The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

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.

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Loot December 28, 2009

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 12:58 pm
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Yikes, this last week has been busy!  Family in town, Christmas preparation, tons of cooking… I’ve barely picked up my needles!  Let alone sit down to write a blog post.  Happily, the holiday season has gone off with barely a hitch.  Nothing burned in the kitchen (I cooked my first ham and turkey,) no one got brained with a Rock Band controller, and Santa did not trip down the stairs to fill stockings in the middle of the night.

 

We did have to make some last minute stockings, but they turned out pretty well.  My mother-in-law and I picked out a different fleece and button for each person.  We cut out the fleece in a vague stocking shape and then whip-stitched the two halves together.  Then we added a strip of green fleece to the top as trim, also whip-stitched, and sewed on a piece of fleece to hang the stockings.  The buttons hid the sewing of the hanger.  We might have added names (or more likely initials) if we had had more time.  They’re pretty cute, yes?

 

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This was a great Christmas for knitting.  I got a slew of great books

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and the Spin Off calendar and a great Knittyspin shirt

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and two Sheep Incognito prints, High Strung and Dare to be Different

 

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I love Conni Togel’s style.  Her sheep are so cute!  And funny.

 

And, the biggest gift…

 

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MY VERY OWN SCHACHT MATCHLESS.  Read that again.  SCHACHT MATCHLESS.  It treadles like a dream.  And it’s so pretty.  I just have to pet it every time I pass it.  I have to be careful not to drool it.

 

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To go with my spinning wheel, my in-laws gave me some Bijou yak fiber and a beautiful orifice hook (it has a clover on it, maybe it will bring me spinning luck?) and a WPI tool.  These were bought at Village Wools, one of my favorite stores in Albuquerque.

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Have to cut this short, we’re heading down to Pike Place and everyone’s waiting for me.  I’m hoping that if I look really cute in my new spinning shirt and start twitching from fiber withdrawal, they’ll let me swing by Weaving Works on the way.

 

Honeymoon February 3, 2009

Filed under: Knitting Projects — Cailyn @ 4:58 pm
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That, my friends, is the first seven rows of my not-so-beginner-friendly cardigan.  I can’t believe I’ve knit 7 rows already!  I’m a small knitter at heart; I knit socks and mittens and cat toys.  Even hats sometimes seem like too much of a commitment.  “I have to cast on how many stitches?!”  I always ask.  I’ve developed a strong dislike for the process of casting on.  It’s strange, because I remember that casting on was my favorite part as a kid.  Of course, back then I was using the backwards loop method instead of the long-tail cast on.  I loved the rhythm of casting on; I felt so capable and smart as the stitches flew onto my needle, lickety-quick.  But now it just seems like an annoying hurdle to jump over before the real fun can begin.

 

I think that my dislike of casting on stems from my sheer unadulterated hatred of chaining in crochet.  I like to crochet, but I could never count the chains accurately.  After having to rip out a chain of thirty, seventy, or one hundred stitches because I was 5 stitches short after the first row became really, really annoying.  I always seek out projects with very few chains at the beginning.

 

That, honestly, is one of the things that has kept me from starting a sweater or cardigan before now.  The thought of casting on two hundred to three hundred stitches for a sweater knit in the round was highly unappealing.  I have persevered, though, and as you can see below, I successfully cast on three hundred and one stitches last night.  So far, the cardigan and I are having a very nice honeymoon after the chore of casting on.  Things are moving along as fast as can be expected, the yarn is nice, and the needles are sharp.  And I haven’t miscrossed a cable, which is always a bonus.

 

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Of course, it’s too warm outside to wear a light jacket, let alone a wool cardigan, but I’m in complete denial about that.  It’s February, it must be cold, right?  

 

Books About Knitting November 5, 2008

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 8:55 pm
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This post is brought to you by the books at your local library.

 

I love my library system.  It’s only been recently that I’ve discovered how freaking amazing it is.  I went to the library a lot as a kid (I was a voracious reader) and even more in high school and college for research.  Oh the nights spent in the library researching…  Anyway, after college, I didn’t go to the library much.  I bought books as I wanted them and resold, donated, or hung on to them when I was finished.  And that’s still pretty much the case with my “pleasure reading.”

 

But the knitting books.  Oh, the knitting books.  When I finally put two and two together and remembered that I could check out knitting books, well, things have gotten out of hand.  In just the last few days, I’ve checked out Knitting Beyond the Edge, A Fine Fleece, and No Sheep for You.  Before that it was the Museum of Kitschy Stitches, which amused Lowell greatly and the History of Handknitting.  Right now, I’m still enjoying No Sheep for You and Cables Untangled.

 

As someone who loves cables, this book is great.  I ordered Leapman’s second book, Continuous Cables, from Amazon because it isn’t in the library system yet.  I can’t wait to look at it!  Cables Untangled has a great stitch dictionary in the back with cables I haven’t seen anywhere else, and the patterns for sweaters and even the afghans are gorgeous.  There’s something about the way a nice plump cable twists and turns over the recessed background of purl stitches… I love that look.  I like lace and knit/purl designs, but cables are really where my heart lies.  I’m already dreaming up some lovely cabled socks; maybe three or four pairs, haha!  Of course, I’m also planning a Fair Isle pair of gloves; I might have even ordered the yarn for them today while I was ordering some Christmas present yarn.  They’re going to be beautiful.  I hope.

 

I’m also hoping that the yarn I ordered to complete my sister’s scarf will be here tomorrow and I can finish the scarf-of-doom and post the pattern.  Of course, what I’m really looking forward to is the Dream in Color Smooshy that’s coming with the Cascade 220.  It’s destined to be a Christmas present if it stands up to my rigorous testing.  You know, squeezing it and knitting up a heavily cabled swatch.  I’ve never knit with Smooshy but the name is great.  So many ideas, so little time…

 

I’m Going to See the Yarn Harlot! October 6, 2008

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 11:47 pm
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Ok, I lied. At the time of this writing, I have already seen said Harlot and hold in my hands a signed copy of her new book, Free-Range Knitter.

 

If you haven’t heard of the Yarn Harlot, then move your butt over to Amazon and order some of her books!  Although, maybe you’re like me a few months ago.  I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.  I thought that a book about knitting without patterns or stitches was useless.  I’m not a Debbie Macomber fan; I don’t read knitting fiction.  But the Stephanie Pearl-McPhee isn’t knitting fiction.  She isn’t even just knitting.  Her books are a humorous look a her life,  the lives of knitters and sometimes life in general.  The first time I picked up The Secret Life of a Knitter, on a whim at a bookstore, I was hooked.  Here was someone with my love of yarn, my obsession with stitch patterns, an ungodly number of needles… and she had managed to put the feelings I have about socks and stashes and gauge in writing.  Not only writing, but hilarious, just-one-more-page writing.

 

I don’t know, there’s something special in that to me.  I love to read and books are precious to me (I get very bent out of shape if something happens to one of my books.)  After reading her first book, I quickly gobbled up the rest of them.  Even Lowell read some of At Knit’s End, which is probably the sweetest thing he’s ever done (and he’s very sweet).  When he told me he’d read a little of the book and he understood some of my obsession now, I just about melted in a puddle.  I know it doesn’t seem like much, but I didn’t ask him to read it; he did it because it’s something I’m interested in and he wants to know more about it.  And, as he put it, it doesn’t hurt that Stephanie is so funny!

 

My friend Kady and I went to go see the Yarn Harlot at Third Place Books last night.  We had SO MUCH FUN.  First, just looking around at the audience and seeing almost everyone there with needles in their hands and yarn coming from all directions was great.  I’ve never seen so many knitters in one place!

 

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Then Stephanie came out and talked about the writing of a book and that there are more than ten knitters in the world, but you wouldn’t know it by the way people treat us!  It sounds strange, but it was incredibly funny.  I was worried that Kady was going to fall off her chair sometimes.  During the questions, there was a recounting of the evil fleece stealing squirrel which turned into a story about some scary raccoons which turned into a story about a skunk.  Sorry about the blurry pictures… there’s no good way to take stage pictures without a tripod.

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After the talk, we all lined up to get the books signed.  We were in front of some very nice, chatty ladies and nothing breaks the ice like a good knitting-gone-wrong story.  I was pretty nervous as we got closer to the front.  I mean, Stephanie is practically a celebrity to me.  Have you ever imagined yourself meeting a famous person, like Jennifer Aniston or Zach Braff?  And you tell yourself that you’re going not going to be like those other fans, going crazy over them.  You’re going to play it cool and come across so much better?  But deep inside, you know you want to squeal and hug them and then take a lock of their hair (well, maybe not that last part.)  I wanted to play it cool, wanted to say something clever and memorable… but at the same time I wanted to gush and tell her how cool she is.

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When I got to the front, I handed her my book and blurted out “Oh my gosh, I’m so nervous!  I love your books!” or something to that effect.  She laughed and told me she was nervous too. Kady got her books signed and we all took a picture together.  Stephanie was so nice and funny… I hope she comes back to Seattle soon!  (That’s me in the purple, Kady in the middle, and the Yarn Harlot in Hey Teach.)

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*squee!* She’s holding my socks! I’m holding her sock!  Guess I have to finish them now! 😀  I’m still buzzed from the massive amount of fun we had.  Wow.

 

First Review June 16, 2008

Filed under: Reviews — Cailyn @ 4:58 pm
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Since I’m nowhere near done with even the first Lupine Sock yet, let alone the pair and the write-up, it’s time to start a new feature! Book reviews. I love to go to the bookstore; it doesn’t even matter if I need a book, I just love the atmosphere. It’s especially great to browse through the craft books (and maybe buy a few of them.) But sometimes there’s a book that I really want to look at and the store doesn’t have it. I imagine this happens to a lot of crafters, because there are so many cool books and such a tiny section of the store devoted to our passion. (Really, why do programming and philosophy get more space than crafting? Those are far less important subjects.) We’re stuck buying the book online, where we can’t look at all the projects or read an excerpt (most of the time.)

I’ve amassed a decent collection of craft books and, while I’m not a professional reviewer or anything, I think I’ve got a decent grasp of what a crafter wants. As a public service to others of my ilk, I’ll be posting reviews of my craft book collection. (Let’s be honest, this is really just an excuse to buy more books. “Look, DH, I need this book to review on my blog! People have been asking for it!”) As this is my first review, I think I’ll choose my first knitting book that wasn’t Stitch & Bitch. I, of course, have chosen a book that already has quite a few reviews on Amazon. Go figure.

The Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns

At a Glance

The Good: Colorful, clear photos. A good sampling of knit/purl, lace, cables, and slip stitch patterns. Contains some very unique patterns. Uses both charts and written instructions.

The Bad: Charts and written instructions don’t always match. Charts can be hard to follow. No glossary of chart symbols. Index could be more useful.

The Review

I bought this book because it was the only stitch library at the bookstore and I really wanted to have one. I didn’t like it much right after I bought it, but it’s really grown on me. The pictures are bright and colorful. Each pattern is knit in a random color yarn (if there’s a theme to the colors, I haven’t figured it out yet.) Most of the photos are clear and it’s easy to see the stitch definition; there are, of course, a few photos that are a little hard to see but not many. It’s very fun to flip through, thinking of projects to make or laughing at some of the more outrageous patterns. Honestly, I keep it in my bathroom much of the time to look through and inspire me.

The Big Book has a wide variety of stitch patterns; it includes a little bit of everything. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. The good is that if you can only choose one book to buy, you don’t have to choose which pattern type you want (i.e. cables, lace) like the Harmony or Vogue guides. You get some of everything and the patterns range from easy to challenging. It also has some really interesting patterns (they categorize them as “creative stitches”) that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Unfortunately, because the book samples a variety of stitches, it can be hard or impossible to find something if you’re looking for a particular cable or lace pattern. The patterns are all named and there is an index in the front; the index is not a pure alphabetical index, though. It is divided into the same sections as the book. This isn’t a problem if you know the pattern you’re looking for is a pure cable, but who can remember whether that lace stitch is listed under lace or creative stitches? Not much of a complaint, but something worth mentioning.

I am a very visual knitter. I would rather work from a chart than from written instructions. Luckily, the Big Book has both. The charts can be crowded and hard to read on some patterns. The Book uses a horizontal line for purl stitches and a vertical line for knit stitches. For a pattern like Parallelograms, the chart looks like a magic eye. It’s very hard to decipher and would be easier if knit or purl stitches were a blank or shaded square instead. While there is a key for each chart, the key only shows the name of the stitch and not how to perform it. The written instructions have the steps for the special stitch though. Sometimes the written instructions and chart won’t match. I’ve heard that this book is actually a translation from an Italian book, so maybe some things slipped through the cracks. In cases where they don’t match, I usually go with the written instructions or I wing it. It can be highly annoying.

Conclusion

I’m not really sure what to say about this book, honestly. I think this is a good book if you’re looking to try out a bunch of stitches, looking for inspiration, or a gift (there’s bound to be something that pleases!) But it does have some problems that can be really frustrating. It’s also a good book if you’re like me and must be able to look through every pattern ever invented. I’ve seen better compilations, like the old Harmony Guides, but at least this one is still in print!

Next review: Favorite Socks