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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Victory is Mine! May 4, 2010

Filed under: Knitting Projects — Cailyn @ 1:49 pm
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You can dye Tencel with acid dyes.

 

I am a happy person.

 

I got my sample of Valley Yarn’s Colrain (50% merino/50% Tencel) last week.  I swatched it first to see how I liked knitting with it.  It was love at first knit; so much love that I made an 8” swatch.  That right there is an early warning sign of a dangerous yarn affair.  Then I washed and blocked the swatch.  When the blocking produced excellent results, I hung it up to see about the dreaded stretch.  After 36 hours clipped to a hanger, subjected to the horrors of gravity, the swatch had grown… (dramatic drumroll please)… 0.00”.  This, of course, doesn’t mean that it won’t stretch into a circus tent when worn, but chances are good that it won’t grow to full big-top size.  Maybe just one of the smaller circus tents, if at all.

 

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The swatching having been such a success, I wound some of the remaining skein for dying.  I soaked the yarn in a vinegar/water mix overnight.  Don’t ask me how much vinegar- I have a bad habit of not measuring when dyeing or cooking.  I used the good acid dye, Jacquard Teal, instead of food coloring.  Food coloring works great, but if I’m going to make a whole sweater then a few dollars for a quality dye doesn’t seem that silly.  I added a little more vinegar to the dye bath while I was bringing it to a boil.  I’m not sure if that helped, since I’m sure the fibers were as “open” as they were going to get from the overnight soak, but I don’t think extra vinegar actually hurts anything, so what the heck.

 

Again, I never measure, so I have no idea how much dye I put in.  I dunked the whole mini-skein in, waited a few minutes, then pulled some out, wrapping it around a wooden spoon to keep it out of the dye.  Every so often, I’d pull some more out.  When the dye was exhausted (the water was clear), I rinsed the yarn, happy to see that there was no real bleeding.  The color wasn’t quite what I wanted, so I repeated the process.  This time, I left each section of yarn in longer.  The last bit was in for almost half an hour before I decided I liked it.  Rinsing again had no bleeding and then it was off to the dryer.

 

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Beautiful, no?  This is after it was re-skeined to a smaller, prettier skein for photos.

 

Wait until you see this:

 

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My heart be still.  The order for three 250-gram hanks is already being processed by WEBS.

 

And as an added bonus, it doesn’t even pill that badly!  I beat up the swatch above for a few days.  And while there is some pilling, it’s less than my CPH, so that’s good enough for me!  Now I just have to find time to actually knit the February Lady Sweater.

 

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Also, why is it hailing outside?  Is it May or isn’t it?!

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Searching… April 22, 2010

Filed under: Knitting Projects — Cailyn @ 11:51 am
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I have finished the Internet.  I have wandered far and wide in search of something and have not found it, so I must have finished the Internet.  (The zebra did it.)  And despite Rule 34, I never ran across some merino getting it on with a bit of cotton.

 

Remember that cardigan that I was kind of thinking about making?  The one that the last two posts have been about?  Well, I have come to my senses.  Somewhat.

 

I have accepted the reality that I will not be able to make the February Lady by the time I leave for VA.  (First, I spent a great deal of time trying to convince the laws of time and space that they really didn’t need to apply to me.  After all, they have so many other things to do, why worry about one little knitter?  Shockingly, they didn’t go for it.)  But the bright side to that realization is that I am no longer confined by the summer heat of VA in my yarn choice.  Given that it may take me months to finally find the time to start this project, I can choose whatever yarn I want.  Well, so long as it’s not too expensive.  I decided pretty fast that I wanted a wool/Tencel or wool/bamboo yarn, dyed semi-solid.  I am addicted to the shine that the rayon/wood fibers bring to the party.  I think this cardigan will look great with that shine.  Also I like semi-solids way better than solids.  I’m just crazy that way.

 

So what was I looking for that I couldn’t find on the whole World Wide Web?

 

Semi-solid or handpainted merino/Tencel or bamboo worsted weight yarn that won’t break the bank in sweater-quantity.  Doesn’t exist.  Plenty of gorgeous fingering weight yarns in those blends.  A few solid-colored DKs.  And an even smaller number of solid worsteds.  A few 100% bamboo yarns that looked interesting.  But no worsted blends that fit my criteria.

 

What I wanted was something like this, in worsted weight:

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(MightySock in Iris from Abstract Fibers)

or this:

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(Merino Tencel from Wolf Creek Wools)

 

I used the Wolf Creek one to knit a last-minute shrug for a bridesmaid dress last summer.  I love the yarn and I feel so stupid that I didn’t buy more of it at the time so that I could have made the sleeves longer on the shrug and thus use the shrug more often.

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I must have spent days looking for this perfect yarn.  Every ad on Ravelry, Knitty, and Interweave Knits was followed, every FLS project on Ravelry was looked at.  I just couldn’t find it.

 

Then I realized that this was exactly the kind of problem that I had learned to spin to solve.  There may be no merino/Tencel yarns out there, but there are plenty of pounds of that blend, hand-dyed and all, for the spinning.  And then, of course, I realized that I have yet to produce a yarn that is a) thicker than fingering weight, b) plied well and c) actually knittable.  It would likely take me a year (if not longer) to spin the 1,200 yards needed for this project.  I mean, 4 oz of fiber seems like a never-ending project.  So that was out.  (To be honest, I really tried to convince myself that I could do it and it would be easy.  Apparently, there is some part of me that is still coldly logical.  Who knew?)

 

So I went back to the metaphorical drawing board and thought.  And thought.  And thought…  WEBS’ in-house yarn brand, Valley Yarns, makes a worsted merino/Tencel blend called Colrain.  It only comes in solid colors and there’s only 109 yards in a ball.  That’s 12 balls to make the sweater- 24 ends to weave in.  But they sell the “natural” yarn in big hanks of 545 yards.  Fewer ends to weave in and I can dye it myself, thus getting the perfect amount of semi-solid.  I’ve dyed small batches of wool often enough, it shouldn’t be too hard to do a huge batch.

 

Now, wool and other protein fibers (and for some reason nylon) are dyed with acid dyes.  Plant fibers are dyed with reactive dyes.  Tencel, bamboo, Modal, etc, are plant fibers, even if they are manufactured.  This presented a problem.  Can you dye the same yarn in an acid and then a reactive dye?  Will that hurt the plant fiber?

 

After another exhaustive search of the Intarwebs, I found out that Tencel actually can be dyed with acid dyes.  It won’t take the dye quite as well as wool and will be a muted shade, but it will dye.  I’m not that big on bright jewel tones anyway so muted shades sounds great to me.  But I didn’t know for sure how well it would dye and that’s a lot of money to spend on a sweater’s worth of yarn if I’m not sure that it will work.  What if I couldn’t get the shade I wanted?  What if the Tencel didn’t take the dye at all and the yarn ended up streaky?  What if I hate the yarn itself?  Does it pill?  Wear well?  Does it end up looking dingy after a wash?  Does it stretch and how is the stitch definition?  I was obsessing over the fact that I just didn’t know anything about this yarn and was I willing to buy three 250 g hanks of yarn sight-unseen and then find out if the yarn split or pilled or took dye like crap?

 

That’s when I realized that I was being an idiot, ordered one 109 yard ball of Colrain for $3.99 and a color card (just in case), and waited impatiently for it to arrive.

 

Project Progress April 14, 2009

Filed under: Knitting Projects,Musings — Cailyn @ 2:25 pm
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I just looked over at my “Project Progress” widget.  Yikes!  How did I end up with so many projects?!  Let’s see, I’ve got The Cardigan, which has stalled out a bit.  I haven’t really touched it in a while.  I’ve been telling myself that it’s because I have more important things to work on, but I fear that I might be getting bored.  Maybe I’m just not in the mood to knit so much stockinette right now.  The cardigan measures a whole seven inches.  That’s a lot more inches that I need to knit.  But I shall conquer it!… just not yet.

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Next on the list is a pair of socks knit from Cherry Tree Hill’s Sockittome in the Loden colorway.  These socks are destined for a submission to a publication, so I can’t show you more than the yarn.  The yarn is a little stiff but I think it’ll soften up wonderfully after being washed.  It’s got good stitch definition and cables nicely.  I like it a lot and I think I’ll be adding Sockittome as a solid sock yarn to my yarn quiver.   As far as project progress, I just finished the gusset on the second sock, so not far to go on these!

 

102_4379The sock blank socks are the pure stockinette socks that I’ve been knitting since my trip to Virginia.  Top-down, short-row heel, standard toe.  They’re a great project for keeping the hands busy without paying attention.  I’m not exactly happy with the way the colors turned out.  I’m almost finished with the first sock- just have the toe left to do.  These socks are low on the priority list, really more of a back-up project.

 

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Norman’s scarf is a project that my father-in-law requested while we were at Village Wools.  Sadly, this is the best picture of the scarf but not the best picture of the two of us.  But this is proof that even layman can’t go into a yarn store without being inspired!  He picked out three colors of Mirasol Sulka, which is a luxurious blend of silk, alpaca and merino.  Really lovely to work with, especially in garter stitch.  You might recognize the scarf as a non-variegated version of the Multidirectional Scarf.  First I had to learn a little about modular knitting and then I planned out the color changes for the intarsia.  I’ll be putting up a tutorial for working the Mulitdirectional Scarf with intarsia in the next few days.  Now it’s just a matter of knitting the rest of the scarf.  What I’ve got here is about twelve inches on the long side (but only seven on the short 102_4375side, shhh).  I’ve been trying to keep the scarf cat-hair free, which means that it stays in the cat-free guest room.  It works up pretty fast, so I’m hoping that I’ll have it finished soon!

 

The Shibui Knits socks will be the next pattern that I publish on the blog.  Hopefully.  If nothing goes wrong.  I finished sketching (er, imagining, I can’t really sketch) the socks last night but I have to wait until my new needles get here before starting them.  I tried swatching the yarn with size 1s (2.25mm) and 2s (2.75mm) and neither was quite right.  So I ordered some 1.5s (2.5mm) needles which should be here soon.  But for now, the socks are just in my imagination and my widget.

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Oh yeah, I’ve also got a pair of socks planned using the Sanguine Gryphon’s Kypria.   But I think they’re also going to be a submission, so you only get to see the yarn again!  I have high hopes for this yarn, it seems really yummy so far!

 

So yeah, I’d better get back to knitting!