theraineysisters knitting and so much more

August 23, 2007

From Susan — The Minnesota State Fair is HERE

OMG — check out this Big Guy from the Minnesota State Fair:

WhattaBoar.jpg picture by lv2knit

I’ll try not to boar you any longer!  I just had to go to the Fair today, come rain or shine (it was VERY rainy 🙁 ) and despite the fact that I was sick.  I had entered multiple knitted items in the fair and needed wanted to know how they did.  Attending on the first day is a ritual for me.

Okay.  I am just going to spill it, and you can decide for yourself if I am as big a pig as my friend here, but I entered ten things in the fair. They all received ribbons: 6 first place, 3 second place and 1 third. I also won the Sweepstakes. 

So, what did I enter?  Here are two items: My silk Diamond Fantasy Shawl and Camilla Gloves:

DFSandGloves.jpg picture by lv2knit
I entered the gloves last year and got 2nd place.  If you do not get a blue ribbon, you can re-enter the item. I should have quit while I was ahead ;).  I was extremely pleased that the shawl won something because I did not expect it at all.

I also put in the little lace top from Vogue Knitting that I made for my youngest daughter:

VogueLaceTop.jpg picture by lv2knit
She won’t even wear it, but at least it got a ribbon!

Next are a pair of socks I made right before the fair.  I wasn’t sure that they would win anything because so many very talented people knit socks…lots and lots of socks — they did get second place even though you can’t see the ribbon:

Socks.jpg picture by lv2knit
The pattern is from “More Sensational Socks” and they are knitted with Fortissima Socka Bamboo in Color 07 Ocean.

I also threw in one of my Lace Tams for the heck of it and was stunned it got a BLUE ribbon:

LaceTam.jpg picture by lv2knit
It is knit in Rowan Silk Wool DK.

I finally got the zipper sewn into Eris and it received a blue ribbon:

EriswithRibbon.jpg picture by lv2knitEris.jpg picture by lv2knit
I struggled mightily with the zipper pulls.  I cut off the ones that came with the zipper — perhaps an OOPS! — and then made 457 attempts at “pretty” zipper pulls.  It was crazy. I finally ended up using some beads I already had and attached them with wire wrapping.

My Peacock Shawl did very well and I was surprised and very pleased about that.  I know a lot of people knit fabulous shawls so I knew the competition would be tough:

PeacockShawl.jpg picture by lv2knit

The Modular Tote also did well:

ModularTote.jpg picture by lv2knit

Another total surprise was Ballerina.  I finished Ballerina last year but did not have a category to put it into, so I entered it this year in the plain knitting cardigan category.

Ballerina.jpg picture by lv2knit
You can see it also won the knitter’s Guild Award, but I have no idea how that is determined.  And I’m not sure what it means either! 

When I got into the building I started looking for my things and could not find Oregon anywhere.  It was not in any of the main knitting cases.  Sometimes they place knitting in odd places as part of a theme (i.e., Norwegian Sweaters with rosemaling, etc.), so I started searching high and low. I found Oregon between two gorgeous quilts:

OregonSweepstakes.jpg picture by lv2knit
Oregon surpassed all my expectations.  I was hoping it would do well because it was such a thorn in my side for so long and was so darned much work!!  I was beside myself!  It was thrilling to see those ribbons, I must admit.

I was equally thrilled to see that my dear friend, Kim, won a blue ribbon for her gorgeous Cats and Mice mini-afghan:

KimsBlankie.jpg picture by lv2knit
When I got there, the little cats were standing on their heads, so I asked them to flip it around — and they did!  I knew this darling blankie would do well.  I’m so proud of Kim.  It is an Alice or Jade (?) Starmore design.

I’m also VERY proud of my friend Linda who won second place for her cookies. 

LGsCookies.jpg picture by lv2knit 
She is a great cook and very deserving!  The only bummer was that my other friend did not get a ribbon for her ethnic bread, but she will try again next year.

Now, could I do a state fair post and leave out the infamous Sock Monkeys — au contraire, mes amies!  Our lil sock monkey fiend friend has been hard at work all year exploiting perfecting the sock monkey concept:

SockMonkeyChair.jpg picture by lv2knit
And perhaps more practical for you:

SockMonkeyHat.jpg picture by lv2knit

All in all a great time — until I got laryngitis.  I mentioned that I was sick and it did go into my chest/throat.  I hope this bout is shorter than last time (a full week!). 

I’m sure by now you are thoroughly bored, but are you as boared as this 1200 pounder?

Boar.jpg picture by lv2knit

And I know what you are thinking — yes, they are HUGE!!

June 23, 2007

From Susan — I’m Proud as a You-Know-What!

Filed under: Peacock Shawl -- Susan's — lv2knit @ 9:22 am

I am done with the Peacock Feathers Shawl — and it’s shawl-tastic! ;)  I finished the knitting several days ago but had not found a “block” of time to actually finish it.  

I am so in love with this project.  Sally said she felt like an alchemist or fairy having created her magical Peacock, and I would love to plagiarize her every word.  But if I can’t steal her words, I will say instead that I feel like Rumpelstiltskin — I have turned straw into gold.  It was merino and silk “straw,” but you get the idea!  I cannot believe that anyone can do what I just did (and obviously many others before me).  

I have never aspired to knitting these ultra-fine laceweight shawls — why would anyone spend their time on something so impractical?  Something that takes so long to make?  Several years ago a very well-known knitter and expert on cobweb weight shetland shawls (aka wedding ring shawls) was the keynote speaker at Yarnover (unfortunately I do not recall her name).  I was duly impressed with the knitting and the beauty of the shawls, but thought I would never, ever consider that type of knitting.  Never say never — not that this is in the league of those in terms of complexity or effort or skill (though the design surpasses them in elegance and beauty), but to me it feels like it! 

I feel like Rocky jumping up and down at the top of the steps!  Doo-doo-doo..doo-doo-doo…

So, let’s look at the blocking of Peacock.  How did I get from this, Peacock in its crumpled state:


To this:


First, I started by soaking the shawl in water for 30 minutes.  While that was going on, I set up my floor.  I obviously used old, crappy-looking sheets as a base! 

I laid out an outline of the finished shawl dimensions in string (you can barely see it in the photo).  I did this because Sally said it was a hassle to line up the sides, keep them straight, and measure to make sure everything was even.  Once my perimeter was set, I never had to measure at all, which saved a lot of time and effort.  When I flopped the wet blob of knitting onto the floor, it appeared to me that there was NO WAY I could get it to the given dimensions.  It seemed absolutely impossible! 

Here you see the first step in the pinning process — each feather’s eye is pinned at its longest point:


Then I just kept pinning:


In this picture, you can see my “chalk line”:




I don’t have a dancing daughter to model the finished shawl, but I do like this picture.

Sally said I am her inspiration, but obviously she is mine as well.  I had this pattern for years but may never have tackled it had it not been for her.  To say I am thrilled with the results is the understatement of the century! 

PS — if you see any mistakes, please feel free to keep it to yourself!  It’s too late!  🙂

PPS — to Michelle: it took me 6 weeks from start to finish, though I could have wrapped it up faster.  I did not knit exclusively on Peacock and I ripped back a couple of times.  Regarding Kidsilk Haze: I’ll defer that answer to Sally, as she has knitted shawls with both Zepher and KSH and can probably comment on substituting one for the other.

From Sally — I’m averting my gaze from the bad puns and just looking at the beautiful shawl. I think you could substitute KSH and it would be beautiful, but you might lose a little bit of the definition of the feathers. On the other hand, you’d get a feathery look from the yarn. I don’t find that KSH stretches as much during blocking, though — Zephyr Wool & Silk really blocks out a lot. So, if you substitute KSH, you might want to use a size larger needle than you would normally for this project so that your shawl doesn’t end up being too small.

June 12, 2007

From Susan — The Peacock

Filed under: Peacock Shawl -- Susan's — lv2knit @ 1:57 am

I have been knitting away on Peacock and loving it.  I don’t know why I am enjoying this so much.  I think it is the feel of the yarn, the sheer brilliance of the pattern, and the fact that each row is different and seems to go quickly despite the number of sts.

Here is a progress shot:


And another:


I am probably about 8-10 rows from the bind off.  I say “bind off” but it is really a “crochet off.”  I am not the best crocheter to say the least, so I expect that phase to take a while :).

Tomorrow evening (or actually THIS evening, since it is well after midnight), I am teaching a class that I did not know spaced out about until 10 minutes ago!  Ruh roh!!  I did not have it on my calendar and the class is full.  It is the I-cord class, which is a ton of fun, but I’m not prepared.  I’ll need to get up early and pack my stuff — so off to bed I go!

June 9, 2007

From Susan — Who Says Knitting is not Brain Surgery??

Filed under: Peacock Shawl -- Susan's — lv2knit @ 10:08 am

Anyone who says knitting is not like brain surgery has never tried to rip out a few rows of fine lace knitting! 

Late last night I was trying to get one more row in on the Peacock Shawl and kaplooie!  A stitch popped off the needle and the shawl started to disembowel!  I attempted to fix it, but it was nearly impossible — too many yarnovers, triple decreases, etc. and it had unravelled 3 rows back.  Needless to say, I was BESIDE myself!  My lifeline was 16 rows back and I did not want to go back that far, seeing as how I had already done that once this week (true confession time 😉 ).  I knew if I went back to that lifeline, I would put Peacock away, perhaps forever.

So, I decided that I needed to try once again to rip back a few rows instead of going all the way to my lifeline.  This was at 12 midnight, so I was very tired and it was very dark.  But emergency brain surgery waits for no one.

This is a picture of my operating suite in the harsh light of day.  You can see my instruments: scalpels, sutures, magnifying devices, etc.


Peacock is being knit on US 4 needles, so I ripped back past the aneurysm (I believe about 5 rows) and used a US 1 needle to pick up the sts as I pulled out the yarn.  I did so in such a way as to be picking up the purled sts, not the right side “lacework” row.  This actually worked better than I had anticipated.  I then transferred each st to the US 4 needle, making sure every st was placed on the needle in the correct position, counting all sts, making sure the pattern was absolutely correct, and replacing all stitch markers.  Whew! 

This morning I knitted the next chart row AND (you guessed it) placed a lifeline!  It was painstaking, but the patient came through the procedure perfectly, though the surgeon is a bit worse for wear!

June 3, 2007

From Susan — Throw Me a Line!

Filed under: Peacock Shawl -- Susan's — lv2knit @ 1:10 pm

Let’s recap: The purpose of a lifeline is to provide a place in your knitting that you can rip back to if necessary.  The key to a lifeline is that all before it must be error free, or why didn’t you fix it already?  I have been placing lifelines at the end of each chart on the Peacock Shawl — except for Chart #6.  Why?  Because I was so excited to start on Chart #7 that I forgot. 

So, I had just finished Row 9 of Chart 7 and decided I better put in a lifeline – I did NOT want to have to rip back all the way to Chart 5 if a mistake reared its ugly head.  Before setting the lifeline, I knew I had to validate that there were no mistakes, and I was quite confident that I had it all going on!  I was cooking along and paying attention and every row was lining up with the previous row.  Au contraire, Over-Confident One!  There was a serious mistake in the very center of the shawl.  I decided to purl back halfway to the center and fix it on the back side because it was such a chore to pick out the sts one by one over hundreds of sts.

Yes, you guessed correctly.  I could not fix it, so now I had to rip out the half a purl row AND the last half of the knit row.  It took forever. I still could not figure out what I did, but did eventually fix it.  I finished up the row and decided that I better hurry up and set my lifeline.  I recounted to validate the perfection of the row and — tada — there was ANOTHER mistake!!!!!  AAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!  This was easily fixed, but I’ll tell you — lace is an easy thing to botch.  You think you are really paying attention and a yarnover passes you by.

Here I am on Chart 7.  It is deceiving because Chart 7 is the final chart before the edging, so you think you are nearing the end.  But, I am probably only 50% done with the knitting.  It is true!  Chart 7 is ~50 rows and each is getting longer.  Plus the edging is deep. 



I feel much better now that I have a lifeline.  I may place one every ten rows or so just to feel more secure.

The great part of my knitting this weekend is that I watched Pride and Prejudice and knitted much of the day yesterday.  Oooh Baby — Mr. Darcy is one cute dude (any excuse will do to show this again ;)).

“And your parents are doing well?”

PS — I keep having trouble with the center — and it is nothing!!  What is my problem?  NOTE: Rhetorical question 😉

May 31, 2007

From Susan — A Glimpse into the Creative Mind

Filed under: Back Story,Designing,Peacock Shawl -- Susan's — lv2knit @ 8:47 pm

I stumbled onto a wonderful tidbit last evening as I was roaming the internet.  It is an article by Dorothy Siemens, designer of the Peacock Feathers Shawl, on the site Knitting Beyond the Hebrides.  In this piece, Dorothy describes the design process she went through in creating her Peacock masterpiece.  She also discusses some of the response she has had to the design by those of us who long for a Peacock of our own. 

It is a very fun read and really lets you in on the ups and downs of design.  I do not profess to be a designer in Dorothy’s league by any stretch of the imagination, but the frustrations and “indirect route” that define the landscape of knitting design are very familiar territory.  I have often said that a sweater designs itself, though very cryptically.  You have an idea in your head, but it will not let you get there.  It will take you where it needs to go, but you find it only by trial and error. 

I emailed Dorothy in what amounted to a gushy fan letter and her response was so warm and generous — very cool!!  It is wonderful that we have the opportunity to recreate all the gorgeous shawls she has designed — see them at Fiddlesticks Knitting.  Thank you, Dorothy! 

May 26, 2007

From Susan — Hey, Lady, Nice Scarf!!

Filed under: Lace Style Cardigan,Peacock Shawl -- Susan's — lv2knit @ 9:08 pm

I am back in knitting form.  Still sickly, but not too sick to knit, thank goodness!  And thanks for all of your well wishes.  It really was nice to get some sympathy from across the miles (I got too little at home!).

On my infrequent travels, carrying around my portable project, I keep getting asked if I’m knitting a scarf – hmmmm, what gives?  Why would they think the bottom of a felted bag was a scarf? 


Yeah, I know.  It looks very weird and not like a felted bag at all!  It will all become clear soon, I hope (noting that crossed fingers make typing difficult).  I’m on the final stages of the knitting but there is a fair amount of finishing, not to mention the double I-cord strap.  So, this is not yet in the “Finis” category.

I also worked a little more on the Lace Style cardigan:


I think I’m to the underarm shaping, but you realize that means a commitment to length ;).  We all know how hard it is to do that, now don’t we??  I’m pretty sure I’ve got it close.

And could I forget My Precious?  Never!  I am now at 22% and on the 5th chart.  I now agree with Surly that my calculation method is fiendish.  It is much better to con yourself into believing you have a magic skein of yarn!! 


If you look at a picture of the shawl’s details, you can see where I am in the big scheme — I’m in the middle section of the feathers.

I just got back from Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.  There’s a lot to like and a lot to not like — it’s a LOT of movie.  But it was fun.  Now I guess I’ll have to go see the other “3’s” — Spidey and Shrek.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Weekend.  If you have someone special to remember this weekend, as Sally and I do, please share our warm thoughts for you and yours. 


May 19, 2007

From Susan — Soccer and Knitting: Pas de Deux

Filed under: Lace Style Cardigan,Peacock Shawl -- Susan's — lv2knit @ 10:47 pm

Youngest daughter is in a soccer tournament this weekend, which means endless hours of sitting, waiting, cheering, and Knitting!!  I always take along mindless knitting projects for these occasions — who can just sit??!!??

Anyway, Mitered Tote is the perfect soccer project, so it is going strong.  And I took along lil Lace Style Cardi today, as well:


I am liking this very much so far.  I love the yarn and love the color.  There is a small mistake in the pattern.  It says to do a long-tail cast on and then knit 4 rows.  If you do it that way, you will have 3 garter st ridges (you get one ridge from the cast on itself).  Three ridges at this gauge is a whopping 1 inch!  Too much.  In the pictures of the finished cardigan, there are clearly only 2 ridges = 2 rows of knitting before starting the pattern rows.  I opted out of both of these options and did a cable cast on and one knit row.  I prefer the tight bead of reverse stockinette at the bottom edge.

I also went back to “My Precious” for a bit this evening and made a little progress:


According to my “How Much Shawl Have I Knitted So Far” calculations, I am at a whopping 11%!!!!!  Not bad, and I don’t see any glaring mistakes — whew!  I was asked how often I’ll run a lifeline: I’m going to put one in at the end of every completed chart.

More knitting soccer tomorrow morning and if they win, another game in the afternoon…maybe Mitered will get felted this week!

PS to Marina: to add a lifeline, take a tapestry needle and thread it with a small, smooth yarn, thread, or cord.  I used leftover perle coton.  Thread it through all the sts on your needle, making sure not to go through the stitch markers.  For the Peacock Shawl, I am placing my lifeline through a RS pattern row, not the WS purl row.  It is easier to purl the sts with the lifeline through them than to work them as pattern sts.  I push all the sts back from the needle tips so they are on the center cord of the circular needle.  It only takes a few minutes.  See also: April 11 — Sally describes a lifeline and shows pictures :).


May 7, 2007

From Susan — From 8% to 2%

Filed under: Peacock Shawl -- Susan's,Uncategorized — lv2knit @ 6:29 pm

Now, don’t tell me NONE of you spotted the mistake on my Peacock Shawl!!  I’m sure you were trying to be nice and not say anything, but…

I changed the picture — no one could figure it out!

A misplaced yarnover, WAY-Y-Y back there!  The point of a lifeline is to make sure there are NO MISTAKES before the lifeline is placed!  I think it’s a really good idea to photograph these things — I did not the spot the mistake otherwise.  However, once you know it’s there, what are ya gonna do?  Oh well, a few days knitting on this end and a glaring mistake averted — well worth it.

From Susan — Peacock Soars! Cough Cough

Filed under: Knitting Tips,Peacock Shawl -- Susan's — lv2knit @ 1:03 pm

I have been so busy admiring Surly’s beautiful knitting I have barely had time to do any of my own!  I have a done a little more on the Peacock Shawl:


This is not the greatest picture but at least you can see the pattern emerging.  Sally assures me that blocking will cure all of its ills. 

Do you ever wonder as you knit a shawl how far along are you?  It is so hard to tell, especially when you have a shawl that starts with rows of 3 sts — to call that a row and count it against the end rows is absurd!  I have put together a tip sheet that shows how to figure out how much knitting you have done, relative to the entire shawl.  It is not heavy math (and I’m sure most of you have or could figure this out if you wanted to), but the tip sheet is included under Susan’s Gallery, nonetheless.  Using my How Much Shawl Have I Knitted So Far tipsheet, I calculated that I have done about 8% of the total shawl.  I don’t know if that is helpful information, or depressing!!

I am also plugging slowly away at my Mitered Tote — no new pics, but here is a picture of the most beautiful thing we have in our yard:


This apple tree is so gorgeous — if it ever goes, we are sunk. 

Take care and enjoy the spring!


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