Lace yarn, which has 470 yards. You can stop at any point, so if you use a yarn that has less than that — which I did — you can stop when your yarn is running low. I stopped after 49 of the 52 called for pattern repeats because I was low on yarn (although I could have done at least one more repeat) and because I just wanted to stop. I could tell my cowl was already wide enough.

January 7, 2012

From Susan — The Mail Arrived

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 4:28 pm

I am cryin’ in my beer! 🙁 The new yarn is noticeably lighter than the old. In comparison, the old dye lot looks dirty, so I am glad that the new yarn is lighter and not the reverse, but it does mean I will need to start over — though the first 6 rows can be salvaged. Bummer! Thanks for all of your sympathetic comments, but really, I have no one but myself to blame.

Thanks, Mary Ann, for the speedy delivery! You rock!

PS: Katherine mentioned that some shops work together to find dye lots for customers. It is too late…already ripped and restarted. I had totally lost my mojo for this sweater, but I decided to dive in again last night and am glad I did. My knitting looks a little better. I think because I realize that this time it really counts!!

January 6, 2012

From Susan — Tick Tock

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 12:39 pm

I am waiting for the mail. I am waiting for yarn. I am waiting for yarn for my Dale of Norway 10903. I am feeling really stupid right about now.

Back Story
I suffer from Dye Lot Anxiety. It harkens back to my earliest knitting experiences. My first sweater is a tale of dye lot woe.

In the old days, before great yarn stores and gorgeous patterns (Rowan, Bliss, Starmore), and Ravelry, Twist Collective, etc. there were only two ways to buy patterns (there were probably knitting magazines out there, but I was not aware of them). You went to the yarn store (which carried about three kinds of yarn) and looked through their sad, meager pattern collection OR you saw the design of your dreams in a women’s magazine, like Redbook or Good Housekeeping. If it was the latter, you sent in $3 and a SASE and placed your order. 4-8 weeks later, your pattern would arrive. No color photos (maybe one or two B&W’s), no diagrams, no charts. Lots and lots of tiny little writing. That is how I purchased the pattern for my first sweater. Then off I went to buy the yarn.

I wanted something practical, so I bought white acrylic. I know. However, I did not buy enough white acrylic. I had no idea about dye lots and most cheap acrylic yarns now don’t even HAVE dye lots! So back I went to buy more yarn. The new white was more like gray and very noticeably different. So, I decided to add some red to give my new sweater style and pizzaz. There were lines of garter ridges that did not go all the way across the front until they reached the bustline, so I actually figured out intarsia so I could create a notched area (it is in the gray-white yarn):

My First Sweater

I keep this sweater as an example of what NOT to do on so many levels — it is full of oddities. And a bad dye lot.

A few years later I was again inspired and ready for a cabled Aran-inspired classic. Again, off I went to buy yarn (wool this time!!)…carefully checking the dye lot numbers. You can’t fool me twice!!

Christmas 009

This sweater was a huge challenge for me. I did not know how to cable without a cable needle and there was cabling on every row. It was a slow go. I had used my first skein of yarn and had maybe 8-9 inches of the back done. I started my second skein and it was a completely different shade!! Very noticeable! But how could that be when I was so careful?

I had matched the color numbers, not the dye lots! The first skein I used was the ONLY skein that was different!! Aaaarrrggghhh!!!

Those two experiences have made me obsessed with dye lots AND with buying enough yarn. Add my tight knitting gauge and the fact that I am the size of Big Foot, and I need to buy a lot of yarn! There are times when I need 30-50% more yarn than called for in the pattern. This is a source of ongoing ‘tension’ with Sally and me since she is the size of a teacup.

The Present
When I bought the yarn for my Dale of Norway, I planned on making the size medium (as I said back then, their sizes are crazy big). BUT, I bought more yarn than called for for the largest size. The largest size said you needed 8 skeins (400 gms) of the off white. I bought 9. Hey, no problem!!

Except that I was looking at the chart for the Child Sizes! The adult large takes 600 gms (12 skeins). Yep. Way short. I contacted Kidsknits (Mary Ann Stephens — super nice and great to work with) and she of course did not have any left of a two-year old dye lot. The irony is that she had plenty of the yarn when I bought it two years ago.

Most stranded pieces are not problems for differing dye lots, but on this sweater, the white areas are so large and unbroken that a different dye lot could be very noticeable. I will just have to wait and see how far off the new dye lot is and if the knitting I have done so far can be salvaged. Starting this a third time is not an appealing option for me. 🙁

So, I wait for the mail. Tick. Tock.

January 1, 2012

From Susan — New Year, Old Project

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 1:44 pm

Happy New Year, Faithful Readers! As I said to Sally this morning, I overdid it last night. No, not drinking and raucous revelry! I overdid it with my knitting. I am suffering this morning from sore wrists and sore elbows. Just too pathetic for words!

New Year’s Day is a time of reflection. As I look back over this past year, I have made quite a few smaller projects. I think I have suffered of late from “failure to launch” syndrome. It has become mentally difficult for me to tackle the big, complex projects because I know how much time and work is involved…so I haven’t. My New Year’s Resolution is to get up on that diving board and take the big leap!! And lose 30 pounds (but that is my resolution every year!).

What will be that big project? I went down into the dungeon -er- my knitting/sewing room and started searching through bags. I do have several big projects stashed. I came upon ‘Dale of Norway 10903’ as it is affectionately known. Long time readers may recall that I “started” this project quite a while ago (The Long and Winding Road). I do not remember why I started the bottom band and then put it away.

Dale of Norway 10903 Sweater Picture

It seemed like a great idea to restart this lovely Norwegian sweater since the boring band was already done. It took a while to regroup and figure out where I was.

A word about Norwegian sweater patterns: they leave a lot of details to the imagination. Like the number of stitches for the shoulders, and any number of other things. Because the sweater has both a pullover and cardigan version, I was able to cobble together the numbers by comparing the two. I reworked my pattern so the armholes will be centered to the latticework pattern.

Off I went with a vengeance. But then reality hit. It looked awfully small. My original blog post specifically mentioned that I had gotten gauge on a US 2, but I chose to use a US 3. I don’t know what went wrong, but I was 7 inches off!! So, after knitting 12 rows on > 300 sts, I had to start over!! This is why people do not make sweaters!! I started over by doing a provisional cast on — I will knit the band after the body. I also changed to a US 4 needle and things seem to be going swimmingly. Whew!

This particular pattern also has a unique aspect to it with the patterning. There are some incredibly long (31 st) “floats” between color changes!! I first fell in love with this sweater when I saw it on WendyKnits Blog in February 2004. Wendy discussed that she did not wrap her floats across the 27-31 st white areas because a- they show through and b- they create puckers. So, I thought if she can do it, I can do it. So I did not “grab” my floats in the dark olive/white section of the leaves that I finished last night:

1-1-12 Progress

The back:

Risky, to be sure, but I wanted the white sections to look as good as possible. The red arrow on the top picture shows where I caught the green float. I usually grab floats to align with sts already worked from a previous row, which did not exist to this point. The second choice is to align the floats with a stitch from the NEXT row. Since the next row is covered up, I mark these spots on my chart with a pencil dot so I know where to grab the floats and cause minimal disruption to the fabric.

The next color up is pale green, so I may catch them — shouldn’t show through as much. But later I will have burgundy against the white, so I will again have very long floats.

So, we will see slow progress over the coming months. I would love to go start the pale green rows right now, but I need to ice my elbow. I am a knitting dork.

PS – Twinset Jan mentioned that maybe the long floats will felt to the back of the sweater with washing and wearing. A great thought, but the yarn is Daletta, which is washable! 🙁

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