The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Last Minute Gifts for Knitters December 8, 2011

Filed under: Knitting Projects,Musings,spinning — Cailyn @ 5:19 pm
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I feel slightly dirty.  I was on Facebook and I clicked on an ad.  And the ad was right, I did find lots of things to buy!  It was an ad for CafePress and it had a picture of a cartoony orange cat knitting.  Well, I was hooked and I clicked (making both CafePress and Facebook very happy).   There’s a lot of great knitting stuff on CafePress- not yarn or needles or notions, obviously, but totes and shirts and the all-important coffee mugs.  Here’s a few designs that I think should go on any knitter’s wishlist!  (Yes, they’re already on mine.)

 

“The Answers” to all those common questions in totes, shirts, etc

 

Similar theme, different questions.

 

Kitchener stitch instructions

 

Cute cat in tote and shirt form.  This is the one that did me in.

 

 

Instant Knitter buttons and shirts!  Also in Spinner!  (This shop’s got a button or shirt for just about everybody who loves coffee.)

 

Spinning button.  So true.

 

From Crazy Aunt Purl.

 

Not a fan of knitting cats?  How about a knitting penguin?  (also, penguin ninja)

 

What, why are you looking at me like that?

 

 

Shirts, etc, with the important math in life.  Or, the life cycle of yarn.

 

Just one more row… really!

 

Look What I Got! September 6, 2011

Filed under: spinning — Cailyn @ 1:17 pm
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What could be in the box?  And why does it have a huge question mark on it?  That seems mysterious.

 

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*gasp!*  It’s a Schacht Sidekick!

 

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It’s so small!  The cat isn’t even scared of it.  Folded up, it’s 21.5 inches tall, 8 inches wide, and 15 inches deep.  And it only weighs 13 pounds!  Which, honestly, is lighter than my laptop and just 3 pounds heavier than that cat.

 

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Unfolded, the wheel is still delightfully small.  The orifice is 25 inches tall once it’s all together, which is a nice comfortable height.  The treadles are great.  It’s noisier than my Matchless; I’m not sure if that’s because of the rubber drive band or what.  I don’t remember the Sidekick that I tried at the Sock Summit being noisy, but it might have been that the ambient noise was too high for me to hear it.  Or I was just too excited to pay attention.

 

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Look at how cute it is!  That drive wheel is so small.  And blue, I love that it’s blue.  So far I’ve spun a little on it- not as much as I’d like because I’ve been pretty busy with a new Knit Picks pattern and some late summer house cleaning.  But so far it’s great!  I’m going to find/make a nice padded case for it.  It comes with a carrying strap, but it’s a little short for my taste- the wheel is basically in your armpit when you put the strap on your shoulder.

 

Hmm, maybe I’ll go spin on it right now!

 

How to Use a McMorran Balance for Fun and Profit August 9, 2011

Filed under: Spinning Tutorial — Cailyn @ 4:23 pm
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I am addicted to spinning lace yarn right now.  I don’t know why.  I’ve always been attracted to tiny crafts- I used to make little tiny sculptures from polymer clay.  Before that, I would “miniaturize” anything I learned, like “god’s eyes” (I think I was about 8 when I learned that one).  Once I got the hang of making one with popsicle sticks and worsted yarn, I started making them with toothpicks and embroidery floss.  So I guess it was really just a matter of time before I found the tiny singles of laceweight.  Before I left for Sock Summit, I finished up this pretty skein.

 

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It’s spun from a 70% merino/30% silk blend that I bought a few years back, one of my first fiber purchases!

 

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I don’t knit much lace, though, so I offered this skein to a friend who loves purple.  Since I wanted to know how much I was giving her, I pulled out my McMorran balance.  A McMorran balance is a nice, inexpensive little piece of equipment made from, basically, an acrylic box with some slots in it and an acrylic arm that wobbles.  The magic is in the calibration.  It’s calibrated to measure 1/100th of a pound.  (Metric versions can be purchased if you’re not down with the inches and ounces.)  Here’s what I did to measure my handspun (using some green Cascade 220 as the yarn, because lace yarn doesn’t show up well in photos):

 

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Here’s the McMorran balance sitting on the edge of a book.  You’ll see why it’s on a book shortly.  See how the notched part of the arm is tilted up?  That means the weight of the notched end is lighter than the solid end.  Let’s add some yarn!

 

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Cut off a 6-10" piece of the yarn you’re measuring.  The thinner/lighter the yarn, the longer the piece you’ll need (laceweight might need a much longer piece, or several pieces).  This piece is much heavier than the solid end of the arm.  You can see that the ends of the yarn are below the bottom of the balance- that’s why it’s a good idea to place the scale at the edge of a table, so that the yarn can hang freely.

 

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Cut off a little bit of the yarn, then let the scale settle back.  Is it balanced (is the arm horizontal/not tilted)?  If not, trim off another little bit.  The key here is to trim off just a tiny bit each time.  You can always cut more off, but it’s not easy to fix if you overshoot!

 

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When the arm is horizontal, remove the piece of yarn and measure it with a ruler.  Don’t stretch it out so it’s taut, but you want it to be straight.  Let’s say this piece is 6” long.  Now for a little math:

 

Multiply the length of yarn by 100.  (6 inches x 100 = 600)

 

The resulting number is your “yards per pound” or ypp.  (600 ypp)

 

Chances are good that you don’t have a full pound of yarn, though!  Divide the number above by 16 (the number of ounces in a pound) to get the “yards per ounce” or ypo.  (600 ypp/16 oz = 37.5 ypo)

 

Now weigh your skein.  Multiply the weight of your skein by the ypo.  (2.3 oz x 37.5 ypo= 86.25 yards)

 

The final number is how many yards are in your skein.  (86.25 yards)

 

The instructions are the same for a metric version, but the math at the end is a little different.  I haven’t actually found the calculation online anywhere, but the balances come with the formula.

 

So, in the end, it turns out that I have about 400 yards of my handspun laceweight.  Not bad!

 

Sock Loot! August 5, 2011

Filed under: fiber,spinning,Yarn — Cailyn @ 11:09 am
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Now the part that you’ve all been waiting for.  Or dreading, depending on how much you like or hate when bloggers post things they’ve bought at events you didn’t go to.  You might want to skip this post if you’re the jealous type.

 

First up, the random stuff.  Preordered swag (glass, pen, button [not shown {but cool}]).  I just wanted to see how many types of brackets I could use in one sentence.  And a high speed whorl for my wheel, which means I can put more twist in per treadle when I spin laceweight.  And there’s a teal aluminum needle gauge.  It was a complete impulse buy near the register while I was buying the whorl, but I’ve always kind of wanted one.  They had three shades of blue!  It was hard to choose.  The gauge goes down to size 000 size 000000 which looks terrifyingly small!  Oh, and the pen lights up.  Because why not?

 

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I got a new mug from Jennie the Potter, although I didn’t get to the booth fast enough to get her special Sock Summit mug.  She said they sold out in the first 20 minutes the market was open!  Yipes.  Anyway, I got this knitting mug to go with the spinning mug I use every morning for coffee.  This one has yarn in turquoise with white and black sheep; the one I have already is dark blue yarn with brown and black sheep.  They look great together, even though I’m only showing you the new one. 

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Then there’s the fibers!  Let’s see, shall we go in chronological order or pretty order?  Let’s go chronological.

 

We stopped by Crown Mountain Farms, who had all kinds of fun blends and undyed fibers.  I got some incredibly soft undyed yak/merino (50/50).  This stuff is what I imagine clouds feel like.  It’s that light and fluffy.  Living in Seattle, it’s kind of the color of clouds too.  I think this will be spun up to keep it’s fluffiness and made into a warm, soft scarf for Lowell.

 

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After that, my eye was caught by a stunning 100% tussah silk by Teresa Ruch Designs, but then I fell in love with this alpaca/silk blend (80/20).  It’s black alpaca laced through with bright shining silk in teal and violet.  It looks like an opal.  I haven’t had much luck spinning alpaca before, but I couldn’t, literally couldn’t, put this fiber down.  I have no idea what I’ll spin it into yet… It’s almost too pretty as a hank of fiber to spin up!

 

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I went down to Portland with my Tiger Mt spindle but nothing to spin on it.  Even though I can spin just as well on my spindle as my wheel, I prefer to spin 2 oz or less on my spindle.  For some reason to me, spinning a 4oz hunk of fiber seems too “big” for a spindle project.  And for some reason (this is where I think I might have a problem) I don’t like splitting a 4 oz braid into two 2 oz segments.  I want to only have 2 total oz of fiber for my spindle.  And that’s hard to find, since more fiber is sold in 4 oz chunks.  But I did find one vendor selling fiber in bulk and in a great color, so I bought 2 oz  of merino/silk from her.  I think it’s 50/50, but I can’t remember and didn’t write it down.  Destined to be laceweight.

 

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Hm, silk seems to be a recurring theme here.  There’s silk in this next purchase from RainCity Fiber Arts too.  In fact, it’s merino/yak/silk (60/20/20).  Second yak purchase in two days, hmm… 2 oz and super pretty.  Also soft enough to make a cotton ball weep.

 

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One of my favorites: a gorgeous merino/silk (80/20) blend from Fiber Optic Yarns.  Again with the silk!  What’s up with that?  The roving is dyed from a light aqua to a dark, dark indigo color.  I walked by this booth a few times, my eye always drawn to the “gradient dyed” fiber.  They had a number of other colorways, including a lovely golden-orange to purple.  I tried to resist buying this.  I really did!  They probably thought I was stalking them the way I kept walking by, looking at this, then walking away slowly.  I was doing yet another walk-by when I thought of the perfect project for this fiber- a shawl that fades slowly from one color to the other, like this one from the Yarn Harlot.  I imagined myself carefully dividing the fiber in half, spinning each color section as a laceweight single,  plying so that everything lines up right (or mostly right), knitting up a beautiful shawl that fades from aqua to indigo and then it was all over.  I had to have it.  I can’t wait to spin it.

 

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After I decided to spend money on that, I made a decision on another item I’d been waffling over.  A Jenkins Woodworking “Kuchulu” Turkish spindle.  They had one that was so small and cute that I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  It weighs about .3 oz (9g) and is just about as long as my index finger.  It’s designed to be a pocket-sized spindle and it is!  I can’t get over how adorable it is.  So small and cute and it spins like a dream.  I’ll write more about what makes a Turkish spindle interesting later.  The shaft is walnut and the wings are made from amboyna, which is a wood from southeast Asia.  I have a special spot in my heart for red woods.  Ed said that he doesn’t use amboyna anymore, so mine is special!  I love going to festivals and talking to the people who actually make the things I’m buying.

 

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I was going to use the teal merino/silk I’d gotten the day before to try out the Kuchulu, but I wandered by Crown Mountain Farms again and saw this lovely pencil roving that I hadn’t noticed before.  It was a great price, 2 oz, merino/tencel (50/50) and a color I love.

 

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I also picked up some Lorna’s Laces Solemate (colorway Navy Pier), their newest yarn line.  It’s made from 55% superwash wool, 15% nylon, and 30% Outlast.  Outlast is a viscose fiber which is a man-made plant (cellulose) fiber, like rayon or bamboo.  It’s supposed to “regulate microclimate” to keep you from getting too hot or too cold.  Outlast was originally designed for space suits using “phase change materials” coated with polyester.  I’m sure I’ll be writing more about this when I knit up this yarn- I’m pretty excited to try it, because my feet are always too cold or too hot!

 

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Yes, I only bought one skein of yarn.  That’s it.  I have a lot of yarn already and I was drawn to the fibers more than the yarns.  The yarn selection was stunning, though!  Lastly (well, really first) I bought three Japanese stitch dictionaries.  This might seem like an embarrassment of riches, but it’s also a bit of a curse.  Now I want to put every single pattern on a pair of socks or mittens or a hat.  There are so many great designs.  Hmm, I’d better get started knitting!

 

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Oh, and I also bought a set of Signature Needles Size 1 (2.25mm) DPNs.  But I didn’t take their picture.

 

Sock Summit Sunday August 3, 2011

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 12:59 pm
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Pencily woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Sunday morning, which is more than I can say for me after three days of Sock Summit.  Of course, I’ve seen him early in the morning before and he never seems to get bags under his eyes- he’s always “bright-eyed.”  Might be genetic.  He isn’t always bushy-tailed though!

 

He sat in with me on Socktastic Stitch Patterns, which was a great class.  I learned quite a bit about compensating for a lack of stretch in a stitch pattern (whether that lack is from tight cables or drapey lace).  Much of what we talked about in class I’d already figured out for myself, but it was nice to have my suspicions confirmed.  JC Briar was a lovely teacher.

 

After that, Pencily and I headed over to the Marketplace for one last circuit.  I wanted to be sure there wasn’t anything else I wanted to buy.  He wanted to meet Heel Flap, Gusset and Instep, the live sheep who had just been sheared for the Fleece to Foot Challenge.  I left him to talk to the sheep while I bought a new high-speed whorl and drive band for my wheel because apparently I am addicted to spinning laceweight.

 

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Pencily said they started out talking about the tastiest goodies to eat (Pencily recommended coffee), but quickly moved on to which team they thought would win the competition.  We found out in the afternoon that none of the teams had finished spinning and knitting the entire pair of socks in the five and a half hours.  The team that got closest was World Wide Mashup.   There’s a fun article on the Challenge on OregonLive.com.

 

After I dragged Pencily away from the sheep, Lowell picked us up and we went to Alder Creek for some kayak supplies.  I bought a new life jacket!  Then it was back to the Summit for our class with Judith MacKenzie.

 

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Sorry for the cell phone pictures; I forgot to bring the real camera charger (life would be so much easier if it charged off USB like everything else I own) and I was in a rush to get back to taking notes!  Judith is just a geyser of knowledge and tips, which is why I didn’t care which class of hers I took- I just had to take one of her classes.  As an added bonus, I was interested in learning more about blending colors in spinning.  We practiced blending colors at the wheel by holding two pieces of top together and we got to play with hackles to make our own blended pencil roving.

 

After that… it was all over.  The market was closed when we exited class.  Everyone was heading home.  It was kind of sad, like the last day of summer camp.  However, Sock Summit may end, but the fiber you buy there is forever!  Or at least should last you until the next one (hopefully there will be a next one!)

 

Further Adventures July 30, 2011

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 10:06 pm
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Pencily has been having a grand old time at the Sock Summit.  Everybody loves Pencily!

 

He went through the Sockgate:

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Then he came back and told me how cool the Egyptian-like society on the other side was and how they were just inventing knitting there with thin cotton thread and skinny needles.  He also mentioned something about being worshipped as a god there, but I didn’t believe that part.  He dragged me through the Sockgate to show me.

 

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This was when I discovered that on the other side of the Sockgate… is more of the Convention Center.  Pencily got confused with all the bright colors on the carpet.  And people wanted to take his picture in the gate; I think the fame is going to his head.

 

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We took a class with Laurel Coombs and I learned that Pencily is an even bigger caffeine addict than I am.  I tried to make up for drinking most of the coffee by knitting him a little sock.  He said it was nice, but he needs three more and can one of them be a cable sock and one of them could be a lace sock and one of them could be a traditional Fair Isle sock, and by the way, can I make an argyle fourth sock for him because he doesn’t like this plain one?  And what about a hat?

 

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We spent a lot of time in the marketplace yesterday.  We bought more than a little pretty fiber and yarn.  Pencily convinced me to buy a Turkish spindle.  It’s a very small laceweight spindle and he says it’s just the right size for him to spin on.  We also bought some pencil roving in honor of his mother.

 

Here he is just before he put the spindle away for Franklin Habit’s Photograph Your Fiber class.

 

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And here he’s just misbehaving to get attention.  He crawled into my Glass Slipper sock and got more people to take his picture, like Stacey Winklepleck from Knit Picks who recognized him from the blog!  (Shown in the second picture trying to ignore Pencily’s blatant attempt to be the star of the show.)  That went straight to his head.

 

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Pencily even got Franklin to hold him, but in a tragic turn of events, the camera ran out of batteries just as I tried to take his picture.  Franklin seemed a little weirded out by the whole pencil-case aspect of Pencily.

 

Tomorrow Pencily is hoping to visit the sheep in the Fleece to Foot Challenge and is very much looking forward to a class with Judith MacKenzie.

 

Pencily! July 28, 2011

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 10:23 pm
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A few days ago, I got a package in the mail from Millie.  Inside was a black sheep finger puppet, and a sheep-shaped pencil case.  I knew I had to bring the pencil case to the Sock Summit, because when you squeeze its face, it’s eyes pop out:

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He’s been a big hit here.  He’s holding my needles and scissors and things, but mainly he’s been jumping into my pictures.  So, here’s introducing Pencily!

 

His mother named him Pencily, he says, because she loved to make pencil roving.  But I think it’s because he’s got a zipper in his back to hold pencils.  He’s easily surprised and stressed out, but he loves to relax with long rides in a dark bag.

 

He took the train down to Portland with me yesterday and we met our new friend Kristina at the station.  Then we all went to the convention center to register under the dragon boat.  He appreciated that no one looked at him like he was out of place and some even offered to hold him for a better picture!  But he’s very self-conscious about his zipper in photos.

 

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Here’s Pencily with the stitch markers (for swapping) that I decided suddenly to make the night before I left.  They’re made from leftovers from my chainmaille jewelry.

 

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Pencily even helped me knit during the Opening Ceremony.

 

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Although he sat out during the flash mob practice.

 

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The marketplace overwhelmed him a little…

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So he took a little rest at the Paradise Fibers booth.

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What will happen to Pencily tomorrow?

 

 
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