theraineysisters knitting and so much more

April 30, 2007

From Sally — A Reader’s Emergency (Now Fixed!)

Filed under: Uncategorized — surly @ 3:04 pm

Peggy, one of our readers, has posted this in the comments:

“I’m attempting to finish a Debbie bliss pattern from Junior Knits. It’s the Molly bolero. It needs to be finished by Friday (I’m in big trouble). I can’t get the front edging to come out right, I’ve tried everything, the instructions don’t make sense to me. Has anyone had experience with this pattern. My grandaughter has to wear it on Saturday morning and right now it looks like I should have made her a shawl (or bought one). Thanks for any help. Peggy.”


I did a google search and found a photograph at this link.

Can you be a bit more specific about what it is that’s not working? Can you describe what’s going wrong? Does everything else about the bolero seem to work? If you can provide a bit more information, one of us (or one of our other readers) might be able to help. (Note that the person who knitted the one in the photo I linked to did the side seams first so that she could do the ribbing in the round. Would that help you? If nothing else, maybe you can contact that knitter through her blog.)

P.S. I’ve been emailing back and forth with Peggy, as was Susan. We think we’ve figured out the problem she was having with the directions. Thanks to everyone who tried to help.

April 29, 2007

From Sally — Inside of Widdicombe Fair

Filed under: Knitting Tips,Widdicombe Fair — Sally @ 5:55 pm

I won’t steal Susan’s clever “skirt lifting” title, but Lisa asked me to show the inside of Widdicombe Fair. She was also wondering about some of the floats, which she thought looked as if they could be quite long. As a quick refresher, here is what the blanket looks like. (I’ve now finished the third out of five horse repeats.)

Some of the floats are quite long for fair isle. I think the longest is 17 stitches, but there are numerous others in the 10-13 range. My rule of thumb is to do nothing for any float up to 8 stitches. Eight is my cut off. At that point, I will “catch” the other color at some convenient point. For example, if I have a 9-stitch float, I will:

1. Try to convince myself that I should stretch my 8-stitch rule to include 9. I’m never successful.

2. Knit 4 or 5 stitches, catch the unused color, knit the remaining stitches.

What I try to be careful of is where I catch it. I don’t want to “stack up” those catch points on top of one another. So, if in the row below I also had a long float, I try to make sure I catch the next float one or two stitches apart from the first. I also don’t want that caught color to ever peek through, so I try to not catch it right above a color change. I’m probably thinking too much, but that is my nature.

If I have a really long float — such as the 17-stitch one in this blanket — I’ll catch the unused color twice.

Here is the inside of the blanket:

Someone asked about wedding shawls. I’ve been thinking a lot about that question, but I don’t have a great answer. I think it so depends upon what level of difficulty you would want to tackle and what shape shawl you want. For example, the Forest Path Stole that was published in Interweave Knits would make a beautiful wedding shawl if you wanted a rectangle. Heritage Knitting and Fiddlesticks both have some lovely patterns — but there are so many shawl patterns out there. I’m no expert.

What does everyone else think?

April 27, 2007

From Susan — Susan Lifts Skirt

Filed under: Uncategorized — lv2knit @ 8:12 am

Here is the reverse side of the Mitered Tote by request:


I am a bit of a maverick.  I do not slip the first sts to make a selvedge to make the pick up easier (I think it makes the edge too loose).  I pick up into the nub at the end of each garter ridge.  The fourth square was picked up along the vertical line you see on the lower left.  The 4th square is seamed to the first.  You could obviously join them as you go but I decided to just follow the directions.  Aren’t I being a good little knitter by following the directions ;)?

April 26, 2007

From Susan — Miters and Babies and Silk, Oh My

Filed under: Back Story — lv2knit @ 10:31 am

I have been so torn of late between my knitting projects!  I am trying to be true to my knitting, but it is so hard! 

Here is my Mitered Felted Tote in progress — I’m rounding the bend:


There is a LOT of knitting to this bag!  It takes 6 skeins of yarn (I bought 7 because I added the lighter color).  It will take quite a while to get this baby done.

I also finished finishing the baby sweater for my friend:


Other than the sewing in of the sleeves, the major work involved knitting the top part from the green up, including the neckband.  That was where the pattern got screwy.  They did not have the neck centered on the pattern, so I had to make adjustments. 


They never show a good picture of how the shoulders are put together so here is a shoulder shot:


The left shoulder is faced and just comes together on the fold line.  The right shoulder is finished in the traditional Dale way.  I did the neckband a little different: knitting the first row (from the WS so it looks like a purl row) to separate it from the blue stripe on the body and then I did a picot turning row (k1, *YO, k2tog*). 

Here’s a close up of the button hole loops.  Aren’t the lady bug buttons perfect??


Anyway, that’s done!

I have also been working a bit on the silk top — now I’m at 11-12 inches.  15″ gets you to the armhole shaping. 

On a non-knitting note: Did anyone watch American Idol last night?  I have not been following it at all this year but wanted to see Josh Groban.  Did any of you see it when Celine Dionne sang with Elvis?  It was unbelieveable!  It really looked like he was there!  I’m not a huge Elvis fan, but I found it thrilling to see him singing like he was alive and young and so talented.  Wow, what a show.  It was unnerving to see Simon so human, too!

PS from Susan — a couple of you asked about the buttonhole loops.  I do use a tapestry needle and buttonhole stitch.  I sew on the button first and then wrap the yarn around the button to determine the correct length.  I used 3 strands of yarn for the base.  I count the number of buttonhole sts I do so they are all the same length.  I anchor each end of the loop so that they don’t pull too much when buttoned.

This is a close up of the BH loop I did on my Sunrise Circle:


The difference is that I made a square st by doing the BH sts in 2 parts: the first half is done as above and the second half is done in the opposite direction.


April 25, 2007

From Sally — Widdicombe Fair Update

Filed under: Widdicombe Fair — Sally @ 3:36 pm

I’m a procastinator by nature, so it’s gratifying to be this far along on a baby blanket when said baby is not due to appear until sometime in July. I’m not going to have much time to knit for the next few weeks, so I plan to focus on this blanket and therefore not feel panicked and behind when I suddenly realize it’s the end of June. I’ve finished two full pattern repeats (out of five) and have just started on the third.

Here are two photos of the work so far. (Am I the only knitter who doesn’t like to let others see unblocked fair isle?) The first photo is of the side with the steek. I alternate my steek colors in a “speckled” way; I know some knitters alternate them as stripes.

Here’s the non-steek side, which shows a bit more of the pattern.

I don’t repeat myself as a knitter that often, especially with something like fair isle. It is interesting (at least to me) how quickly my brain and fingers remembered this pattern, even though it’s been several years since I knit it. It makes the knitting go fairly quickly; I’m hoping I don’t get bored even more quickly than usual.

I’m knitting this on a 24″ circular needle — a 32″ would definitely be too long. I decided to use my 3.25 mm Addi Lace needles out of curiosity. They work very well; I was afraid the yarn would feel too sticky on the tips but it doesn’t seem to.

April 24, 2007

From Susan — Pick Up

Filed under: Knitting Tips — lv2knit @ 1:49 am

AuntieAnn asked the following question yesterday:

Picking up stitches seems to me to be one of those under-documented areas of knitting — which leg, or both legs? To twist, or not to twist? I wish I knew a way to pick up stitches where the back side looks as nice as the front. Any tips there, retired finishing pro?

I truly believe that picking up the sts around a neckline or front band can really make or break the appearance of the finished garment.  I am very fussy about the way the picked up edge looks — and I generally don’t give a rat’s patootie how the edge looks on the non-public side.  The exceptions are when the inside of the garment may be viewed by others: like a state fair judges OR, in the case of some collars, if they flip open so the inside is visible. 

When I pick up a standard neckline, I pick up as deeply into the garment as I need to to get a perfect edge.  I really don’t care if there is bulk that goes to the inside.  What matters to me is how it looks on the public side.  I go through the entire thickness of fabric because this tends to make a tighter and nicer looking edge.  And I never twist (though I might for a sock gusset).

Here’s an example of a very standard neckline, with any bulk being covered by the turned in edge:


There are occasions with a cardigan when the front could flip open and the inside of the collar might be seen.  Several years ago I knitted the Berry Tree Cardigan (AS, Stillwater) for my daughter. 


I experimented with a number of pick ups for the collar but there was always a bulky line on the inside, which I was afraid could be seen if the cardigan was unbuttoned. 

I invented (? — at least I’ve never seen it anywhere else) the following technique for this situation.  I’m not saying it’s perfect.  The picked up edge from the public side does not look as nice as a standard pick up, but the non-public side looks better.  It’s a trade off.


Susan’s Circular Needle Cast On
Use a circular needle the size needed for the collar.  Without cutting it from the ball, pull a length of yarn long enough to make all the sts needed for the pick up row of the collar (approx. 4-5 times the length of the neck opening).  Thread the end through a blunt tapestry needle.  Lay one end of the circular needle along the neck edge and make evenly spaced sts with the tapestry needle.  The sts will not pull out easily as with a regular pick up row.  To undo the sts, you’ll need to pull each out separately.
Use safety pins to mark off sections to help you with spacing.  Once all the sts are on the needle, start knitting from the other end of the needle with the yarn attached to the ball.  This method will not work well with yarn that is extremely nubby or frays easily.


 Here is a picture of the collar:


Here you can see both the right side and the inside edges.  Like I said, not as beautiful as it could be on the outside, but it is totally reversible. 


I don’t use this method very often because I prefer the right side to look nicer, but it is an option in certain situations.

As for my knitting tonight, I got very little done.  I worked solely on the lil Lady Bug sweater.  My friend has a deadline so that means I have a deadline ;). 

And where the @@##$%%$#@@!##$%#@@ is my Peacock Yarn?????

Addendum: I have heard of the method that Brigid describes, but I have never used it.  It seems like it would work well.  You pick up normally on the right side and then pick up the same number of sts on the wrong side, through the loop of the picked up st if possible.  You knit in the round until you get past the edge of the garment and then k2tog to join the front edge and the back edge into one.  It essentially covers the edge.  It can be bulky with heavy yarn, but would look very finished.

Michele with 1L asked about how I choose what to enter in the fair.  I knit what I like, but will sometimes time the project so that I have something to enter.  You can only enter one item per category, so if I was trying to choose between knitting a hat or mittens and I already made mittens that I was going to enter, I might make the hat instead.  I also hold items that I finish one year until the next if I already have something for that category.  That means I have to wear it carefully for the whole year so it doesn’t look trashed and worn out.  But I do focus on projects I will enjoy knitting and/or wearing above all, and the fair is just a side benefit that’s fun to do.

And do I know what the judges are looking for?  I wish!!  The years I think I’ll walk away with everything, I usually get skunked and then they’ll surprise me another year!


April 23, 2007

From Susan — Where am I?

Filed under: Back Story,Vittadini Nicole 1 in Silk — lv2knit @ 7:38 am

When you have too many things on your needles, it really is hard to see progress, n’est-ce pas?  Because I didn’t get much knitting done on Saturday, I felt that life owed me a good knitting day yesterday — and I did get a little bit done on a few things.

I got a start on the Mitered Felted Tote.  I am on the second square — and that’s after starting each square 2-3 times!  I didn’t like my cast on, didn’t like my pick up, etc.  Now that I’ve got those details settled, this should go forward rather than backward.  I love the colors and love the yarn.


I also promised a friend that I would help her with her Baby Dale Lady Bug sweater:


These things are absolutely adorable but the patterns are very hard to decipher.  They leave a lot to the imagination OR assume you have made them before and understand their construction.  I have never made one, but have finished many (I used to do finishing for a shop, but NO LONGER DO — no inquiries, please!!).  They are so cute and so much work.  I did have a brainstorm: I should make two of these now, one for each daughter, and then just pull them out when the grandchildren start arriving in 10+ (please, pretty please, no sooner than that, please!) years.

And, I have about ten inches on the silk Vittadini top.  If I was really smart, I’d be putting all my knitting time into that basket because I’ll be able to wear it soon.  But no one has ever accused me of being really smart ;). 

P.S. From Sally — Have you been wondering where I am? (crickets)

I’ve been in Boulder, Colorado, helping my daughter find a place to live next year. I just got back and haven’t had too much time knit this week. I’ll try to post tomorrow about where I am on Widdicombe Fair.

PPS from Susan — I re-posted my Free Knitted Beaded Amulet Bag Pattern

April 22, 2007

From Susan — Yarnover in Review

Filed under: Back Story — lv2knit @ 11:05 am

Yarnover was a rousing success!  Almost 300 attendees and some very notable knitting legends and legends-to-be.  Meg Swansen, Annie Modesitt, Beth Brown-Reinsel, Arnhild Hillesland, Susanna Hansson (who translates the famous original Bohus designs into English — you go, Girl!) to name a few. 

A newcomer to the group: Ann McCauley.  Her name sounded so familiar to me and then I realized that she also had a square in the Great American Aran Afghan (the Ann McCauley square).  Ann just wrote a book called The Pleasures of Knitting which has some gorgeous designs.  She wore a couple of them throughout the day, and they were very impressive.  It helped that she is a size 2 and weighs 15 lbs.  But I think at least some of the designs could work for normal-sized peeps.

And, now on to the important part: the freebies.  You all know how much I love freebies ;)!!  Look at the great back pack we received:


This could hold half of a good sized knitting stash AND is suitable for camping!!  My favorite is the set of stitch markers:


OMG — are these gorgeous??  If my pierced ears worked I’d wear these as earrings! 

After a very humorous keynote by Annie M. we moved to our classrooms.  I taught the Beaded Amulet Bag class. And that’s the title of the class: “Beaded Amulet Bag.”   A woman (who shall remain unnamed) walked in, saw all my beaded amulet bags on display and said, “Well, I didn’t know that’s what we were going to be making.  I’ve made dozens of these.  I want my kit and then I’ll be leaving.”  I said she could have her kit once everyone paid their supply fees, so she left immediately and went off to complain to discuss with the planning committee that she had been misled misunderstood about the nature of the class and wanted to take something else.  It’s a Beaded Amulet Bag class — we were making beaded amulet bags!!!!  What did you THINK it was going to be!??!!

Anyway, to continue.  The class was great fun.  Here are some pictures of the class in progress.

Getting Started:


Great concentration:


How is yours coming along?


There was also a Vendors Market where you could shop like crazy.  I resisted all temptation, but it was tough.  There were some really great shops there.  I did get to meet the wonderful owners of The Tangled Skein in St. Peter, Minnesota that Sally wrote about in January.  The Yarnery and Amazing Threads were there, and most of the other yarn shops in the Twin Cities had a presence. 

After the day wrapped up, the teachers were treated to dinner and then home to collapse.  All in all, a fine day. 

Put it on your calendar for next year: April 12, 2008.  I’ll be teaching again, so if you have any ideas for a workshop, let me know!

April 20, 2007

From Susan — Knitting Bliss

Filed under: Back Story — lv2knit @ 7:41 pm

I think I should have been a weather-person.  You know, “Here’s Rainey with the weather.”  I mean, Debbie Bliss gets a name that goes well with knitting!

Why bliss?  I spent the afternoon with Meg Swansen, just gabbing, knitting, eating wonderful cookies (thanks, Jean!!) and generally hanging out with very cool people: knitters.  Some very serious and accomplished knitters, such as Meg Swansen, Amy Detjen, Jean Christensen, and Theresa Gaffey — and some not so accomplished (there were several very new newbies hanging out). 

Meg is known for being a very warm, generous, and inclusive-type person.  She is totally famous and talented, but does not let it go to her head AT ALL.  She was talking about Al**e Sta**ore and that she is going to be having a conference call next week with her, Kaffe Fassett, and Barbara Walker — talk about your heavy hitters!!  They are going to be discussing how to help mark the 25th Anniversary of Vogue Knitting.  She said she won’t say anything — too intimidated by AS and her mega talent.  “I’m in such awe of her!” she said.  Hmmmm, and no one is in awe of you??!!??  Meg, you are one of my heroes!

As I mentioned, the very talented Theresa Gaffey was also at the Yarnery today.  Last night at knitting, Rosemary brought in a felted bag she had just finished — it was fantastic.  I had also seen a guy carrying one like it at the Yarn Harlot event and fell in love with it.  Rosemary said that Theresa had designed it, so of course I had to get that bad boy.  If you use NatureSpun, it gets a boucle appearance when felted which is tres cute.


I chose pretty much the same colors.  It’s done in garter st so it should be a great mindless and portable objet d’art. 

Okay, now I have to go get packed up for tomorrow’s Yarnover Workshop.  I have ten fun people to hang with all day, plus shopping and visiting at the Vendor Market — is that too much bliss for one person to handle??  Woo Hoo!


Susan Bliss 😉

PS — re: the pattern.  It is available through The Yarnery for sure, and I believe that Theresa sells her patterns elsewhere also, but I’m not sure where.  Just call The Yarnery (651-222-5793) and they will gladly send you a pattern.  They said they got a few sales of the felted egg pattern because of the reference here — way to go, Yarnery!!

PSS to WendyO — it IS such a dilemma!  I am still knitting on the Woman’s Continental (though now that spring is almost here, the heavy coat sweater seems less appealing).  The above felted bag has a very autumnal colorway, but NEEDS to be in those colours, or at least the first one does.  Could a summery version be far behind?  Too many projects…and no, the Peacock yarn is still not here 🙁


April 19, 2007

From Susan — A Little Vittadini, Please

Filed under: Vittadini Nicole 1 in Silk — lv2knit @ 11:30 pm

My brain has been marinating the last three days in computer training — egads!!  I’m in a total vegetative state. 

One nice break in the computer action is that I took my lil silk top along for the ride.  The other night I had to rip the whole thing out.  It was 5″ too big around and the knitting was sloppy.  It did not look good at all — so much for gauge swatches (“We don’t need no stinkin’ swatches!”).  I also did not like the stockinette hem — the roll thing was not attractive.  So, I started over and opted for 4×4 ribbing instead.  I went down a few sts and a needle size and I think it’s going to be fine.  It is hard to tell from the picture but it is kind of pretty in person.  The silk has a lovely sheen.  I also like the hardiness of this yarn.  I ripped it out twice so far and it looks like new.  It is much easier to knit on the smaller needles so this has become a great carry around project.

Vittadini Pattern Book 27 (Nicole 1, adapted) in Mulberry Silk, US size 6 needles

I’m still debating about my bigger, at-home project.  I started swatching a lace jacket from the recent issue of Knitter’s but it may not be “the one.”  There is always the alluring Bohus to think about!

Tonight was Knit Night.  Kind of a small group tonight, but great just the same.  Several of my peeps are making dishcloths with a US state on them — out of Sugar ‘n Cream.  Here is the link for the patterns.  They are kind of cute. 

Tomorrow afternoon Meg Swanson will be hanging out at the Yarnery from about 2-4 pm.  She’s in town for Yarnover, which is on Saturday.  I’m really looking forward to it, but I have a lot to do to get ready.


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