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.

 

Hot Off the Wheel April 12, 2011

Filed under: spinning — Cailyn @ 11:42 am
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Not much going on here right now.  So here’s the pretty yarn I just spun last weekend.

 

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This is the Hanks in the Hood batt that I tore into rolags in this post here.  It’s 3 oz, 50% merino, 50% bamboo.  I had trouble getting the right colors in the photos; the yarn is really a cool combination of grey-green and teal.

 

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I spun this with a woolen long draw on my wheel, which gave me a nice poofy squishy yarn with great drape.  Very similar to the yarn I made in December, which was the point.  It varies between a DK and sport weight yarn and I think I’ve got about 80 yards of it.  I forgot to keep count of the turns around the niddy-noddy, so the yardage is a very rough estimate.

 

Did I mention that woolen long draw is fast?  I spun up the singles in just a few hours and plied in half the time.  But I like using worsted yarns better.  I think I’m going to spin up some worsted laceweight on my wheel next.

 

Bat, Bat, and Batt February 7, 2011

Filed under: Knitting Projects,spinning — Cailyn @ 4:26 pm
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This is a bat.

 

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This is a bat.

 

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And this is a batt.

 

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A Hanks in the Hood batt, to be exact.  The beauty above is half merino and half bamboo.  The shiny light blue fibers are the bamboo; the greenish fibers are the merino. 

Batts are made by putting fibers through a drum carder.  The process is similar to hand carding but is less time-consuming because of the large surface area of the drum.  Carders can blend fibers or colors together or allow them to be layered. 

 

Batts can be intimidating.  When unfolded, a batt is a big (seriously big!) rectangle of combed fibers, completely unlike the wrist-thick snakes of roving or top that are so common.  There are lots of different ways to spin batts- for example, you can pick a corner and start spinning, or strip it into roving and spin it that way. 

 

Usually I buy strips of top and spin them worsted.  I really value stitch definition in my yarns, so I didn’t think I would ever want to spin woolen which is softer but lacks definition.  But I started to get interested after I bought a Russian spindle.  It’s physically impossible to use a worsted short draw on a supported spindle like that!  (Ask me how I know.)  Having searched all over Russia (story coming later) and finally getting a spindle, I really wanted to use it.  And to do that, I needed a carded fiber, ideally one in the form of rolags.  I would have liked to make my own (I have plenty of “experimenting merino”) but I don’t have any hand cards and those things are expensive!

 

Wait, what was I talking about?  Oh right, batts.  I took the plunge and bought a batt when I realized that I could make a batt into rolags and spin them with a woolen long draw.  Ironically, I didn’t use the batt on my Russian spindle.  I decided to use the batt to spin and knit Lowell’s grandmother a birthday hat.  (Not a party hat, just a hat given to her on her birthday.)  This sounds like a lovely idea, right?  Especially since I had never used rolags, never spun with a long backwards draw, only had two weeks to spin then ply and then knit the hat, and I was travelling for one of those weeks.

 

But I did it!  I spun half the batt, which was the same as the one above in every aspect except color, on my Cascade Mt. Baker spindle.  The spindle broke just as I finished the first ply, so I had to spin the second single on my Matchless.  Don’t worry, a little wood glue has fixed the spindle right as rain, plus I got two more spindles for Christmas.  I was shocked- I loved spinning long draw.  I loved the little rolags, even though I had to join a new one every few minutes.  Do you know something- spinning woolen is fast.  I mean, seriously fast.  I ate up rolags like they were chocolate truffles.  I was done spinning and then plying the 4 oz batt in just over a week, even including spindle malfunction and travelling.  I even got the two singles to match up in length with only a five inch difference!  I swear, this was a magic batt!

 

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The yarn was beautiful.  It was soft and squishy, the drape was lovely, the bamboo made little shiny highlights, it was warm.  I was in love with this yarn and so was everyone else who touched it.  It was so nice that I’m kind of afraid to spin the other batt- what if it doesn’t come out as well?  Now, to be fair, the making of this yarn was not entirely without trouble.  I rolled the batt into rolags with the merino on the outside and the bamboo on the inside.  Often what would happen when I spun them is that the merino would pull off from the outside, leaving me at the end with a core of pure bamboo which was slippery and hard to spin long draw.  It also ruined the look I was going for, which was a mostly blended merino/bamboo yarn.  But, I still love how it turned out and, in retrospect, if I hadn’t been so stressed to finish in time, the bamboo wasn’t so bad.

 

Next post, I’ll show you how I made the batt into rolags as I prepare that blue batt up there to turn into a hopefully luscious yarn.

 

Oh, and here’s the finished product:

 

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A simple beanie style hat with a garter brim and a wavy, lacy pattern.

 

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In the one on the right, you can really see the long runs of bamboo, even though the color is all off.

 

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The happy recipient!

 

Spy Games December 17, 2009

Filed under: Knitting Projects,Musings,Sewing Projects — Cailyn @ 11:50 pm
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I would like to tell you that my mysterious long absence was due to a secret mission for the CIA.  Sadly, there was no spying or espionage involved.  I’ve been very busy, mostly with cleaning and organizing and not knitting.  I’m not really enjoying the knitting project that I’m working on right now but I am determined to finish it.  I’m sure you know how that feels- it makes the project drag on so much longer than it should even if you’re knitting just as fast as normal.  I have also been weaning off my antidepressant and, well, it hasn’t gone well.  I’m tired all the time and irritable and I haven’t felt much like writing.  I’ve been working on this post for four days!  It would have been much more interesting if I were a secret agent.

 

While I wasn’t spying for the CIA (wink wink nudge nudge), I finished plying this handspun:

 

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I bought the fiber right after my spinning class at the Sock Summit.  It’s dyed with real indigo.  Have I written about this before?  I can’t remember.  It’s 100% Blue Faced Leicester from a Verb for Keeping Warm.  The woman who sold me the fiber at the Summit was really helpful and friendly and I’ll be buying from them again!  I spun this on the handmade bottom-whorl spindle from the Sock Summit too, using a mostly short-draw worsted style of spinning.  I r.nsay mostly because this is very much a beginner’s yarn and I played a little fast and loose with the fiber.  I didn’t sample the fiber and I didn’t stop very often to see if what I was spinning matched what I had already spun.  Well, it turned out mostly consistent, although some sections are almost thread-thickness.  I had originally intended to make this a three-ply yarn so I was trying to spin the singles pretty fine.  By the end, though, I decided to just make it a two-ply yarn.  I didn’t have a very consistent amount of twist in the singles and I was sure that they were over twisted.  But when I plied them, I didn’t have to put in a lot of twist to make a “balanced” yarn.  This led to some problems plying… to get the yarn to look and feel nice, I had to over-twist during plying; the “balanced” yarn has hardly any twist at all in it.  I started over-twisting about halfway through.  Maybe I’ll knit something with it… maybe it’ll just be pretty yarn to look at.

 

One of the bedrooms in our house has a French door with glass panels instead of a regular door.  This room is technically my studio but that hasn’t stopped me from littering the rest of the house with projects, yarn, beads, and other detritus of the crafter.  When we have multiple house guests at once, the addition of an air mattress magically turns this room into an extra guest room.  As you can imagine the glass door is a little problematic from a privacy standpoint.  Since this situation only comes up a few times a year, the usual solution is a sheet hung over the door.  Efficient but ugly to say the least.  So I grabbed some over-the-door hooks, two short curtain rods, and some fabric (on sale!) and made a curtain for the door.

 

It was a very simple project.  I had originally intended to make the curtain a little wider and use two different fabrics, one on each side, but then I got lazy.  Possibly because I had already worked on one very time-consuming sewing project already that day.  I simply folded the fabric in half, topstitched various parts and hung it on the door.  Somehow the bottom is crooked despite careful measurements.  I’m going to pretend that the curtain is perfectly straight and it’s the door that’s the problem.  As an added bonus, the fabric looks really cool when the light from the room is shining through it.  And yes, the curtain is just a hair short width-wise.  Again, it’s the door’s fault.

 

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Other than that, there’s been the cleaning and culling of stuff (not the stash of course, that just got a major enhancement a few days ago.)  Books and old clothes have been donated, decorations have been put up, small kitchen disasters which resulted it pot roast gravy going everywhere have been resolved.  You know, the usual holiday stuff.  Also, this strange furry object on top of my yarn has kept me from knitting too:

 

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On the Road Again November 23, 2009

Filed under: Knitting Projects — Cailyn @ 1:09 pm
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Well, it’s that time of year again.  Time for my yearly trek back to Virginia and gorge myself on tasty turkey, gravy, and apple pie.  Yum yum.  The downside, of course, is that it’s a five-hour flight to said turkey.  Not to mention the time waiting for the flight in the airport and on the tarmac.  So there has been careful planning about projects, as you can imagine.

 

First up, my plain sock for knitting while talking to family.  This was yarn that I dyed almost a year ago but never used because I thought it was too plain.  Recently, I re-skeined it and over-dyed part of it to make it have stripes.  The purple is the new part.  I also have some hand-dyed light brown for the cuffs, heels, and toes.  No matter how I take pictures of this yarn, the color never turns out right.  Trust me that the purple is more… purple in real life.  I’ve learned my lesson, though, and I’m only bringing enough to make one sock on the trip.  That should guarantee that I finish the sock, right?

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Next, I’m making a scarf for someone for Christmas. Malabrigo Worsted, in Loro barranquero.

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This beautiful yarn will be a pair of cabled socks.  The Yarn Hollow Squish, Teal on Teal.

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This merino/bamboo fiber that I bought at Weaving Works.  Only about an ounce; I just wanted enough to tell how the blend spins.  I dyed it myself with food coloring.  I’ll be spinning it on my new Mt. Baker spindle!

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And one last-minute addition, Shibui Knits Baby Alpaca DK in Spruce.  Project to be determined soon.

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I’m not worried that I’m not bringing enough yarn.  I am worried, however, that the projects I have won’t be complicated enough to keep my interest.  After all, the flight back is an hour longer… Maybe I should bring a stitch dictionary just in case…

 

The Steek Will Set You Free November 3, 2009

Filed under: Knitting Projects — Cailyn @ 5:10 pm
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Wow.  I love steeks.  They’re awesome.

 

This weekend was pretty busy.  Mainly with knitting the Central Park Hoodie.  I finished the fronts and seamed the jacket up.  I was shocked to find that I do not hate seaming, like I thought.  With a nice edge that hasn’t been ruined by slipping stitches and has been carefully blocked, seaming was actually kind of fun.  Almost meditative. 

 

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I also took a few swatches and practiced steeking.  I highly recommend slicing up some swatches- it really removes the fear.  I tugged and yanked and jerked on the swatch and the stitches didn’t go anywhere they weren’t supposed to.  Late Saturday night (because careful cutting of a week’s worth of work should always be done late at night) I cut pockets in the front of my CPH.

 

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The safety pins are holding on to the other stitches in the column that I cut.  I’ll be picking up stitches along the edges to form the pocket and then I’ll sew the lining to those loose stitches to secure them.  This was shockingly easy and kind of enjoyable.  There was hardly any freaking out as I cut the knitting.  Although I was very disappointed that the people with me were unimpressed by this sudden appearance of pockets.  I might steek everything now.  They’re really cool.

 

My shoulder plan is working out well too.  I knit the armhole about an inch longer than the pattern said (on purpose!) and instead of having to figure out what to do with the sleeve cap, I decided to work the sleeves top-down.  I seamed everything then picked up stitches around the armhole and worked short rows for the cap.  I’ll write more about this process later.  I can’t believe all sleeves aren’t done this way… it looks great!

 

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I win! October 27, 2009

As much as I appreciate Kif’s guest post the other day while I was… indisposed, it was very hard wrestling the laptop back from him.

 

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Now that I have it back (I think I will pay for this ousting with a midnight hair-ball) I would like to share this with you:

 

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That’s right, an entire completed Central Park Hoodie back!  With short-row shoulder shaping, every cable turned the right way, the right size and everything. I win! (…but I really shouldn’t say that in print until I’ve finished it, lest I anger the knitting gods again.)  I’m on to the left front now, just finished the ribbing for it.

 

In other news, I haven’t told you about my fun trip to Weaving Works.  I went there with my mom while she was visiting.  I hadn’t been there before, even though I’ve lived in the Seattle area for 6 years!  I don’t have any pictures of the inside, sadly, but I can describe it for you!

 

When you come inside, there’s a massive wall and shelves full of yarn like Noro, Lana Grossa, and Sirdar.  There’s a great selection.  And then there’s the back third of the store.  Fiber and thread, in bulk.  Undyed cotton, nylon, wool, bamboo, rayon and more in all different weights and then there’s the dyed selection of those threads!  And the fiber!  Silk, wool of different breeds, yak, mohair, hemp, even milk and Firestar; it’s enough to drive a spinner mad.  There’s pre-dyed wool for felting and spinning and tons of undyed/natural fiber for dying yourself.  Silk in hankies and in cocoons if you want to do the reeling.  And some blends of fibers that are just great.  Sadly, not even the prices helped me decide- all the fiber is really well priced!  After a lot of indecision and burying my hands in bins of fiber, I decided on a few things.

102_4753 About an ounce of 80% merino, 20% bamboo blend, undyed.  This one’s just for experimenting.  I love knitting with wool/bamboo blends so I’d like to see how it spins.
102_4752 2.5 ounces of pure, undyed Blue-Faced Leicester top.  It’s soooo soft.  I thought I’d dye it myself, something fun.  Of course now I can’t think of a good color combination; blue or purple or brown?  And I can’t decide if I want there to be subtle gradations, stripes, or just a gentle switching of shades as I spin.  Any ideas?
102_4751 About 2 ounces of a pre-dyed 70% merino/30% silk blend.  I can’t stop petting it, it’s so luscious!  I even braided the hank so that it looks all pretty in the photo (notice I didn’t do that for the others!)  They had a small sample spun up at the store and it was beautiful.  This is what I’m going to spin as soon as I finish the CPH.  And what am I going to spin it on, you ask?
102_4756102_4755 My brand new, top-whorl spindle from Cascade Spindle Co.  I love their spindles and they’re all inspired by mountains in the Cascades!  This one is Mt. Baker, which is north of me, and we went skiing there a few years back.   

 

The spindles are in the last part of the shop, with the spinning wheels, extra bobbins, niddy-noddys, and knitting needles.  Oh, and the books!!  So many shelves of books about anything to do with fiber.  This is my new favorite store.  It’s a good thing it’s not too close, otherwise I’d be overrun with fiber in no time!