The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Purling through the back loop January 27, 2009

Filed under: knitting tutorials,Tutorials — Cailyn @ 10:07 pm
Tags: , ,

Purling through the back loop (p tbl) is not something that’s done very often, but it’s a handy skill to have.  It can also be confusing to figure out without pictures.  Purling through the back loop after a cable turn can help avoid holes.  If you’ve accidentally twisted a purl stitch, it’s an easy way to correct it.  Or, if you’re like me, you mostly run into twisted purl stitches when you’ve had to rip back and no matter how many times you’ve put stitches back on the needles, they’re always twisted.



Insert the right needle into the back loop of the purl stitch from the back to the front.

100_4072    100_4077


Wrap yarn around needle as usual and pull through the stitch.



Recently, I’ve been using p tbl in my ribbing.  I wrap my yarn around the bottom of the right hand needle (instead of around the top as in the picture) which twists the resulting stitch.  On the next row, I purl the stitch through the back loop to correct the twist, still wrapping my yarn in the opposite direction.  Personally, I think that doing that has improved the look of my k1p1 ribbing considerably.  I should probably take some pictures of the two ribbings, but I’ve been a little under the weather lately and so I am lazy. 


I got the yarn for my Fireflake hat in blue and white, although I’m not sure I’ll have time to knit it before winter is gone.  Yarn for my sweater/cardigan should be here soon too!  I’m really excited about that.  Can’t wait to get started!


Yarn Babbling January 22, 2009

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 12:53 am
Tags: , , ,

Ok, having carefully looked at my queue of projects and searched deep in my soul for the answers to life’s great questions, I have determined that, yes, I have enough time and sanity to knit a seamless raglan cardigan.  Not just any cardigan, mind you, a cardigan that will be designed mostly on the fly, a cardigan that will include my first sleeves, and a cardigan that will include my first steek.   Any sane person would choose a pattern already designed and written by a professional sweater-designer.  But me?  I like a challenge.  Apparently.


Also, have you noticed that “queue” is a really weird word?  I was trying to type it and I honestly couldn’t remember how to spell it.  It was inconceivable to me that it had “ueue” after the Q.  Shouldn’t there be some sort of silent consonant in there?  Maybe I should start spelling it “queuet.”  The T is silent. Isn’t that better?


So, the sweater/cardigan (it will start off life as a sweater before the *shudder* steek is cut up the center) will be knit from Knit Picks Swish Worsted, in Marine Heather.  I know that I come across as the world’s biggest Knit Picks junkie.  But I really like their yarns.  I think that they can’t be beat for a sturdy, good quality yarn for a low price.  I love many, many non-Knit Picks yarns (mm, Road to China.)  But I can’t afford them all the time.  Especially since, well, it takes a lot of skeins to make something that goes around my whole torso.


Aaaaaanyway.  I’m thinking that the cardigan will have some nice cabling details.  And if it turns out well, I’ll of course be publishing the pattern here.  Here’s hoping that that’s the case.


I mentioned some Misti Alpaca that my brother-in-law had bought me last time.  After Christmas, we drove up to Vancouver for a few days and we spent some time in the Granville Market.  Well, my mother-and brother-in-law spent more time than the rest of us, but that’s another story.  They stopped in at Maiwa, a fiber supply store.  This store is seriously cool.  All kinds of yarns, books, fibers, and dyes.  They had all natural dyes, too, from flowers and vegetables.  I almost bought some, but I don’t really do enough dyeing to justify a big tub of ground marigold or indigo.  The in-laws spent a while looking at different yarns, trying to decide what I’d like. 


What I got was some beautiful Skacel Adagio (70% llama, 30% silk)

 100_4142   100_4144


And some Misti Laceweight Alpaca (100% baby alpaca)



Actually, the second ball of Adagio wasn’t blue originally; it was gold, but when I went in to check out Maiwa for myself I couldn’t resist the combination of blues.  You know how I am with blues.  The laceweight presents an interesting quandary.  Do I try my hand at a lace shawl?  I’m not really a shawl-wearer.  I love the colors, though.  They’d be beautiful as a shawl.  The employee at the store recommended holding the yarn doubled and making a scarf, which is probably what I’ll do.  Shawl might be too much of a commitment right now, given my list of projects.


I also picked up some of this Fiesta Ballet (50% superfine alpaca, 50% Tencel) yarn which my mother-in-law pointed out to me:



This might be destined for a hat or something like that.  It’s crazily soft.  If I had more of it, I might have made it into a scarf too.


I love souvenir yarn shopping.


Too many projects January 19, 2009

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 5:03 pm
Tags: , , ,

I have once again been bitten by the sweater bug.  Usually, this bug bite just involves a slight itching, solved by a liberal application of reminding myself of how much I hate, hate, hate seaming.  Did I mention that I hate it?  Nowadays, this reminder comes in the form of reviewing my stupid mistakes on the Estes Vest, chronicled on this very blog.  Unfamiliar with seaming, I slipped the first stitch of every row, making mattress stitch unfeasible for the seaming.  Very unpleasant.


Those who followed the Estes saga might remember that one of the reasons I wanted to knit it was because it had no sleeves.  This fact appeared perfect, as sleeves seem like the main hassle of knitting a sweater.  All that pinning and easing and making sure that the stitches line up.  And even picking up stitches from the shoulder for the sleeve seems hard- you have to pick up, what, every 3rd stitch or something like that?  Sadly, though, I really like sleeves.  Sleeves are warm.  Can’t make a sweater without sleeves.  What to do?


I received Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Without Tears from a friend for Christmas.  Elizabeth Zimmerman is known for many things, including her blunt and amusing writing style and her famous cast off.  But she also invented (or unvented) the bottom-up seamless sweaterSeamless!  Knit all in the round, except for a few rows at the back of the neck.


I’m dying to make myself one of these.  Zimmerman has instructions for a yoke, a raglan, and a saddle shoulder sweater.  They’re all based on percentages so they easily scale to different sizes with a minimum of math.  What I really want is a nice comfy cardigan to wear on nights when I’m a little chilly around the house; something that looks nice but is, essentially, comfort clothing.  I’m thinking that I will make a raglan sweater then cut a steek up the front and make it a cardigan with some buttons.  I’ll put some cabling around the bottom and up the front (maybe the back) and sleeves.  I’m really excited to start this project, even knowing that by the time I’m done with it, it’ll probably be too warm to wear, because that’s just the way things work.


Of course, I also have a pair of Fair Isle gloves that I’m dying to knit.  I have them all charted out and the yarn sitting 100_4145upstairs.  And I’ve got two designs that are destined for submissions to Knotions and a UK magazine, Yarn Forward.  Sorry I can’t share with you what they are yet.  But I can say that they’re fabulous.  I’d like to submit something to Knitty too, but I haven’t gotten a good idea yet.  And not only do I have those projects to start/finish, I have a crocheted blanket that I started last January that I’d like to finish some time this year and I need a new cowl for skiing since the one I made two years ago has felted to be too small.  And I really want to knit a scarf/cowl with this Misti Alpaca that my brother-in-law gave me before it gets too warm.  And a new hat, a white and blue version of the Fireflake Hat


I can do all that before the weather changes, right?


Of course, the weather is against me.  Right now it’s 53 degrees outside.  And sunny! Is this Seattle or not?!  I’m going to have to migrate north just to be able to wear my knitwear soon.  But it does mean that I can ride my bike more often, which is nice.  As you can see, I’m very conflicted about this weather thing. 


Either way, I guess if I want to be able to justify adding a cardigan to my pile of projects, I’d better get back to knitting! (And I’d better knit fast!)


Fireflake Hat January 14, 2009

Filed under: Knitting Projects,patterns — Cailyn @ 2:27 pm
Tags: , , ,

IMG_2474I love this hat.  I think I love everything about it (and I don’t normally like snug-fitting hats.)  I designed this for my husband, but I’ve already ordered the yarn to make one for myself (in white and blue!) For him, I wanted a hat with color and with a pattern resembling snowflakes, since he’ll be wearing it around the ski village.  But I didn’t want the color to be girly and I didn’t want the snowflakes to be obviously Nordic.  I like this pattern because the snowflakes are very geometric and not at all like the traditional “ski sweaters.”  The chart looks complicated but each row is easy to follow. Which was very nice, seeing as I was secretly knitting it five days before Christmas!  (Sadly, it took longer to get a good picture of the hat than it did to knit and write the pattern!)


I also used this hat as an excuse to work on my tubular cast on.  I don’t like rolled brims and I wanted to have the color work start as close to the beginning of the hat as possible.  So, a tubular cast on with ribbing that gives a nice stretchy edge and looks almost like stockinette seemed perfect.  The only drawback is that the cast on is best worked flat, but there isn’t much to sew up at the end.  However, if you don’t want to tackle the tubular cast on, cast on with the long tail cast on, join in the round and work 5 rounds of ribbing.  The tubular cast on will flip around until blocking.  Wet blocking is the way to go- afterwards the cast on will lay flat.  If it doesn’t, try running some elastic through the tube created by the cast on to hold it down.


The hat is cast on flat in sport weight yarn, then joined in the round and worked circularly for the rest of the pattern.  The color chart is repeated 8 times around the hat.  I found it helpful to place a marker at the end of each chart repeat.  After the color work, the yarn is switched from sport weight to worsted weight so that the plain stockinette section is quick to knit.  There are two sizes; the only difference between them is length.  The women’s size is 1″ shorter than the men’s.


IMG_2484a        IMG_2483 


Fireflake Hat

Download the PDF: Fireflake Hat

  • Finished Size: 20″ x 7″ for Women’s, 20″ circumference, 8″ in Men’s, shown in Men’s
  • Needles: 1 size 5(3.75mm) 16″ circular, 1 size 7(4.50mm) 16″ circular, 1 set size 7(4.50mm) DPNs 
  • Yarn: Knit Picks Telemark: Black, Garnet Heather, Flame Heather, Persimmon Heather; Knit Picks Wool of the Andes: Coal
  • Yardage: Black, 70yd; Garnet, 40yd; Flame, 15yd; Persimmon, 15yd; Coal, 80yd
  • Gauge:  25 sts x 29 rows = 4″ in sport weight Color Chart; 22 sts x 26 rows = 4″ in worsted weight stockinette
  • Extras: 24″ waste yarn (for cast on), tapestry needle, stitch markers (optional)


Special Stitches

Tubular Cast On:  There are many great tutorials online about tubular cast ons. I use TechKnitter’s technique.  TechKnitter also links to other tutorials for this cast on.  Here is a video tutorial.

1×1 Ribbing: *K1, p1* to the end of the row.



Using the a 1×1 rib tubular cast on, cast on 129 stitches with Telemark Black on the smaller circular needle.  Do not join in the round.  (If using a long-tail cast on, cast on 128 sts, join in the round, and work 5 rows of 1×1 ribbing.  Move on to the Color Work Section.)

Work 4 foundation rows (k1, sl 1 purlwise with yarn in front) as per tutorial instructions.

Work 1 row of K1 P1 ribbing until the last stitch of the row.  Join in the round by knitting the last stitch together with the first stitch of the row. 1 st decreased; 128 sts


Color Work

Knit 1 round Black.

Knit 1 round Garnet Heather.

Knit 1 round Black.

Work Color Chart 8 times around the hat. (Both charts below are the same.  One is in color, one is in symbols; use whichever one is best for you.  Click on the charts to enlarge.)

Color   Symbol

Knit 1 round Black.

Knit 1 round Garnet Heather.

Knit 1 round Black.

Switch to larger circular and join Wool of the Andes Coal.  Cut Telemark Black.

Decrease Round: K1, *k2tog, k3, k2tog, k2,* to the last 5 sts, k2tog, k3.  28 sts decreased; 100 sts

Knit until the hat measures 5.25″ [6.25″] from the cast on edge.


Shape Top

Dec Rnd: *k2, k2tog,* to the end of the round. 25 sts decreased; 75 sts

Knit 2 rounds even.

Dec Rnd: *k2, k2tog,* to the last 3 sts, k3.  18 sts decreased; 57 sts

Knit 2 rnds even.

Dec Rnd: *k1, k2tog,* to the end of the round.  19 sts decreased; 38 sts

Knit 1 round even.

Dec Rnd: *K1, k2tog,* to the last 2 sts, k2.  12 sts decreased; 26 sts

Knit 1 rnd even.

Dec Rnd: K2tog 13 times.  13 sts decreased; 13 sts

Knit 1 round even.

Dec Rnd: K2tog 6 times, k1.  6 sts decreased; 7 sts

Cut yarn and thread through the remaining stitches.  Pull tight and weave in all ends. Use the tail from the cast on to sew up the gap in ribbing.

Wet block to remove brim curl and relax the color work.

IMG_2455      IMG_2477


Please Note: I post my patterns as soon as I’ve completed them because I’m excited to share them with you. They have not been fully tested. I’ve made every effort to make sure that the instructions are clear and error-free. There may be typos or pattern mistakes and if you find them or have any questions, please let me know by posting a comment or emailing me, dailyskein at


Creative Commons License
This work by Cailyn Meyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.


Cableface January 12, 2009

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 4:53 pm
Tags: ,

Scene: A poorly-lit ski shop in the middle of winter.

[Two knitters walk into the shop, chatting about hand knit hats.  They glance at a skier standing in the corner, facing away from them.]

Knitter 1: Wow, I wonder how this hat is made.  Look at that stitch pattern.

Knitter 2: Yeah, and check out those sweet skis!  Excuse me, do you work here?  Are these on sale? [looking at the skier in the corner.]IMG_2489

[The skier turns around slowly, dressed in a stylish hooded jacket and snow pants.]

[Lightning flashes, revealing the skier’s face- a cable knitted in a blue-white hand spun.]

[Knitter 1 and 2 scream and try to run.]

[Cableface trips the knitters with yarn and strangles them with the cable of her circular needle.]

[Cableface turns to the camera and holds up her wickedly sharp metal DPNs.  Chilling music plays.]



Coming soon to theaters near you.  Unrated.



Seriously, people, I think we’re in real danger here.  Think about the dangerous weapons that we work with.  Sharp needles.  Cable needles are really just pointy-ended garrotes.  Yarn has so many nefarious uses; cheap acrylic could easily be used to torture someone.  DPNs could be lethal projectiles.  Poison stitch markers- well, maybe that’s going too far.


I’m not sure if Cableface is just a horribly scarred knitter using a cabled mask to hide her identity while she murders other knitters or if she’s a half-finished, partly frogged and scorned piece of knitwear that’s turned evil from neglect.  But either way, I think we need to be wary.  She’s obviously unhinged and cold.  She also might enjoy skiing or boarding when not killing people.  It is our job as members of the knitting community to keep our eyes out for this criminal and to warn others.  Call the police immediately if you see Cableface.  I’m sure there’s a reward.  If they’re smart, it’ll be paid in cashmere.




Floodin’ Down in Snoqualmie January 8, 2009

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 3:09 pm

I am, of this moment, at the Starbucks at the top of the hill, very politely stealing their power.  See, my house has no power.  Because the river near our house has come seeking my soul.  It got a taste for my blood this summer when I fell out of my kayak and now it’s back for more!


Well, ok, maybe the flood has more to do with the massive amount of rain and the warm temperatures that are melting the snow in the mountains.  Maybe.  But I’m unconvinced.  I think it’s coming for me.


My house is really in no danger from the flooding, except that it’s knocked out our power.  We’re up a pretty big hill.  But the river is definitely flooding higher than it has before (it flooded a couple years ago, also knocking out our power.)  I hear we’re on the national news, even.


To give you an idea about the amount of water coming through my town, these are the Snoqualmie Falls.  A lovely waterfall and tourist attraction that we often take people too.  The falls are about 300 feet tall.



And this is Snoqualmie Falls yesterday.

 100_4230    100_4236


It’s nuts.  This is the lot where we bought our Christmas tree a few weeks ago:




You can even see the few tree that are left over floating on the left side.


Before the power outage, I was in the process of making PDFs of all my patterns for easier printing.  (Thanks for prompting me, ChristyH!)  I’ve finally found a program that does everything I want without all the things I don’t care about.  I’ll write more about that next time… hopefully without having to walk to the Starbucks to do so.


Crystalline Socks January 5, 2009

Filed under: Knitting Projects,patterns — Cailyn @ 11:13 am
Tags: , , , ,

I designed and knit these socks as a gift for my mother-in-law for Christmas.  Believe it or not, these socks are the first socks I’ve ever knit for someone else!  Not many people are clamoring for hand-knit socks these days, which I think is a shame, but it does mean that I have more for myself.  I know that the stitch pattern I used is named “quilted stockinette,” but the pattern really reminds me of a crystal structure instead.


These socks are great for hand-painted yarns.  The quilted/crystal pattern breaks up the pooling that hand-painted yarns have a tendency to do.  The quilted pattern is also simple to work and easy to memorize, with every other row being plain knitting.  The pattern is created by slipping stitches with the yarn held in front, in order to create a loose strand across the front of the work which is then lifted up by knitting it together with a stitch in a later row.  The cables add some visual interest along the leg, but really they’re just there because I love cables.


The quilted stockinette sections and cables are worked at the same time, but the number of rows in each are not the same.  This means that the quilted pattern starts over before the cable does.  Work the first round of each element, then the next round of each, and so on, so that you might be working Round 3 of the quilted stockinette but Round 5 of the cable at the same time.  Keep an even (maybe slightly loose) tension with the yarn across the slipped stitches; pulling them too tight will cause the fabric to pucker.  Because slipped stitches are shorter than knit stitches, the instep of the sock will be shorter than the sole.  This is corrected somewhat by adding an extra row at the toe to the instep, but will mostly be unnoticeable when the sock is worn.


These socks were knit with two circular needles, but the pattern is written to be non-needle-specific.  The pattern does not tell you how many stitches to put on each needle or have instructions such as “work to the end of Needle 1.”


Edit 1/14/08: Edited the cable instructions to make them easier (I hope) to follow.  Instead of being part of the written instructions, the purl stitches are part of the cable charts.  Also corrected the first round after the ribbing.


 100_4114    100_4118


Crystalline Socks

Download the PDF: Crystalline Socks

  • Finished Size: Foot length 9″, circumference 8.5″
  • Needles: Size 1 (2.25mm) DPNS or circular(s)
  • Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy, Deep Sea Flower
  • Yardage: 280-300 yards
  • Gauge: 34 sts x 52 rows = 4″ in Quilted Stockinette
  • Extras: Cable needle, stitch markers, stitch holder, tapestry needle


Special Stitches

Sl wyif: Slip stitch purlwise with yarn held in front of work, leaving a strand across the front.

Q1: Quilt 1; insert right needle into loose strand two rows below and knit together with next stitch

Quilted Stockinette:

Round 1: K2, *sl5 wyif, k1,* end k1.crystalline

Rounds 2, 4, 6, 8: Knit.

Round 3: K4, *Q1, k5,* to last 5 sts, Q1, k4.

Round 5: K1, sl 3 wyif, *k1, sl 5 wyif,* to last 5 sts, k1, sl 3 wyif, k1.

Round 7: K1, *Q1, k5,* to last 2 sts, Q1, k1.

Cable (click thumbnail to enlarge chart)

C4F: Slip next two stitches onto the cable needle and hold to the front of the work.  Knit the next two stitches, then the stitches from the cable needle. 

C4B: Slip next two stitches onto the cable needle and hold to the back of the work.  Knit the next two stitches, then the stitches from the cable needle.



CO 66 stitches and join to begin working in the round, being careful not to twist.  Place a marker for the beginning of the round.

Ribbing: *K1, p1* to the end of the round.  Work for  Ribbing for 1″.



Set up round: K27, p1, k4, p1, k27, p1, k4, p1.

Starting on Round 1 of both the Quilted Stockinette and Cables A and B, work 27 sts in Quilted Stockinette, p1, Cable A, 27 sts in Quilted Stockinette, Cable B.

Continue working the Quilted Stockinette and the two cables at the same time until the leg is the desired length.


Heel Flap

Set up: Work next round as normal, stopping 3 sts before the end of the round, turn.

Row 1: Sl 1, p2tog, p30, turn.  32 sts on heel flap.

Heel flap will be worked back and forth on these 32 heel stitches.  Put other 33 stitches on a stitch holder, spare needle, or scrap yarn. 

Row 2: *Sl 1, k1* to the end of the row, turn.

Row 3: Sl 1, purl to the end of the row, turn.

Repeat Rows 2 and 3 30 more times, for a total of 34 rows (17 slipped stitches on each side) ending after row 3.


Heel Turn

Row 1: Sl 1, k17, ssk, k1, turn.

Row 2: Sl 1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn.

Row 3: Sl 1, k6, ssk, k1, turn.

Row 4: Sl 1, p7, p2tog, p1, turn.

Continue working 1 more stitch per row, until all stitches have been worked, ending after a WS row.  19 sts remain.

Sl 1 and knit across the heel.  Return other 33 stitches, which form the instep, to the needle(s).



Pick up and knit 17 stitches along the heel flap, 1 in each slipped stitch. Instep: k2, p1, work 27 sts in Quilted Stockinette, p1, k2.  Pick up and knit 17 sts along in the heel flap, k9.  Place marker to mark the beginning of the round.  34 sts increased, 86 sts.

Round 1: Knit to the last 3 sts before the instep, k2tog, k1, work across instep (k2, p1, work 27 sts in Quilted Stockinette, p1, k2), k1, ssk, work to the end of the round.  2 sts decreased.

Round 2: Work even, working instep pattern as established.

Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 until there are 66 sts remaining.



Continue working instep as established and work sole in stockinette stitch until foot is about 1.5 inches shorter than desired length.



Set up: Work to instep, knit across instep, place marker for the new beginning of the round.

Round 1: K1, ssk, k to 3 sts before the end of the sole, k2tog, k2, ssk, k to 3 sts before the end of the instep, k2tog, k1. 4 sts decreased.

Round 2: Knit.

Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 until there are 22 sts remaining.

Graft the remaining sts together using Kitchener stitch.

Weave in all ends and block if desired.


Please Note: I post my patterns as soon as I’ve completed them because I’m excited to share them with you. They have not been fully tested. But they are free. I’ve made every effort to make sure that the instructions are clear and error-free. There may be typos or pattern mistakes and if you find them or have any questions, please let me know by posting a comment or emailing me, dailyskein at


Creative Commons License
This work by Cailyn Meyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.