The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Chile March 10, 2011

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 12:28 am

What day is it?  Wednesday?  Huh, I could have sworn it was Saturday.  Wait, it’s the ninth?!  Not the fifth?  What the heck have I been doing the last four days?


Well, for starters, I’ve been beating down some wicked writer’s/designer’s block and hammering out three new sock designs for submissions.  I had a moat made out of stitch dictionaries protecting my strategic creative position.


[insert clever segue here]


A little while ago, my mom visited a friend in Chile.  They were seeing the sights and ended up in an area with some yarn shops.  She took these wonderful pictures there and sent them to me as a teaser- she bought me something but hasn’t told me what!  But we did have a talk about alpaca and vicuña… wouldn’t it be cool to have some alpaca or llama from Chile?




So pretty!  Me wants the precious!


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Aren’t these great?  So cute.


New Year’s Resolutions January 4, 2011

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 10:00 pm
Tags: ,

1) Stay home long enough to write a blog post.

a) Actually knit something.

b) Finish something.


It may not sound like an ambitious resolution.  But take a look at some of the places I went last year!


DSC01867 (2)

February: Olympics in Vancouver


Whistler - Our 6th Anniversary 003

March: Skiing in Whistler



May: Sister’s graduation in Virginia


Ashland on the Fourth of July 001

July: Plays and the 4th of July in Ashland, OR


White Salmon camping trip with Dave and Jen 022

July: Camping in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest


September: Travelling across Russia



October: Helping my sister in North Carolina



November: Thanksgiving in VA (and North Carolina)


Leavenworth Christmas Eve Eve 006

December: Leavenworth, WA


And that’s not everything!  There were a lot of weekend excursions that I didn’t put in the list.  It was a truly wonderful year.  However, I’m looking forward to maybe spending two consecutive weeks in my own house.  I haven’t finished a project in months.  For a while, I didn’t even have the time or energy to knit anything at all. 


I did manage to get five patterns published this year, though, bringing my total available patterns up to twenty-three!  Things have settled down now that the holidays are over (which were lots of fun) so I’m planning on getting some good quality knitting time in soon- I have ideas.  Good ideas.


New patterns in 2010:







Consummate V 08

A Skein of Geese


Danu 3



113_5310 (2)



I hope 2011 is just as great as 2010… but maybe just a little more local.


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.)

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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.




I’m Back (Finally!) October 26, 2010

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 6:46 pm

I’m finally home.  Well, technically, I have been home for a week, but I’ve been so busy that I’ve barely noticed.  Where have I been, you ask?


First, there was a wonderful three-week trip travelling across Russia.  You can read/watch about our trip on our trip blog, Russia Trek 2010.  I can’t remember if I linked to that before.  I had intended to post a few entries to the Daily Skein while I was on the road, but that never happened.  I only wrote one entry for our trip blog!  (It’s about reenacting a traditional marriage ceremony- very funny, even if I was the one in the figurative spotlight.)


The day after I got back from that trip, I travelled to North Carolina to help my sister, who had surgery while I was gone.  We had a lot of fun; I cooked and took her walking outside and she got stitches removed.  I really like the Durham area that she lives in and, even though I was severely jet-lagged the first few days, I was glad I could go take care of her.


Then I was finally home.  I’ve been trying to get back on top of the blog, my designs that are in various stages of completion, and chores at home.  Lowell and I have been working on a project that I’ll tell you more about later (it took up the entire weekend and all of yesterday too!)


Things have finally settled down enough now that I don’t feel like I’m struggling to stay above water.  Now I’m just quickly treading water or maybe even doggy-paddling towards shore.  After all, it’s fall, which is one of my favorite times of the year.  There’s a nip in the air, soup on the stove, and the leaves are changing into brilliant reds and golds.  Time to pull out the hand-knits; time to curl up on the couch as it gets dark earlier and earlier and knit some more.  Time to get reacquainted with the stash, if you know what I mean.




Enjoying the ability to take a break, at least for a few minutes, I was browsing Craft Gossip this evening.  Craft Gossip is one of those sites that just enables someone like me.  It pulls together projects, inspiration, tips, and tutorials from all over the internet and makes them way too easy to find.  Things like this yarn wreath, or these cool polymer clay beads, or these cool antique storage bobbins made from cardboard.  Anyway, I browse around Craft Gossip occasionally and bookmark projects like mad whenever I do.  And today when I was browsing, I saw this!




That’s right, my Wintergreen Gloves were on Craft Gossip a few days ago!




I was pretty surprised.  It’s very strange to be wandering around another site and come across your own work!  And I’d like to say hi to anyone coming here from Craft Gossip.  Please ignore the two-month gap in entries.  It won’t happen again (at least any time soon).


Hiatus September 12, 2010

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 3:37 pm

I’m going to be in Russia and then North Carolina until the middle of October.  There won’t be any posts until then, but you can follow our travels on our blog, Russia Trek 2010!  I’ll be back to writing on schedule after the trips, including stories about my search for fibers in Russia, why I was in NC, and what designs I have being published.


Until I get back, here are some other great blogs or websites that you can read!

A Mighty Good Yarn

Craft Gossip



Knitters Anonymous

Knitting in Color

Sock Pr0n


Yarn Harlot


Camping and Spinning August 18, 2010

Filed under: spinning — Cailyn @ 1:19 pm
Tags: , , ,

I’ve been on a big spinning kick lately.  Sadly, not in time to participate in the Tour de Fleece.  I’ve been spinning up a storm nonetheless.  Partially I think this urge is because I’m between interesting projects right now.  I’ve submitted a number of designs to places but now I have to wait until I hear back (and they give me yarn) to actually knit these designs.  So, I’ve been spinning (and procrastinating on blogging).


This spinning jag even led me to bringing my spindle with me on a camping trip instead of my knitting.  I’m still working on the alpaca/silk fiber that I bought at Madrona and started spinning in North Carolina.  We camped in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, “near” Mt. St. Helens (not near enough to actually see, though!)


White Salmon camping trip with Dave and Jen 015


I’m using an LED headlamp (Petzl Tikka 2) that my dad got me a few years ago, which is the best crafting tool I have.  It’s incredibly useful- it gives me just the right amount of light on my project without disturbing people around me too much.  I use it at home, in the car, for knitting, spinning, reading- and it’s great during blackouts!  I look like a total dork, but what else is new?  At least I can see my fiber!  Firelight may be romantic, but it’s not very good for detail work. 


White Salmon camping trip with Dave and Jen 061 


I discovered that there is a narrow range in which wine is helpful to the spinning process.  Just enough to loosen me up so that I’m not stopping every five seconds to fix a section that is just slightly thicker than the rest, but not so much that I forget how thick I’m trying to spin my singles. I was very productive and spun almost an ounce of fiber; once I spin the remaining ounce, I’ll be ready to ply.  (And yes, that singles in the ball does smell like camp smoke, but it’s not that bad and I think it will disappear when I wash the final yarn.)




Back at home, I’ve been spinning on my wheel.  I finished some fiber that I’ve been working on and off since Christmas (a reddish-brown merino) and set the bobbins aside to rest while I spun up some fiber that I got for my birthday.  The pictures make it seem much bluer than it is- it’s really an interesting blue/purple/green with some marling (aka barber-poling) and slow fades between the colors.  I didn’t realize that the colors would shift so slowly and so I didn’t divide the fiber very symmetrically when I was setting up to spin.  I don’t really predraft, but I split the fiber into the number of plies I want (so far always two) and then split those piles into workable chunks.  That works great for solid or semi-solid top, but not as great for preserving the color changes/order.




Anyway, I spun the first bobbin with no regard to color order.  To add insult to injury, I also divided the fiber in half and then left the second half alone while I spun the first.  So I didn’t even sub-split the fiber in the same sections.  I have decided that this is not going to bother me.  My first bobbin has color changes frequently and the second has color changes vary rarely.  I will have a very pretty and unpredictable yarn.


Just yesterday I finished up the second bobbin of the blue/purple/green fiber.  I took the bobbin off the wheel and reached down to my lazy kate to get an empty one to ply the reddish merino, proud that I have two full bobbins of each fiber.




And then I remembered that two plus two equals four.  And I only have four bobbins.


Aaaaargh.  I need another bobbin to ply!


Lowell suggested that in the future I need a “Break Glass in Case of Bobbin Emergency” case next to the spinning wheel.


Travel Yarns June 17, 2010

Filed under: spinning,Yarn — Cailyn @ 12:11 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Okay, better late than never.  I give you:

Yarns of the East (where “east” means Chapel Hill, NC and Fairfax, VA)

I first visited my sister in Chapel Hill.  While she was at work, I stole borrowed her car and visited a few yarn shops.


The first was Yarns Etc, a very nice (but small) yarn shop.  I bought some lovely roving from the local Three Waters Farm.  The roving is 4 oz of dyed Black Blue Faced Leicester.  It has these dramatic undyed black streaks throughout.  There were two colorways that I liked and my current plan when I can’t decide on a color is to go with the color I normally wouldn’t choose.  So the dark green/brown roving was put back in favor of this lighter, almost pastel roving.  I’m very curious how it will spin up.




Speaking of spinning… I spent some time in a local coffee shop while I was with my sister (after I dropped her off at work, I had to wait for the yarn stores to open, or sometimes I would come back and have some time to spare before I had to pick her up.  I don’t normally spin in these situations, usually I knit, but I decided to spin this time.  I got a yummy drink and spun my black alpaca fiber that I got at Madrona earlier this year.  (I was going to post some of these pictures from my phone to the blog, but the app wasn’t working and I was too lazy to work around it.)


IMG_0405  IMG_0444

Yummy drink and “spinner’s leg” covered in fiber bits.


I got a decent amount of spinning done in a few hours there.  I didn’t spin all of this in the coffee shop- some of this was done in the airport during my layover on the way back to Seattle.  I think all the parents in that waiting area should thank me; I think I had every kid, from age two to twelve, sitting on the floor in front of me, just watching my spindle spin.  That was pretty fun.


I’m trying to spin this singles a little thicker than I normally would.  I’ve divided the roving in half so the final yarn will be a 2-ply.  I didn’t sample- I’m a rebel.  (Sample in spinning is like gauge in knitting.)


108_5227   108_5223


I also visited Shuttles Needles & Hooks in Cary, NC (no website).  This was a fun shop, even though I didn’t end up buying anything there.  The shop is in an old house, and by “in” I mean that it takes up the entire house.  Every nook and cranny is filled with yarn or roving or notions.  The second floor has some yarns and a big space filled with looms.  And things that I assume are accessories to looming.  This shop was a bit like a treasure hunt, which was very fun since I wasn’t looking for anything in particular.  The book selection was great and I probably would have gotten a book or two if I weren’t trying to keep my luggage-weight down.


IMG_0424   IMG_0423   

Look, you can see a stove under the basket there!  Luckily, they only use the bathroom for shop storage so you don’t have to go look for Noro in the john.


One reason that I didn’t buy anything at Shuttles Hooks & Needles is that I love to buy local yarn when I’m on a trip.  You can get Berroco or Cascade or even Dream in Color in shops all over the country now.  Don’t get me wrong, I like those yarns.  But if I’m going to buy yarn somewhere else besides my own LYS, I want it to be special.  I don’t want it to be the same yarns that I see over and over in every shop in the country.  I know that this may seem silly, especially since I can buy any of these “local” yarns online via Etsy or other merchants, but it means a lot to me.  I love it when a yarn store carries yarns that are locally made or dyed.


That’s one of the reasons that I loved Fibre Space in Alexandria so much.  This store was a lot of fun.  I’ll definitely be going back there next time I’m in Virginia.  It’s not huge but it has a great attitude.  I mean, look at their logo!  It has a space ship.  That just hits me in all my weak spots.  And in case that wasn’t enough to win me over (which it was, btw), they carry local yarns and make a point of labeling them so that they’re easy to find!  The staff was friendly, helpful, and chatty, but not pushy about it.  The back room had spindles and rovings and they had awesome shirts for sale with their logo.


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I knew that Blue Ridge Yarns was local, since I had bought some of their yarn in VA before in the shop where I took a wheel lesson.  This time they had a merino/bamboo blend sock yarn and you know that I can’t say no to that.  The other yarn is a fun cotton “homespun” in a really pretty blue.  I have to think of something neat to knit with it.


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I didn’t know that Dragonfly Fibers was based in Virginia.  Once I saw the “local sign,” I jumped on this dramatic Dragonsock colorway.


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And this is a new company that I hadn’t heard about before.  The label was so slick that I thought they were a big, national company until the clerk told me that the Neighborhood Fiber Company was a small dyer who had started in VA before moving to OH.  I liked her yarn so much that I almost bought a wool/silk laceweight- and I don’t even knit lace!  I am in completely in love with this merino/cashmere blend sock yarn.




I’m hoping to use some of my “Virginia yarn” in a project soon.  If you’re ever in northern VA, stop by Fiber Space!  They rock. 


Photos of me courtesy of my mom, who also taught me to knit all those years ago and never minds coming with me to yarn stores.  Thanks for the yarn!