The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Bamboo Socks March 18, 2009

Filed under: Knitting Projects — Cailyn @ 3:27 pm
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Apparently writing this post is less interesting than taking silly Facebook quizes today.  I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook (seems I’m even an introvert online,) but I happened to be there and there was this silly quiz… which led to another silly quiz… Apparently I’d be happiest living in Seattle (which I am) and the animal I’m most like is a mongoose.  Maybe I should make a silly knitting quiz; you know, are you a circ or a DPN?  Which fiber are you most like?  How does your IQ compare to a sheep’s?  Things like that.  Although I think I know all the results to the last quiz there.


It’s been gray and rainy today so I couldn’t go outside to take pictures of the Orencia socks.  I really have to come up with a better name for them; I don’t want them going through their whole lives thinking they have rheumatoid arthritis.  But I did take some pictures in my lightbox, so here they are.


101_4354   101_4349



The socks have a lace front and a stockinette back.  I originally knit (all the way down to the heel flap!) the sock with the lace design on both the front and the back, but the sock turned out huge!  I had to rip the whole thing out.  Painful, and I almost gave up on the design.  It’s rare for me to have a design element that makes the sock too large or stretchy.  Since I normally gravitate towards cables or colorwork, I often have the opposite problem- I can’t use the design I want because the sock won’t fit over a normal human ankle.  I knew that lace is stretchier than cables or even stockinette, but the swatch did nothing to prepare me for how baggy that sock was!  Just another example of a lying, evil swatch trying to cause mental instability in a knitter.




The yarn is Five Oaks Ranch Bamboo (80% bamboo, 20% wool) from Argosy Luxury Fibers in Sage.  The lace pattern is simple and easy to memorize, making it a nice, quick knit spring sock, even though it doesn’t seem like spring is coming any time soon.  I think they turned out very close to the original inspiration.  You can see why I wanted to knit them in a cute pink or yellow, but I think the ice blue lends them an air of elegance.  I should have the pattern written up and ready to go in a few days, now that I don’t have any travel plans to mess up my schedule.


Strange Places For Inspiration March 4, 2009

Filed under: Knitting Projects,Musings — Cailyn @ 9:16 pm
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Inspiration can sometimes come from strange places.  Okay, most of the time it comes from strange places, the strange place being the dark recesses of my mind where the purple creativity gnomes live.  But in this case, inspiration came from something stranger than tiny purple creativity gnomes.


It came from a drug commercial.


Lowell has some pretty cool aunts and uncles.  We got to spend time with two sets- er, couples?- in the middle of our trip.  This coincided with the Oscars and Lowell’s aunt hosted a fun get-together at her (incredibly gorgeous) new house.  Lowell and I don’t end up seeing that many movies throughout the year (two hours sitting still in the dark without my knitting?  Insanity, I say!)  But it’s always a blast to watch these award shows with other people.  Lowell’s aunt knits as well and somewhere around Jack Black and Jennifer Aniston’s presenting the awards for animation, we both pulled out our knitting. Previously, our hands were busy making and eating dinner and petting the adorable dogs.

DSC05180 [800x600]

This was the fourth picture that was taken, I think, and the men were starting to act a little funny while we studiously ignored them.  I’m working on a simple stockinette sock using my hand dyed Knit Picks sock blank and she’s knitting a child’s sweater using Cascade Fixation, I think it was.  Everyone in the family knows that I love to craft and knit in particular.  They’d be shocked, I think, if I didn’t knit almost every free moment.


Back on the track of the story, we were watching the Oscars.  During one of the commercial breaks, there was an ad for Orencia.  It’s a drug for rheumatoid arthritis.  About halfway through, the person in the ad pulls on a yellow lace sock.  My father-in-law says, “Those look like Cailyn socks!”  I already had out my post-it notes to write down the details of the sock before I forgot.  So pretty, so simple in it’s lacy beauty, it was.  I was  quickly thinking of something in a summer fiber, something fun and quick to knit for the warm weather that I’m told is coming.

Sock Inspiration

You want to skip to the :33 second mark to see the sock in question.  And keep the sound off, unless you want to hear about those lovely side-effects.  Of course, it was a lot easier to see the detail on a big crisp LCD TV instead of the low quality of YouTube, but you get the idea of the design.


I’ve decided to use some yarn that I have from Argosy Luxury Fibers, the Five Oaks Ranch Bamboo in Sage.  It’s 80% bamboo and 20% superwash wool.  Nice and summery, I think.  Hm, apparently I don’t have a picture of the yarn.  Well, they’ve got great pictures on their website.  I kind of wanted to knit these in pink or white, but it’s time for some stash-busting.  How else can I justify buying all those great new yarns that I want?


Next time I’ll show you a picture of the beginnings of the sock that I’ve designed from that commercial.  You’ll get to see the sock go through inspiration, frustration, frogging (which it’s already suffered once in silent shame), to finished sock pattern!  Think of it as your own personal tour, guided by tiny purple creativity gnomes.


Too many projects January 19, 2009

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 5:03 pm
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I have once again been bitten by the sweater bug.  Usually, this bug bite just involves a slight itching, solved by a liberal application of reminding myself of how much I hate, hate, hate seaming.  Did I mention that I hate it?  Nowadays, this reminder comes in the form of reviewing my stupid mistakes on the Estes Vest, chronicled on this very blog.  Unfamiliar with seaming, I slipped the first stitch of every row, making mattress stitch unfeasible for the seaming.  Very unpleasant.


Those who followed the Estes saga might remember that one of the reasons I wanted to knit it was because it had no sleeves.  This fact appeared perfect, as sleeves seem like the main hassle of knitting a sweater.  All that pinning and easing and making sure that the stitches line up.  And even picking up stitches from the shoulder for the sleeve seems hard- you have to pick up, what, every 3rd stitch or something like that?  Sadly, though, I really like sleeves.  Sleeves are warm.  Can’t make a sweater without sleeves.  What to do?


I received Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Without Tears from a friend for Christmas.  Elizabeth Zimmerman is known for many things, including her blunt and amusing writing style and her famous cast off.  But she also invented (or unvented) the bottom-up seamless sweaterSeamless!  Knit all in the round, except for a few rows at the back of the neck.


I’m dying to make myself one of these.  Zimmerman has instructions for a yoke, a raglan, and a saddle shoulder sweater.  They’re all based on percentages so they easily scale to different sizes with a minimum of math.  What I really want is a nice comfy cardigan to wear on nights when I’m a little chilly around the house; something that looks nice but is, essentially, comfort clothing.  I’m thinking that I will make a raglan sweater then cut a steek up the front and make it a cardigan with some buttons.  I’ll put some cabling around the bottom and up the front (maybe the back) and sleeves.  I’m really excited to start this project, even knowing that by the time I’m done with it, it’ll probably be too warm to wear, because that’s just the way things work.


Of course, I also have a pair of Fair Isle gloves that I’m dying to knit.  I have them all charted out and the yarn sitting 100_4145upstairs.  And I’ve got two designs that are destined for submissions to Knotions and a UK magazine, Yarn Forward.  Sorry I can’t share with you what they are yet.  But I can say that they’re fabulous.  I’d like to submit something to Knitty too, but I haven’t gotten a good idea yet.  And not only do I have those projects to start/finish, I have a crocheted blanket that I started last January that I’d like to finish some time this year and I need a new cowl for skiing since the one I made two years ago has felted to be too small.  And I really want to knit a scarf/cowl with this Misti Alpaca that my brother-in-law gave me before it gets too warm.  And a new hat, a white and blue version of the Fireflake Hat


I can do all that before the weather changes, right?


Of course, the weather is against me.  Right now it’s 53 degrees outside.  And sunny! Is this Seattle or not?!  I’m going to have to migrate north just to be able to wear my knitwear soon.  But it does mean that I can ride my bike more often, which is nice.  As you can see, I’m very conflicted about this weather thing. 


Either way, I guess if I want to be able to justify adding a cardigan to my pile of projects, I’d better get back to knitting! (And I’d better knit fast!)


Unexpected Interweaving! November 22, 2008

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 12:28 am
Tags: ,

I’ve been very busy for the last week.  I’m leaving town to visit my family for Thanksgiving and I won’t be home for a whole week!  Now, you’d think this wouldn’t take up so much of my time.  Wrap some presents, clean the house a little, trick a friend into checking in on the cats, and bing-bang-boom I’m done.  Well, as fellow knitters and crafters, you understand why this is not the case.


I have two five-hour plane flights there and back.  That, in and of itself, is prime knitting time!  Let’s not even mention the hours sitting around the house chatting with people or the inevitable downtime while waiting for so-and-so.  But I’m going to be separated from my stash and needles.  And, more importantly for me since I could technically sneak out to a LYS, I’ll be without my knitting books.  I love designing my own knits, but this occasionally leads to traveling problems.  I’m not the kind of designer that can sketch out a design and know exactly how it will knit up.  Usually I have to be knitting to figure out the design.  I don’t sketch on paper, I doodle with yarn.  At home this isn’t an issue because I have my seven thousand stitch libraries (ok, not that many) to look at.  If I don’t like how something is looking or the yarn isn’t behaving right, I just frog and start over.  That’s nearly impossible on the road!  Which is part of the reason I posted the links to the online stitch dictionaries; now I can find them when I’m out of town.


Why don’t I just knit someone else’s pattern while I’m traveling, you ask?  Well, right now there’s nothing really speaking to me.  I know that sounds silly, but it’s true.  I keep looking for an opportunity to knit some Cookie A. socks (she’s my hero!) but I never cast on for them.  I think the timing’s not quite right.  Plus, I get so much out of designing my own knits; it’s so much fun for me.  It’s a dilemma, it truly is.


So, I’ve been very busy winding balls of yarn, swatching, digging through my dictionaries and stash, and generally trying to do as much pre-designing as I can.  I’m hoping that with an unprecedented amount of swatching, I can write up a pattern and basically follow it without having to make changes on the road.  I’ve swatched for 2 pairs of socks, this weekend will be dedicated to doing a hat design, and I am bringing some Christmas items to knit that I don’t have to design. 


I’ve carefully plotted my projects to cover the whole spectrum.  I’ve got the very detailed, involved project for the plane rides. (As well as some new knitting podcasts!)  I’ve got the less complicated projects (other socks, Xmas items, hat) for downtime when I only want to refer to a chart occasionally.  Then there’s a pure stockinette pair of socks for knitting while I’m talking with people.  More on that last project later, the yarn is special.


So, yeah, busy.  My swift has started to make funny noises. I’m not kidding.  I’ve got to lubricate it, I think, but I’ve got to be careful to do it in a way that silicon lube won’t touch my pretty yarns when I’m done.  The swift I’ve got is this one, from Japan.  It’s served me well, I guess, but I lust after one of those beautiful wooden ones.  So pretty, so expensive.


Wait, where was I going with this?  Oh, right, I’ve been so busy that I forgot that the next issue of Interweave Knits is out!  I got the mail today and was haphazardly sorting through it and was floored to see Interweave Knits in the pile.  I squealed, I think.  I try to avoid looking at the preview on their website; I like to be surprised.  Which I was.  I haven’t opened it just yet, the anticipation is fun.  Hmm, maybe there’s something in there that I want to knit while I’m away…


And the mitten pattern is all written up, but I’ve had bad luck with the pictures.  Lowell and I are going on a photo shoot tomorrow morning, so check back and see if we got any good ones!


Socks Are Stupid? November 11, 2008

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 9:59 pm
Tags: , ,

I was talking recently to someone about knitting.  She used to knit, although I don’t remember ever seeing her do it and I’m guessing it wasn’t her favorite hobby.  She asked me what kinds of things I knit.


“Oh,  my favorites are gloves, mittens, socks.”


There’s a pause.  “Socks?  People knit socks?”


“Sure!  Lots of people knit socks.”


“Well, I can understand hats and scarves, but socks?  Why in the world would anyone knit socks?”


I didn’t have anything thing to say after that.  I mean, what do you say when someone views your chosen hobby with such disdain?  I think I mumbled something about warmth and softness and the conversation quickly turned to other topics.  But it got me to thinking.


Why do I knit socks?


I’m not alone in my wondering; most sock knitters have wondered the same thing at least ten times in their lives.  New sock knitters, as they carefully balance four slippery needles in an attempt to join without twisting, ask themselves this question a lot.  The eminent knitting authors of our time have attempted to answer this question.  Stephanie Pearl-McPhee devotes two essays to the topic in her books.


Like all sock knitters, I’m perfectly aware that I can buy socks.  In packages.  Cheaply.  In any color I’d like.  I can buy great socks.  In fact, I’m a little ashamed to admit, I wear my store-bought socks more often than my knitted socks.  (Partially that’s because I don’t own enough knitted socks.  Damn second-sock syndrome.)  I think that proves that I am not some idiot who believes that socks are not plentiful and easy to come by.


No one is going to argue that buying socks is faster and cheaper than knitting them yourself.  I wonder: say you wanted to bake some bread.  How many people would mock you?  Tell you that you can buy bread, any kind of bread, at the supermarket?  How many people would mock the minutes spent kneading the dough and waiting for it to rise? Well, I guess some people would.  But homemade bread is so delicious.  Much better than store-bought, if you ask me. 


Aren’t socks the same way?  Aren’t hand knit socks so comfortable?  Tailor made to your foot?  Extra warm?


Let’s take a detour. (See, by saying that, I can go off on a tangent but it’s not bad writing.)  I know some of the reasons that I knit socks.  I like that they are small.  I like working with thin yarn, tiny needles.  I like that I can shove a sock project in a small bag and take it anywhere.  I like that I can be a total dork and work on my sock while I’m getting highlights in my hair or waiting for dinner at a restaurant.  There’s so many activities that are more pleasant when I can carry my knitting with me.  It keeps my hands busy, which is a must for me.  I’m a chronic fidgeter. 



I also like that socks change often.  Think about it.  You knit the cuff, then the leg, then the heel flap, then turn the heel, then there’s the gusset, and the foot and finally the toe. (Or the other way around, if you’re doing toe-up.)  And each section is subtly different from the others.  I am very much a process knitter and I knit to learn as well as make things.  I strongly dislike doing the same stitch pattern over and over; plain stockinette stitch makes me fall down and twitch.  Might be why I get hit pretty hard with Second Sock Syndrome.

sock diagram

From a design standpoint, I like the challenges socks present.  Horizontal lines on the foot merging into vertical lines on the leg.  Finding a stitch pattern or cable that looks right but retains the stretchiness to get over the arch without making the leg too loose.  And how does the heel fit into the design?   There are so many variables.


And the yarn!  Everyone knows that sock yarn doesn’t count as stash.  All those beautiful yarns and all I need is one or two skeins to make socks.  Not 7 or 12 like sweaters.  So soft, so colorful, so many different fibers.


But anything that I’ve said so far, except for the size factor, can be said about any knitting.  And let’s face it, no one is going to see these socks but you.  And maybe your knitting friends and housemate.  Most of the time, your beautiful hand knit socks are going to be in your shoes, getting walked on. These socks are going to take a beating.  Not like that pretty cardigan or hat that everyone can see. 


Well, I’m not doing this for anyone else, am I?  Do I care if anyone sees my pretty, pretty socks?  Would they even appreciate the socks if they could see?  The terms “Fair Isle” and “cables” are lost on the non-knitters.  These socks are for me.  I don’t need someone else telling me that they are good.  I know they are, because I made them.  I picked the yarn and swatched (or not) and I cast on and knit the ribbing (only a little bit shorter because I got bored) and I knit the leg and the heel flap and turned the heel (and it only took me three tries to pick up the right number of stitches) and I decreased during the gusset and I grafted the toe together (very slowly).  It’s a luxury.  It’s taking time for myself, it’s pampering myself by knitting with a luscious yarn so that each stitch is a joy, it’s sliding that warm and soft completed sock on my foot.  It’s making something that is just for me, in every sense of the words. 


Or, you know, something for the people I give socks to as gifts.




I don’t think I’ve quite hit it on the head yet.  There are other reasons for the sock obsession, I know it.  I must think more on this issue.


Clocks September 30, 2008

Filed under: Knitting Projects,Musings — Cailyn @ 3:08 pm
Tags: ,

I’ve been working on and off on the Estes Vest.  I’m almost done with the waist increases on the back!  Any time I actually devote a few hours to working on it, it goes very fast.  Sadly, I haven’t been devoting as much time as I’d like to it.  I was hoping that it would be finished by the time I left for the Balloon Fiesta next week, but unless I knit my fingers to the bone, I doubt that’s going to happen.  And of course I’ve thought of 5 other projects that I want to do at the same time.  Like this sock!


100_3821   100_3822   100_3820


This sock (which has yet to find a name) was inspired by a number of things.  First and foremost, stash-busting!  I’ve still got a lot of Louet Gems Fingering yarn left over from an abandoned project.  I’m not really sure that this is the yarn I would choose for this sock normally, but it’s working out alright.  Second, I love the look of traditional/historical European socks with “clocks.”  Clocks are small twisted stitch or knit/purl patterns that go down the side of the leg and then split at the heel. One side goes down the heel flap and the other goes down the length of the foot.  The theory is they’re called “clocks” because they look like the hands of a clock.  Third, I’ve been reading the History of Handknitting, which is fascinating to me.  (I love the library!)  The pictures are all in black and white, which is unfortunate, but the author includes charts for a number of the early two-color knitting fragments.  The pattern above was found on one of the earliest known pieces of knitting.  (I added the second and third colors.)  Unlike traditional socks, my unnamed socks won’t be knee-highs.  I’ll probably knit a little further on the leg and then start the heel.  Actually, when I reach the end of the almost-finished ball of yarn I’m using then I’m going to start the heel.  I hate changing yarns in the middle of the heel flap.


Hopefully at least one of these socks will be finished before I head off to NM.  I’ve been thinking pretty hard about what knitting to take with me.  I think the vest will stay here because it just takes up too much space.  I want to start on a scarf/wrap using some of the Argosy yarn I got a awhile ago.  But I’m not sure that’s going to be portable enough.  I also have some Socks that Rock that I have a good idea for.  And a hat that I want to get done soon… Oy!  Too many projects and not nearly enough time.  And I have to be careful, because if I run into a problem with a project and want to change something (which happens at least twice a project) I won’t have my stitch dictionaries!  Scary thought.


In blog-related news, you may have noticed that I added a tab at the top of the page titled “Knitting.”  That page has a list of all the knitting patterns and tutorials on the site.  Last night I went through and added thumbnails to the list.  Much prettier.  Now I just have to do that for the other tabs!  Oh, and I added some progress bars for projects in the sidebar, since I’m working on multiple projects at once now.


Oh, and the jury’s still out on the Knit Picks needles… but when I’ve used them some more, I’ll be posting more information about them.  Actually, the needles are good, it’s the cable that I’m undecided about.  More on that later.


Socks? July 10, 2008

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 3:32 pm
Tags: , , , ,

My in-laws took off yesterday, so life is back to “normal” for the time being.  We had a lot of fun and I did get a lot of knitting done.  I worked on two different socks- one that is technically tricky and one that was very simple (for walking around or knitting in the car.)  While my in-laws don’t quite understand my obsession with the craft, they’re very tolerant of it.  I got the leg of the challenging sock completed and finished the heel and gusset of the simpler one. Of course, with all this wonderful knitting time and productivity, something had to go wrong.

I’ve been struck down by the Gauge Demon.  You know the one, big pointy horns, red eyes, and covered in discarded swatches.  I gauged each stitch pattern carefully, measured, multiplied, and then cast on a number of stitches that should work (and has worked in the past.)  But then the Demon saw that I had not tried on the socks after the ribbing section or even halfway down the leg.  And he decided that the sock, that should by all reasonable logic fit perfectly, would suddenly be too small.  Not quite too small to put on… just circulation-stopping small.

I hate that guy.

This is my easier sock.  Louet Gems Pearl in Caribou (I’m trying to use up some Gems from another project that used 8 skeins of various colors… and didn’t really work out) and the lovely Pagewood Farm Denali in Navajo.  This sock went with me everywhere.  See how much work I got done before the Gauge Demon struck? ? *sigh* I messed up the heel all by myself, though. I might reknit this one, I really liked how fast it worked up, but it might be bumped for another project.

My technical sock.  I love this sock. I’ve always wanted to knit one of those beautiful Austrian twisted stitch socks, especially as my grandmother is from Vienna.  I’ve tried a few times before, but I don’t think I ever had the right yarn.  Or I was too impatient.    The sock above is knitted with my other skein from Pagewood Farm.  I love the yarn and the color, but the lighter bits are a little distracting in the pattern.  So the Gauge Demon has actually given me a good excuse to switch yarns.  I’m reknitting the sock (correctly sized this time, take that demon!) in some Knit Picks Essential Mermaid.  The revised sock is knitting up pretty fast!

Speaking of Knit Picks, I bought a nice big box of yarn from them to try out some of their new stuff/colors.  I love Knit Picks.  Essential feels so great on my feet, soft and springy but easy to knit with.  Wool of the Andes is great for felting and comes in so many colors! Especially with the high gas and food prices, the idea of getting two skeins of sock yarn for under $7 is really attractive.  Plus, free shipping is always a nice perk.  I enjoy going to my LYS and splurging on special or beautiful yarns (like the Denali), but a large chunk of my stash is from Knit Picks.  Really, this isn’t an ad for Knit Picks.  I just love their yarn and felt like I needed to justify my Knit Picks stash, lol.

Check out that new superwash/alpaca/nylon sock yarn there in the upper left.  I’m excited to knit that up! (Can you tell I like blues?)