The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Travel Yarns June 17, 2010

Filed under: spinning,Yarn — Cailyn @ 12:11 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Okay, better late than never.  I give you:

Yarns of the East (where “east” means Chapel Hill, NC and Fairfax, VA)

I first visited my sister in Chapel Hill.  While she was at work, I stole borrowed her car and visited a few yarn shops.


The first was Yarns Etc, a very nice (but small) yarn shop.  I bought some lovely roving from the local Three Waters Farm.  The roving is 4 oz of dyed Black Blue Faced Leicester.  It has these dramatic undyed black streaks throughout.  There were two colorways that I liked and my current plan when I can’t decide on a color is to go with the color I normally wouldn’t choose.  So the dark green/brown roving was put back in favor of this lighter, almost pastel roving.  I’m very curious how it will spin up.




Speaking of spinning… I spent some time in a local coffee shop while I was with my sister (after I dropped her off at work, I had to wait for the yarn stores to open, or sometimes I would come back and have some time to spare before I had to pick her up.  I don’t normally spin in these situations, usually I knit, but I decided to spin this time.  I got a yummy drink and spun my black alpaca fiber that I got at Madrona earlier this year.  (I was going to post some of these pictures from my phone to the blog, but the app wasn’t working and I was too lazy to work around it.)


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Yummy drink and “spinner’s leg” covered in fiber bits.


I got a decent amount of spinning done in a few hours there.  I didn’t spin all of this in the coffee shop- some of this was done in the airport during my layover on the way back to Seattle.  I think all the parents in that waiting area should thank me; I think I had every kid, from age two to twelve, sitting on the floor in front of me, just watching my spindle spin.  That was pretty fun.


I’m trying to spin this singles a little thicker than I normally would.  I’ve divided the roving in half so the final yarn will be a 2-ply.  I didn’t sample- I’m a rebel.  (Sample in spinning is like gauge in knitting.)


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I also visited Shuttles Needles & Hooks in Cary, NC (no website).  This was a fun shop, even though I didn’t end up buying anything there.  The shop is in an old house, and by “in” I mean that it takes up the entire house.  Every nook and cranny is filled with yarn or roving or notions.  The second floor has some yarns and a big space filled with looms.  And things that I assume are accessories to looming.  This shop was a bit like a treasure hunt, which was very fun since I wasn’t looking for anything in particular.  The book selection was great and I probably would have gotten a book or two if I weren’t trying to keep my luggage-weight down.


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Look, you can see a stove under the basket there!  Luckily, they only use the bathroom for shop storage so you don’t have to go look for Noro in the john.


One reason that I didn’t buy anything at Shuttles Hooks & Needles is that I love to buy local yarn when I’m on a trip.  You can get Berroco or Cascade or even Dream in Color in shops all over the country now.  Don’t get me wrong, I like those yarns.  But if I’m going to buy yarn somewhere else besides my own LYS, I want it to be special.  I don’t want it to be the same yarns that I see over and over in every shop in the country.  I know that this may seem silly, especially since I can buy any of these “local” yarns online via Etsy or other merchants, but it means a lot to me.  I love it when a yarn store carries yarns that are locally made or dyed.


That’s one of the reasons that I loved Fibre Space in Alexandria so much.  This store was a lot of fun.  I’ll definitely be going back there next time I’m in Virginia.  It’s not huge but it has a great attitude.  I mean, look at their logo!  It has a space ship.  That just hits me in all my weak spots.  And in case that wasn’t enough to win me over (which it was, btw), they carry local yarns and make a point of labeling them so that they’re easy to find!  The staff was friendly, helpful, and chatty, but not pushy about it.  The back room had spindles and rovings and they had awesome shirts for sale with their logo.


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I knew that Blue Ridge Yarns was local, since I had bought some of their yarn in VA before in the shop where I took a wheel lesson.  This time they had a merino/bamboo blend sock yarn and you know that I can’t say no to that.  The other yarn is a fun cotton “homespun” in a really pretty blue.  I have to think of something neat to knit with it.


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I didn’t know that Dragonfly Fibers was based in Virginia.  Once I saw the “local sign,” I jumped on this dramatic Dragonsock colorway.


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And this is a new company that I hadn’t heard about before.  The label was so slick that I thought they were a big, national company until the clerk told me that the Neighborhood Fiber Company was a small dyer who had started in VA before moving to OH.  I liked her yarn so much that I almost bought a wool/silk laceweight- and I don’t even knit lace!  I am in completely in love with this merino/cashmere blend sock yarn.




I’m hoping to use some of my “Virginia yarn” in a project soon.  If you’re ever in northern VA, stop by Fiber Space!  They rock. 


Photos of me courtesy of my mom, who also taught me to knit all those years ago and never minds coming with me to yarn stores.  Thanks for the yarn!


Ennui Gone? February 15, 2010

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 9:16 pm
Tags: , , ,

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.


Side Effects Include January 5, 2010

Filed under: spinning — Cailyn @ 12:12 am
Tags: , ,

Suffer from depression? Try Spinnyng, the new drug from ancient civilizations. Side effects may include sensitive thumbs, spinner’s limp, fuzzy growths known as "supplies," slubs, and increased risk of cashmere which could lead to serious problems with qiviut.

Ask your doctor for more information about Spinnyng!


I’ve been very diligent about taking my Spinnyng every day.  So far, I’ve managed to grow my stash quite a bit, following the plan laid out by my last post.  Let’s see, this pretty braid came from Knit Purl in Portland:


I ran over to Knit Purl while everyone else was finishing their coffee (conveniently located two blocks from the yarn shop).  I might have gotten a few other things while I was there, including some Malabrigo Worsted in Oceanos and Madelinetosh merino in Fjord.  Oh yes, the fiber is Chameleon Colorworks 100% Blue Faced Leicester in the Taos colorway.


I also managed to connive the family into taking me to Weaving Works, under the pretense that it’s an interesting store even if you don’t do fiber crafts.  I’m not sure they bought it.  But I bought a lot of fiber!  I bought 2 oz of dyed merino in a colorway they call “Autumn.”  And they had some dyed merino/bamboo in the most gorgeous blue-grey that I couldn’t resist.  I got some of that (maybe more than “some”), some light blue, and a warm brown in the same fiber which is officially the first fiber that I’ve bought with an actual finished product in mind.  I plan on these fibers becoming a scarf of some sort, although I haven’t really thought about what kind of yarn I want to make yet.  I don’t quite feel confident enough in my spinning abilities to tackle that project yet.


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But I am getting in good practice!  Check out this bobbin:



This is the 2.5 oz of Blue Faced Leicester that I bought in October from Weaving Works.  I dyed it with some food coloring using a hot pour technique.  It’s mostly light green with some spots of white, teal, and brown.  Not my best dye job, but then this isn’t my best spinning either.  This is purely practice spinning, although if I get something useable out of it I’ll be happy.  I just filled up the first bobbin tonight and started a second one.  Spinning is the best part of my day right now.  Very meditative and soothing, no pressure.  I go into my studio, put on an audiobook, and suddenly it’s two hours later.  I’m so addicted to spinning right now that I’ve even started bringing my spindle around town instead of a sock project!


But doing worry, loyal knitters, I have a new scarf pattern on the way.  It uses some very yummy Malabrigo Worsted.


How to Start a Stash January 1, 2010

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 5:07 pm
Tags: , , ,

Or, “I don’t remember buying all this.”


Step 1: Learn a new skill or craft.  Knitting, spinning, crocheting, and home-roasting espresso all qualify.  Optional:  Tell everyone who will listen that you will not be getting a stash; promise to buy supplies as needed and only when the current project is completed.


Step 2: Get just a bit of inexpensive supplies to practice new skill.


Step 3: Buy just enough supplies for first real project.  At the same time, buy some really nice supplies for “when you get good enough” or “as something to look forward to.”


Step 4: Get close to finishing first project and realize that you’re not ready for “the good stuff.”  Buy some middle-level supplies.  On second thought, this store is kind of out of the way, you’d better buy enough supplies for two projects so you don’t have to come back.  Alternately, you need to buy enough supplies to justify the shipping costs.


Step 5: You’re traveling.  Pick up some local souvenir supplies.


Step 6: You’re not ready for the “good stuff” yet and the souvenir supplies aren’t sparking the creative juices.  Neither are the supplies from Step 4.  Alternately, your tastes have evolved and using the supplies from Step 4 is like using sandpaper.  Order some more “advanced” supplies because you won’t be able to get to the local store soon enough.  Then find yourself near the local store; you really should buy some supplies while you’re there to support the local business.


Step 7: Receive some supplies as gifts for birthday or holidays.


Step 8: You’re screwed.


It has begun.  Start trying to find someplace to hide your now rapidly growing stash.




Loot December 28, 2009

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 12:58 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

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




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


And, the biggest gift…


Spinning Wheel 001

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.


On the Road Again November 23, 2009

Filed under: Knitting Projects — Cailyn @ 1:09 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Well, it’s that time of year again.  Time for my yearly trek back to Virginia and gorge myself on tasty turkey, gravy, and apple pie.  Yum yum.  The downside, of course, is that it’s a five-hour flight to said turkey.  Not to mention the time waiting for the flight in the airport and on the tarmac.  So there has been careful planning about projects, as you can imagine.


First up, my plain sock for knitting while talking to family.  This was yarn that I dyed almost a year ago but never used because I thought it was too plain.  Recently, I re-skeined it and over-dyed part of it to make it have stripes.  The purple is the new part.  I also have some hand-dyed light brown for the cuffs, heels, and toes.  No matter how I take pictures of this yarn, the color never turns out right.  Trust me that the purple is more… purple in real life.  I’ve learned my lesson, though, and I’m only bringing enough to make one sock on the trip.  That should guarantee that I finish the sock, right?

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Next, I’m making a scarf for someone for Christmas. Malabrigo Worsted, in Loro barranquero.

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This beautiful yarn will be a pair of cabled socks.  The Yarn Hollow Squish, Teal on Teal.

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This merino/bamboo fiber that I bought at Weaving Works.  Only about an ounce; I just wanted enough to tell how the blend spins.  I dyed it myself with food coloring.  I’ll be spinning it on my new Mt. Baker spindle!

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And one last-minute addition, Shibui Knits Baby Alpaca DK in Spruce.  Project to be determined soon.



I’m not worried that I’m not bringing enough yarn.  I am worried, however, that the projects I have won’t be complicated enough to keep my interest.  After all, the flight back is an hour longer… Maybe I should bring a stitch dictionary just in case…


I win! October 27, 2009

As much as I appreciate Kif’s guest post the other day while I was… indisposed, it was very hard wrestling the laptop back from him.




Now that I have it back (I think I will pay for this ousting with a midnight hair-ball) I would like to share this with you:


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That’s right, an entire completed Central Park Hoodie back!  With short-row shoulder shaping, every cable turned the right way, the right size and everything. I win! (…but I really shouldn’t say that in print until I’ve finished it, lest I anger the knitting gods again.)  I’m on to the left front now, just finished the ribbing for it.


In other news, I haven’t told you about my fun trip to Weaving Works.  I went there with my mom while she was visiting.  I hadn’t been there before, even though I’ve lived in the Seattle area for 6 years!  I don’t have any pictures of the inside, sadly, but I can describe it for you!


When you come inside, there’s a massive wall and shelves full of yarn like Noro, Lana Grossa, and Sirdar.  There’s a great selection.  And then there’s the back third of the store.  Fiber and thread, in bulk.  Undyed cotton, nylon, wool, bamboo, rayon and more in all different weights and then there’s the dyed selection of those threads!  And the fiber!  Silk, wool of different breeds, yak, mohair, hemp, even milk and Firestar; it’s enough to drive a spinner mad.  There’s pre-dyed wool for felting and spinning and tons of undyed/natural fiber for dying yourself.  Silk in hankies and in cocoons if you want to do the reeling.  And some blends of fibers that are just great.  Sadly, not even the prices helped me decide- all the fiber is really well priced!  After a lot of indecision and burying my hands in bins of fiber, I decided on a few things.

102_4753 About an ounce of 80% merino, 20% bamboo blend, undyed.  This one’s just for experimenting.  I love knitting with wool/bamboo blends so I’d like to see how it spins.
102_4752 2.5 ounces of pure, undyed Blue-Faced Leicester top.  It’s soooo soft.  I thought I’d dye it myself, something fun.  Of course now I can’t think of a good color combination; blue or purple or brown?  And I can’t decide if I want there to be subtle gradations, stripes, or just a gentle switching of shades as I spin.  Any ideas?
102_4751 About 2 ounces of a pre-dyed 70% merino/30% silk blend.  I can’t stop petting it, it’s so luscious!  I even braided the hank so that it looks all pretty in the photo (notice I didn’t do that for the others!)  They had a small sample spun up at the store and it was beautiful.  This is what I’m going to spin as soon as I finish the CPH.  And what am I going to spin it on, you ask?
102_4756102_4755 My brand new, top-whorl spindle from Cascade Spindle Co.  I love their spindles and they’re all inspired by mountains in the Cascades!  This one is Mt. Baker, which is north of me, and we went skiing there a few years back.   


The spindles are in the last part of the shop, with the spinning wheels, extra bobbins, niddy-noddys, and knitting needles.  Oh, and the books!!  So many shelves of books about anything to do with fiber.  This is my new favorite store.  It’s a good thing it’s not too close, otherwise I’d be overrun with fiber in no time!