theraineysisters knitting and so much more

January 28, 2013

From Susan — It’s Me Again

Filed under: Lyra by Niebling,Updates — lv2knit @ 11:32 pm

It is me again, but it is also Lyra again!  I know this will sound strange, but I kind of forgot about my poor Lyra shawl.  I finished it last November right before the wedding and the holidays and then “poof!”  Out of sight, out of mind.

I wanted to make another Lyra from Day 1.  I always felt that it would be a stunning shawl, BUT as a circular shawl, you lose the drama.  When you fold a circular shawl in half to wear it, you hide all of the lace.  So why bother?

So, I decided long ago to re-knit a half Lyra.  I was inspired last summer at knitting camp when a dear friend was wearing her Lyra Shawl – a shawl that she WON!  She had not knit a stitch of it.  Wow.  What a prize it was!

I decided on red and the hunt was on (I have too so many shawls – I kind of need to think about what color I don’t have).  I bought some Fyberspates Scrumptious Laceweight in Cherry – a stunning mix of merino and silk.  The knitting was very satisfying and I love the shawl.

Susan’s Lyra Shawl in Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace, Color Cherry (I used 75 gms or 820.5 yards)

Lyra is Niebling’s masterpiece — complex and highly recognizable.  Like Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to knitters.   Unique and beautiful.

October 27, 2012

From Sally — the Calm before the Frankenstorm

Filed under: Sweet Dreams,Updates — surly @ 1:19 pm

I thought I better post while I still can — the forecast for our nation’s capital ain’t pretty. I’ve been fairly silent lately because due to various and sundry commitments and deadlines, I’ve had very little time to knit. However, I had been meaning to knit Sweet Dreams, the same shawl Susan posted about recently, and her project inspired me to finally cast on.

I used some Tess Designer Cascade Silk Sport in a lovely silver gray that I bought at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival in May. I bought the yarn for Nora’s wedding shrug, but decided it was a little heavier than I wanted for that project. I repurposed it for this shawl, and used the same beads I used on her shrug (I bought those beads for this yarn in the first place).

As Susan said, this is a lovely pattern to knit. It’s very easy and very adaptable in terms of size. Mine is larger than Susan’s: I cast on stitches in between the medium and large size given in the pattern, and I knit two repeats of the main lace chart instead of one. I still had quite a bit of my original 150 gram skein leftover. This is a long and thin shawlette that I think I will be able to wear almost as a scarf. Or maybe I can lash myself to a telephone pole when the winds are howling on Monday and Tuesday.

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.

December 29, 2011

From Sally — Merry Christmas to Him

Filed under: Matt's Brownstone — surly @ 7:53 pm

Was it just last year that I designed and knit a sweater for my husband? Did that mean I was off the hook (or should I say needle?) this year?

The good news/bad news about having a blog is I can look up when I knit something instead of going by memory. In this case, I had to admit that I made that sweater for him two years ago. Despite getting new gloves in the fall, he wanted another sweater. How could I say no to someone who actually likes wearing my knitting? So, I showed him a few patterns — I wasn’t up for doing too much designing — and he chose Brooklyn Tweed’s Brownstone cardigan. He even liked the color. No decisions necessary. I went out and bought Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter in the Woodsmoke colorway.

I started it a long time ago, when Christmas seemed far far away. Then I put it aside until Christmas was bearing down on me like a freight train. I did manage to finish it with time to spare, and he consented to a few photographs this morning. But just a few.

I did no real modifications, other than dropping the short rows done before joining the sweater to the arms, raising the shawl collar opening slightly, and only using one closure (because of the smaller neck opening). The toggle I used is genuine antler horn, and believe it or not I found it at Amazon. He loves it.

PS from Susan — It looks and fits great! My version of the same sweater (in color Nest) is languishing on the needles. I might get it done for the February birthday.

September 26, 2011

From Sally — The End of Summer

Filed under: Sally's Summer Solstice,Updates — surly @ 1:12 pm

Summer is over, and just as it wrapped up I finished my Summer Solstice cardigan (design by Heidi Kirrmaier).  Loyal readers may recall that Susan finished one recently and really loves it.  I don’t think mine will be quite the “all rounder” (™ Bridget Jones’s Diary) that Susan’s is because mine is in a less neutral color.  But I do like it very much. One thing I loved about knitting it was that once you bind off, you’re done. There is virtually no finishing.

The yarn I used is Acadia by the Fibre Company. Acadia is a blend of merino, baby alpaca, and silk. The color I chose — so appropriate for this design — is Summersweet. The yarn felt very springy when I was working with it, but it relaxed and really softened when it was blocked. The finished sweater has a lovely drape and feel to it (hard to tell from my not great photographs). I would definitely use this yarn again which is good since I bought a lot of it in another color — Granite. (Hey, what can I say? It was on sale.) The last photo is probably the truest to color.

September 9, 2011

From Sally — Rain, rain, go away . . .

Filed under: Forest Path Stole — surly @ 11:35 am

We have had nonstop rain here in Washington, DC for what seems like forever.  I know that other areas are suffering from fires and drought, so I shouldn’t complain.  But that never stopped me before.  One side effect of the rain is increased difficulty in taking good photographs of finished knitting; it is so gloomy out that adequate lighting is a problem.  Le sigh.

I did finally finish my Forest Path stole, and I love it.  

(Sadly, it’s not truly mine; I knit it for charity and have to mail it off to be auctioned.)  To recap, the Forest Path, designed by Faina M. Letoutchaia, first appeared in the Summer 2003 issue of Interweave Knits. I had wanted to make it for a very long time. It was fun and relatively fast to make.

I used Fino Alpaca with a Twist, which is a lace weight blend of alpaca and silk, in the color “Champagne” (a warm ivory). I made several modifications. First, I narrowed the shawl and shortened it. The original has 23 tiers of entrelac lace panels; for this charity project I knit 17. (I’ll probably do 19 when I knit it again for myself.) The tiers in the original alternate between four and five lace panels as you work your way up; my version has three and four. Even with those changes, my finished shawl blocked out to 70 inches by 26 inches, which I think is a generous size for a stole. When I reknit it, I will keep my width.

The other major change I made was to the edging. As written, the stole is bordered by seed stitch. You work base, side, and top triangles of seed stitch as you knit the shawl and then add a seed stitch border to the sides, which you sew to the stole. (The bottom and top seed stitch strips are done before and after the base and top triangles respectively.) This didn’t appeal to me because I didn’t like sewing the border to my Crown Prince shawl, and I find that much seed stitch a bit boring and tedious to knit. More important, my reading at Ravelry had made me a bit leery about the border. [Side note re Ravelry: This is one of the strengths of Ravelry as a knitting resource. By skimming through finished projects, you can learn a lot about what does and does not work in a pattern before you knit it.] A number of knitters who made the shawl felt that they couldn’t block it as much as they wanted to because the border wasn’t as willing to stretch as the lace panel center. Therefore, I added a lace leaf border based on a motif in Victorian Lace Today. It was slo-o-o-ow, but I was very pleased with how it turned out.

So here, without further ado, is my first Forest Path. A second, that I will keep for myself, is definitely in my future.

August 13, 2011

From Sally — The Path to Enlightenment

Filed under: Forest Path Stole — surly @ 1:54 pm

Eight years ago, Faina Letoutchaia’s Forest Path Stole pattern appeared in Interweave Knits (Summer 2003). I loved it. I wanted to make it.

To be honest, most of the time if I don’t immediately embark on a pattern that I have fallen in love with, I gradually lose interest or forget all about it. (That can be a good thing; I don’t have enough hours in the day to knit everything I’ve wanted to knit in my life.) Despite my fickle nature, the Forest Path Stole continued to enchant me. I bought yarn for it. More than once. Susan and I discussed what changes we might make in it. I periodically scrolled through the finished projects on Ravelry. Finally, a few weeks ago, I actually started it.

Back in 2003, the pattern looked intimidating to me. I didn’t have all that much experience with entrelac or lace, and the pattern looked complex to me. Now, in my dotage, I realize it’s actually a very simple pattern. Each of the three lace panels is easy to memorize. Because it’s entrelac, you are only working with about twenty stitches at a time (the stitches for one lace panel motif), and so there’s a sense of immediate progress each time you finish a panel. It’s a relaxing, fairly portable project. My yarn is Alpaca with a Twist Fino in the color Champagne. Fino is 70% alpaca and 30% silk and knits up beautifully.

I’ve made a couple of changes to the pattern. First, I am knitting a narrower and shorter version. Second, instead of the seed stitch border, I started with a provisional cast on and I’ll do some kind of knitted on border at the end. (I have several ideas, and will decide which one when I get there.) I’ve completed ten tiers, with my current plan to end after tier 19.

Progress photos of lace are usually uninspiring: unblocked lace looks shriveled and a little sad. But here are two shots anyway to give an idea of the color.

I love working on this stole. It’s a good thing, too, because after all these years of loving this pattern I am not knitting it for myself. It will be auctioned off in October to benefit The National Inclusion Project.

I knew it was smart to buy yarn more than once. I can’t wait to finish this one so I can start it again.

Additional Comments from Susan

Sally is so right: we both fell in love with this shawl, and I was intimidated!  I saw the actual shawl in person at a trunk show at Amazing Threads years ago.  I walked in and saw this stunning (and very large) lace stole and knew it was completely beyond my knitting capabilities.  But not beyond my dreams!  So, quite a while later I bought a ton of yarn (the same yarn Sally is using, but in cream) and ended up using it for Lyra.  Oh well!  Then I bought Exquisite in Slate Blue.  It, too, is beautiful and currently marinating in my stash.  I have definitely earmarked it for Forest Path, but have to wait for the knitting planets to align…some day…soon?  Sally is doing the pre-work so it will be easy for me to follow!

July 15, 2011

From Sally — A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

Filed under: Crown Prince Shawl,Updates — surly @ 9:33 am

Unfortunately, however, I simply can’t seem to take a decent photograph of my newly finished Crown Prince Shawl (from Nancy Bush’s Knitted Lace of Estonia).  I’ll share some of my mediocre shots in a moment.  First, a few details.

I love the shawl design, but looking back it was a slog to knit; the nupps, while not difficult, became a bit wearing.  Then there was the outer border.  It is knitted in two pieces and sewn to the center of the shawl.  I thought about ways of avoiding that for several reasons.  First, it sounded tedious and I am not a great seamstress.  Second, the reason for making it that way was traditional technique based on lack of circular needles.  But I have circular needles and know how to use them.  Third, I thought it would be more difficult to block the shawl.  I finally relented and did it the traditional way because I liked the border (and it would have been more difficult than it looks to turn the pattern upside down and knit it outward from the shawl).  My original fears were not misguided, however.  I just don’t think this border looks as nice as one knitted onto the shawl would have looked.  I’ll take ownership of that — I’m sure much of it is due to my poor sewing skills.

I love the color of the shawl.  As I said in an earlier post, the yarn is Spirit Trail Fiberworks Atropos Bombyx Silk Laceweight.  The color is Dragon’s Blood — deliciously appropriate after watching season one of Game of Thrones with my 19-year-old.

I’m still concerned that the shawl is a bit small.  It did block out to about 52″ square.  That’s close to the size the shawl was supposed to be.  I think my personal preference would be for a larger square shawl so I could wear it a bit more dramatically, the way I can wear my large circular shawls.  This size means I almost have to fold it into a triangle to wear — and if I am going to do that, I should have done half the knitting and just made another triangular shawl.  Again, that’s on me.  I knew the size when I started it.  It does also look nice sort of folded in half  like a stole, so all is not lost.

So if I were going to grade this project the way that my sister sometimes does, I’m not sure what grade I would give.  It’s very pretty (which you won’t be able to see from my crappy photos), but I am not sure how much I’ll wear it.  Le sigh.

Here is the border being sewn on.  The color here is fairly true:

And now some woefully sad attempts at photos:

June 17, 2011

From Sally — Is It a Handkerchief or a Shawl? That is the question . . .

Filed under: Crown Prince Shawl — surly @ 3:24 pm

While Susan rips through project after project, I am very slowly knitting what I fear will turn out to be a handkerchief rather than a shawl.  My Crown Prince shawl seems tiny.  Tiny.  I know it is only half-finished.  I know it will have an additional border going all the way around.  I know it isn’t blocked and should stretch.  But, and this bears repeating, it’s tiny.

Off to do some more knitting. I’m sure my sister will have another finished project within the next day or so.

P.S. To be clear, I am only halfway through the main portion of the shawl (before the border). So it will definitely be larger than it is, but I am not convinced it will be the large square shawl I was envisioning when I started out.

June 2, 2011

From Both of Us — Nuppified

Filed under: Crown Prince Shawl,Updates — Both Sisters @ 1:01 pm

Nuppified (rhymes with stupified): to be overcome by the desire to knit nupps; the act of knitting nupps; an incurable form of insanity

We have both been nuppified.  We are either in the process of or shortly finished with nupp-filled projects.

From Susan
In my convalescence, I have been focusing on smaller projects and have finished two of them.  I will share the second one first!  I stumbled upon a really lovely pattern on Ravelry (another freebie no less!) and thought it would be perfect for the gorgeous yarn given to me by sister, Sally, as a nice little present: Spirit Trail Fiberworks’ Atropos — 100% Bombyx Silk Laceweight, 550 yds/50 gm, Color “Dance the Orange.”  A stunning semi-solid orange that looks like the brightest color that copper can be.  This was one of Sally’s treasures from Maryland Sheep and Wool — she snagged a skein for each of us.

The yardage was enough for something smallish.  The pattern I chose was Fylleryd by Mia Rinde.  It has the advantage of being adjustable to any size, plus I liked that it had nupps.

I can’t get great photos and I should not have blocked it (too much time off the couch!).  I worked four repeats of the petit pattern and two of the blueberry — the third set of nupps is in the final chart.  All of 3 grms of yarn remained — whew!  I was sweating those last few rows!

From Sally
I’ve always had a special interest in Estonia because one of my close childhood friends was of Estonian descent.  Every Saturday, she and her sister  attended Estonian school to learn the language and culture.  Anne taught me several words in Estonian, which I still remember all these years later:  ema (mother), isa (father), and nupp (pain in the ass button).  I was casting around (knitting pun, please groan in unison) for something to knit out of the Atropos I had bought for myself.  Susan suggested the Crown Prince Shawl from Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush. I had somehow missed this book when it first came out, but I bought it immediately and started knitting. Here is a photo of the shawl from the book.

Now, nupps have the reputation of being a bit of a pain in the button. They’re not difficult, but they can be fiddly; it is easy to miss a nupp loop when you are purling them together and it is also easy to accidentally catch the next stitch while reducing the nupp loops. But they are a hallmark of Estonian knitting and the effect can be lovely as the Crown Prince shawl shows.

Here is a photograph of the yarn I am using: Atropos in the shade Dragon’s Blood. (I just couldn’t resist the color even though I have so much red lace weight yarn in my stash.) The coppery orange skein tossed in is the same color Susan used for her Fylleryd.

From Susan: Sally’s picture captures the orange beautifully

And here is a photo of my Crown Prince in progress. It’s pretty tiny so far. I think I have more of a Baron or Duke than a Prince right now.

So you can see we are well into our nupps and demonstrating lots of sisterly cross pollination of knitting projects!

Stash Reduction Sale!!!

Susan’s Thursdays at 4 Knitting Group is hosting a stash busting sale this Saturday from 9a-4p.  All items are a third to half off and there are some fantastic yarns from which to choose!  If you are interested in the details, leave a comment requesting information and Susan will email you with the information.

PS: Yes, nuppification is very contagious!

PS2: Patricia mentioned two fabulous shawl patterns: the ever popular Swallowtail by Evelyn Clark and the Percy Shawl by Sanna Kalkman.  We have both made the Swallowtail and the Percy is stunning — must be added to queue!

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