theraineysisters knitting and so much more

February 25, 2011

From Susan –“What’s Happening with EB?”

Filed under: Eala Bhan,Updates — lv2knit @ 9:17 am

Thanks for asking, Suzan!  The White Swan has landed!  My Eala Bhan.  I finished her about a month ago, but needed the post to marinate a while! 

Eala Bhan was another of my “quest” projects.  A project that you see and are drawn to immediately, with an “I-must-make-that” fervor.   Surly and I ordered the yarn (Hebridean 2-Ply from  Virtual Yarns, my color: Lapwing) as soon as we received our books (the newly republished Aran Knitting by Alice Starmore).  I was in such a hurry to start, I insisted that Mairi of Virtual Yarns mail the yarn to Sally’s house so I would not miss a day (I was visiting her at the time). 

That was the easy part!  I decided to knit the fronts and back as one piece to avoid reverse stockinette seaming.  Thus, with fair isle weight yarn and small needles, I had hundreds of sts at the start.  It was like Eala Bhan and the Three Bears!!  The first attempt was too big, the second too small, and the third was just right…lots of casting on (with an elaborate scalloped cast on) and lots of ripping.

As we know, I am not the smallest cherub in the choir, so I was making the largest size.  I also lost my waist in the great “Eat Out” of the mid 90’s, so the extreme waist shaping of Eala Bhan (~12 inches are reduced at the waist!) was a no go for this fatty knitter.   I only took out 4-6 inches at the waist — letting just the reduction in stitches from the large cables into the smaller cables do the shaping.  I also made many other minor modifications, too numerous to describe or remember!

Eala Bhan requires a fair amount of finishing work due to the construction and button bands.  The buttons called for are quite small, which made them difficult to find.  As most knitters know, finding the right buttons is sometimes the hardest part of the project!  I wanted metal buttons, very detailed, in a bronze color, with a shank — a shank button is easier to sew onto a sweater and the thread does not show.   

Again, it was Eala Bhan and The Three Buttons!   The first ones I found were beautifully detailed, in a bronze finish, BUT they had no shank and were PLASTIC (ugh).  The second ones were still plastic, garish gold, but at least they had a shank.  I stumbled across the third ones by accident: bronze, detailed, metal and a shank (see PS 5 below for details)!  Yay!

So, here is my Eala Bhan, at long last:

This captures the color in the sunlight perfectly

Button Detail

After blocking, the fit is perfect.  The sleeves flare over my hand at just the right spot.  The hint of a waist gives me the hint of a waist.  The length is perfect.  The yarn softened to buttery perfection.  I love this sweater.

Grade: A

Pattern: B (very long, complex, and needed tweaking — but a gorgeous concept)
Yarn: A
Fit: A+

Today we leave for the American Birkebeiner Ski Race.  John turned 60 on Tuesday and is hoping for one of his best Birkies.  I am hoping to not miss him at the finish line, which happened the last two years.  Embarrased smile  It’s my only job and I blew it!!  It is supposed to be VERY cold, too.  Freezing  Then on Sunday I get to watch Colin Firth receive his Oscar…wow!  Great weekend!

PS1 to Diana: “And if I had the power I would have Colin present you with your award.”  I would actually pass out if I ever saw him in person!

PS2 to Leigh: I did all the cabling without a cable needle: every RS row you are moving sts and I would have gone stark raving mad if I was juggling a cable needle.

PS3: I am in Hayward (free WiFi — yay!).  John finished his 28th Birkie but it was a very hard ski for him.  The last half was a slog!  Just like some knitting projects I know!  Thanks for all of the extremely kind comments about EB.

PS4: Colin won!  Yay!

PS5: To Amber — where did I find my buttons?  I bought them at Hancock Fabrics.  They are JHB Buttons # 93287, 1/2 inch (scroll down and you will see them).  Three buttons for $3.10.

November 18, 2010

From Susan — Quick Update from Sleeve Island

Filed under: Eala Bhan — lv2knit @ 1:02 am

After my Eala Bhan sweater body and collar dried, I sewed the collar on.  It fit perfectly into its slot and when I tried on the sweater, sans sleeves, it fit me, too!   I did add an i-cord bead around the outside edge of the collar.

I am halfway done with one sleeve and getting completely bored.  The more bored I get, the slower I knit!  I may have to take a mini-break from this and knit up something small to break through the monotony.  I have a few ideas already! 😉 

A mini-break does not mean that I am abandoning my Eala Bhan, but knitting should not feel like work.  My EZ Green Sweater is all sleeves, too, so I am really stranded on sleeve island!

November 13, 2010

From Both of Us — Sitting Around Knitting Bahn Bahns

Filed under: Eala Bhan,Updates — Both Sisters @ 12:25 pm

We have not written much about our respective Eala Bhans. Early on, we kind of made a pact that we would knit this project in tandem and not post individually, on the off chance that one of us would speed ahead of the other. In reality, of course we knit at different paces: we have different amounts of time to spend, life and work and other projects intervene. But right now we are pretty darn close to each other, so we will post!  (Note from Sally:  No, we are not all that close.  Susan is waaaaaay ahead of me.  But that’s fine.)

The Yarn
The yarn is lovely.  The feel of it, the wooliness of it, the depth of the color.  It gets an A+!

When you take colorwork classes from Alice St@rmore, she presents you with a small white box which holds a sample of every yarn color.  Of course, her color cards are required to identify the name of the color in question:

The Pattern
The Eala Bhan pattern is crazy detailed.  For the collar, Susan had to move between three pieces of paper to track every row!  It is easy to see that the sheer magnitude of pattern itself could turn off many knitters.  But it is also very beautiful.  Sally thinks it might be too dressy to wear often, but Susan thinks it will be a great work sweater.

We knit the fronts and back in one piece, knowing full well that this would be a slow go.  What we did NOT anticipate was how slow the back would be once you made the split at the armholes!  We thought we would breeze along after leaving the fronts behind, but it felt even slower!  The fronts themselves were speedy quick.

Susan’s Eala Bhan Blocking

The collar

Susan is ready to start knitting the sleeves.

From Sally:  I am  NOT ready to start knitting the sleeves.  I have finished one front.  Mine is not yet blocked, and I hope it looks as nice as Susan’s does after the blocking.  Here are a couple of my slower progress pictures.

Sally’s Eala Bhan before the split for the arms (the color is very true here)

Sally’s Eala Bhan with just the left front finished (unblocked)

And here is what Susan woke up to this morning: snow-flavored rain!

October 11, 2010

From Susan — Eala Boo Boo

Filed under: Eala Bhan — lv2knit @ 11:38 pm

Bummer!  What mistake usually happens when you are doing multiple cables that cross in different directions?  You guessed it: I mis-crossed a cable.  Thank goodness it never got on the cover of an international knitting magazine! 😉

I have been very careful (or so I thought) as I have been working on my Eala Bahn.  Part of it is because the yarn is so small you really don’t want to rip it out.  I found the mis-crossed cable when I was at the same point 8 rows later and went, “Rut Roh!!”  So I had to drop down and fix it.  Ish.

Many of you may think of Sally and me as interchangeable knitters, but we are not.  Our overall skill level, interests and taste are very similar, but we do differ.  There are things that I do better and there are things that Surly does better.  Sally is really good at dropping down and fixing her knitting.  It can be rows and rows back and she seems to magically accomplish this feat.

Sally’s Feather and Fan Shawl from A Gathering of Lace.  Sally discovered that she had left out numerous yarnovers several rows back — with hundreds of stitches on the needle, she did not want to rip it out.  So, she dropped down and spit-spliced additional length into the rows before “re-knitting” the problem area.   Okay, fine.  Show off!!        She has done many other equally amazing things like that.

Like I said, I simply mis-crossed a cable 8 rows back.  It should not be that big of a deal to fix.  I was able to do it, but it:

a- it was a PITA
b-it looks like $#*&^^%
c-I was actually pitted out!  Or maybe it was just another hot flash…who knows? 

In my haste to fix the major boo boo on the exact center back of my Eala Bhan, I neglected to take pictures before or during…but here are the after shots:

This picture shows exactly where the mistake was:

It’s sloppier where I fixed it, but I hope with blocking it isn’t noticeable.

I think part of the reason I made the mistake is because I am cabling without a needle.   When you do cables that way, you kind of do the cabling backwards.  What I mean is, for a 2×2 left crossing cable, the directions would normally tell you to place 2 sts on cable needle, hold to FRONT, k2, k2 from cable needle — left crossing cable.  But instead I take the point of my right needle and go BEHIND the first 2 sts, so I can slip the next 2 onto the RH needle. The 1st 2 sts slide off the LH needle and then get put back back onto the left needle.  Even though I have been cabling sans needle for years, I think my reptilian brain still cables the old way!

I need to pay a lot more attention.

PS — Thanks for all of your nice comments about the new deck.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that we are going to need much bigger buns nicer (= expensive!!) deck furniture!!

October 2, 2010

From Both of Us — Bhan, Eala Bhan

Filed under: Eala Bhan — Both Sisters @ 10:21 am

You know, like “Bond, James Bond.”  Oh, never mind… 🙂

We’ve both been working steadily on our Eala Bhan cardigans — the new sweater in Alice Starmore’s revised Aran Knitting.  Both of us are using the yarn called for: Hebridean 2-Ply (Susan in Lapwing and Surly in Clover).  We’re working steadily, but slowly.  This is a lovely, but slow knit.  It’s on tiny yarn with compressed stitch and row gauge (27 stitches and 40 rows over 4 inches) and much cabling.  Just to make sure we finish it as slowly as possible, we both decided to knit the body in one piece.   (Well, the real reason for that decision is our mutual dislike of reverse stockinette seams; the glacial progress is just an added plus.)

Here are some obligatory progress shots (and we use the term ‘progress’ loosely):

Susan’s Eala Bhan in Lapwing

Sally’s Eala Bhan in Clover (color not very true)

Should we start a pool on when we’ll finish?

PS — what is the meaning of Eala Bhan?  It is usually translated as White Swan, depending on who you ask.  The pronunciation is supposed to be something like: yella waan.  We call it “Eela Bahn” cuz we’re not Gaelic!

September 24, 2010

From Both of Us — Drowning in New Yarn!

Filed under: Back Story,Eala Bhan — Both Sisters @ 1:46 pm

Lost Weekend
We weren’t drinking, but we were knitting…and eating…and watching an eclectic assortment of Colin Firth movies.   And we do mean eclectic and we do mean Colin Firth — all Colin, most of the time ;).  Let’s just say that Mr. Darcy has a checkered film past — some good, some only watchable for the close ups.

When we could pry ourselves away from the DVDs we checked out the local yarn stores.  We started off at Fibre Space (and returned later to the scene of the crime) and hit many a store after that.  On Monday, having run out of films, we made a quick trip to Mount Vernon to stroll through the gorgeous scenery and learn more about our first president.  Susan had been there before but said it felt new again.  That’s what happens when you have no memory!

On one of our visits to Fibre Space, the store was hosting a trunk show for the glorious hand dyed yarns of Miss Babs.  This picture shows us with “Miss Babs herself.  She allowed us to drape her in her wares — I think it is because we helped her reach her retirement goal!!

Here’s Susan’s yarn (Sally bought the Smooch colored silk for Susan as a belated birthday present 🙂 ).  The yarn on the left is called Tierno, Baby Alpaca and Silk, in the color ‘Beach Glass.’  The pink is100% mulberry silk in laceweight (1250 yards!).

Sally’s yarn from Miss Babs was also (big surprise) a color from the pink family.  It’s silk lace weight in the color Shiraz.

Sally also picked up a sweater’s worth of a fingering weight yarn called Canopy (alpaca, merino, and bamboo) in Sarsaparilla (with accent colors in Canopy and some other yarns) for a project she’s wanted to undertake for a long time.  More on that once it’s been started, but here’s a preview of the yarn colors.

We checked out a great new shop called Looped Yarn Works just off Dupont Circle.  This bright, airy, cutely decorated shop has cozy nooks in which to knit and lots of very nice yarn!  Sally took a few photos with her iPhone, most of which were blurry, but here’s one.

On Sunday we made an emergency needle run to Knit and Stitch — in Bethesda, MD.   The people could not have been nicer.  When we got there we noticed a treasure trove of Hanne Falkenberg kits.   Upon further inspection, we realized that they had a Hanne F. trunk show in progress!!  Woo Hoo!   We were able to try on several great designs: Gloria and Plisse to name a couple.   The Gloria Jacket is one of the most flattering designs we have seen.  It looked good on both of us even with our size disparity.

Before the weekend started, we each received our copies of the new (and improved?) Aran Knitting, AND yarn for the newest design straight from the source herself.

Now, back to knitting!

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