theraineysisters knitting and so much more

August 31, 2011

From Susan — Alice is a Star

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 3:26 pm

Alice, Alice, Alice.  Your genius overwhelms me, heartens me, and inspires me.  I have been enamored for decades and you continue to amaze!  Alice and Jade Starmore just announced their new website and it is a stunner.  They put forth their best efforts and created a much improved portal to their designs and yarns.

Both Sally and I have knit numerous Starmore designs.  Mine include:

Eala Bhan
Henry the VIII
Berry Tree
St. Brigid
Capillifolium Baby Cap
Kimberley (Jade)
Rambling Rose

Sally has made many of the above and several fair isle baby blankets (Cats and Mice Blanket).   We’re fans, what can I say?  We also have had the honor and privilege of meeting Alice, taking classes, and dining with her…the highlight of my [knitting] life.  Alice inspired me to attempt fair isle knitting with Rambling Rose and complex cables with St. Brigid.

The cool thing about the new website is that you can use a filter to find what you want.  When you sort by “Alice Starmore,” you get all of her designs on one page.  I was overwhelmed and overcome.  What a talent!!

I am sure there are more Starmores in my future.  I have yarn in stash and thoughts racing through my knitting addled brain.  All I can say is WOW!!!

August 28, 2011

From Susan — Blue Jean Lady

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 12:17 am

Recently I referred to a project that I just couldn’t get finished – a smallish summer top that took me forever!  It is a cute design that takes:

This —

Plus this —

 and ends up with this:

I love my “Sweetheart Tunic,” but it is wool and not suited for summer wear.  I thought the same type of style would be nice in cotton.  The design is called Tabitha and the yarn it called for is Riveting (cute!), by Kollage (I used Night Denim). 

The yarn is actually made out of recycled blue jeans and has a very stiff, coarse feel, but I liked it.  It is T-I-N-Y (350 yds/100 gms) and therefore requires small needles.  And lots of knitting!  Add the fact that it is meant to shrink as denim does, and you need to knit a lot more to accommodate the shrinkage effect.  It is only supposed to shrink in length, but mine seemed to shrink in all directions. Put all those variables together and it took me quite a while to finish this one.

The above picture shows Tabitha before machine washing and drying.  It does get smoother and “firmer” with washing.  And the obligatory “Lettie wearing it on the deck” photo:

I wore it today and pretty much liked it.  Yay!!  Ravelry Project Link.

August 25, 2011

From Susan — More than a Fair Day

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 4:49 pm

Call it a perfect day!! I went to the Minnesota State Fair today with a wonderful friend, and met others along the way: the weather was picture perfect and the logistics ideal.

The first day of the fair is when you get to see how well your knitting did in terms of ribbons, etc. I feel pretty good about it this year — always surprises (+ and -), but mostly pluses.

Every few years the people who do the displays decide to group things by “theme.” They did it again this year. 🙁 It throws everyone off — you can’t find anything! My friend and I kept saying, “They’ll NEVER find this sweater.”  So, we wandered from case to case trying to find our stuff.  Eventually we tracked evrything down but there is no way to describe it to others who may want to check out your items.

Lotus Flower did very well and is displayed right next to the gorgeous award winning quilts:

Eala Bhan, Let It Snow, my Double Heelix Socks also got blue ribbons.  My red Braided Glory and beaded  gloves received second place ribbons.  I also got ribbons for my Acanthus, Fiori di Sole, and pink silk  One Day Baby Hat

Great fun was seeing that knitting peep Jimmy (the one I spoke about last week) won a third place for his original design hooded sweater:

Even more fun was seeing that Sally’s Sleeping Baby’s Castle Blanket design was featured and won a ribbon:

Even one of my old designs was seen at the fair (Aubrey Cap):

The brown cabled hat is the Aubrey Cap

Anyway, it was a really fun day and I really enjoyed seeing the beautiful things people made.  And what fun eating lots of fair food!! 

This is just a quick post before heading to knitting night!

PS: Beverly said, “Congrats on your wins. I wish our fair was like yours. Here you can enter only one item in each category.”  That is true at our fair, too. Only one entry allowed per lot.

August 22, 2011

From Sally — Rocky Mountain High, Colorado

Filed under: Updates — surly @ 10:27 am

I’m off today on an unexpected, spontaneous trip to Colorado — I just decided to go on Thursday!  My daughter’s boyfriend is racing in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which features some of the world’s top pro cyclists including Cadel Evans and the Schleck brothers, the top three finishers in this year’s Tour de France.  This guy, however, is our big draw:

Nora and I will be driving all over Colorado to catch the various mountain stages; I’m really looking forward to seeing the cyclists race over the top of Independence Pass, which tops out at over 12,000 feet. The race will be televised on Versus in case any of you are secret bicycling fans or just like to watch fit men with great legs in tight spandex. Go Team Exergy and Matt Cooke!!!

I will, of course, bring along knitting. In addition to my Forest Path stole, I’ll be working on my own Summer Solstice cardigan. Susan liked hers so much, I was inspired to start one. I’m making it out of The Fibre Company’s Acadia, a wonderful yarn: 60% merino, 20% baby alpaca, and 20% silk. My colorway is Summersweet and I love it.

I haven’t knit enough to bother with a progress shot, but I hope to have a big chunk finished by the time I come back.

August 19, 2011

From Susan — Suncatcher

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 7:29 pm

Fun, fun day!!  My knitting peeps and I went on a field trip today to introduce friend Jimmy to Lila and Claudine’s, historic Stillwater Minnesota, and The Dock Restaurant.  It was a beautiful day — we dined on the outdoor patio overlooking the breathtaking St. Croix River.  I bought this bit of bling at L&C’s for $10!!  I couldn’t make this bracelet for that.  It just sparkles in the sun.

Thanks for a perfect day!!

August 17, 2011

From Susan — Merope’s Cowl

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 10:28 pm

Sally has been working on some big projects, but some of mine have tended more toward instant gratification.  I knew the minute I saw Merope’s Cowl by Romi Hill that I would make it.  I love the large holes and pointy edges!   It is an extra addition to the 7 Small Shawls to Knit collection (which I highly recommend as a source of some stunning designs).  I used the yarn I bought recently: Maiden Hair.  It took far less than half the skein.

Lettie hates cowls — she claims they give her that crazy headless look!

Close up

I changed the start to 3×2 rib and then substituted a different lace pattern for the kitten paws — I have just done too many of those lately (Braided Glory x 2, Fylleryd).  I do love the holes 😉 .  I just hope it doesn’t look like a clown collar.  I think if it is worn under something and just the center shows it will be gorgeous. 

Next time I will share the project that will not end…

August 13, 2011

From Sally — The Path to Enlightenment

Filed under: Forest Path Stole — surly @ 1:54 pm

Eight years ago, Faina Letoutchaia’s Forest Path Stole pattern appeared in Interweave Knits (Summer 2003). I loved it. I wanted to make it.

To be honest, most of the time if I don’t immediately embark on a pattern that I have fallen in love with, I gradually lose interest or forget all about it. (That can be a good thing; I don’t have enough hours in the day to knit everything I’ve wanted to knit in my life.) Despite my fickle nature, the Forest Path Stole continued to enchant me. I bought yarn for it. More than once. Susan and I discussed what changes we might make in it. I periodically scrolled through the finished projects on Ravelry. Finally, a few weeks ago, I actually started it.

Back in 2003, the pattern looked intimidating to me. I didn’t have all that much experience with entrelac or lace, and the pattern looked complex to me. Now, in my dotage, I realize it’s actually a very simple pattern. Each of the three lace panels is easy to memorize. Because it’s entrelac, you are only working with about twenty stitches at a time (the stitches for one lace panel motif), and so there’s a sense of immediate progress each time you finish a panel. It’s a relaxing, fairly portable project. My yarn is Alpaca with a Twist Fino in the color Champagne. Fino is 70% alpaca and 30% silk and knits up beautifully.

I’ve made a couple of changes to the pattern. First, I am knitting a narrower and shorter version. Second, instead of the seed stitch border, I started with a provisional cast on and I’ll do some kind of knitted on border at the end. (I have several ideas, and will decide which one when I get there.) I’ve completed ten tiers, with my current plan to end after tier 19.

Progress photos of lace are usually uninspiring: unblocked lace looks shriveled and a little sad. But here are two shots anyway to give an idea of the color.

I love working on this stole. It’s a good thing, too, because after all these years of loving this pattern I am not knitting it for myself. It will be auctioned off in October to benefit The National Inclusion Project.

I knew it was smart to buy yarn more than once. I can’t wait to finish this one so I can start it again.

Additional Comments from Susan

Sally is so right: we both fell in love with this shawl, and I was intimidated!  I saw the actual shawl in person at a trunk show at Amazing Threads years ago.  I walked in and saw this stunning (and very large) lace stole and knew it was completely beyond my knitting capabilities.  But not beyond my dreams!  So, quite a while later I bought a ton of yarn (the same yarn Sally is using, but in cream) and ended up using it for Lyra.  Oh well!  Then I bought Exquisite in Slate Blue.  It, too, is beautiful and currently marinating in my stash.  I have definitely earmarked it for Forest Path, but have to wait for the knitting planets to align…some day…soon?  Sally is doing the pre-work so it will be easy for me to follow!

August 9, 2011

From Susan — “PS” on Hats for the Homeless

Filed under: Updates — surly @ 8:51 am

Linda asked a very good question about fiber: “Do you have any thoughts on fiber content?  I know wool is warmer, but some places want a fiber that can be washed easily.  I have also heard that washing is not a factor and go for the warmth factor.” 

I checked with the founders and they said that wool is preferred, washable wool is fine, and acrylic will not be turned away.  In other words, focus on the dark colors and plain styles rather than fiber.  I found some great wool in my stash so I will be starting a hat or two soon.  Thanks for the question, Linda!!

August 6, 2011

From Susan — Camp Inspired

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 9:23 am

One of the best parts of Meg Swansen’s Knitting Camp is Show and Tell. Campers bring their favorite knits and share them with the group. Inspiration abounds! Many projects have been added to queue! [For the curious: I took Lyra, The Dragon Sweater, and my Sleeping Baby’s Castle Blanket].

Anyway, one of the Campers (Lucy) brought a C-U-T-E shawlette in variegated black and white — knit in Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball color 1993 Schokocreme – a sock yarn with long color changes.  I loved it and put it in the recesses of my mind, only to be brought forward when I found the very yarn at Amazing Threads.  The pattern is called Lazy Katy: originally written in German with a translation that left a few things to the imagination.

Okay.  Sounds simple enough.  Many Ravelry projects and even instructions on enlarging the shawl.  I bought the yarn last Saturday and dove in enthusiastically.  The very unusual asymmetric, intriguing shape make it a fun knit.  I wanted the lace to be white and edged in black like Lucy’s, so that meant removing the white sections of the yarn and saving them for later. 

I decided to make the large version and got all the way to the lace when I realized I did not have enough yarn.  I had to rip WAY back.  Even doing that, I did not have enough yarn for the white lace, and had to splice every nerd I could find to get it done.  I blocked it out without measuring and I think it is quite small, so I may reblock to get more length vs depth so it wraps around me better.  Lettie modelling my Lazy Katy:

Not quite sure what to think of it.  I think I like it! 

On a sad note — the knitting world lost a tremendous talent this week with the passing of Joyce Williams.  She was a staple at Meg’s Knitting Camp (and attended Camp 2.75 this year with us).  She was a force to be reckoned with, had a great wit, and was a truly awesome knitter.  Her book Latvian Dreams: Knitting from Weaving Charts is a classic for those seeking a challenge: not for the faint of heart!  Joyce will be greatly missed.  To leave a comment about Joyce, visit her CaringBridge page.


August 4, 2011

From Susan — Hats for the Homeless

Filed under: Updates — surly @ 7:43 am

Even though summer is still upon us, it is never too early to start thinking about others and the Minnesota winter that is just around the corner (eek!). 

Hats for the Homeless is a local project whose goal is to provide the homeless in Minneapolis, MN with handknit hats.  Last year they collected and distributed 900 hats (yay!) with a target this year of 1500.  Is it doable?  Of course!  Knitters are generous, beautiful souls!  The following blog describes the program and details:

Need an idea for a hat pattern?  Here are some suggested patterns. 

Keep these guidelines in mind:

 1.) Hats for men. Big, warm, “pull down over your ears” hats for men. If you are a female knitter, the hat should be a bit big on you. (The homeless men we met last year really wanted plain, dark hats. Please pay attention to this and avoid stripes, embellishments and patterns.)

2.) Hats for newborns, babies and toddlers. We have a new connection to an organization working with homeless teens and a lot of them have small children. We need to cover all the heads.

Thanks, everyone!!

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