The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Ennui Gone? February 15, 2010

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 9:16 pm
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I believe the ennui has mostly past.  I used a three-pronged approach.


Prong One:  Madrona


Lowell and I drove down to see the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival’s marketplace. 


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I loved seeing the knitters and spinners in the lobby  There was even someone there with a big loom!  (I give it only a few more months before I learn to weave.)

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I bought some yarn and some alpaca/silk fiber:



2 oz of an 80% black alpaca/20% silk blend from Hood Canal Yarns.  I’m not confident in my ability to spin colors reliably, so I’m going with exotic fibers.  This was hard to photograph; the fiber is such a rich, deep green with streaks of pewter.  It’s got some sparkle too.



60% superwash wool/30% bamboo/10% nylon sock yarn.  Pretty much my favorite blend of fibers for socks ever.  I love the shine of bamboo and the wool keeps it stretchy.  The above is BooFly from Angora Valley Fibers.  I wish I had taken a picture of this before I wound it, it was really pretty.


This was just a quick (relatively) in and out trip.  We walked around the marketplace and then headed home.  Lowell wanted to find and kinnear the Yarn Harlot, but I said that I’d already stalked her enough.


Prong Two: Getting Crap Done


UFOs were piling up and starting to overwhelm me.  What’s the obvious answer to that?  Finish things.  I made a huge effort to finish some projects, including a pair of socks for submission to Knit Picks and the pair of stockinette socks that I started over Thanksgiving.  I don’t know why getting those done makes me feel better, as I’m planning on casting on another pair of stockinette socks immediately.  Lowell’s scarf and sweater are still unfinished, indeed untouched during all this, but I’ll get back to them.



I knit five inches on this sock yesterday!  Today I finished the toe.


Prong Three: Olympics

We’re heading up to Vancouver tomorrow.  We’re going to be seeing four Olympic events: two hockey games, a speed skating race, and men’s short figure skating.  This is pretty exciting.  I’ll be bringing that new skein of BooFly and casting on a new pair of stockinette socks to work on while I’m there.  I’m also bringing a sock that’s slightly more complicated.  I’m only bringing enough yarn, total, to make two socks.  I know, I’m shocked too.  No worrying about running out or if the project isn’t right for the trip.  Two socks.  That’s all.  And I’m starting to wonder if maybe I should only take enough to make one sock.  But, I might knit another five inches in one day.  Too risky to only bring one sock.


Learning New Things September 24, 2009

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 3:36 pm
Tags: , ,

I love learning new techniques.  One of the things I like so much about knitting is the number of techniques to learn.  Like entrelac, Norwegian purling, Portuguese knitting, colorwork… every time I worry that I’ve learned it all, something new pops up!  The story of how I stumbled on this new technique is long and boring, but I will tell it to you anyway.  I’m just that kind of person.


I was poking around on Abby Franquemont’s YouTube channel for some spinning videos about a week ago.  One of the videos there was this one of the Yarn Harlot knitting and explaining a bit about her technique, particularly how it’s better for preventing repetitive stress injury.

I watched the video and marveled at her speed.  “Isn’t that cool?” I thought.  Then I didn’t think much about it for a while.


A week went by, and I saw on the Harlot’s blog that she had finished another pair of socks.  Now, this woman is always traveling, teaching, writing, and has teenagers at home.  How is it that she can churn out multiple projects in the time it takes me to finish one (not one project, one sock)?  It dawned on me.  She is using that other knitting technique.  I watched the video again and paid attention to the name.  Irish cottage knitting or production knitting.  Also known as lever or armpit knitting.


Well, that set off a full-blown Google search for anything and everything that I could learn about Irish cottage knitting.  This is the technique that the Harlot teaches in her class about knitting efficiency.  I missed out on that class at the Sock Summit (it sold out fast!!) so I’ve tried to piece it together online.  There isn’t actually a ton of info about it out there.  It’s a bit of heritage knitting; not taught much anymore unless you are taught by someone who knits that way.  I mean, I have seven thousand books on knitting and I’ve never seen it really mentioned before!  There’s a brief description in the Art of Fair Isle Knitting and the History of Handknitting, but no pictures or instructions.


So, I believe that I have indeed recreated this technique.  I’ve been practicing so much that I’m almost as fast cottage knitting as my regular knitting!  Hopefully after some more practice, I will reach actual speed-knitting speed.  This is the technique that the world’s fastest knitters use!  It would be very nice to be able to churn out more projects… I have so many ideas for designs but I’m limited by the speed of my knitting.


So, we’ve got the above video.  Then there’s this one, which has a slow motion section and an analysis of the way Stephanie holds her needles.  Then there’s some good info on the Ravelry group about cottage knitting.  Once I’m sure that what I’ve come up with is indeed cottage knitting and really is faster, I’ll post up a tutorial about the technique!


And because I came across some other fun stuff in my YouTube searching, here are two other videos that I enjoyed (the first is very similar to the speech she gave at Third Place Books last October):



And this one is just plain funny whether you’re a knitter or not.  And especially if you’ve visited Denver.


Sock Summit June 4, 2009

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 1:35 pm
Tags: , ,

I am so excited.  Only 62 days until the Sock Summit!


Registration was pretty tense.  It reminded me of registering for classes in college.  Then, you got assigned a number according to the number of credits you had earned so far (the assumption being that the more credits you had, the more senior a student you were).  Then the numbers were chopped into 200-people chunks.  Each chunk got a time slot.  Days before registration, students were making spreadsheets with contingency plans, sometimes with classes that they didn’t even want to take.  The second that the clock ticked to your time slot, you tried to sign into the school’s registration program.  Only 50 students could be on the program at once, schoolwide.  And once you got in if you stopped for more than 30 seconds, say to double check something, you could be kicked out of the system and have to start again.


Sock Summit was a little more fair than that system.  Once you got into the system, you had 15 minutes to get everything figured out and once you had something in your cart, it was yours.  Mostly.  The system was overcome with the load of people trying to register and things got pretty confusing with the server showing classes being full that weren’t really full, etc.  Registration was supposed to start at 10am PST.  The server crashed and didn’t really get back up until almost 11am.  There were a few hairy moments when I got kicked out of the system in the middle of an important step even after the server stabilized a bit.  The adrenaline rush and stress were so much that I was shaking after I hit “pay now.”  You can read more about the mess on the Yarn Harlot’s and Tina’s blog.  I’m not going to go into the problems too much, but I did use those skills I learned in college:


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So many spreadsheets.  This was the final one made the night before registration, with my perfect schedule on top and other variations following.  On the side are the classes, listed by importance, with colored cells to show when each class was offered (in case I had to do some quick thinking).   There are so many classes being offered at the Summit that I wanted to take.  It was really hard narrowing it down to just six.  I think I had something like twenty classes on my semi-finalist list.

I ended up with Schedule 2:

9am: Paint Your Toes! Stranded Colorwork for Socks with Janel Laidman (I’ve always wanted to design completely Fair Isle socks, but I’ve never gotten the fit right.)

1:30pm: Sock Design Workshop: Know the Rules, Then Break Them with Star Athena (Sounds useful.)

9am: Cross Your Cables and Dot Your Purls with Deb Robson (Information on publishing patterns.  Very useful.)

9am: Fancy Heel Flaps with Charlene Schurch

1:30pm: Spindle Spinning Basics with Abby Franquemont and Denny McMillan (Spindles are cheaper than buying a wheel!  Although I’m kind of worried that I’ll like it and spinning will eat into my knitting time…)

9am: Making the Next Monkey with Amy Singer (How to get published in Knitty.  Also very useful!)

Having read about all the troubles everyone had, I feel incredibly lucky to have registered with minimal problems (although at the time they felt huge).  I got all the classes I wanted except one.  But if I had gotten Engineering Stitches with Cat Bordhi (that class filled up fast!), I wouldn’t have been able to take Spindle Spinning Basics which I really wanted to take too.  So, all is well in the end.  I’m super-excited.  I’ve never gone to anything resembling a conference before! 


Bio Hazard March 20, 2009

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 1:31 pm
Tags: , ,

I have to write a thirty-word bio for a submission.  It doesn’t seem that hard, right?  Then why has it taken me all day?!  I dare you to try it.  Summarize yourself in approximately thirty words.  It’s hard.  What makes the cut?  It’s for a knitting publication- do you include that you enjoy other crafts?  Do you mention your family or pets?  Should your bio be humorous or serious?  Oh, the decisions!


Yeah, I’m obsessing just a little.  I’m also using this post to procrastinate writing the bio.    I hate writing bios.  You can see that the bio on this site is rather… dull and formulaic.  I’ll have to fix that some day.  I wonder if there’s a “Bio-Writing for Dummies” book.  There seems to be one for every other subject, after all.


In other news, I’m really looking forward to the Sock Summit in August. 



And by “really looking forward to,” I actually mean chomping-at-the-bit, counting-down-the-days, want-it-to-be-right-now, let-me-at-it!  It looks like it’s going to be incredible.  The Summit is being organized by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (the Yarn Harlot) and Tina Newton (the owner of Blue Moon Fiber Arts.)  That, in and of itself, was enough to send me through the roof.  I didn’t need  any more information to start obsessing about it.  I had it on my calendar and stared at the dates lovingly.  The fact that this conference is taking place in Portland, which is only a few short hours from here, only increased my love of the event.


And then.  THEN.  They posted the teacher list and I think I stopped breathing.  Check this out:

Cookie A!

Cat Bordhi!

Nancy Bush!

Priscilla Gibson-Roberts!

Amy R Singer!

Barbara Walker!

The whole list of teachers is much longer.  These are just some of my favorites.  I mean, all of these people are my heroes.  These are giants of knitting.  And I’m going to go take classes from them! Talk to them… if I get up the courage and don’t stammer out something fawning and unintelligent.  It’s just as likely that I will fall on my face or accidentally stab myself with a DPN as it is that I’ll utter a complete sentence around these people.  I’m horribly shy.  When that shyness is coupled with my feeling that I’m still a novice in relation to these masters, well.  I might not speak all weekend!


Let me know if you’re thinking of attending the Sock Summit- only you can make sure that I speak at least once in the three days!


Denouement December 30, 2008

Filed under: Knitting Projects — Cailyn @ 11:25 am
Tags: , , ,

I haven’t written anything in a few days, have I?  Oops.  It’s been busy, what with felting four pairs of clogs. Oy, that was a lot of felting!  Even in the washer.  The father/brother-in-law got some nice heathered earth tones, Pampas, Camel and Amber Heather.  Very nice.  Lowell’s are Forest and Claret, a somewhat interesting choice and still up for debate.  It looked so darn good in the skeins.  My mother-in-law’s turned out the best, I think.  White and black with embroidered spots to look like dalmatians!  Very cute, I think.


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I received some great gifts, like the Yarn Harlot’s page-a-day calendar and the first two volumes of Barbara Walker’s stitch dictionaries.  So many ideas… so little time.  Lowell and a friend bought me the whole set of Harmony interchangeable circulars, so I now can knit my worsted weight with more than a size 7 or size 10.5.  Very helpful, let me tell you!  Didn’t get that blocking board that I was hinting at but that’s okay.  I’ll acquire it another way, *evil laugh*.


In terms of gifts given to other people, they all went pretty well.  Obviously, I’ve told you about the family of slippers.  Did I mention that I’m now sick of that pattern and don’t want to see it again for at least a year… and now, right after I cast off the last stitch of the last slipper joyous about the fact that I wouldn’t be knitting any more slippers… now my pair of slippers developed a hole in the sole that apparently no amount of needle felting is useful against.  Oh, the irony!  Guess I’ll be knitting that pattern again very soon…


Oh right, other knitted gifts.  Well, my mother-in-law got a lovely pair of socks, knit from Dream in Color Smooshy in Deep Sea Flower.  The pattern will be up shortly (I hope.)


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And Lowell got a hat (this was the last minute project that I’m still surprised I pulled off without him seeing much of it.)  I love this hat so much.  It turned out a little short for him (despite the obsessive attention to length), but fits me great!  I’ll be ripping back to before the decreases and making it a little longer for him; shouldn’t take more than an hour or so.  I will also be knitting this hat for me!  I’m thinking a white background with dark to light blue accents.  I may already have the yarn in my Knit Picks cart.  The pattern will also be up soon.


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