The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Danu July 7, 2010

Filed under: patterns — Cailyn @ 1:20 pm
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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.




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.


p2190111   IMG_0518


Favorite Color April 1, 2010

Filed under: Knitting Projects,Musings — Cailyn @ 12:36 pm
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Everybody has that color (or combo of colors) that they just can’t seem to resist.  For my mom, it’s a particular shade of teal or purple.  Stephanie Pearl-McPhee loves oranges and Shannon Okey has trouble passing up greens.  For me, it’s almost any shade of blue.  (I can walk by electric blue with no problem.  Also not that fond of navy.)  For the last few years, it’s also been certain combinations of blue and brown.


Still, I like to think that my stash has a good mix of colors in it.  Here’s a pie chart of the contents of my stash.  (Yes, I thoroughly geeked out on this.)




As you can see, blues definitely make up a good portion of the stash.  But greens and purples aren’t far behind.  I’ve got some nice browns and cream/whites/silvers.  Yes, I’m low on reds and blacks, which I try to stay away from because they’re difficult to photograph well.  And blacks just don’t show off the detailed stitches that I like.  As for the orange-yellow section, what can I say.  I like deep golds and burnt oranges but haven’t found many colorways using them that really speak to me.  My pink section has been expanding lately- I’m not sure why, but I’ve been very attracted to certain pinks.


So, looking at the above graph, you’d guess that there’s over 50% chance that a yarn pulled from my stash would be a “cool” color.  There’s a good chance that yarn would be blue.  But there are decent odds that it wouldn’t be, right?  That it would be a purple or a green or even a brown?  True, there is more blue than any other individual color, but added together the other colors outnumber the blues.  If you pulled a yarn from the stash, specifically looking for something not blue, you could find something, right? 


Then why is it, despite 70% of my stash being other colors, I always end up with a blue yarn when I go stash diving?


I swatched many different yarns for this sock.  Only two of them were blue.  Guess which one ended up showing off the stitch pattern best?


Yeah.  Blue.


104_5165       104_5169


ShibuiKnits Sock (in Midnight I think).


Rush to the Finish March 10, 2010

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 11:02 pm
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The next deadline for submissions to Knitty is March 15.  Yes, Monday.  I can’t show you the submission that I’m working on, but this is the yarn I’m using.  I’m loving it.


I have the heel, gusset, and foot of a 10” sock to knit so that I can take publication-quality pictures of the socks on Lowell’s feet.  Oh, yeah, and then I have to write, proof-read, and format the pattern for said socks.  Not to mention write the introduction for the pattern, my bio, and the “cover letter” email.  Before end of day Monday.


Oh, did I mention that I’m going out of town this weekend for our anniversary?  (6 years, woo!)


Can I do it?


I think I can, so long as I don’t royally screw up.  It’s kind of an easy pattern, so I think that’s unlikely— Uh oh.  I shouldn’t have said that. 


Maybe I should get back to knitting now.


Olympics February 28, 2010

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 11:13 pm
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Last week, Lowell, me, and my in-laws headed up to Vancouver to see some Olympics!  (Yes, this post is up very late.  It was hard to sit down and write about it when so much happened and we had so much fun.  Also, there were 7 bazillion pictures to wade through.)


We woke up horribly early on Tuesday and drove up to the “frozen” north.  The first day we saw the USA vs Switzerland hockey game (go USA!)

Olympics Day 1 016


And the men’s figure skating short program. 

Olympics Day 1 Evening - B 002   Olympics Day 1 092


I slept through most of the drive, so I didn’t get a chance to cast on my new sock until the hockey game.  Of course, I didn’t want to miss anything, so I didn’t actually start casting on until late in the game.  I worked on the ribbing some during zamboni breaks in figure skating. Here’s the sock on a trip to get a snack.  The Pacific Coliseum had strangely tasty sandwiches, especially if you hadn’t eaten much beforehand.

Olympics Day 1 Evening - B 003


The next day we got up early again and went to see Stephen Colbert film at Creekside Park.  We waited for 2 hours before the filming started and I got a lot done on the sock!  It was a great way to tell how much time had passed.  You might notice that the sock is on DPNs and not my normal long circular.  I decided that DPNs are more photogenic and classic.  Sadly, I decided this while I was standing there in the mob and all I had was my tiny 4” DPNs that I carry in my bag for helping to fix mistakes (I hate fixing with a crochet hook, I don’t know why.)  4” is sadly too short to comfortably knit with for a long period.  I got a painful raw spot on my palms from the sharp points.  You’ll notice that this injury didn’t make me put the sock back on the circ though.

Olympics Day 2 Morning 024   Olympics Day 2 - B 026


After the long standing and then hilarity of watching Bob Costas “ride the moose,”  we headed to our next event, men’s 1000m speed skating.

Olympics Day 2 - B 079


The sock got to see some fast skaters, but didn’t get to see Shani Davis win the gold.  The seating was way too cramped to knit during speed skating.  I told the sock all about it, though.

 1000m Men Speed Skating


No matter where you go, people are always interested in what you’re knitting.  I got asked about the sock a lot on the train to and from events and the hotel.  It was nice when the train was empty enough to find a seat- it’s much easier to knit when you don’t have to also hold onto the pole!

DSC02012   DSC01859 (2)


We went to see the Olympic flame.  Then we went to the Czech Republic vs Slovakia hockey game.

 Olympics Day 2 Evening 004


The next day, we went to the Olympic store to spend tons of money.  I was sad that there was no Olympic yarn, but I got a nice bag that I’ve been using as my knitting bag ever since.  Then we headed over to Russia House, where we stood in line some more, which led to more sock knitting.

 Olympics Day 3 Afternoon 003

Look how much I have done!  1” 1×1 ribbing, 2” stockinette, 4 row “heel flap,” short row heel, mini-gusset. 


While we were in Russia House, we ran into Stephen Colbert again!  We stood around while he interviewed some people and, well, basically we stalked him.  My in-laws stalked so well that they can actually be seen on the aired footage!

Olympics Day 3 Afternoon 041  Olympics Day 3 - B 031


After that much excitement, we headed home and watched the rest of the Olympics on TV.  We had so much fun, it’s impossible to write it down here. 


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. 


IMG_0618   IMG_0615  IMG_0616


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.)

IMG_0619     IMG_0620


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.


One Year November 16, 2009

Filed under: Knitting Projects — Cailyn @ 11:31 pm
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It has taken me exactly one year to finish these socks.




Yes, you read that right.  I dyed the yarn and cast on these socks last Thanksgiving.  While working the ribbing, I worried that I would finish the pair before I returned from Virginia.  I worried that I would not have enough sock to keep me occupied.  Now I know, these socks do not look like the overly-complicated knitwear that I normally gravitate towards.  These socks are plain stockinette which is normally not my cup of tea, except that I have mastered the art of the knit stitch without looking which has then led to knitting stockinette while reading.  These socks were meant to be knit while I talked with family and I brought other, more complex, socks to keep me from gnawing my arm off on a six hour plane ride.


I bet you’re trying to figure out how it took me a year to knit one pair of when I fancy myself a professional sock designer.  If it always took me a year to finish a pair of socks, I’d miss a lot of deadlines.  Did I lose them?  Did the needles break?  Did I forget to pack them on a trip?  Did goblins steal them in the night and hold them hostage until I promised them my firstborn?


Here’s the annotated picture of the socks, showing how much of the socks I knit when. 


Sock Chronology


As you can see, the socks spent most of their year in a strange limbo with one sock mostly finished and the other being cast on and knitted in two months.  These socks when with me pretty much everywhere this year, including New Mexico, a second trip to Virginia, ski trips, Idaho, the Sock Summit, even the theater!  Clearly, they were getting face time with me; I hadn’t forgotten about them but nothing was being knit.  I can’t even blame the yarn.  As much as I hated the way that this yarn looked in the skein (so much so that I didn’t even get a picture of it and apparently didn’t blog about it), I really like the way it knit up.  And it’s in my favorite workhorse yarn, Knit Picks Essential- er, they’re calling it Stroll now I guess.


I have now cast on another pair of stockinette socks with self-dyed stripey yarn in preparation for this Thanksgiving.  I will do my best to finish these in a more timely manner.  Look for a finished picture in June, maybe.