The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Java January 16, 2011

Filed under: patterns — Cailyn @ 9:53 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I can’t tell you how happy I am.  After many tries, I finally made it into Knitty with my socks, Java!



I hinted at these socks back in March of 2010.  They were designed during one of my “ribbing periods.”  That’s a (short) length of time where I am obsessed with ribbing.  I think that it’s the bee’s knees.  I think that ribbing is misunderstood.  I think that it will change the face of knitting as we know it.  This usually passes when I remember that, in general, I don’t enjoy actually knitting ribbing.  But, often after a complicated project, I crave the predictability of a ribbed pattern.  Lucky for these socks, the ribbing period coincided with a desire to design men’s socks.  I thought to myself, “What’s more classic than a ribbed dress sock?”


Java Socks 01  IMG_2351


Then the other, bitter part of me said (in a voice like Tim Gunn), “Classic means it’s been done to death.”

With that less-than-helpful advice in my head, I tried to find a balance between interesting and “classic.”  When I was first dating Lowell, he described his criteria for clothes to me.  He told me that colors and bold patterns mattered less than the close-up textures- the small details that weren’t obvious from a distance.  I thought about that idea while I worked on these socks.  I wanted to stick with the spirit of a plain dress sock but to play around with the details.  So these socks have a little caffeinated wiggle every other rib.  From a distance the wiggles look like regular k2 ribs, but the texture is great up close.  Fun to knit, too.  And the gusset isn’t just patterned- the decreases aren’t normal either.  Also, I kept the pattern going down the toes because, well, why not?  Plain toes are no fun!




Java Socks in NC 2010-11-28 014 (1024x768)  Java Socks in NC 2010-11-28 036 (1024x768)


I had plenty of fun knitting Java, which is good, because I knit it twice!  Which I suppose is really four times, since there are two socks in each pair.  The men’s pair is made with String Theory Blue Stocking.  I loved working with that yarn.  It has great stitch definition (always a priority for me) and is still soft and lofty.  They’re modeled by Lowell in our kitchen, who was a really good sport about the photo shoot.  The women’s pair is made with Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock which is always a great sock yarn.  The women’s size is modeled by my sister Katie and taken at 3 Cups in Chapel Hill, NC.  They were really nice to let us photograph there (and they only gave us a few funny looks).  Good coffee, too!


Java Socks in NC 2010-11-28 003 (800x1024)


I am over the moon about this.  I think Java is a great pattern and I hope everyone else enjoys it as much as I did.


Java Socks in NC 2010-11-28 012 (1024x768)  Java Socks in NC 2010-11-28 017 (1024x768) 


Java Socks 05  IMG_2366


If you’ve just hopped over from Knitty and haven’t been here before, welcome!  Check out the blue menu (top right) for illustrated lists of projects, tutorials, and patterns; the green sidebars have tags and archives, etc.  Enjoy!


Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go drool over the rest of this issue!


Don’t be a Heel January 13, 2011

Filed under: Knitting Projects — Cailyn @ 5:02 pm
Tags: ,

Since I’m trying to catch up on my knitting projects and I don’t want to bore the non-spinners with a second spinning post in a row, here’s some of my favorite links about sock heels!


A Heel and Toe for Every Purpose (pdf)  An overview of some commonly used heels and toes.  I particularly like the “round/French heel” and use that in almost all my sock patterns.


Eclectic Sock Heel – A combination flap and short row heel.  Fun to knit and it looks really cool!  I used this heel on one of my first patterns, the Grand Teton socks.


Toe-Up Gusseted Heel – This toe-up heel places the flap along the bottom of the foot and the gusset decreases move up the ankle.  I used this heel on my first sock pattern, the Shenandoah socks, although it’s hard to tell in black.


Toe-Up Heel Flap – A toe-up gusseted heel with the “flap” on the back of the heel and a “gusset” made with increases on the foot.  Widdershins uses this type of heel.


Short Row Heel – A slightly different way to do a short row heel with no wraps.  Just found this one- I have to try it next time I do a short row heel!


The Universal Language November 16, 2010

Filed under: Knitting Projects,Musings — Cailyn @ 3:29 pm
Tags: , , ,

Ok, my marathon of knitting that I referred to before is mostly over.  But it paid off, because I’ll soon have another pattern up on Knit Picks!  More details on that when it’s published.


You may be wondering why I haven’t written anything about my big trip to Russia.  Did something really embarrassing happen there?  Did we unleash an ancient evil sleeping in Lake Baikal and have to trick the demons into matryoshka doll traps, then swear never to tell anyone what had happened lest someone try to free the demons to gain ultimate power? 


No, not really.


I’ve been thinking about writing a “personal story” for one of the fiber publications about my trip.  I haven’t completely decided what will go into that essay or even if I will try to publish it, but I didn’t want it to look like I had just cribbed the essay from a blog post.  So I haven’t written anything about the trip here yet.  I think I can at least narrow down what won’t be in the essay at all- I started an outline of the knitting/fiber parts of the trip and realized that there was just too much there for a short essay.  You’ll hear all about it sooner or later, just that some parts may be much later.


As you may know, if you’ve followed this blog for a while, I am a stitch dictionary addict.  All it takes is one motif that I haven’t seen to make me buy the whole book.  It might be a sickness, really.  I have books in English, French, German, Japanese, and now: Russian.


When we set out for Russia, I wanted to bring home two souvenirs: a Russian knitting book and a spindle (that story will be later).  All I needed was a good bookstore to find a knitting book, I knew.  I was sure that I could find the craft section of the store and from there find the knitting subsection.  I was right, although it took until almost the end of the trip to get to a big bookstore that wasn’t just Pushkin’s fairy tales or tourist guidebooks.  In St. Petersburg, we went to Dom Knigi, or House of Books, which is located in the old Singer Sewing Machine Company building; you can see the old Singer logo on top.  This place was great- I felt just as comfortable there, despite the different language and alphabet, as I do in any bookstore in the US.  Bookstores and libraries are my second home; I could have spent hours there.




Dom Knigi has three floors.  I did a quick walkthrough of each floor, through the Russian teen-fiction and the self-help books and the multi-language souvenir section.  I didn’t see a craft section and honestly, I got a little worried despite my confidence about bookstores.  Maybe there wasn’t a craft section- But then I found it, tucked between the travel and cooking shelves.  The end cap with pictures of embroidery and crochet was a dead give-away.  I started by pulling books off the shelf at random (I put them back!) to find the knitting section.  It started after sewing and ended at crochet; sound familiar?  I have to apologize for not having a picture of the shelf in question… I was determined to find the perfect book before I had to meet Lowell at the entrance (I also had to find the bathroom in that time!)


“But, Cailyn!” I hear you interrupting.  “Can you even read Russian knitting patterns?”


Don’t interrupt!  I’m getting to that part.


I have rules about foreign language books.  1, it can’t be just a book of sweater or hat patterns; those require actual reading.  That usually knocks out most of the books on the shelf.  It also can’t be a “learn to knit” book, which takes care of another ten books or so.  2, it has to have charts.  Bam, there goes half of the remaining books.  I couldn’t actually read the spines of the books, so I had to pull each book off the shelf and look through it to see what it was.  There were some interesting sweaters (think 1980’s) and lots of “learn to knit” books.  I found some books with some charts but mostly patterns (and not very stylish ones at that).  But finally, I found my book. 




It’s a small, thick book, about 5” by 8” but 2” thick.  I have no idea what the title is, but it’s full of knit/purl, lace, cable, and colorwork stitches.  There are a few full-fledged patterns at the back, but mostly it’s a stitch dictionary.  And I don’t even need to read Cyrillic to enjoy this book.


Behold, the wonder of The Chart! (You can behold it bigger if you click on the thumbnail.)

SCN_0003   SCN_0004


It’s pretty obvious which stitches are knit, purl, a yarn over, or a decrease.  There are a few symbols that I haven’t deciphered yet in the slip stitch section, but a little trial and error will fix that.  You can bet that my next few patterns will incorporate something from this book.  I mean, look at those cute little elephants!


Next time you’re in a foreign country, I highly recommend stopping by a bookstore and acquiring yourself a stitch dictionary!  Just make sure it has charts.




Short and Sweet November 4, 2010

Filed under: Knitting Projects,Musings — Cailyn @ 2:11 pm
Tags: , ,

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.


Who’s Really Sane? November 1, 2010

Filed under: Knitting Projects,Musings — Cailyn @ 4:06 pm
Tags: , , ,

Early Saturday morning, Lowell and I headed downtown.  We grabbed some coffee and piroshkies from Pike Place Market.  Then, wrapped up against the rain and cold, we stood around for a half an hour at West Lake Center.


Why?  Because we’re very punctual (read: “unreasonably worried about parking”) people.  We wanted to get a good spot at the Seattle satellite Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.  We did indeed get a good spot.  The weather even started out nice enough for me to think that the long underwear had been overkill.  (I was soon glad I had it.)  I had come prepared to the rally- no signs, no flag pin, but I did have a bag full of yarn!




It wasn’t too cold- until the rain started.  As the first comedian performing, David Crowe, said, “A rally at 9 am, outside, in Seattle, in October?  What’s sane about that?”  That’s when the long underwear seemed like a really good idea.  I put on my Snowflake Gloves  and continued to knit.  I was pretty surprised that I didn’t see anyone else with some knitting… but it was pretty cold and wet, so maybe that weeded out the mostly-sane among us.


IMAG0186 - Copy 

(Of course, I can’t actually show you what I was working on.  You know the drill.  Meet my new scarf design- I call it Blurple.)


Things got more interesting when we were interviewed by one of the local TV stations, Q13.  Now, usually I have a pretty good “I’m friendly, but not really interested in conversation” vibe going on when I’m out and about.  I’m a shy person most of the time.  But that morning I had a mini American flag stuck in my ponytail, I was grooving to the music, and I was knitting in the middle of the rain.  What’s sane about that?  The reporter pointed the camera and mike at me first, so I babbled something then threw the next question over to Lowell, who is normally better at these sorts of things.  Apparently I speak more in soundbites, though, because she quickly thrust the camera back at me and asked me more questions.  Luckily, after the first discombobulated answer, I was at least somewhat more composed for the follow-ups.  You can’t see it in the video, but I was knitting the whole time I was being interviewed.  Lowell is pretty sure that it was the knitting that made her come over, even though she didn’t ask about it, because later on, she snuck up behind me and filmed me knitting over my shoulder for about four minutes.  Lowell nicely informed me of that when she was done.  Sadly, none of the knitting made it into the final footage (then again, neither did my babbling), but I feel like I’ve tied this bit of fame back to the fiber arts enough to put it on the blog.,0,2684804.story

You can hear my silly soundbite at 0:36, but I appear in a crowd pan around the 20 second mark too. (I have to apologize, the video embed isn’t working from the Q13 website, so you’ll have to click on the link to see my stupidity! –edited 11/2)


Giant head of Cailyn says, “Vote!”

Giant head of Cailyn says, “Vote!”


The funny part was that after the Q13 interview, we were approached by the “man on the street” interviewer.  That one was live on the jumbo-tron.  Lowell answered more than I did that time, but I did get to say something on the jumbo-tron.  I’m not sure that it’s an achievement.  Good thing that one hasn’t made it onto the internet yet!  I think the knitting caught his eye too.  Apparently the lesson is, if you don’t want to be interviewed on TV or for the jumbo-tron, knit discreetly.


Ok, enough embarrassment.  For now.


A Skein of Geese July 22, 2010

Filed under: patterns — Cailyn @ 11:49 am
Tags: , ,

Has anyone seen my copy of Knitting from the Top Down?


No?  Well then, I guess I should tell you about these socks instead.  (This is about 3 weeks overdue- I blame the nice weather outside.)


Consummate V 07


They’re called A Skein of Geese.  Did you know that a flock of geese in flight is called a skein?  Me neither.  Like Danu, these socks were designed last summer but didn’t find a home until recently.  The pattern is up for sale at the Sanguine Gryphon (Gryphon is the one who chose the name for the pattern- it’s genius and I’m very jealous that I didn’t think of it first).   [Edit 6/2012: The Sanguine Gryphon has closed down.  The pattern is available for purchase on Ravelry; you do not have to have a Ravelry account to buy it.]


Consummate V 04   Consummate V 02


I had been calling them “Consummate V’s,” a reference to Strongbad’s (a web cartoon) instructions on how to draw the dragon Trogdor.  You can see the cartoon here.  The knit/purl chevron pattern reminded me of the “scales” on Trogdor.  But that name/reference is kind of obscure and the chevrons look like geese in flight as much as they do poorly drawn dragon scales.


Lowell Socks 011     


The socks, whatever their name, were designed for Lowell.  They are man-approved!  The manly chevrons flow out of the ribbing and continue uninterrupted down the foot to the toe.  Yes, these socks feature a patterned toe.  The V’s are separated by moss stitch panels, which start at the top of the sock, for an overall textured look.  The entire sock is done with just knits and purls, which is unusual for me; that’s why I had to add in a patterned toe and heel flap.


Lowell Socks 013   Consummate V 10


Yes, the heel is patterned too.  The heel is worked over slightly more than half of the leg stitches and the chevron/moss stitch pattern is maintained throughout the heel flap. The heel may look a little baggy while being knit but Lowell says that it fits great.  Heel stitch (sl 1, k1 across) compresses the fabric vertically, so that it takes more rows to reach the standard two inch heel flap than it would in stockinette stitch.  Since this is essentially a stockinette heel, even though there is patterning, there will be fewer rows on the heel flap and fewer stitches to pick up for the gusset than there would be with a heel stitch flap.  I think I only picked up twelve stitches on each side for these socks!


Consummate V 06   Consummate V 08


They’re knit in Sanguine Gryphon’s Kypria, which I love.  You know that I’m a sucker for a wool/bamboo sock yarn.  Kypria is 70% superwash merino/20% bamboo/10% nylon and it lived up to my hopes.  Soft, with good “squish” (also known as loft but that rhymes), lovely stitch definition, a bit of rayon shine, and no splitting.  I’m a big fan of yarns that are “semisolid” more than variegated; I like my yarns to have just a little variation for interest but not so much that it obscures the stitch pattern.  That was what attracted me to Gryphon’s yarns in the first place.  The semi-solid colors are impossible for me to resist.  The socks above are the colorway “Mortal Marriage” and the ones below, photos by the Sanguine Gryphon, are in “Virtuous Beauty.”


man socks1sm   man socks2sm


Danu July 7, 2010

Filed under: patterns — Cailyn @ 1:20 pm
Tags: , , ,

Last summer, I dug myself out of a dangerous twisted stitch sock addiction by designing a pair of socks.  (It may seem like an odd cure, but I’ve found it to be effective.)  Since Alpine socks take so much concentration, I wanted these new socks to be kind of mindless but not boring.  Interesting, but easy.  What I came up with was…


Danu, a classy cable-rib sock with easy cables and moss stitch accents.


Danu 1


These socks were inspired by stories of the Tuatha Dé Dannan (“people of the goddess Danu”) who ruled Ireland until they were driven to the Otherworld by the Gaelic Celts. Worked top-down, the socks feature bold cables, for the warriors, and subtle moss stitch columns, for the tricksters.  At the heel, two of the cables split and continue down the side of the foot, merging the patterned instep with the plain sole. The gusset decreases are placed at the bottom of the heel flap instead of the top so that the side cables can use the gusset stitches in their twists. With an easy-to-memorize pattern and slightly unusual construction, these socks may even have some of the magic of the Tuatha Dé Dannan still in them.

102_4474    Danu 3


At the time I designed these, I was reading a book by Juliet Marillier whose writing I adore.  She specializes in historical fiction with a healthy dose of ancient folklore/fantasy.  Reading a story set just after the Tuatha Dé Dannan’s withdrawal to the Otherworld might have influenced the name of the pattern.  Maybe.


Danu 2    Danu 4


Danu was picked up by Yarn Forward for publication last fall and I’m happy to announce that the socks have finally found their home in issue #26!  (On newsstands now!) 




I’m pretty excited that Danu is one of the pictured patterns in the table of contents.  The contract Yarn Forward has with their photographer doesn’t allow for third-parties to post their pictures, so you’ll have to look at the magazine to see it and the other great photos.    The ones above are pictures that I took at a stream near my house for the submission.  My camera doesn’t have a remote, so these were taken (like the Arthurian Anklets) by setting the self-timer and dashing into a pose while trying not to get any detritus on the socks.  Actually, these were taken just down the path from the pictures of the Anklets.  That park is wonderful for “wild” sock pictures.  When they send the socks back, I’ll take some more (read: better) photos with Lowell.