The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Lunaria December 7, 2010

Filed under: patterns — Cailyn @ 10:23 pm
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I love designing, but sometimes I get stuck in an item rut.  You know, sock after sock pattern or just too many mittens in a row.  I love it when people give me ideas of items to design, especially if it’s a type of item that I’ve never made before, like leg warmers or a shawl.  Last Thanksgiving, my aunt was admiring my Snowflake Gloves and Wintergreen Gloves, which I had given to my sister.  My aunt said that she loved fingerless gloves for walking the dog but what she really needed was a hooded scarf, maybe with pockets to put the gloves in.  I jumped at the idea- a matching pair of fingerless gloves and a hooded scarf.


And it only took me one year to complete!


I finished the design for the gloves fairly quickly; per request, the colors were rich purples and cheery pinks.  The actual execution of the design took a lot longer.  Deadlines kept popping up and the gloves got pushed aside time and again.  I got one finished but then didn’t finish the second until two months later!  The scarf design went slower.  I wanted the same color work pattern from the gloves, but I detest knitting back and forth with two yarns.  I knew I’d never get it done if I did it that way.  On the other hand, I didn’t want to knit the entire scarf in fingering yarn in the round- that could take forever!  I eventually settled on working the color work in the round for the pockets and keeping the rest of the scarf in a solid color with a cushy stitch pattern.  What resulted is a hooded, pocketed scarf with no sewing or flat stranded knitting required.  So, exactly one year after I took on the glove and scarf project, I finished and presented them to my (very patient) aunt.  She loved them!


Lunaria is now up for sale at Knit Picks as a combined pattern set.  Both use seven colors of Palette yarn.  The scarf is worked with a double strand of yarn throughout, so it works up faster.




The hooded scarf has two color work pockets and a dense slip stitch rib pattern for the main body. The slip stitch pattern is completely reversible, as are the pockets. The whole scarf, including the pockets, is worked with the yarn held doubled. The two halves of the scarf are made, then the hood is cast on between them and the whole hood is worked together with the scarf halves to the end. A three-needle bind off neatly avoids having to sew the hood together.




The gloves are worked with a single strand.  They feature a long ribbed cuff, accented with a few stripes, and a traditional side thumb gusset, increased every third row.


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The pair of projects is named after the flower the Annual Honesty , or Lunaria annua, which has four petals ranging from white to deep purple when in bloom. The seeds are papery, translucent sliver discs in the winter, giving it its other common name in America, “Silver Dollars.”





Short and Sweet November 4, 2010

Filed under: Knitting Projects,Musings — Cailyn @ 2:11 pm
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If you get the Knit Picks catalog, something might have caught your eye in the last one.


KnitPicks catalog


Yup, that’s Sitka in the corner, being featured as a Palette pattern.


knitpicks catalog 2


Pretty cool.  I’m very happy with the way that the Independent Designer’s Program (or IDP) has been going.  Right now, I’m knitting my fingers to the bone on a project for them.  It really should have been done months ago, but it kept being pushed aside for deadlier deadlines.  I’m so close to being done (minus the weaving in ends and actually photographing it, of course.)  Yes, it’s the project I mentioned in my last post, going under the pseudonym Blurple to protect the innocent.  It’s much bigger now than it was then, especially considering that the eight inches that got done at the rally had to be ripped out completely.


I also got a Twitter account today, not that I’m procrastinating or anything.  It’s not that I don’t want to go back to the 12 inches I have left to knit and 40,052 ends to weave in, hopefully by the end of the night.  No, I just thought that it was time.  To procrastinate—I mean, to join the Tweety-craze.  Remember, I’m not procrastinating.


I think it’s pretty good that I’ve made it this far in my knitting marathon without going insane.  At least, the voices in my head tell me I haven’t gone insane. 


Though they are telling me that my spinning wheel looks lonely.


Sitka June 10, 2010

Filed under: patterns — Cailyn @ 11:24 pm
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Before I tell you all about the lovely yarns I got in Virginia and North Carolina, I have some good news to share!


I’d like to introduce you to Sitka.



These socks take their name and inspiration from the Sitka spruce, a beautiful northwestern evergreen tree. They are worked from the top-down with a slip-stitch heel flap. The interesting part of these socks is the two bands of color work, one around the leg and one around the ball of the foot.



Between these bands, the sock is mostly stockinette with a simple cable “clock” on each side. A clock is a stitch pattern that travels down the side of the leg and splits at the heel, like the hands of a clock.



Clocks were a popular design element in early socks and one of my favorite techniques. They add interest but don’t slow things down. Because the clock pattern in these socks is 9 stitches wide, the front of the sock has fewer stockinette stitches than the back. This allows the line of purls between the cables to continue down the foot uninterrupted.


Sitka is similar to Socks, circa 2008.  I love the look of a sock with a bit of color on top.  But Sitka has an extra band of color work at the toe, thrown in for free.  It also has simpler cables and a plain heel flap.  I saw the top band in a stitch dictionary (in very different colors) and knew that I had to design a sock using it.  The rest of the sock grew from that band.  The colors were the last thing to be figured out in this pattern- with a near frogging of the first sock when I had second thoughts!  However, the original colors I chose prevailed.



Sitka is for sale at Knit Picks as a PDF download.  You can buy the pattern by itself for $1.99 or as a kit.  I love their new Independent Designer Program and have had a great experience with the publication process.  I get all the proceeds from the pattern sales (they keep the yarn profits, obviously) and I keep the rights to the pattern.  I take care of all the errata and corrections, so if you have any questions about the pattern, please contact me at dailyskein (at) or on Ravelry as CailynDragon.  If you’ve read any of the other entries on this blog, you probably know that all my “go-to” yarns are from Knit Picks.  The open invitation to submit patterns to them is something I’m really enjoying.  I have another pattern in the works for them… and probably a whole bunch more, too!



These photos were taken in the forest behind my house early one spring morning.  Lowell took this great shot of the sun through the trees.




One of our neighbors had taken a No Parking sign from the street and put it behind their house; I guess as a protest for the high number of them in our cul de sac?  They’ve moved now, so we’ll never know.  Made us laugh, though!  They hated those No Parking signs.




This is the tree I’m standing on.  See, we found out that the roots were rotting away and it might fall onto our house.  The top half of the tree got cut off and the rest left as a snag.  The top half was left in the forest and is now a great place for photos!  And wildlife too, since I guess the world doesn’t revolve around my sock-photo needs.


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Once upon a time October 8, 2009

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 3:58 pm
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Once upon a time there was a knitter.  She lived in a pleasant land with a slight nip in the air.  This got the knitter to thinking.  She really needed a light jacket to keep out the chill but not be too warm.  Her husband had just gotten a very nice leather jacket to fit that niche for himself.  The knitter wanted something nice too.  She searched high and low for a suitable jacket but none of the shops had what she wanted.  The knitter was very sad, thinking that her old ratty fleece jacket that she didn’t like was going to have to last one more year.


Then a good fairy appeared and bonked the knitter on the head with a very sharp wand (the part of the fairy in tonight’s performance will be played by a cabinet door.)  The fairy reminded the knitter that she had yarn, needles, and more than a little intelligence to make her own jacket.


The knitter thought that the fairy was very smart.  The knitter carefully ignored the unworn vest in her closet.  She didn’t like vests and never had.  No amount of “science” could convince her that vests can keep your arms warm by keeping your core warm.  Nope, she vehemently denied ever having thought that she would wear such a thing.  She had no idea why she would have knit that in the first place.


Having conveniently forgotten about the vest, she had also forgotten about the things she learned while knitting it.  Like the fact that she dislikes knitting things flat.  That she hates seaming.  And that the witchcraft of attaching sleeves was vaguely terrifying.  She also worked very hard not to remember the seamless cardigan that she had started earlier in the year.  She was pretty sure that the cardigan had been lost at sea, even though it had never been to sea.  It was tragic, really, she’d never quite gotten over the loss.


Maybe it was the bonk on the head, but the knitter thought that she could probably finish the knitted jacket before the weather turned too cold to wear it.  It wouldn’t take her that long to knit a worsted-weight jacket, especially if she shoved aside all the other things she was working on, including her spinning, and ignored the fact that Christmas (and a December 1st deadline for publications) was in two and a half months.


The knitter happily repressed any and all logical objections from her aforementioned intelligence and went and bought the pattern for the Central Park Hoodie.  Then she bought some Wool of the Andes, because she thinks that it’s generally nicer against the skin than Cascade 220.  She decided against superwash since a jacket needs less washing than a sweater or socks.  She is even thinking about knitting this using lever knitting, hoping that this will make things faster, even though her lever knitting still isn’t faster than her regular knitting.  This, of course, will require new needles.


And they all lived happily ever after.


Harmony Needle Review October 13, 2008

Filed under: Reviews — Cailyn @ 4:13 pm
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Recently, I ordered some Harmony DPNs and circs from Knit Picks.  I know that many people think these needles are beautiful, but I thought they really weren’t my style.  I like the simple, classic look of bamboo or birch needles.  The multi-colored Harmony needles didn’t look as good to me.  My friend Kady had some though and when I saw them in person, I really liked them.  I’m still not over the moon about the colors, but I don’t really notice them as I knit.  And the smaller needles that I use for socks are mostly one color anyway.  I thought I’d put my thoughts about the needles into an easy to read review format for anyone else who’s still on the fence about them.



Harmony Wood Needles

At a Glance

  • The Good: Smooth surface; stitches slide quickly across needles without being too slippery.  Sharp tips.  Strong, durable material.  Lightweight.  Small sizes come in 6″ length, larger sizes in 8″.  Comparably priced to other wood needles.  Flexible cable in multiple lengths for Magic Loop or circular knitting.
  • The Bad: Multi-color look can be off-putting.  Can feel more like plastic than wood.  Can feel sticky when too warm.  Only available through Knit Picks.


The Review

The Harmony needles are made of laminated birch.  As far as I can tell, laminated birch is mostly used for flooring and furniture, meaning that it’s strong and long-lasting.  Knit Picks says that this material allows them to make the points sharper on smaller sizes without sacrificing strength.  As I said above, the colors of the Harmony needles kept me from buying them for a long time, but I don’t really notice the colors anymore.  And, really, they’re usually covered in stitches of pretty yarn.


Harmony DPNs are divided into two sizes, 6″ and 8″.  Sizes 0 (2mm) -3 (3.25mm) are 6″ and sizes over 3  are 8″.  The ones in the pictures are size 1 (2.25mm).  Sizes are not written on the needles as is often the case with bamboo needles, but the writing/impression usually wears off my needles anyway.  I’d love some 5″ DPNs in the smaller sizes, which are my favorite for socks and glove fingers, but the 6″ is close enough.  The small sizes cost $6.79 for 6 needles, instead of the normal 5, and the large sizes range from $6.99-$9.99 for the normal 5 needles.  Of course, you can only order Harmony needles through Knit Picks whereas other wood needles you can buy through any supplier.  The Harmonies are slightly cheaper than bamboo needles from my favorite yarn shops.


Wooden needles are so light that gauging the difference in weight between brands is nearly impossible without a well-calibrated scale.  The Harmony needles feel as light as my Takumis or KAs.  Knit Picks advertises these needles as “unusually durable” and I believe them.  These needles are strong and sharp.  Sometimes when executing a tricky knitting move, I worry about my bamboo needles breaking, although it’s never happened.  I haven’t worried about the Harmonies- they just feel more stable.


The surface of the Harmony needles is as smooth as can be.  They aren’t as slippery as metal needles, but slicker than normal wood needles.  They slide through stitches like butter, especially when I was knitting with Essential.  They still retain a nice gentle “grip,” though, so stitches don’t fall off needles.  I don’t know if it’s the material, the way the wood is cut, or the finishing technique, but these needles seem incapable of splintering.  I’ve had that happen at the tip of some of my bamboo needles, but these are incredibly smooth.  So smooth that they initially feel like plastic when I pick them up.  Once they warm up they have a more wood-like feel to them.  However, when my hands get really warm, the needles feel kind of sticky.  The stitches don’t slide very well which isn’t as much of a problem with bamboo needles (although knitting with any needles when things get too warm can be annoying).


100_3900    100_3898


The best part of these needles is the tip.  The Harmony needles, even in small sizes, are just as sharp as metal needles.  They’re great for lace and cables.  K2togs and even k3togs are a breeze.  I used my KA bamboo circs to knit my Danube socks and had trouble with the blunt points trying to do the twisted stitches.  The Harmonies knit up a swatch of twisted stitches like a dream.  I cannot stress how great the points on these needles are.  (Show in the first picture, from top to bottom: KA, Takumi, Harmony; shown in the second picture, from top to bottom: KA, Harmony, Takumi.)


A quick word about the fixed and interchangeable Harmony needles.  The interchangeable needles are pretty much the same as the DPNs, just with a smooth join to connect to a cable.  The fixed circulars use the same cable as the interchangeable needles, even for the smaller sizes.  Unlike other wooden circ manufacturers, Knit Picks offers their fixed circular Harmony needles in lengths up to 47″ for sizes under 3.  In other words, Harmony fixed circulars are long enough for the Magic Loop.  Their cable is very flexible; I’d say it’s comparable to the Addi Turbo cable.  The join is very smooth.  I’ve been knitting my socks with 2 Harmony circs and they’ve been great, although I miss the swivel join of the KAs.


The Harmony needles are a great value, especially for sock knitters who get 6 DPNs instead of 5.  The needles are slick, smooth and lightweight.  They still retain the slight grip of a wooden needle, but are faster than most.  The needles can feel sticky if the knitter’s hands are too warm, though, and sometimes the needles feel more like plastic than wood.  The circulars have a flexible cable available in a wide range of lengths.  The overwhelming advantage of these needles is their sharp point, which makes knitting lace and twisted stitches as easy as can be.  If metal needles are too slick for you and wooden needles are too dull, these are the right needles for you!