theraineysisters knitting and so much more

April 26, 2012

From Susan — Two for the Road

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 9:21 am

Today is the first day of a ‘one week and a little more’ vacation. And it will be packed with yarn-blasting, knitting-related activities!

Today I am at home preparing for the imminent arrival of the better half of The Rainey Sisters – yes, Sally arrives tomorrow! She is flying in to ride shotgun with me during the 26th Annual Yarnover. I am on the committee. If you haven’t heard of Yarnover, it is a one-day assembly of knitting workshops and impressive Vendor Market sponsored by the Minnesota Knitters’ Guild. So much yarn, so little money!!

Next Tuesday we will be heading to Washington, DC to hang out, knit and eat. Our goal: head for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival!! Woo Hoo! We will stay in touch as we scour the halls of Yarnover and the stalls of MS&W!! We will buy all the yarn they have before the hoarders get it…

April 23, 2012

From Sally — There Are None So Blind . . .

Filed under: Milkweed — surly @ 1:39 pm

Sometimes, I can look and look at something without noticing one small detail. Once that detail leaps out, though, it’s impossible to ignore. That’s what happened with my Milkweed sweater. I was knitting merrily along, admiring my work and my progress, without ever noticing the glaring error I had made in one of the cables on the front. And then, somehow, it finally caught my attention. Rut roh. The mistake was even evident in one of the photographs I posted here a week or so ago. Either none of you noticed, or you were too polite to tell me. Here is a photo, with the mistake smack dab in the middle.

Do you see it? It’s not in the big cable on the left. It’s the little cable in the middle repeat of the Milkweed pattern. It’s not that the cable crosses in a different direction — that’s deliberate. It’s that it crosses four times, instead of three. Oops. Because the stitches are traveling, and the traveling involves decreases and other complications, the fix wasn’t going to be as simple as just dropping down the cable stitches. Instead, I had to “take down” a larger section of knitting. I isolated the large cable because it was fine, and then took out all of the stitches involved in the milkweed pattern itself.

The spaghetti tangle of yarn you see are the running threads, that is the stitches that once connected the big cable to the rest of the sweater. Now all I had to do was reknit that section of the pattern using the running thread from each row as my working yarn. It’s awkward, but doable, and much less painful than ripping out the entire cardigan back to that point. (Remember, I had chosen to knit the entire body in one piece. This is where that decision could have come back to haunt me.)

All better. The running threads got a little stretched from all of the manipulation, but I think once it’s blocked it will look fine. This happened a few days ago, so I’ve made more progress than this photo shows despite my stupidity.

It’s tempting to keep these kinds of mishaps private, but in the immortal words of Mr. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice: “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?” And if you ever wonder how I’ve learned to correct these kinds of mistakes, it’s because I’ve made so many of them!

ETA: A concerned reader commented errrr, is now a bad time to point out that the one you’ve corrected now crosses in the opposite direction of the others? the top bit that flows up into the leaf now comes from under another cable instead of from over it.

Just so that no one else worries, that is a deliberate design element of the pattern. Those cables alternate crossing directions. So that is one mistake I actually didn’t make!

April 20, 2012

From Susan — Not all About Knitting

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 11:55 pm

Hi, Folks!! Remember this?


Note the lovely [crumbling] blacktop. We have needed a new driveway for years and it finally happened:

Driveway 001

We are not yet able to drive on it and it still needs some finishing touches (as do the garage doors) , but it is getting there. And check out a better picture of the crabapple tree nearing its peak:

Driveway 003

It doesn’t hold a candle to the flowering gardens that Sally has, but we do love it!

On a knitting note, I am definitely having more second thoughts about the hand-dyed yarns we are drawn to and love to purchase. They have so much variation skein to skein that it is a crazy roll of the dice to get matching skeins for anything larger than a one-skein project. Very frustrating!! More on this topic later…

Success Story: This week I made one of these S-I-M-P-L-E ruffle scarves out of Marina, and the crowds went wild! Everywhere I went I got raves. I tried to explain that the yarn does all the work, but they would not hear of it. Talk about bang for the buck. Out of all the knitting I have done, this gets noticed. Go figure!

Picture from Pattern Page

My colorway consists of blue, purple and green — quite pretty:


PS — Denise wrote, “I CAN’T BELIEVE that novelty yarn is coming back.” I can’t believe it either but these new yarns are very different. You can’t see it from the pictures above, but the Marina looks like crocheted lacy chains. It is very beautiful knitted up and sells like hotcakes from my LYS.

April 15, 2012

From Sally — Decisions, Decisions

Filed under: Milkweed — surly @ 5:50 pm

Sometimes, the hardest part of a project is to keep myself from casting on before I think through how I want to finish it. Some decisions made in the excitement of new yarn! new pattern! can’t be “undecided” later. I finally just started a long cardigan that I’ve wanted to make since I first saw it. Because some of our readers wanted more “in progress” photographs and information, I thought I would walk you through some of the decisions I made before I cast on and then update you on other choices as I progress.

The cardigan is Milkweed, designed by Carol Sunday of Sunday Knits. I loved its length, the dramatic “milkweed” cables, and its vintage look. Carol has designed many beautiful sweaters that are in my mental queue.

I didn’t have any yarn in my stash screaming to be used, so I bought the yarn from Sunday Knits as well. I chose her Angelic 5-ply, a nice blend of merino and angora in the colorway “Bone.” It’s a “natural” color, with the barest hint of a gray undertone. Lovely. It came beautifully wrapped in tissue with a lightweight tote. Even better!

Two decisions were made off the bat:

1. I decided to knit the body of the cardigan in one piece to the armhole. (The pattern has you knit the back and fronts separately, as many patterns do.) On one hand, I knew it would make the knitting feel “slow” even though it’s the same amount of knitting in the end. My reason for doing it this way was aesthetic: I don’t think that seams in seed stitch ever look perfect — at least mine don’t. Even though it’s a short little 2 inches of seed stitch at the bottom, I prefer the continuity all around the bottom.

2. As you can see in the picture of the cardigan itself, the bottom of each front piece is angled or slightly curved. I chose to square my fronts off. That meant I had to figure out ahead of time exactly how many front stitches I was supposed to end up with and where the cables were placed. Not hard, obviously, but just one more thing to do before casting on.

So, I was good to go, except I had to choose which cast on I wanted to use because they all look slightly different flowing into different stitches. I swatched a little bit, and then settled on a cable cast on, with the “wrong” side of the cable cast on being on the right side of my cardigan. Finally, I made one other small decision. It may not be evident in the cardigan photo above, but the small cables within the milkweed design alternate in how they cross. I kept that alternating, but started one of my front milkweed charts in a different place so that the cable crossings on each front mirror each other. (They both either twist away from the center or towards the center.)

Are you beginning to wonder whether I think too much? Here are a few progress photos. This is unblocked, raw knitting still scrunched on the needles, but I think it’s turning out. I can’t wait to get to the shawl collar!

The left front

The back

Finally, let me share a little touch of spring. We have a beautiful cherry tree in our front yard and when the petals fall the yard is carpeted in pink “bunny snow.” This year, Thor the Wonder Puppy (our aged but beloved golden retriever) was rolling in the grass when he was hit by a sudden petal blizzard. The result was an overload of cuteness.

April 7, 2012

From Both of Us — Blown off Course

Filed under: Updates — surly @ 5:47 pm

We both have projects we are trying to get finished…slowly progressing stitch by stitch. Then, wham! Something new comes along that blows you off course! We were taken astray by a new design by one of our favorite designers: Suvi Simola. The pattern is for a unique shawlette called Filtering Daylight. Suvi also designed Baby Cables and Big Ones Too, which both of us made a couple of years ago, as well as a gorgeous cabled tunic for Vogue Knitting.

From Sally
Last year I bought a single skein of Kitten in a pale shell pink at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. This yarn is an indescribably soft and luscious combination of cashmere and silk. I had been looking for just the right project for it. I thought I had over 400 yards, but as it turned out my skein was mislabeled, and I only had about 325 yards (which I confirmed by checking with Tess Designer Yarns after noticing the difference on Ravelry). With a hundred fewer yards to play with, my options were more limited. This shawlette looked purrrrfect. (With a yarn named Kitten, I couldn’t resist.)

As it turns out, I didn’t have quite enough yarn: I stopped after four repeats of the feather-and-fan pattern at the bottom of the shawl (the pattern calls for five repeats). I could have knit that portion in a cream or other contrast color, but preferred to use up my yarn. I had one gram left over; I cut it close.

This is a smallish shawl, perfect when you don’t have a lot of yarn. It also knits up really quickly, and the center portion is fun and easy to do. Side note: I hadn’t started a shawl from the center out in a little while, and so I googled Emily Ocker cast on and Magic Loop just to remind myself how to get started. A post I wrote on this blog was one of the search results! I blog because I have no brain or memory. The post I found is here if anyone is curious.

From Susan
I did not have a nice yarn for the body section of the shawl on hand, but I did have a beautiful sagey green for the border in alpaca and silk (Miss Babs Tierno in Beach Glass). I bought three skeins of this when I was in DC a while back, but have never found the right project — though I have made many attempts!

I then purchased a skein of Cascade Epiphany in natural, which unfortunately has been discontinued (?). I have always loved this yarn, but it is pricey. This seemed like the perfect small project to test it out on.

The pattern is a deceptively quick knit. I easily finished it in a weekend, and would have been done even faster if I hadn’t made a rookie mistake. The decreases are all done on the top edge…I did a couple on the bottom edge due to lack of attention to my knitting. When I ripped back, I decided to try to rework the short rows and tried out about three different ways. After all the ripping and reknitting, the yarn looked absolutely GRAY. SO, I ripped yet again. If I had just gone forth one time, it would have gone a lot quicker.

Filtering daylight cropped
On Lettie

Filtering daylight picmonkey

Detail of point when blocking:

Filtering daylight Blocking

I wore it already (which is why it looks wrinkled in the “table” shot) and really liked it — very soft in both color and fabric and very pretty.

April 3, 2012

From Both of Us — “Survey says…”

Filed under: Updates — Both Sisters @ 6:48 pm

The results of our bloggiversary survey are in. We had over 800 responses. Woo!! Thank you for taking the time to complete the survey.

The “typical” respondent is a very experienced knitter, clocking in with more than 20 years of knitting time. Our knitter enjoys knitting shawls and wraps more than most other types of projects, and likes our blog just the way it is. (Cue the Bridget Jones music. Or at least cue Colin Firth as Mark Darcy.) Our readers use Ravelry for pattern surfing and checking out other knitters’ projects. They read knitting blogs just as frequently, if not more so, than they did before Ravelry.

Here are the details:

How long have you been knitting?
Quite a while from the looks of it!

How long knitting redo

Experience level shows a perfect bell curve:

Experience level bar chart

We decided not to constrain the responses by defining the different levels of experience. Respondents defined for themselves, often explaining their choices by what they are “afraid” to do, such as steeks, lace, etc. Many said they are fearless, or will tackle anything, but still have a lot to learn.

What do you REALLY love to knit?

What you love to knit bar not column chart

You can see our readers love to knit just about everything! Of course, we forgot some things in our list, so readers added them in their comments — felted items, toys, mittens, scarves — or simply the obsession du jour!

About a Blog
The next few questions related to the blog itself: frequency and content. Most people felt that we were on the right track with 98.5% saying the content balance was right.

Freq of Posts Redo

Content areas bar not column

We loved reading the comments people wrote about our blog — after all, that is one reason we continue to do this. We love hearing from you. Most people like our finished projects, information about patterns and yarn selection, finishing, repairs, etc. Shop hops and stories about our local knitting stores were less popular because most of our readers do not have access to them.

People were also realistic about the fact that we can’t crank out 5 FOs a week to keep the focus on finished projects! One commenter noted that we start some projects and then never show them finished. Hmmm. That can’t possibly be true 😉 . (Aside from Sally: I am notorious for putting projects aside. I do sometimes go back to them, and you may see one or two of these phantom projects over the next few months.)

Someone else wished that we would use more affordable yarns to make it easier to replicate our projects. We are truly sorry, but we cannot comply! We love really nice yarn!! We do understand how expensive a hobby knitting can be when you use expensive yarns. For us, it’s important to enjoy the process of knitting as much if not more than the finished object; the pleasure of working with beautiful yarns is part of why we love to knit. Moreover, it takes so long to knit certain projects that the investment of time seems to require an equal investment in yarn quality. That said, not all expensive yarns are worth the price and it’s particularly disappointing when an expensive yarn doesn’t live up to its price tag.

Has Ravelry influenced your blog reading?

Read Blogs Bar Chart

Only 8% spend less time reading blogs! That was a surprise. And, for the 0.3% who are not familiar with Ravelry, please go join TODAY! You won’t regret it!!

Our readers LOVE Ravelry:

Use of Ravelry Bar Chart

Here again, we forgot to list everything that people look for in Ravelry: stash management, the great library, buying as well as selling patterns, and networking with other knitters. Many of you expressed your love of Ravelry: wonder what I ever did without it, check it multiple times each day, it’s my obsession, etc. We agree with all of the above!

The overall message we received from your comments was to keep on blogging. To be honest, we get a lot out of it ourselves. We often come back and look up projects or techniques — ‘google’ our own blog to get answers. We know we read about it somewhere…maybe at The Rainey Sisters! (Sally will be providing an example of that very soon.)

And, remember — you are all Aran-clad wieners in our eyes! (There’s a reason we didn’t ask you about Susan’s love of puns. . . )

Wiener in sweater

Powered by WordPress