The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Last Minute Gifts for Knitters December 8, 2011

Filed under: Knitting Projects,Musings,spinning — Cailyn @ 5:19 pm
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I feel slightly dirty.  I was on Facebook and I clicked on an ad.  And the ad was right, I did find lots of things to buy!  It was an ad for CafePress and it had a picture of a cartoony orange cat knitting.  Well, I was hooked and I clicked (making both CafePress and Facebook very happy).   There’s a lot of great knitting stuff on CafePress- not yarn or needles or notions, obviously, but totes and shirts and the all-important coffee mugs.  Here’s a few designs that I think should go on any knitter’s wishlist!  (Yes, they’re already on mine.)

 

“The Answers” to all those common questions in totes, shirts, etc

 

Similar theme, different questions.

 

Kitchener stitch instructions

 

Cute cat in tote and shirt form.  This is the one that did me in.

 

 

Instant Knitter buttons and shirts!  Also in Spinner!  (This shop’s got a button or shirt for just about everybody who loves coffee.)

 

Spinning button.  So true.

 

From Crazy Aunt Purl.

 

Not a fan of knitting cats?  How about a knitting penguin?  (also, penguin ninja)

 

What, why are you looking at me like that?

 

 

Shirts, etc, with the important math in life.  Or, the life cycle of yarn.

 

Just one more row… really!

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Look What I Got! September 6, 2011

Filed under: spinning — Cailyn @ 1:17 pm
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What could be in the box?  And why does it have a huge question mark on it?  That seems mysterious.

 

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*gasp!*  It’s a Schacht Sidekick!

 

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It’s so small!  The cat isn’t even scared of it.  Folded up, it’s 21.5 inches tall, 8 inches wide, and 15 inches deep.  And it only weighs 13 pounds!  Which, honestly, is lighter than my laptop and just 3 pounds heavier than that cat.

 

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Unfolded, the wheel is still delightfully small.  The orifice is 25 inches tall once it’s all together, which is a nice comfortable height.  The treadles are great.  It’s noisier than my Matchless; I’m not sure if that’s because of the rubber drive band or what.  I don’t remember the Sidekick that I tried at the Sock Summit being noisy, but it might have been that the ambient noise was too high for me to hear it.  Or I was just too excited to pay attention.

 

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Look at how cute it is!  That drive wheel is so small.  And blue, I love that it’s blue.  So far I’ve spun a little on it- not as much as I’d like because I’ve been pretty busy with a new Knit Picks pattern and some late summer house cleaning.  But so far it’s great!  I’m going to find/make a nice padded case for it.  It comes with a carrying strap, but it’s a little short for my taste- the wheel is basically in your armpit when you put the strap on your shoulder.

 

Hmm, maybe I’ll go spin on it right now!

 

How to Use a McMorran Balance for Fun and Profit August 9, 2011

Filed under: Spinning Tutorial — Cailyn @ 4:23 pm
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I am addicted to spinning lace yarn right now.  I don’t know why.  I’ve always been attracted to tiny crafts- I used to make little tiny sculptures from polymer clay.  Before that, I would “miniaturize” anything I learned, like “god’s eyes” (I think I was about 8 when I learned that one).  Once I got the hang of making one with popsicle sticks and worsted yarn, I started making them with toothpicks and embroidery floss.  So I guess it was really just a matter of time before I found the tiny singles of laceweight.  Before I left for Sock Summit, I finished up this pretty skein.

 

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It’s spun from a 70% merino/30% silk blend that I bought a few years back, one of my first fiber purchases!

 

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I don’t knit much lace, though, so I offered this skein to a friend who loves purple.  Since I wanted to know how much I was giving her, I pulled out my McMorran balance.  A McMorran balance is a nice, inexpensive little piece of equipment made from, basically, an acrylic box with some slots in it and an acrylic arm that wobbles.  The magic is in the calibration.  It’s calibrated to measure 1/100th of a pound.  (Metric versions can be purchased if you’re not down with the inches and ounces.)  Here’s what I did to measure my handspun (using some green Cascade 220 as the yarn, because lace yarn doesn’t show up well in photos):

 

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Here’s the McMorran balance sitting on the edge of a book.  You’ll see why it’s on a book shortly.  See how the notched part of the arm is tilted up?  That means the weight of the notched end is lighter than the solid end.  Let’s add some yarn!

 

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Cut off a 6-10" piece of the yarn you’re measuring.  The thinner/lighter the yarn, the longer the piece you’ll need (laceweight might need a much longer piece, or several pieces).  This piece is much heavier than the solid end of the arm.  You can see that the ends of the yarn are below the bottom of the balance- that’s why it’s a good idea to place the scale at the edge of a table, so that the yarn can hang freely.

 

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Cut off a little bit of the yarn, then let the scale settle back.  Is it balanced (is the arm horizontal/not tilted)?  If not, trim off another little bit.  The key here is to trim off just a tiny bit each time.  You can always cut more off, but it’s not easy to fix if you overshoot!

 

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When the arm is horizontal, remove the piece of yarn and measure it with a ruler.  Don’t stretch it out so it’s taut, but you want it to be straight.  Let’s say this piece is 6” long.  Now for a little math:

 

Multiply the length of yarn by 100.  (6 inches x 100 = 600)

 

The resulting number is your “yards per pound” or ypp.  (600 ypp)

 

Chances are good that you don’t have a full pound of yarn, though!  Divide the number above by 16 (the number of ounces in a pound) to get the “yards per ounce” or ypo.  (600 ypp/16 oz = 37.5 ypo)

 

Now weigh your skein.  Multiply the weight of your skein by the ypo.  (2.3 oz x 37.5 ypo= 86.25 yards)

 

The final number is how many yards are in your skein.  (86.25 yards)

 

The instructions are the same for a metric version, but the math at the end is a little different.  I haven’t actually found the calculation online anywhere, but the balances come with the formula.

 

So, in the end, it turns out that I have about 400 yards of my handspun laceweight.  Not bad!

 

Sock Summit Sunday August 3, 2011

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 12:59 pm
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Pencily woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Sunday morning, which is more than I can say for me after three days of Sock Summit.  Of course, I’ve seen him early in the morning before and he never seems to get bags under his eyes- he’s always “bright-eyed.”  Might be genetic.  He isn’t always bushy-tailed though!

 

He sat in with me on Socktastic Stitch Patterns, which was a great class.  I learned quite a bit about compensating for a lack of stretch in a stitch pattern (whether that lack is from tight cables or drapey lace).  Much of what we talked about in class I’d already figured out for myself, but it was nice to have my suspicions confirmed.  JC Briar was a lovely teacher.

 

After that, Pencily and I headed over to the Marketplace for one last circuit.  I wanted to be sure there wasn’t anything else I wanted to buy.  He wanted to meet Heel Flap, Gusset and Instep, the live sheep who had just been sheared for the Fleece to Foot Challenge.  I left him to talk to the sheep while I bought a new high-speed whorl and drive band for my wheel because apparently I am addicted to spinning laceweight.

 

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Pencily said they started out talking about the tastiest goodies to eat (Pencily recommended coffee), but quickly moved on to which team they thought would win the competition.  We found out in the afternoon that none of the teams had finished spinning and knitting the entire pair of socks in the five and a half hours.  The team that got closest was World Wide Mashup.   There’s a fun article on the Challenge on OregonLive.com.

 

After I dragged Pencily away from the sheep, Lowell picked us up and we went to Alder Creek for some kayak supplies.  I bought a new life jacket!  Then it was back to the Summit for our class with Judith MacKenzie.

 

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Sorry for the cell phone pictures; I forgot to bring the real camera charger (life would be so much easier if it charged off USB like everything else I own) and I was in a rush to get back to taking notes!  Judith is just a geyser of knowledge and tips, which is why I didn’t care which class of hers I took- I just had to take one of her classes.  As an added bonus, I was interested in learning more about blending colors in spinning.  We practiced blending colors at the wheel by holding two pieces of top together and we got to play with hackles to make our own blended pencil roving.

 

After that… it was all over.  The market was closed when we exited class.  Everyone was heading home.  It was kind of sad, like the last day of summer camp.  However, Sock Summit may end, but the fiber you buy there is forever!  Or at least should last you until the next one (hopefully there will be a next one!)

 

Birthday Goodies July 8, 2011

Filed under: Musings,spinning — Cailyn @ 12:53 pm
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It was my birthday last week.  Yup, I’ve crossed the 30 barrier.  Funny, it doesn’t feel that different from 29 except for this irrational desire to yell at kids to get off my lawn.  And the cane.

 

Birthdays come with presents, of course, and I got some nice fiber-y, knit-y things.

 

Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting.  I can’t stop collecting Fair Isle charts- I’m addicted to those snowflakes!

 

My sister sent me some soft, squishy mystery fiber from Three Waters Farm in North Carolina:

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The burn test revealed that it’s wool, not alpaca.  I think it’s Blue Faced Leicester.

 

I also got some fiber from a local Washington dyer, Rain City Fiber Arts:

 

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85% BFL, 15% silk, yummy!  I’m not normally a pink person, but I love the combo of pink, purple, and natural undyed wool in this colorway.  I think it will spin up into a nice muted mauve-like shade.

 

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100% Falkland wool in foresty greens and browns.  I’ve never spun this breed before.  It’s got about a 5 inch staple length (medium-long) and it’s pretty soft.  Actually, this could spin up into a great sock yarn!  Hmmm…

 

And in the “I had to buy this for you so that I could find out what it does” camp, I got a McMorran balance!

 

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It’s really, really hard to take a good picture of a piece of clear acrylic!  I’m going to write a post with more details about using this thing, but the general idea is that a McMorran balance will tell you how much yarn you have.  Once you’ve got your strand of yarn there balanced on the scale (the one in my photo is too light,) then you multiply the length by 100 and that gives you the yards per pound of your yarn.  This is obviously great for handspun, especially if you’re too lazy to count how many times your yarn goes around your niddy-noddy (another crazy named handspinner tool).

 

Also, only 18.5 days until I leave for the Sock Summit!

 

Crazy Things June 21, 2011

Filed under: Musings,spinning — Cailyn @ 11:53 am
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A commenter pointed out a  problem with the page for the Wintergreen Gloves over the weekend.  All the links to it had stopped working.  I looked into it and it had disappeared from the server!  I couldn’t find the actual post anywhere.  Luckily, I happened to have a local copy of the post and I fiddled with the “posted date” to make it seem like I had posted it in ‘09 like the original.  So the URL is the same as it was, but it’s a new post.  Trippy, man.

 

In other news, a bear has been trying to use our trash can as a buffet.

 

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And last night he poked a hole in our gate, presumably because there wasn’t any food in our trash.  I’ve been keeping the trash can in the shed, but I forgot to put it back last time.  It’s in there now!

 

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And I finished my first 3-ply yarn.  I started with this fiber from Chameleon Colorworks.  I bought it two years ago in Portland.  I’ve been trying to move through some of my older stash, either spinning it or giving it away, to make room for what I’m sure will be a massive haul from the Sock Summit.

 

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I spun the singles on my Mt. Rainier spindle, with what I call my “Mostly Worsted Short Draw.”  It’s a mangled, customized draw that is mostly a worstedy short draw, but with less smoothing of the fibers and a slight backwards pull.  That didn’t make any sense.  Anyway, it’s my personal style draw when I’m not going for a specific goal.  I divided the fiber into three sections, with no thought for the color changes.  Then I wound them onto plastic bobbins and plied them on my wheel (I hate plying with a spindle).

 

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Despite careful fiber division, one single ended up much, much shorter than the others.  Not just by a few yards or even a bunch of yards.  I mean it was 30 or 40 yards shorter!  You can see above how much is left on the other two bobbins.  I don’t know how that happened.  I don’t like the yarn very much, though, so I didn’t stress over it.

 

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I think it ended up being worsted weight.  I’m not sure I like plying with three singles.  I had a really hard time keeping an even tension on all three at once and keeping the twist under control.  Two singles kept twisting before the third, making a 2-ply yarn with a third single swirling around it.  I eventually got the hang of it, but I still couldn’t find a comfortable way to hold things.  I might try again at some point, but right now I’m sticking with 2-plys.

 

Oh and my schedule for the Sock Summit has changed!  One of the classes I was wait-listed for got an opening, so instead of “The Perfect Rib” on Saturday afternoon I’ll be taking “Photographing Your Fiber.”  I’m very excited.  Just about a month left until the Summit!

 

Shawl Swatch Watch June 9, 2011

Filed under: Knitting Projects — Cailyn @ 4:51 pm
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I just avoided spilling a full cup of coffee as I tripped over a power cable.  Miracle!

 

Also a miracle, I have finished (sort of) the swatch for my handspun shawl.  It was delayed by two full froggings, three partial froggings, a sudden spurt of spring cleaning, and a kayaking trip.

 

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The swatch is about half the number of stitches of the finished design but has all the right elements in it.  The bottom pattern is from Nancy Bush’s Knitted Lace of Estonia; the middle and upper pattern are from The Haapsalu Shawl.  The upper pattern (one of the numerous “paw” patterns) will be most of the shawl with garter borders.  I won’t be putting a traditional border around the whole shawl- I like the slightly modern look of a straight-edged shawl.  And I think knitting a border for a 60×20 inch shawl would kill me.  Literally.  I would keel over from sheer boredom just trying to pick up all the stitches for it!

 

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Here’s the problem:  I’m not sure I’m happy with the look of the thing.

 

I’m pretty happy with the general layout and patterns I chose (which wasn’t easy!)  I’m not entirely certain about the paw pattern, but I’m not going to revise the whole thing again.  The drape is lovely and the yarn is great.  But I’m not sure if it’s lacy enough.  Is it too… solid?  Not enough space between the strands of yarn?

 

As it stands, the swatch gives me about 6 stitches to the inch.  That should make the whole shawl about 14 inches wide.  I’m debating casting on with a set of size 5 or 6 needles for the actual shawl.  That should both make the shawl lacier and wider.  I’m not planning on re-swatching, though (yes, I live dangerously).  I’ve had enough of swatches!  I’m just not sure… part of the problem is that I don’t have a set of 5s or 6s.  If I like the way it looks now, I can start the shawl immediately.  But if I want to use bigger needles, I have to sneak out to the store, which isn’t really close by.

 

I can’t decide.