The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Classes are up! April 21, 2011

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 12:56 pm

They posted the class schedule for the Sock Summit recently.  There are a lot more classes this time!  I read through them and pulled out my “first cut” of classes, which will slowly get whittled down to an achievable number.  Sadly, the two classes that I was really hoping would be offered aren’t (the Yarn Harlot’s Knitting for Speed and Cat Bordhi’s one about making up new stitches).  I’m dying to take that Speed Knitting class- I missed it at the last Summit and Madrona.  Oh well.  There are a lot more spinning classes this year to make up for it!


Now, to understand this next part, you have to realize that I am a total dork.


I took the schedule page from the website and made an Excel worksheet of it.  It has all the classes on it, divided by day and time, and each class is hyperlinked to it’s webpage.  This way, I can easily copy/paste or drag and drop the classes I want into as many schedule possibilities as I want.  I can rearrange the layout of the days and times for easier visualization.  I can easily find which classes repeat on which days.  And I can always look back on all the classes, to see if there’s a class or lecture that fits in nicely but I hadn’t been interested in previously (I change my mind a lot).  I even tried to match the original colors as best I could.




Yes, I’m thinking about this too much.


But, in case anyone else is a total dork, I’ve uploaded the Excel files (one for Office 2010 and one pre-2010) here if you’d like to use them too.  Share the dorkiness!!


For Excel 2010: Sock Summit 2011 Schedule

For Excel pre-2010 Sock Summit 2011 Schedule


Learning is Fun! April 8, 2011

Filed under: Musings,Other Crafts — Cailyn @ 1:05 pm

I have many craft magazines.  Some are subscriptions and some are single issues I pick up because of an interesting project or article.  While I’m reading a new one, the magazine is enshrined in the sacred bedside table spot.  This spot is also reserved for back issues and books for a specific technique or fiber that I’m interested in at the time.  I distribute the other magazines around the house (and by that, I mean bathrooms).  I don’t “distribute” in any meaningful or planned way; I just toss a few older issues into each bathroom and then move them around occasionally.


Right now, in my downstairs bathroom, there is the latest Piecework, Spin Off Fall and Spring ‘10 and Fall and Summer ‘09.  There’s some miscellaneous yarn catalogs in there too.  I’ve looked through these magazines more than a few times!


Last night, I was half-heartedly flipping through the Summer ‘09 Spin Off, thinking that it was past time to move it to the bookshelf and get something “new” in there.  This was the first issue of Spin Off that I ever bought, just after I took a spindle-spinning class at the Sock Summit.  So it’s been around a while, thoroughly read and admired.


But last night, during my bored look through, I flipped to a project that used handspun and woven ribbons to make a small bag.  I must have read this project a dozen times, each time saying to myself, “Interesting.  Very interesting.  But I don’t like the look of that bag and I could never spin thin enough to weave a narrow band and what would I do with those strips anyway?”


This time, I looked at the ribbons, I read the project, and said to myself, “Hm, I still don’t like that bag, but I MUST DO THAT.”


I grabbed my laptop and typed “inkle weaving” into Google.  And then I was down the rabbit hole, watching clocks and looms and shuttles fly by my head.


I tend to devour crafts.  I love learning new techniques, new disciplines, new materials, new tools.  Every year or so, I learn a new craft.  Sometimes they stick, like spinning, and sometimes they don’t, like beading or wood carving.  Sometimes, I don’t even know it’s coming.  But the process is always the same and has been since I was a kid (although with more money and unlimited access to the Internet, it’s a lot easier now!)  I stumble upon a new craft in a book, at a craft fair, on TV; it can be something I’ve seen before, but now I have to know how it’s done.  I am immediately struck with the desire to know more about this craft.  I can’t stop thinking about it.  I suck all the information I can towards me like a planet’s gravitational field.  I read and practice and read until I have grokked the new craft. 


I don’t mean that I master the craft; obviously that would take years and years.  But I get to a point where I feel like I understand the essence of the craft.  I know the history of the craft, the materials usually used, the special terms to talk about it, the advantages and disadvantages of different techniques or tools, etc.  I’ve practiced the craft enough to be able to produce something decent, maybe even beautiful.  And then the new craft either takes a place in my normal rotation or it doesn’t.  The knowledge sticks with me, but I might not continue making whatever it is once the initial shine wears off.


This happened with knitting.  I was happily going along my merry way, making and selling chainmaille jewelry (which had the same process a few years earlier).   Then I saw someone’s beautiful Knitted Bodice from Stitch Diva on Craftster.  I fell in love with that sweater.  Even though I knew I could never pull off wearing it, I was driven to knit it.  I never did, cooler heads prevailing, but every time I think of it I give a little sigh of longing.  But it started me on my rediscovery of knitting.  I grabbed books from the library, I watched YouTube videos, I struggled through learning to purl.  I started talking about “frogging” and “Kitchener” and “throwing.”  I eventually churned out a wearable item in stockinette.  And then I moved on to more interesting techniques, like cables and Fair Isle.  As you can tell, knitting stuck with me long after I grokked it.


This is what happened last night.  I was struck, suddenly, by a perfect storm of Must Learn.  I spent the last year working on my spinning, but now my spinning is pretty good- by which I mean that I will continue to master the craft, but I can consistently make something decent.  My yarns have been becoming thinner and thinner as I get more proficient, so I can spin the thin yarns for inkles if I want.  I am itching to learn something new.  Inkle looms are not very expensive.  Weaving inkles has lots of design options with a smaller time investment.  It can be done on the couch in the evenings with a cat on my lap.  I can totally use those handwoven straps in sewing projects- I’m always looking for interesting ribbons and straps for drawstrings and handles.


The grokking has begun.


“Inkle weaving is a type of warp-faced weaving where the shed is created by manually raising or lowering the warp yarns, some of which are held in place by fixed heddles on a loom known as an inkle loom. Though inkle weaving was brought to the United States of America (US) in the 1930s, the inkle itself seems to predate this by several centuries, being referred to in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost. The term "Inkle" simply means "ribbon" or "tape" and probably refers to a similarly structured woven good that could have been made on different types of looms, such as a box-loom.

Inkle weaving is commonly used for narrow work such as trims, straps and belts.” – Wikipedia


image  image  image


Weaving on an Inkle Loom


Weaving on an Inkle Loom, Video (skip to 8:00 to see the actual weaving part, the rest is just set up)


Questionable Inspiration March 31, 2011

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 8:30 pm

Last night I spilled a whole can’s worth of coconut milk in the oven.  Don’t ask.  Anyway, it took a lot of cleaning to even get it to the stage where I felt comfortable using the “self-clean” cycle on it.  And even then there was a ton of smoke!  I even had to remove the floor of the over to get at the worst of it, and like most things, getting the floor out was the easy part.  Getting it back in was much more annoying.  Ever notice that screwdrivers disappear when you need them and then when you find one, it’s the wrong kind?  What a morning.


When magazine and websites need designs, they put out a “call for submissions.”  This usually includes information like what the compensation is (how much they’ll pay for a design), how copyright is dealt with, who does the photography, and yarn support (if they’ll supply the yarn), etc.  Most important, though, is the information about what they want.  Some publications have a theme or themes in mind or certain fibers or yarns they want patterns for.  Sometimes they’re looking for types of patterns like sweaters or accessories or quick knits.  You get the idea.  Most often there are themes, which can range from “bulky and colorful” to “traditional with a modern flair” to “art deco.”  Obviously, as a designer, you pick and choose the themes you like or have ideas for.


I saw this in a call today:  “Bohemian meets Greek Goddess in this romantic theme with a 70’s vibe.”


I have absolutely no idea what that would look like.


Sketches and Swatches March 18, 2011

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 11:49 pm

  I’ve been knee-deep in designs the last few weeks.  Or maybe waist-deep, since I’m sitting down a lot.  It’s that time of year when everybody is accepting submissions for their summer or fall issues.  I don’t submit designs to every publication, because I don’t control the space-time continuum (yet). 


Sometimes a design will pop into my head, fully formed.  Those designs have a 50/50 chance of actually working out the way I intend or crashing to the ground in a flaming pile of rubble, never to be seen again, as they refuse to live up to my original vision.  Cabobble and Danu both happened this way.  You’ll never hear about the piles of rubble, though.


Most of the time, I start with a vague idea of what I would like, such as a colorwork glove using greens and neutrals, and work to find the rest of the design.  Chances are this design will end up nothing like my first idea, but it usually works out in the end.  The Wintergreen Gloves and Java were more in this vein.


Other times, I will struggle and struggle to force a design onto my needles.  Nothing seems to come together.  Some people say that I’m too demanding during this process, that most of what I throw out is very good, but if I don’t like it then what’s the point of keeping it?  I’d have to finish the whole project and the work of writing up the pattern, and who wants to do that if they don’t really believe in the project?  The Crystalline Socks and Emily’s Scarf fit the bill here.


Most publications ask that you submit a sketch and a swatch.  The sketch shows what the finished product will look like and the swatch shows the fabric and stitch pattern.  I used to wait until I had a design completed- or at least one whole sock or glove- before I submitted it anywhere.  Partially I was nervous about my drawing skill in the sketch department, but I was told that the quality of the sketch is less important than the information it shows.  More paralyzing, though, was the worry that if I submitted an idea instead of a finished product, then I would end up perpetually stuck in situation three up there.  I tend to change designs as I knit them; a little different gusset, a change in the toe.  I’d be struggling to put the finishing touches on a design with a hard deadline- a sure path to a struggling pattern.


I’ve come to like the sketch-and-swatch approach now though.  I know a lot more about knitting now and don’t change as much through the project as I used to.  So now, I knit the swatch and if it looks even close to being a struggle, I move on to another idea.  Even if that means that I have to abandon a publication because I don’t like the “theme” of their issue or the yarn I’d have to use.  There are plenty of other places to go and things to do!  I design as much of the project as I can before I send the swatch off.  I’m usually pretty confident that it’ll work out.


Anyway, this is all a long-winded way of saying that I sent off two swatches to Tangled for their summer issue and heard back from them today.  They liked both designs, but could only use one.  So, this summer’s issue will have a lovely twisted-stitch sock from me in it, and the other design will be tucked away for later (likely the next time I have designer’s block!)


The coolest part of this, though?  Tangled will have a booth at the Sock Summit this year and will be selling my pattern there as well as online.  Man, I can’t wait for July!


Chile March 10, 2011

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 12:28 am

What day is it?  Wednesday?  Huh, I could have sworn it was Saturday.  Wait, it’s the ninth?!  Not the fifth?  What the heck have I been doing the last four days?


Well, for starters, I’ve been beating down some wicked writer’s/designer’s block and hammering out three new sock designs for submissions.  I had a moat made out of stitch dictionaries protecting my strategic creative position.


[insert clever segue here]


A little while ago, my mom visited a friend in Chile.  They were seeing the sights and ended up in an area with some yarn shops.  She took these wonderful pictures there and sent them to me as a teaser- she bought me something but hasn’t told me what!  But we did have a talk about alpaca and vicuña… wouldn’t it be cool to have some alpaca or llama from Chile?




So pretty!  Me wants the precious!


IMG_0433    IMG_0385


Aren’t these great?  So cute.


Madrona Was Fun February 22, 2011

Filed under: Musings,spinning — Cailyn @ 11:23 pm
Tags: , , ,

As you may have guessed from my little ditty last Thursday, I spent some time at the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.  I actually didn’t spend much time there, just most of Thursday.  You would think that I wouldn’t forget about a fiber festival all of one hour from my house, but I did.  I remembered it far too late to sign up for regular classes.  I thought I would just go down for the marketplace again, like I did last year, but then I noticed the mini-class list.  The mini-classes were an hour and half (as opposed to three or six hours) and they spanned all kinds of topics.  Most importantly, I was in time for registration.  I signed up for a mini-class on hand cards on Thursday afternoon. 


I arrived about two hours before my class.  I went straight to the marketplace, as any reasonable person would.  After all, some of those fibers would go fast!  I took a walk around, looking at everything (and I do mean everything!) before doing a second round to actually buy things.  It was a hard decision!


IMAG0439   IMAG0440


The fiber that opened the floodgates was this one, a merino/tencel blend.  It was buried under some silk blends, but the colors of this one grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go.  Seriously, it tried to eat my hand.  I love the lighter streaks of tencel in the wool.

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Then I spent a long time looking at silk hankies (also known as mawata to avoid confusion) at the Blue Moon Fiber Arts booth, along with a 100% silk colorway that was gorgeous.  But ultimately, I decided that I preferred the colors at another booth. Mawata is made by soaking and stretching a silkworm cocoons in layers on a frame so that it looks a little like a handkerchief (hence the confusing name “silk hanky”).  You can spin from them or stretch them out and knit with them unspun or a million other things.  Recently, the Yarn Harlot wrote about knitting mittens out of unspun mawata.  I wasn’t the only one to think that this idea looked fun; silk hankies were the hot item this year!  I got 14 g (about half an ounce) of mawata for $5 at the Wolf Creek Wools booth.  Like most silk, the color is incredibly intense in person.



I also bought some “Panda” merino/bamboo/nylon yarn in a nice spring blue, because well, why not?  I really like the yarns from Wolf Creek Wools.  I made a little shrug out of some merino/tencel of theirs that I bought at the Sock Summit in ‘09.




Then, I was admiring the spindles at the Carolina Homespun booth- they had a great selection.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love Cascade Spindle Company spindles; I have four of them now, even if two are technically the same model.  I really want the Little Si spindle, not so much because I want to spin on it (although I bet it spins great) but because Little Si is only a few miles from my house.  I’m always on the lookout for it.  Long story short, Carolina Homespun didn’t have one, but they did have some other wonderful things.  I ended up getting this pretty “wristaff,” which isn’t from Cascade Spindle Co but from a woodturner in Canada.


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After that, I thought I was done shopping.  Except that I had a $5 coupon for any vendor that you got for registering for a class.  With that coupon burning in my pocket, I was torn between some knitting needles, some undyed silk, or some fiber from Hood Canal YarnsLast year, I bought some alpaca/silk fiber from Hood Canal Yarns which I really enjoyed spinning, even if it did take me half a year to do so.  I couldn’t decide which fiber to get there,until I noticed that everything I had bought so far was a very specific blue.  So, of course I bought this lovely blue fiber.  To stick with the theme.




The best part was, this fiber was just about $5 an ounce.  With the coupon, I basically got an ounce free!  3 oz of 75% Blue Faced Leicester and 25% silk.  Yummy.


Oh right, I also had a class!  I finished up shopping just in time to go to my class, be a little early, and chat with some of the other students.  The class I took was on using hand cards to make rolags and punis.  A puni is essentially the same thing as a rolag, but made smaller and denser and almost always with cotton.  Using hand cards looks so simple, but for some reason I just couldn’t get it.  All you do is brush one card across the other a few times, transfer the fiber to the other card, and repeat until you’re ready to roll.  Simple, see?  Why did it take me almost an hour to be able to do this thing that people have been doing for thousands of years?




I really have no answer.  Except that I wasn’t the only one to have trouble, so I guess that makes me feel a little better.  I did eventually get it, which made me really happy because spinning from a true carded rolag is awesome.  And so fast.  I see much more woolen spinning in my future.  I can’t wait to try these rolags with my Russian spindle!  In the picture above is a merino rolag (blue) and a cotton/silk puni.


I love going to these fiber festivals.  I don’t usually go with anyone, unless Lowell tags along, because none of my friends are quite as obsessive as I am about these sorts of things.  But it doesn’t matter.  You can sit chat with anyone there, knowing that they share in your passion for fiber.  I had a woman sit with me while I was practicing my carding and we chatted about her alpacas and I showed her what I could of carding.  It’s wonderful, even for an introvert like me, to just be around all those people who don’t look at you funny when you talk about the sleeve construction of your Central Park Hoodie.


Next year, I’m really going to try to remember about the registration day.


Piecework Mystery February 1, 2011

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 9:47 pm

Magazines are great.  I’ve subscribed to Interweave Knits for years and more recently Spin Off.  Over the last year, I’ve also picked up the occasional copy of Piecework which has interesting articles about traditional needle work of any type, like tatting, embroidery, and knitting.  (Huh, apparently I really like Interweave publications.)


So I was really excited to see the latest issue of Piecework in my mailbox shortly after Christmas.




Sweet! I thought.  Someone got me a subscription to Piecework!  Did I put that on my Christmas list?


I sat down and thoroughly enjoyed the issue.  I also got the historical knitting issue soon after. 




I was so excited but I couldn’t figure out who had gotten it for me.  My in-laws seemed uninvolved.  Lowell had no information, even after being plied with steak.  It wasn’t any of the friends I talked to and it wasn’t my family.  Of course, I wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.  But I wanted to thank my unknown benefactor; I felt guilty not knowing who gave me the subscription.

Yesterday, I finally figured it out.


It was me.