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!

 

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.

 

Birthday Goodies July 8, 2011

Filed under: Musings,spinning — Cailyn @ 12:53 pm
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It was my birthday last week.  Yup, I’ve crossed the 30 barrier.  Funny, it doesn’t feel that different from 29 except for this irrational desire to yell at kids to get off my lawn.  And the cane.

 

Birthdays come with presents, of course, and I got some nice fiber-y, knit-y things.

 

Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting.  I can’t stop collecting Fair Isle charts- I’m addicted to those snowflakes!

 

My sister sent me some soft, squishy mystery fiber from Three Waters Farm in North Carolina:

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The burn test revealed that it’s wool, not alpaca.  I think it’s Blue Faced Leicester.

 

I also got some fiber from a local Washington dyer, Rain City Fiber Arts:

 

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85% BFL, 15% silk, yummy!  I’m not normally a pink person, but I love the combo of pink, purple, and natural undyed wool in this colorway.  I think it will spin up into a nice muted mauve-like shade.

 

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100% Falkland wool in foresty greens and browns.  I’ve never spun this breed before.  It’s got about a 5 inch staple length (medium-long) and it’s pretty soft.  Actually, this could spin up into a great sock yarn!  Hmmm…

 

And in the “I had to buy this for you so that I could find out what it does” camp, I got a McMorran balance!

 

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It’s really, really hard to take a good picture of a piece of clear acrylic!  I’m going to write a post with more details about using this thing, but the general idea is that a McMorran balance will tell you how much yarn you have.  Once you’ve got your strand of yarn there balanced on the scale (the one in my photo is too light,) then you multiply the length by 100 and that gives you the yards per pound of your yarn.  This is obviously great for handspun, especially if you’re too lazy to count how many times your yarn goes around your niddy-noddy (another crazy named handspinner tool).

 

Also, only 18.5 days until I leave for the Sock Summit!

 

Crazy Things June 21, 2011

Filed under: Musings,spinning — Cailyn @ 11:53 am
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A commenter pointed out a  problem with the page for the Wintergreen Gloves over the weekend.  All the links to it had stopped working.  I looked into it and it had disappeared from the server!  I couldn’t find the actual post anywhere.  Luckily, I happened to have a local copy of the post and I fiddled with the “posted date” to make it seem like I had posted it in ‘09 like the original.  So the URL is the same as it was, but it’s a new post.  Trippy, man.

 

In other news, a bear has been trying to use our trash can as a buffet.

 

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And last night he poked a hole in our gate, presumably because there wasn’t any food in our trash.  I’ve been keeping the trash can in the shed, but I forgot to put it back last time.  It’s in there now!

 

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And I finished my first 3-ply yarn.  I started with this fiber from Chameleon Colorworks.  I bought it two years ago in Portland.  I’ve been trying to move through some of my older stash, either spinning it or giving it away, to make room for what I’m sure will be a massive haul from the Sock Summit.

 

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I spun the singles on my Mt. Rainier spindle, with what I call my “Mostly Worsted Short Draw.”  It’s a mangled, customized draw that is mostly a worstedy short draw, but with less smoothing of the fibers and a slight backwards pull.  That didn’t make any sense.  Anyway, it’s my personal style draw when I’m not going for a specific goal.  I divided the fiber into three sections, with no thought for the color changes.  Then I wound them onto plastic bobbins and plied them on my wheel (I hate plying with a spindle).

 

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Despite careful fiber division, one single ended up much, much shorter than the others.  Not just by a few yards or even a bunch of yards.  I mean it was 30 or 40 yards shorter!  You can see above how much is left on the other two bobbins.  I don’t know how that happened.  I don’t like the yarn very much, though, so I didn’t stress over it.

 

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I think it ended up being worsted weight.  I’m not sure I like plying with three singles.  I had a really hard time keeping an even tension on all three at once and keeping the twist under control.  Two singles kept twisting before the third, making a 2-ply yarn with a third single swirling around it.  I eventually got the hang of it, but I still couldn’t find a comfortable way to hold things.  I might try again at some point, but right now I’m sticking with 2-plys.

 

Oh and my schedule for the Sock Summit has changed!  One of the classes I was wait-listed for got an opening, so instead of “The Perfect Rib” on Saturday afternoon I’ll be taking “Photographing Your Fiber.”  I’m very excited.  Just about a month left until the Summit!

 

Laceweight May 30, 2011

Filed under: spinning — Cailyn @ 5:55 pm
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All week I said to myself, “I’ll write a post as soon as I have this yarn finished.  It shouldn’t take much longer.”  Well, it did take longer.

 

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I started spinning the laceweight yarn that I sampled a last month.  I used some merino-bamboo fiber that I bought from Weaving Works forever ago; it doesn’t have a brand name or anything.  It’s a 50-50 blend which is shiny and silky and spins up just as nice as it looks.

 

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I sampled using just the color above (a color that I started to call in my head “Steel Teal”), but I wanted a little more depth and interest in my final yarn.  I also had some darker, bluer fiber of the same provenance, so I decided to use that as an “accent color” sort of thing.  I don’t have a good picture of it, but keeping with my theme I called this color “Steel Periwinkle.”  Which sounds a bit like a private eye in a bad detective flick.

 

I didn’t have any way to blend the fibers before spinning.  I couldn’t use my handcards for two reasons.  First, the fibers were too long.  The carding surface on mine is about 3 inches tall, which means I’ll just get a snarled mess if I try to card any fiber longer than that on them.  And second, I was going to spin this worsted, which is a combed preparation, so carding it to spin short draw seemed counter productive.  What I ended up doing was inspired by this free PDF article from Spin-Off.  I split my teal roving (by this I mean I tore off a hunk, then split that lengthwise into four portions) then tore off a similar sized hunk of periwinkle and split that into eight to twelve portions.  That way, the teal was the main color, but I’d get varying amounts of periwinkle in there- just a little for interest.

 

Of course, I realized after a few hours of spinning that I hadn’t weighed my fiber to see how much I had or divided it in half for even plies.  Being lazy, I decided that I would just spin until the bobbins looked about full the same amount.  By some miracle, this worked!  I ended up with about 3 yards of extra on the second bobbin, not even enough bother with!  I was rather shocked, actually.

 

I ended up with about 2.3 oz (66g) of two-ply mostly laceweight yarn.  Now, this yarn has enjoyed jerking me around a bit.  When I was spinning the singles, I always felt deep in my heart that the half-bobbin was never going to be enough for a shawl.  But as I was plying, I was sure that I had overshot my needs- it went on forever.  Then when it was washing, I just knew that I didn’t have enough- that it couldn’t be enough for a shawl.  But when I re-skeined it (which again took forever) I thought that I had plenty.  When I weighed it and it came in at a measly 2 ounces and change, I was pretty upset.  Until I looked at a few millspun yarns and realized that they’re often sold in 50g hanks and I had 66g, so I was pretty well off.

 

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I say “mostly” laceweight because I drifted around the target thickness some, and to be honest the majority of the yarn is just slightly heavier than a true laceweight.  Somewhere between a “light fingering” and “lace” really.  But, then again, I really dislike working with the super-thin true laceweight so maybe it’s for the best for my first try.  All in all, I’m pleased as punch about this yarn.

 

To prepare myself for spinning really thin yarn, I watched “Spinning for Lace” which I got as a download from the Interweave Knits store.  It was a big help.  Margaret Stove is great.  The main thrust of the video is spinning with superfine merino, but a lot of the information carries over to other fibers.  I particularly like her method of holding the singles during plying.  It’s been the most comfortable for me so far and offers great control.

 

Now I just have to design a shawl and knit 60-65 inches of it.  Piece of cake.

 

Some Random Things April 19, 2011

Filed under: spinning — Cailyn @ 11:03 pm
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1) I’m busy working on the sock for Tangled.  It’s encrusted with twisted-stitch cables, so it’s slow going compared to my last sock design, so I was starting to get worried about the deadline.  Then I remembered that I thought about that when I designed the sock- that’s why the sock has a mostly stockinette foot, to balance out the slow cuff and leg.  Less worried now.

 

2) I ordered an inkle loom from Palmer Looms.  I can’t wait for it to get here.

 

3) When I need to let my hands rest from knitting, I have been spinning up some fiber for a sample to see what spinning laceweight is like.  Yesterday I made this cute little skein.  It was… really fun.  Hard to describe fun.  But I really enjoyed it and I have a feeling I’d better learn to like lace knitting more or find a friend who does, because lots more laceweight spinning is in my future!

 

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4) Looking back on that last thing, I can’t help thinking how fun it is to spin big fast yarns with a long draw.  Maybe I don’t need to get into lace knitting too much.

 

5) Either way, I’ve been designing a shawl on the side.  I’ve always wanted one and I’m not sure why.  Sure, they’re pretty, but would I ever use one?  Probably not.  But the urge has become to strong to resist.  I wasn’t thinking about knitting or spinning lace until I went to the library last week.  I found a giant book about Haapsalu lace shawls and in it’s stitch dictionary, I found the lace pattern that I have always wanted.

 

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6) It’s going to be a rectangular shawl with scalloped edging on the short sides.  Sort of like some of the shawls in Knitting Lace of Estonia.  I think the project will be relegated to the UFO (unfinished objects) bin if I try to pick up stitches all around it and knit a border.  I don’t think knitting a separate one and sewing it on has better odds either.

 

7) I’ve got to get back to knitting that sock now.