theraineysisters knitting and so much more

April 29, 2008

From Sally — A Little Joy

Filed under: Sally's Ode to Joy — surly @ 1:31 pm

I haven’t had a lot to contribute to our blog since mid-March; it’s hard to write a knitting blog when you can’t type much and you can’t knit at all. Susan has been gamely shouldering the blogging burden, but I’m going to give her a little bit of relief today.

I’m still in the splints about twenty-two hours per day. My right hand is improving; my left hand is not. Even so, I was given the clearance to knit a little bit as long as I keep the splint on my left hand while I knit. I’m taking it very very slowly, but I have knitted a few rows each of the past few days. I started my own Ode to Joy (designed by Candace Eisner Strick) in the Cape Cod colorway. I don’t have much to show for it yet, but I’m so happy to do any knitting I don’t care.

Thanks for all of the support and kind thoughts.

April 27, 2008

From Susan — No Bites, Except Pie

Filed under: Susan's Mitered Cardigan — lv2knit @ 10:12 am

Well, I stood around hoping that something new would bite me in the a**, but nothing did!  So I am back to the old Mitered Cardigan. 

You may recall that I am changing this into a more traditional jacket style, with set in sleeves.  I had originally thought that I would simply shape the garter stitch sleeve from the pattern.  I kept thinking about it and decided to try to miter it somehow while still ending up with a fitted sleeve.

This picture shows the bottom portion of the sleeve:

I did a provisional cast on all the way around.  The top edge will be “unsprung” and the sleeve cap knitted up from there.  The two side edges (sleeve “seam”) will be joined using a 3-needle bind off.  To get the sleeve shaping (wider at underam — narrower at wrist) I used short row shaping.  To finish off the bottom edge, I will add an applied i-cord edge.

The short row shaping acted just like standard sleeve increases on a regular sleeve — though I was going upside down and backwards to get there!

The cap is knitted straight for 1-2 inches — allowing for length adjustment — and then the cap shaping starts.  I used Actual Size Graph paper to plot out the cap shaping.  I did knit the first sleeve cap and it was a disaster — my gauge paper was off.  I will re-measure my gauge, adjust the shaping, and reknit the very top of the cap.  It’s not a lot of knitting.  If the sleeve ends up too short, I can pick up from the bottom and add some garter stitch OR reknit the sleeve cap with more straight knitting before the shaping.  Either way, I have a fix for the sleeve length.  It’s all about gauge baby — that elusive little minx!

On a non-knitting note:

Yesterday a friend of mine took two of us on a surprise excursion.  She told us months ago to “save the day” as a play date — no other explanation given!  We met at 10 am and she drove us to Stillwater, Minnesota — a beautiful little river town that is CUTE, CUTE, CUTE!!  She had signed us up for a pie making class at The Chef’s Gallery Shop with the “pie guy” — John Michael Lerma.  He has won many pie baking contests and appears regularly on the cooking network. 


John Michael is absolutely delightful and does he know pies! 

There were 20 of us in the class.  We broke into groups and each made one of the following pies:

As the pies were either baking or chilling, he gave a pie crust clinic, and then we got to taste all six pies!  OMG!!  The Vidalia Onion Pie was the best and is his signature creation.  He will be on Martha Stewart in May to share it!  It was a fantastic day and something so fun and unexpected.

PS to Rudee: I would definitely serve this as a side dish or light brunch entree.  It would go great with a salad and crusty French baguette!

PS2 to Peggy: Uh, maybe ice sour cream (?). 

April 25, 2008

From Susan — Some Friday Fun

Filed under: Uncategorized — lv2knit @ 12:58 pm

Here’s a little diversion that is both knitting and movie related!

Want the answers?  Click here!

April 24, 2008

From Susan — Technical Difficulties

Filed under: Back Story,Uncategorized — lv2knit @ 1:48 pm

Sorry about yesterday — our site was playing ‘pouty teenager’ and refused to do its chores!  Today it’s up and we have nothing exciting to talk about!

My knitting is in the doldrums.  I have been working on the Mitered Cardigan and the enjoyment factor has slipped dangerously low.  On a scale from 1 to 10, if a project slips below a 4, it is in danger of being replaced :).  It is teetering very near (below?) the danger zone.  My eye is wandering, my knitting fingers are getting twitchy, and I am close to pulling the trigger on something new.  Yarn Harlot talks about this in such a positive way in her new book, Things I Learned from Knitting, that you almost feel like a knitting nerd if you are monogomous!

Actually, I would start a new project if something would just bite me. 

April 20, 2008

From Susan — Shaping Up

Filed under: Knitting Tips,Susan's Mitered Cardigan — lv2knit @ 12:05 pm

I thought I would share a knitting tip that some of you asked about in reference to the Mitered Cardigan I am currently working on — it is still progressing at a snail’s pace (if a small, slimey, armless snail could knit ;)). 

This information can be applied to any knitting project as long as you create graph paper in the appropriate gauge. I use the Actual Size Graph Paper generator.  I know there are others but this one is the best one I have found.  It will allow you to create graph paper of any ratio.

Basically, you draw out the shape you want on the graph paper and then fudge around with the knit shaping to create it.  By “fudging” I mean that the sequencing should make sense to you as a knitter.  For instance, instead of “bind off 5 sts, 3 sts, 4 sts” I would make it “bind off 5 sts, 4 sts, 3 sts” to create the shape, even though either might work with your diagram.

The illustration on the left shows the general sketch for the neck and armhole shaping I used for the Mitered Cardigan.  The red line shows the shaping I was going for and the blue line shows how to recreate the shaping with knitting.  The graph paper shown is not to scale, but gives you the idea.

The picture on the right shows how the final piece matches up with the drawing.  When you use this technique, the knitted piece should follow your outline exactly as long as you use the correct gauge on your graph paper.  It is really cool!

Shaping Diagram

In the case of the Mitered Cardigan, I needed to cast on additional sts to create the shaping, due to the direction of the knitting — shown with yellow arrows.  This is not typical.  Usually, you will be binding off/decreasing sts to create your shaping — the principle is still the same. 

How did I know what the shaping should be in the first place?  For the armhole, I knew the overall width of the body and the width I needed at the shoulders.  The difference between those two numbers had to go!  The neckline is a standard jewel neck: 3-3.5 inches lower than the back.  I made it the same width as the neck in the original pattern (8″ total — 4″ each side). 

If creating your own pattern from scratch, start with some basic knitting books or design books that show the standard dimensions of various necklines and sleeve applications.  Or use other patterns you have liked as a starting point.  That is what I plan to do for the sleeve cap on this sweater: I have a sleeve cap that fits really well so I am using it as the basis of the sleeve shaping. 

I am sure there are various software packages that do this for you, but I am cheap and have not felt the need to invest in it yet!  The “free” graph paper has served me very well over the years. 

I am working on the sleeve right now and will post a picture when it is done — it looks pretty crazy in its current state!

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 16, 2008

From Sally — Oooh, that was scary

Filed under: Uncategorized — surly @ 10:46 pm

I tried to read the blog and it had misappeared — I got a dreaded error message. I was unable to get in for at least fifteen minutes. Of course, the moment I sent a trouble ticket to our hosting service, we were fixed (and they certainly hadn’t had a chance to respond yet).

I hope it was a temporary glitch. I plan to be back with a knitting-related post tomorrow.

April 15, 2008

From Susan — Back to Normal (?!)

Filed under: Susan's Mitered Cardigan — lv2knit @ 12:08 am

Whatever that means !  My knitting immersion therapy is over and it’s back to the daily grind (yes, Marie, I did go to work today, dragging my sorry behind behind me!).  I could have a “booster shot” by attending tomorrow evening’s MKG meeting, recapping the success of Yarnover and listening to Joan Schrouder’s knitting wisdom.  We’ll see if family obligations allow me off my leash for another night.

I must admit to amour propre after reading the Yarn Harlot’s description of our meeting the other evening.  Wow!  Thanks for the kind words!!  And I keep thinking back to all of the knitters we met — wonderful memories of a fun evening!

Now on to some knitting content.  I have some complaining to do.  I am a little peeved by the yarn I am using for my current project — the Mitered Cardigan.  I am knitting with Rowan Tapestry in the Lakeland colorway.  The yarn is not my favorite and I am praying that it doesn’t turn into one giant pill immediately upon cast off, BUT that is not what is bugging me today. 

I finished the left front a while back:

The shaping worked as planned, I knit the bottom square of the right front, and had made some headway into the top section.  Motoring along at a ‘slow-but-sure’ clip.  Then I looked at it.  The top section was about ten shades darker than the bottom section.  I had grabbed a ball of yarn from the same bag, with the same dye lot and it looked completely different!  Ugh!   It was way too obvious being right on the front!  I ripped and restarted with a new ball, but should I have to?  Isn’t that why they created dye lots?  I know handpainted yarnie la la’s can vary a lot, but this is standard Rowan issue.  (It doesn’t say anywhere that it’s handpainted). 

I am now concerned about the rest of the project and how I can scrounge enough yarn for the sleeves.  I know my Kauni sleeves were very different in color, but that was a design element ;)!  I don’t think having one pale sleeve and one dark sleeve will look quite right.  It’s a little frustrating…

April 13, 2008

From Susan and Sally — ….A Few of Our Favorite Things….

Filed under: Back Story,Susan's Mitered Cardigan — Both Sisters @ 11:03 am


From Susan:
The Yarn Harlot came to town! But that pales in comparison with the fact that Surly also came to town! Sally arrived today at 1pm. I picked her up at Minneapolis’ best kept secret: The Hubert Humphrey Air Terminal. Maneuvering through that airport is like time travelling back to the Fifties: an age when air travel was fun and uncomplicated.

First stop: two yarn stores — Borealis and The Yarnery. Borealis must have about the best selection of sock yarn in town…but I don’t really knit socks. At least not too many of them. They do have a wonderful selection of yarns and a lovely, friendly staff.

From Sally:
Borealis does have a fabulous sock yarn selection. I can’t even knit right now and I bought some lovely sock yarn from The Great Adirondack Yarn Company. What was I thinking?

From both of us:
The Yarnery hosted Stephanie’s book appearance. They, too, have a wonderful selection of yarn and a lovely, friendly staff. St. Paul is ground zero for some great yarn stores — the two already mentioned and Three Kittens are the trifecta of LYS goodness. Each has great yarns and great staff. We are really lucky here!

Now, on to the “Big Event.” The BE was being held at the University of St. Thomas. Despite the ridiculously horrible weather (from Sally — why did I leave 70 degree Washington to fly into a snow storm?) and need to hustle ourselves through the outside slop, it turned out to be a fantastic venue: roomy and yet intimate. The Yarnery staff had learned many lessons last year and the BE was greatly improved. It was very well organized.

Here are some knitting peeps as they ready themselves for the BE to commence:

They kicked off with a “Sound of Music” theme (hence the title of this post) — the Von Yarnery Family Singers (aka, Angie, Eric, and Jessica) regaled us with songs from the hit musical with a Harloty accent:

Could Eric be any taller, cuter, or blonder (????)

Shelly Kang has YouTube videos linked on her site — a MUST VISIT to hear these clever crooners!

Then out popped Stephanie and the crowd went wild! We laughed, we cried, we knitted — it was great fun.

Many of us stayed for the obligatory book signing/fawning session that followed. Here The Rainey Sisters meet the Yarn Harlot:

She said “hi” to Susan and then mentioned Sally — Susan said “she’s right there” OMG — all three of us in one room.

Friday was pretty uneventful as we tried to avoid the bad weather that continued to pound the upper Midwest. We rested up for Big Event #2: Yarnover.

Saturday — Yarnover
From Susan:
Yarnover was held at Hopkins HS for the first time — great venue. This year was the first that I was part of the planning committee. Sally was my trusty sidekick and very helpful (thanks for putting up with me!). We got there at 6:30 a.m. and got home at 8:30 p.m. Need I say more? I was a whipped pup, let me tell you!

About 300 people were registered and of course many drop ins checked out the vendor fair.

The list of instructors was a veritable who’s who of the knitting world, and I would hate to leave out any names, but let’s just say I was a bit knitstruck!

The highlight of the day for me was seeing (and touching!) Susanna Hansson’s incredible collection of authentic Bohus knitting. She brought a museum’s worth of priceless, vintage Bohus designs — here are a few examples:

Yes, that is a Blue Shimmer! Sally was wearing her Blue Shimmer yesterday so she fit right in and caught the eye of most of the people in Susanna’s class!

Oh, how I wish I spoke Swedish:

After BE#2, we got to dine with the aforementioned knitting Biggies and had a wonderful time. Here are some of the people at our table:

Sally with Ann McCauley

Chris Bylsma and Joan Schrouder (in a stunning but not-quite-finished Kauni sweater — knitting needles still hanging from the armholes!)

Susanna Hansson and Sally Melville

For all of the knitting-related “activity,” I got NO actual knitting done! Sally and I did pick up a little yarn along the way. Here is another mitered project for the near future:

Ode to Joy Cropped Jacket by Candace Eisner Strick

Sally ordered the Cape Cod colourway and I have the one pictured — Autumn. It is a bit unusual for me (some will challenge that statement!), which is why I chose it. In person, the color looks like water color, and very vintage. Part of it was that Sally and I were staffing the information booth the whole day and sat directly across from this sweater — its siren song proved irresistable!

Today it’s back to the Yarnery to teach a class and then Sally flies home. It has been a whirlwind of knit-tastic proportions. I wonder if this is a legit excuse for a sick call tomorrow? Maybe not! 🙁

From Sally:
Yes, I bought a sweater kit.  No, I can’t knit.  Is there a problem with that?  I met many wonderful knitters and lots of people who read our blog as I sat at the information desk pretending I knew enough to help people.  I can’t list everyone’s names, but I want to especially thank Shelley Hermanson and Anna Blomster for their warm welcome to me.  They were two of the nicest knitters I’ve met and I was in awe at how hard they worked to make Yarnover such a special event.

PS — just received this photo of The Rainey Sisters from Shelly K.: 

April 8, 2008

From Sally — Stash Enhancement or What Was I Thinking?

Filed under: Back Story — surly @ 2:15 pm

I love yarn. I really really do. I therefore buy a lot of it. Sometimes, I keep buying yarn over and over again for the same project because nothing I buy seems quite right. Often, I will buy yarn just because I like it with absolutely no idea what I’ll use it for. Lately, I’ve been trying to knit more items from my ever burgeoning stash because I generally still love most of the yarn that overflows the bins in my yarn room. Even so, I am still tempted into buying new yarn. I just engaged in some minor stash enhancement — right before I learned that I am not supposed to knit for a few weeks. That is very frustrating, let me tell you.

First, I’d like to thank everyone for their kind comments on my latest finished project and for their sympathy over my wrist woes. It was encouraging to hear that others have struggled through this and been able to return to knitting. I’m optimistic about my prognosis because although de Quervain’s can occur as the result of over use, mine was triggered by hauling heavy luggage up some broken escalators in New York. I just got my custom splints yesterday and I think they’re helping. They’re quite sculptural looking actually:

In the meantime, I have so many projects I want to work on: my Damask Kauni, my Pearl Buck Swing Jacket, Cross Lanes, a few shawls, and, of course, the projects involving my new yarn.

The first yarn I bought was some Nature’s Palette Fingering Weight for the Koigu Keepsake Shawl. I had seen that shawl knit up in just one color instead of the ten or twelve they recommend, and I much preferred how that looked. (Shhhh — don’t tell my sister about this purchase. She doesn’t know.) It’s in the colorway Spruce.

I love how this yarn shades from green to blue and back again.

I must be in a blue frame of mind because when I bought this lovely blue yarn in New York. It’s Koigu’s Kersti Merino Crepe, which is a really wonderful yarn to knit with. I’m thinking about doing a Mitered Cardigan like Susan’s out of it.

Sadly, thinking about it is all I’ll be able to do in the near term. On Thursday, however, I have something to look forward to: a trip to Minneapolis. Yes, the Rainey Sisters are about to be together again — so watch out!!

P.S. Susan and I love sharing how we fix mistakes (because we certainly make our share of them). Romi, one of our favorite readers (and owner of the Rosemary Go Round blog) has a fabulous tutorial on how to fix a big lace mistake in her April 7th blog. It includes wonderfully helpful photos. You can be duly impressed by clicking here and scrolling until your jaw drops.

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