theraineysisters knitting and so much more

February 24, 2007

From Sally — Berry Cluster Pullover

It’s so hard to take good photographs of knitted garments. Susan and I would each like to have a half-mannequin, so that we could get decent pictures. If we lived closer, we could invest in a really good one and share it. But we don’t, and I haven’t had the time to look around to see if I can find one. So, in order to show you photographs of the finished Berry Cluster Pullover, I tried:

1. Hanging it up. It looks okay, but not great.

2. Draping it over a chair. Just no.

3. I flirted, ever so briefly, with modeling it myself. It fits nicely, but I just wasn’t of a mood. So, I asked my twenty-year-old daughter if she would model it for me. She said yes, but I knew the fit would not be quite right. She’s very slender, and her shoulders aren’t as broad as mine. (I said shoulders. Shoulders, people.) It fits me better than it fits her, but I don’t have the cute stomach. So it’s a tradeoff. (And I should have had her change into a smoother under garment. See, we need a mannequin.)

Here is a detail of the hem so you can see the pearls.

In other knitting news, I did start Eris. I have half of the collar knitted. Like Susan, I started with a provisional cast on (the white row you see at the wide end) and my next step will be to pick up those stitches and start knitting in the opposite direction.

I’m knitting my Eris using Ultra Alpaca, which I described here (you’ll need to scroll down a little bit). I think this yarn will be perfect for this project and I am loving how it knits up. It looks rather sad here but I’ve stretched with my fingers and I know it will look much better once it’s been blocked.

Alison — I know you’re concerned about the lightness of the cash soft you’re using. I think you’ll be okay; I might worry a little whether that yarn will pill because it is so soft. That’s the one little concern I would have and some of that depends upon how hard you are on your sweaters.

As for the grey behemoth — my Feather & Fan shawl — I’m still plugging along. Twelve rows left. It will get finished soon.

PS — For Wendy O:


And from the book:


February 20, 2007

From Sally — Already Behind

Well, I’m already behind in our knitalong since I a) haven’t started and b) find the mere task of printing out the 8000 pages of directions and figuring out which ones to follow exhausting. I shall do so, though, before she gets any farther ahead.

I still must finish sewing the pearls onto the hem of the Berry Cluster Pullover. I have a few ends to weave in as well. Why does that last little bit of finishing seem so boring (and therefore unappealing)? And then there is the Feather & Fan shawl. Sixteen rows. Ack. I feel like Commander Scott heading back from the South Pole and realizing he may not make it.

The good news: I just spent the weekend with two friends. It was Red Cashmere Glovelets girl’s 50th birthday and her husband flew me and another friend, Jody, down to surprise her. Jody has wanted to learn to knit and so this weekend I taught her. She’s a natural! She’s well on her way to knitting her first scarf using a nice variegated yarn. She has mastered knitting and purling. She can already tell when she should knit and purl if she is doing stockinette stitch, can count her rows of garter, and knows almost immediately when she has made a mistake. Her gauge is amazingly even for a newbie and she has even thrown in a few rows of (deliberate) drop stitches here and there. Getting stuck in the airport for five hours yesterday helped her have more time to practice.

She’s already chomping at the bit to buy more yarn and needles.

February 13, 2007

From Sally — A Pearl Crisis

Filed under: Sally's Berry Cluster Pullover — Sally @ 12:04 pm

I’m finished with the Berry Cluster Pullover, except for sewing on the pearls. And therein lies the problem.

I had 6 mm pearls for this project, but I’ve misplaced them. So, I went pearl shopping the other day and bought some gorgeous ones in the perfect color — but they were 8 mm. I knew they were slightly larger than I needed but they looked fine when I placed them on the sweater. The problem, though, as I try to sew them on is that because they are larger, they sit higher off the knitted fabric. As a result, I think that the thread used to sew them on may be too visible (because there is more of it that shows between the hole of the pearl and the fabric). I don’t know if I want to continue, even though they look lovely if you stand back and squint.

So, I called around to some bead shops to see who might have 6 mm ones in stock (nothing like buying three times as many pearls as necessary). Only one store seems to have any, but I’ve been warned over the phone that they aren’t perfectly round — they’re somewhat irregular. It’s snowing, and it’s going to turn into an ice storm later. So I’m sitting here wondering if I should just keep sewing beads on that I will be tempted to remove and replace, drive in bad weather to look at beads that I may end up rejecting anyway, or give up all hope of wearing this tomorrow.

February 9, 2007

From Sally — Berry Cluster Pullover Update

Filed under: Feather and Fan Shawl,Sally's Berry Cluster Pullover — surly @ 6:07 pm

It’s finished! Sort of.

Both sleeves are complete and I’ve sewn in one. But . . . I sliced the index finger of my left hand very badly yesterday. Yeah — there was a lot of blood. Kind of a crime scene look. It reminded me of that SNL skit in which Dan Aykroyd impersonates Julia Childs.


Anyway, it hurts like hell and I can’t knit very well. I didn’t feel like tackling the second sleeve or the pearls, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to get to that this weekend. In the meantime, I’m attempting to knit on my Feather and Fan shawl. But it’s slo-o-o-o-o-w. I use that finger to push the needle when I’m knitting. I can knit without it, but it feels awkward.

February 4, 2007

From Sally — Berry Cluster Pullover Update

Filed under: Knitting Tips,Sally's Berry Cluster Pullover — Sally @ 12:55 pm

Am I the only one who gets bored at the start of the second sleeve? That’s where I am on the Berry Cluster pullover. I was hoping to be at the “sewing pearls on the clusters” stage of the sweater today, but I am not. Part of the problem, besides the fact that I am a slow knitter, is that I needed to pick up the neck three times and knit it twice.

The directions have you pick up about 90 stitches around the neck, which means that you can’t leave live stitches on the back and front necks because you would have far too many stitches. I picked up the neck as instructed, knit a few rows, and didn’t like how it looked. It was too obvious where stitches were skipped on the pick up. (I don’t have a photo of this.) I think it probably works fine if you use the fuzzier yarn called for in the pattern, but with my very smooth yarn there was nothing to hide the pick up.

On attempt number two, I went ahead and picked up into every stitch on the front neck. The pick up looked much better, but I knew there would be too many stitches and the neck would be too wide. I tried to compensate for that by having a series of decreases at four places around the neck (evenly distributed with respect to the shoulder). The neck looked fine, but it was still too wide at the very top.

I had two main options at that point. The first option was to start again with the higher number of stitches, but do more decreasing. I realized that to make the decreasing work, I wouldn’t be able to restrict the placement of the decreases the way I had on this attempt. I was afraid that decreasing at even intervals all around the neck wouldn’t look very nice and I decided I was too lazy to figure out a decorative decrease placement. The second choice was to pick up the specified number of stitches, but find a way to hide the pick up. So, I did the pick up again and then immediately did a purl row.

I think that worked fairly well.

A side note re the sleeve cap:

Because I am using a finer yarn than called for, my row gauge is “off.” Instead of 28 rows per 4 inches, I am getting closer to 31 or so. That’s not a problem for the most part because the pattern gives most of the directions in inches (e.g., 8 inches for the armhole). However, on the cap directions for the fitted sleeve, the directions are given for a set number of rows. If I followed the directions exactly, I would have had 55 rows total in the sleeve cap, which would be the 8 inches needed if my row gauge was correct. However, I knew that I had knit 64 rows from the first armhole decrease to the shoulder. With 55 rows, my cap would have been too short. Knowing that in advance, I slipped in a few extra rows here and there so that I had a total of 62 rows. I basted the sleeve into the sweater to make sure the sleeve length was right and the cap fit perfectly. Because fitted sleeves can be tricky, I think it always pays to look carefully at the directions for both the sleeve and the body to make sure that you compensate for any gauge issues.

Oh! I was going to save the yarn I used for my first neck attempt and use it for sewing. I’m not going to now. Here’s why:

(This is Eightball, a Chihuahua puppy who visits us occasionally and apparently can tell the expensive yarn from the cheap stuff.)

January 25, 2007

From Sally — Berry Cluster Pullover & Stash Enhancement

One reason I wanted to finish my Bohus Blue Shimmer is that I needed to start playing with my Royal Alpaca. Somehow, I keep getting shipments of it from The Tangled Skein in St. Peter. I don’t know WHO could have been placing orders for additional skeins on my behalf. It’s a mystery.

After Susan posted about her Berry Cluster Pullover, I was reminded how much I wanted to knit that. As I may have mentioned, I have yarn in my stash — the actual yarn called for — to knit it. But I kept picturing it in my Royal Alpaca. So the question became: Cameo (the dusty pink) or Spanish Leather? I chose the Spanish Leather. The color is not real true in these photos. Although it’s a brown yarn, it has almost a pink undertone to it. It’s very pretty. And it feels like butter. I just started it a few days ago and will finish the back this evening.

Of course, I’m already mentally looking ahead to my next project or projects. I have several head starts I’d like to revisit: Mermaid, Lismore, and my Feather and Fan shawl. But I was also tempted into buying some yarn today. My friend Jennifer and I met for lunch today. Before we enjoyed our Burmese food (which I had never had before), we visited a brand new yarn shop in Hyattsville, MD. It just opened Tuesday. A Tangled Skein is a lovely store and the owners are delightful. (If the name sounds familiar, it’s true. There is The Tangled Skein in St. Peter, MN — the source of all of my lovely Royal Alpaca — and A Tangled Skein in Hyattsville.) There is no website up yet for A Tangled Skein, but there should be one shortly.

I bought — hmmm, this is embarrassing — more alpaca. My new yarn is Ultra Alpaca by Berroco. It’s a 50% alpaca 50% wool blend. It knits at 5 stitches to the inch and comes in 100 gram skeins of 215 yards. I bought this with the Eris zippered cardigan from The Girl from Auntie in mind. I even bought some Wildfoote sock yarn from Brown Sheep (color Mistletoe) to match.

Can you tell I have a thing for blueish-green? ‘Cause I do. I also bought a new sock book from Interweave, Favorite Socks, which is a compilation of many of their sock patterns from back issues. I have ALL of Interweave’s back issues, but I couldn’t resist. It’s nice to have them all in one place.

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