theraineysisters knitting and so much more

April 18, 2008

From Sally — Japanese Flame Stitch

Filed under: Japanese Ironwork,Knitting Tips — surly @ 12:04 pm

I recently completed my Japanese Pullover, and was very flattered by the reception it got on the blog. Here is a photo as a reminder of what it looks like:

I don’t know what the Japanese name is for the stitch I used, so I called it a Japanese flame stitch. Many of you asked how the stitch is made, and so with Susan’s chart expertise and help, I’m finally able to explain it to you. It’s generally charted in Japanese patterns as shown below. Typically, as the chart shows, it is done by “dipping down” three rows and temporarily increasing one stitch to three. It can, however, be worked over more rows and I’ve seen some patterns where the stitch count is temporarily upped to five.

Japanese Flame Stitch

Here are some photographs to better illustrate what is being done. First, this stitch is started on the right side of the work and is done on a background of reverse stockinette. Look at the number “3” in the chart — that is the first row in which you do something different. When you get to the row that Susan labeled as #1, you work your way to the correct stitch, move your yarn to the back (b/c you are no longer purling), and increase by knitting, purling, and then knitting into the stitch three rows below). The first needle insertion looks like this:

Knit one stitch. It will look like this:

Move your yarn to the front and then re-insert the needle “through” the bump you went under the first time. It might be a little awkward but it can be done.


Then move the yarn to the back and knit as you did with the first stitch.
Now, the next step is really important but it’s easy to forget: DROP THE NEXT STITCH FROM YOUR NEEDLE.

The “next stitch” is really the same stitch you’ve just knit into three times. If you don’t drop it, you’ll accidentally increase the number of stitches in whatever you are knitting. The dropped stitch will eventually run back the three rows on its own, but it can’t go further because you’ve knit into it three times. Remember, so you don’t hate yourself several rows later when your chart is screwed up, DROP THAT NEXT STITCH. Alrighty, then.

On the following wrong side row, purl the three stitches you just made. (Note: the other stitches will be knit because you are working reverse stockinette.) Then purl your way to the three new stitches. Your knitting should look like this:

At this point, you work a central double decrease as described in the chart above.

Then continue with reverse stockinette.

That’s all there is to it!

(Ack!  Ignore my hands in these photos — I can’t take very good care of them right now although they were happy for a few minutes of being out of the splints.)

April 1, 2008

From Sally — Instead of Snow, Delicate Japanese Beauty

Filed under: Japanese Ironwork — surly @ 3:59 pm

While my sister has snow it’s the beginning of spring in Washington, DC, and the flowers in my garden are just opening.

The Yoshino cherry blossoms are almost at peak along the Tidal Basin, but in my yard they are barely open:

Sometimes in my garden, I find surprises: early hellebores, the first buds of my peonies, or new tendrils of the wisteria. Today, though, there is another delicate Japanese beauty hiding among the cherry blossoms.

I’ll write more details, including instructions on how to make what I call the “Japanese flame stitch,” in a later post.

In the meantime, I’ve been diagnosed with de Quervain’s tenosynovitis and have been advised to refrain from knitting for two weeks. I’m not sure I can do that, but I am going to try.

March 17, 2008

From Sally — Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

Filed under: Japanese Ironwork — surly @ 8:19 am

With the luck of the Irish, maybe you can be a winner in our fabulous bloggiversary contest. (Did you like that smooth transition?) There is still time to enter. For photos and descriptions of our fabulous prizes, please click here. Once again, here’s how to enter:

Send an email to and put “Contest” in the subject line. Choose one of the following questions to answer.

1. Of everything you’ve ever knit, what is your favorite? Why?

2. What was your biggest knitting disaster?

3. If you were stranded on a desert island, what one knitting related book would you want to have with you? What yarn? Needles and other knitting necessities would be hanging from the palms!

That’s all there is to it! Five lucky winnners will be selected at random. The Rainey Sisters reserve the right to quote portions of winning (and non-winning) entries in a future blog.

Deadline is midnight March 20, 2008 (meaning that you have all day on the 20th to submit your entries.)

Susan and I want to thank all of those who have entered thus far. We have enjoyed reading your answers to our questions. Some are funny, some are thoughtful, some are near tragic. We both have wondered how we would answer each of the questions. I think I know how I would answer numbers 1 and 3, but number 2 was a bit harder. Would it be my lovely Silver Belle — beautifully knit but large enough for two or more of me? Would it be the intricate cabled sweater I made years ago out of Vogue Knitting that looked great until I put it on (when I then looked as if I had a hunchback)? I took that thing apart and reknit portions of it multiple times. Then I gave up. It’s in a drawer somewhere because I harbor fantasies of turning it into a pillow. It won’t ever happen, but then that’s why it’s a fantasy. Would it be the beautiful sweater I knit for my daughter when she was three? It turned out, but got left behind in a hotel in Europe. Sigh.

Then there is this brand new horror candidate:

I hear the protests. What? Why that’s beautiful. How could you call that a knitting disaster? Sit down, take a deep breath, and then scroll. You might want to put your hands over your eyes, the way I do at horror movies.



That is what happens when someone leaves a blue felt tip pen on the kitchen table without its cap and a lovely piece of white knitting touches it. Just in case you were wondering what would happen.

I had to rip it back to here:

Now, I was upset but it could have been worse. I have far more yarn than I need for this project, so I knew I could re-knit this piece and not worry about running out. I finished the front for the second time last night. Whew. Now I’m off to finish the back, which I thought I would have finished yesterday.

March 4, 2008

From Sally — More Joy of Silks

Filed under: Japanese Ironwork — surly @ 2:41 pm

This is just a brief post to show the progress on my “Japanese” pullover. I have finished the front and just started the back. (I normally knit the back first but I screwed up in my pattern translation and realized I had started the front. There’s a different stitch count so I didn’t want to muck around too much.)

Here’s Lucy modeling what I’ve done:

Here are two close ups of the actual pattern. I love the stitch in the middle of the lozenges and it’s quite fun to do. (The color in the second photo is a bit pink for some reason. I think the other photo is truer.)

February 27, 2008

From Sally — The Joy of Silks

Filed under: Japanese Ironwork — surly @ 5:23 pm

Susan recently talked about Japanese knitting patterns and pattern books. She and I both purchased several of them recently and, being easily distracted, I started playing around with some swatches. I won’t bore you with all of the various swatches I knit and all of the yarns I tested. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to knit one of the patterns I was seeing or whether I wanted to design something using some of the unique stitches I was seeing. I finally decided to try a fairly simple but elegant design. My scanner isn’t working and although I know I’ve seen a photograph of this design somewhere, I can’t remember where it was. (I will definitely post it when I find it.) I’ve made some modifications to the design, but not too many.

I have in my stash some beautiful white laceweight silk. Lots of it. Several thousand yards. I felt guilty dipping into it, but on the other hand I’ve been hoarding it for so long that it’s ridiculous. Even after I finish the sweater, I’ll have plenty for a shawl.

I decided to mix it with some Kidsilk Haze in the color Pearl both to get the gauge I wanted and to make a soft fabric with a little bit of a halo. I’m very pleased with the results, although I will be upfront: I know that the knitted fabric doesn’t look great in this photo. Because I am twisting stitches on most rows, the stitches look irregular — like teeth that need braces. I did wet block my swatches, however, and when I did so the stitches really straightened out and looked great. So I am fairly comfortable that the finished project will look better than it does right now. (*crosses fingers and toes*) I do love how the Pearl color softens the white silk; in person, the resulting color does look like a pearl. It has a soft, luminescent sheen. After being wet blocked, my swatches were unbelievably soft. I can’t wait to wear it.

Here is the current state of the back:

I don’t know what the Japanese name for the pattern is, so I am calling it Japanese Ironwork here.

Never fear — I’m still working on my Cross Lanes and my Pearl Buck.

P.S. I want to thank my sister for blogging in my absence. I was visiting my daughter (and my little assistant!).

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