The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Intarsia Multi-Directional Scarf July 10, 2009

Filed under: knitting tutorials,Tutorials — Cailyn @ 4:47 pm
Tags: , , ,

It took me forever to write up this tutorial.  It’s kind of hard to explain, but once you get the hang of it, it seems really simple.  This scarf looks great in handpainted yarns, but if you want solid colors this is a great way to go.  So, I hope that I’ve written the instructions clear enough so that you can experiment on your own.  It will be helpful to have a read the directions of the Multi-Directional scarf, since I haven’t rewritten the instructions, just made them confusing! 


The Multi-Directional Scarf is basically made of triangles that are formed with short rows.  The triangles start at the bottom as essentially one stitch and increase from there, with a decrease eating up the stitches from the previous triangle.  A typical multidirectional scarf looks like this, with the arrows showing the direction of the knitting:


To knit the scarf with intarsia blocks, the essential construction is the same except that at a certain point in the triangle, a new color is added.  This is done by adding the new color at the beginning of the row as part of the increase instructions.  The old color becomes a stripe and the new color is a little triangle inside the overall bigger triangle.  The color changes are the dotted lines on the line drawing.

Untitled2   Untitled3


Start the Multi-Directional scarf according to the directions with your first color.  When you’re sick of that color and before you reach the desired width, change to the next color.  At the beginning of a row, work the increase with the new color.  Bring the old color’s working yarn up from under the new color (to prevent holes) and continue the row with the old color.  The side that has the yarn wrap showing is now the WS.  On the next row, work the old color until you reach the new color; bring the new yarn up from under the old yarn on the WS (you’ll have to bring the working yarn to the front to do this on alternate rows) and work the remaining stitches with the new yarn.  Continue this way until your triangle is as wide as you want.

102_4578   102_4582

Wrong side:


Right side:


Now, you’ve got your base triangle.  Mine looks all wrong because I forgot to increase every row.  But the principle is the same!

Main Triangles

Choose a new color.  This is the stripe part of the larger triangle.  It won’t look like a stripe yet, because of the short rows.  The key is to add the new color when the side of the triangle is as tall as you’d like the stripe.  It can be as short as two rows or as tall as twenty-five, it’s up to you.  Work the instructions in this color until the side is as tall as you’d like, then make the next set of increases in a new color.  Bring the old yarn up from under the new on the WS to prevent holes and continue the row (including decrease) in the old yarn.  Work back with the old yarn until the first stitch of the new yarn, bring the new yarn up from under the old on the WS and continue the row.  Work this way until the triangle is completed.



If you want, you can use more than two colors per triangle.  It can get a little dicey, because every new color in a triangle means another ball of yarn hanging from the back, but if you can handle the tangle, go right ahead!  The principle is the same, work the increases in the new color and switch yarns as you reach them.


Just remember to always twist your yarns on the same side of the scarf for neatness.  And good luck weaving in all those ends… that was not fun!


Afterthought Lifeline May 7, 2009

Filed under: knitting tutorials,Tutorials — Cailyn @ 4:45 pm
Tags: ,

Having ripped back on a number of projects recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about mistakes.  Some mistakes are easy to fix, involving just a single stitch or maybe three or four.  Or there are the mistakes that require you to rip back rows and rows of knitting.  In detailed lace knitting, knitters will thread a lifeline every few rows or every pattern repeat.  A lifeline goes through a specific row of stitches so that when you have to rip back, you know which row you’re on and it’s easy to put the stitches back on the needles. 


Well, most of us usually don’t put in lifelines as we’re knitting.  I sometimes think about it and then am too lazy to do it.  So what I end up using is what I call the afterthought lifeline.  Like an afterthought heel, it’s put in after the fact to save you from pain and heartache.  It’s easiest when done on stockinette stitch, pretty straightforward on ribbing, and can take a little practice with fancier stitches.  I’m not sure what it says about my knitting, but I’m now practiced enough to do an afterthought lifeline pretty well on cables and lace.


Placing an Afterthought Lifeline

You’ll need a tapestry needle and some scrap yarn long enough to go through your project.  The yarn used for this tutorial is Knit Picks CotLin, in Key Lime; the scrap yarn is Patons Grace in Sky.


000_0037   000_0038

This is a swatch of stockinette.  We need to decide which row we’re going to rip back to.  I like to use a spare needle to help me keep track of columns of stitches.


000_0039     Copy of 000_0037

Now I’ve placed the needle at the bottom of the row where I want to put my lifeline.  Remember that a knit stitch forms a V; each V lines up with the one next to it.


000_0040    Copy of 000_0041

Using a tapestry needle threaded with some scrap yarn, pick up the right side of each stitch.  If you pick up the left side of the stitch, the stitches will be twisted when you put them back on the needle.  It can take a little practice to pick out the next stitch in the row without a guide; try practicing this on a spare swatch to get the hang of it.



Yes, I am using the world’s largest tapestry needle.  I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t let me take that thing on a plane- it’s 3 inches long and thicker than my size 1 needles!

 000_0043   000_0045

Once the lifeline is in, take a deep breath, pull the needle out and rip back with gusto.  The lifeline will keep you from ripping back to far.  If you ended up loosing the row and threading some of your lifeline through the row above your chosen row, you can transfer the stitches back to the needles and tink from there.  Or move the lifeline around, or whatever works for your knitting.  Depends on the project and the number of stitches from the wrong row.  Experiment, there’s no wrong answers here.



Put the stitches back on the needle and return joyously or resignedly to your knitting.


Purling tbl March 25, 2009

Filed under: knitting tutorials — Cailyn @ 1:41 pm
Tags: , , ,

I thought I had made an awesome discovery about short row heels.  Turns out I haven’t.  Or maybe I have, but I can’t duplicate the results, so in the end it’s the same thing.  Very disappointing, since I spent the last two hours trying to unvent my own “mistake” and failing miserably.  So instead of an awesome short row heel tutorial, I’m going to put up something certainly less interesting and probably less useful.


Purling through the back loop is a lost skill, I think.  Rarely, if ever, does a pattern request that you purl through the back loop.  The only ones I’ve found, really, have been twisted stitch patterns that are worked flat, like the heel flap of my Socks (circa 2008,) where the twisted purl stitch on the wrong side shows as a twisted knit stitch on the right side.  Purling through the back loop is also useful for the occasional unintended twisted purl stitch, like the ones I always get when I have to rip out and then put ribbing back on my needles.  Instead of having to move the stitch to untwist it, I can just purl it through the back loop.  It’s a small time-saver, but I like it.


Go behind the stitch with the right needle and insert the needle into the stitch from the back.


Wrap the yarn as usual and pull through the stitch.



Easy as pie!  Mmm, pie…


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!


Counting Trick December 19, 2008

Filed under: knitting tutorials,Tutorials — Cailyn @ 10:33 am
Tags: ,

This post was supposed to be up yesterday.  I had it almost finished, put my laptop to sleep, and went to bed myself Tuesday night.  Now, this strategy has worked very well in the past.  I wake up, proofread over breakfast, and post.  This time, the rough draft was gone when I woke up.  The darn laptop had restarted overnight and I have to start all over again.  And since yesterday involved more cleaning than a circus after-party (??) I didn’t get a chance to rewrite it.  So here it is.  Finally.


I hate counting rows in knitting.  Well, not quite as much as I used to, since now I can actually do it if I have to.  But I still strongly dislike it.  I have a number of row counters and always keep a post-it note handy to make hash marks in order to keep track of rows.  I imagine this is not uncommon.  But both of those solutions involve putting down one or both needles to count a row.  And I hate to have to do that if I’m working on a small project.  And why should I carry around a row counter when I only need it once or twice and the rest of the pattern I’m fine?


Well, if you’re like me and hate counting rows even though you can do it and you only need to count a few rows at a time, I have found a solution.  It’s not a life-changing epiphany or anything, but I think it’s rather clever.  And it doesn’t even involve putting the needles down.  Unless you drop something.


Say your pattern calls for you to knit five rows (or rounds.)


Knit the first row (or round), then place an extra stitch marker after the first stitch on the right side.  Ta da!  Now if you go to cook dinner, you’ll know that you’ve knit one row/round of the five because there’s one stitch between the marker and the tip of the needle.




Knit the second row/round and move the marker to after the second stitch on the right side.  (This step is slightly easier to do in circular knitting, because you come to the marker before you come to the second stitch.  Knitting flat, it’s handy to have a locking marker for easy moving, or just slip the stitches back and forth on the needle.)  Isn’t this simple?  You can see you’ve knit two row/rounds when you stop to keep your dog from swallowing whatever that is.




Knit the third row/round and move the marker to after the third stitch on the right side.  You’ve got the hang of this now, right?  Just keep going on like this, moving the marker with each row, until you don’t need to count anymore.




Genius, right?


Self-Striping Yarn Dyeing December 1, 2008

Filed under: knitting tutorials,Tutorials — Cailyn @ 11:26 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I’m fascinated by self-striping yarns, but I don’t like knitting straight stockinette stitch much.  I also rarely find a self-striping yarn that I like on the market.  I keep trying to get ahold of some Twisted Fiber yarn, specifically Angst in Kabaam, but I never get there before they sell out.  I just realized the other day that maybe I should sign up for their newsletter to avoid this problem in the future.  Anyway, I have no self-striping yarn or inclination to use it.


Except that I am going to be traveling and there’s something very handy about having a simple sock on the needles to keep the hands busy while chatting with people or just for therapy.  Of course, I’ll be bringing other projects because there’s no way I’m working on a “simple sock” on the 5-hour plane ride!  But I’ll need a project to work on during coffee trips with my dad and after dinner chats with my mom and maybe to work on while hanging out late at night with my sisters (bad lighting + after midnight = bad for charts).


I’m going to dye my own self-striping yarn.  And I’m going to show you how to do it too!


If you’ve never dyed your own yarn before, you’re missing out.  It’s not something I want to do all the time, but it’s fun occasionally and especially with some friends.   I like to use food coloring dying methods instead of chemical dyes because, well, it’s so much easier to clean up!  And cheap and easy to find the supplies.  I suggest reading up on the basic technique in these Knitty articles: Kool Aid Dyeing; Food Color Dyeing.  Kady and I have dyed together two different times.  The first time we both did the cold pour method.  The second time I did the hot pour and Kady stuck with the cold pour.  I dyed some Cascade Superwash with the dip-dye method by myself. All had pretty good results!  There’s a lot of set up to dye self-striping yarn, but the results are worth it.


Self-Striping Yarn Tutorial


  • Enough wool yarn to make your desired project, in this case 420 yards undyed superwash wool
  • Needles for project, in this case Size 1 (2.25mm) DPNs
  • Yardstick/ruler/tape measure
  • Space to wind a long skein of yarn
  • Light colored, smooth waste yarn to tie skein
  • Food coloring/Kool-Aid/chemical dyes
  • Vinegar
  • Pots, measuring spoons, stove


Swatch 1

First, as with any knitting, we have to swatch.  Pick your yarn, in this case Knit Picks Undyed Essential, and your needles, in this case Size 1 (2.25mm) and knit a swatch.  If you’ve knit a plain sock with this yarn/needles before, you can skip this swatch.  Figure out your stitches per inch (and rows, if you want).  Multiply your sts/inch by the circumference of your ankle or middle of your foot.  For me, that’s 8 x 9″ = 72 sts.  Socks have negative ease so that they cling, so take that number and multiply it by 0.9.  (That’s an easy way to subtract 10%.)  For me, that’s 72 x 0.9 = 64.8.  I’ll round that down to 64 stitches.

Swatch 2

Cast the number of stitches from the end of Swatch 1 (for me, that’s 64 sts).  Join in the round.  Knit 1 round.  Using a permanent marker, mark the first stitch of the second row.  (You can see I’m swatching with Essential Tuscany, instead of the Undyed. Same yarn, just a different color.)  Then knit 2-8 rounds.  I knit 8 rounds, I’m not really sure why.  At the end of the last round, mark the last stitch.  I marked the yarn close to the last stitch instead.  (Advice: be careful not to get Sharpie on your needles.  Let the marked yarn dry about 10 seconds before knitting with it, it’ll bleed Sharpie on the needles.)

100_3968   100_3973


Unravel and Measure

Unravel Swatch 2.  Find the two marks and line them up.  Trim off the cast on/round 1 yarn if you want.  Fold the yarn between the marks into as many rounds as you knit.  I knit 8 rounds, so I folded the yarn between the marks into eighths.  If you only knit 2 rounds, just line up the marks.  If you knit 4 rounds, fold the yarn in half once to make fourths.

100_3974   100_3976


Lay the yarn against a yard stick or ruler and measure.  Don’t worry if the yarn isn’t completely straight.  This project involves a lot of math but isn’t an exact science.  This tells you how many inches it takes to knit one round of your sock.  It takes me about 24″ of yarn to knit one round of my 64 stitch sock.



Figuring Out the Stripes

I’ll leave it up to you to figure out what colors you’d like to use and how many and thick you’d like your stripes.  I’m going to use a dusky green and deep violet (hopefully) as well as leaving some of the yarn undyed/cream.  I have decided to have 3 rounds of green, then 3 rounds of cream, then 2 rounds of violet, then 2 rounds of cream again.  That means I need 72″ of green, 72″ of cream, 48″ of violet, and 48″ of cream in each stripe repeat. (3 rounds x 24″ per round = 72″; 2 rounds x 24″ per round = 48″)

yarn chart

Adding those lengths up, I’m going to need to make my skein 240″ around. 


Re-skeining the Yarn

I took the skein from Knit Picks and balled it up on my swift. Ask me about the time that I tried to re-skein directly from the Knit Picks skein.  Go ahead, ask me about the 4 hours I spent untangling the yarn.  I dare you.


Measure out a track using whatever’s at hand that measures the desired length of the skein, in this case 240″.  I used two chairs, 19″ wide, and placed them a little under 8.5 ft apart, making a 240″ circle.  (240″ – 19″ – 19″ = 202″; 202″/2 = 101″; 101″/12″ = 8.4 ft)  Remember that the yarn is going in a circle when planning the track.  (I don’t know why the pictures all turned out so blurry… next time I do this, I’ll take better pictures!)

 100_3982    100_3984

Using the light colored scrap yarn (dark colors will bleed; I used some left over Mist Palette) tie the skein in as many places as needed.  Wrap the ties loosely when tying; if you tie them too tightly, the dye won’t absorb the same as in other spots.  I’m paranoid about my yarn getting tangled, so I tied the yarn in 8 places.  I didn’t think about taking pictures though; the light gray yarn doesn’t show up in the pictures very well!

Using a different color yarn and the same technique, mark the color segments on your skein.  I was stupid and used the Mist for the whole thing.  I got very confused later on.  Trust me, use a different color yarn for each color segment!  This is how I marked my skein, measuring along the yarn and tying markers as needed.  Tie your color markers loosely, but not so loosely that they’ll slide around.  I might have tied my markers a little too loose.  Oh well.

Yarn Diagram    100_3986


Soak the Yarn

Soak the yarn in a cold water bath with a 1/4 c (60 ml) of vinegar for a few hours or overnight. (Remove from your skein track, obviously.)  I don’t know if this is completely required, but I do it every time anyway.


Ready the Dyes

Mix the dyes as needed; I refer to this article in Knitty when mixing up my dyes.  I used Wilton’s Juniper Green and Violet for this skein.  I dissolved the dyes (quite a bit of dye… more than I needed, I think) in big pots of water and brought to a simmer.


Dyeing (Finally!)

Drain the yarn and squeeze lightly to get rid of the excess water.  Find your color segment markers and put the yarn in the right pots based on that.  You can see my undyed/cream sections are carefully held up and out of the way by the strategically placed pot handles.  If you had more colors, obviously the yarn would be in more pots or jars, etc.

100_3990    100_3991


Let the yarn soak until the color is just right.  I think I left the green in a little too long, but I’m really happy with the purple.


Carefully remove the yarn (it’s hot!! Use tongs!) and rinse in cold water.  The purple didn’t bleed at all, but the green did quite a bit (probably because I put too much dye into the pot) so keep the color segments separate until the rinsing is complete!


Squeeze the yarn gently to remove the excess water.  You can hang the skein up somewhere to dry, or you can use my favorite cheat.  If your dryer has a shoe/sweater rack, stick the yarn on that and set on med/low heat!  Only takes about an hour instead of the hours it could take yarn to dry.  And it’s safe from children and pets, which is a nice plus.


Re-skeining Part 2

Put your dry yarn back on the skeining track from earlier (or anything similar that will keep the skein from tangling.)  Remove all the ties and re-skein the yarn into something that will fit on your swift (I don’t have a niddy-noddy, so I used a piece of cardboard) or wind into a ball directly.  Admire the pretty new yarn!

100_3996    100_4060

Oh yeah, I saved some of the undyed yarn and made a little mini-skein to dye at the same time for coordinating cuffs/heels/toes.


000_0024    000_0023

Check it out, stripes!! (As you can tell by the lack of ribbing, this is just a test swatch, not the actual sock.)  Tip: Start your project at the beginning of a color segment (this swatch starts halfway between cream and green) so that the stripes line up correctly.  I’m so excited to knit these socks!


Lifted Increases September 13, 2008

Filed under: knitting tutorials,Tutorials — Cailyn @ 6:25 pm
Tags: , ,

I’ve been knitting as fast as I can on the Aran Tam.  Unfortunately, the bottom of the tam is mostly ribbing and stockinette, which tends to bore me (I’m such the process knitter) and I’ve been kind of slow on it.  The interesting stuff is all on the top.  I thought about changing that in my pattern, but I want this to be traditional, and the ones I found online were all plain on the bottom (as far as I could tell.)  Anyway, I only have two more increase rounds then the fun starts!  I’ve also been working on a pair of mystery mittens, but you’ll have to wait for pictures of those.



Not much to gawk at yet; but soon, soon it will be gorgeous!


So, on to the real purpose of this post.  In my quest to make the Arthurian Anklets easier to understand and knit, I’ve taken some pictures for a tutorial on the lifted increases, called LRinc and LLinc in New Pathways for Sock Knitters.  These are different from an M1 increase.  M1 uses the strand of yarn running between stitches, while the lifted increases use the right or left leg of the stitches in the row below.  Unlike an M1, you can use a lifted increase at the beginning or end of a row.  These increases are nearly invisible, although there will be a tiny hole, about the same or smaller than an M1.  I’m not sure if I like lifted increases more or less than M1s, but I believe in knowing as many ways to do an increase (or anything, really) as I can.

I first saw these increases in Knitter’s Arans and Celtics and the way that they were explained confused me to no end.  Once I figured them out, they were really easy, but I wondered why such awful instructions were used.  Hopefully you won’t have that problem. 🙂  Yarn used is Knit Picks CotLin in Key Lime on size 4 DPNs.


LRinc (Right-Leaning Lifted Increase)


Knit to the point where you need to increase.  See that blue stitch there? (Love Photoshop!)  That is the stitch below the next stitch on the left needle.

100_3687  100_3688

Insert the right needle into the right (closest) leg of that stitch.  Place that loop on the left needle.

100_3690  100_3691

Knit that new loop through the front.  Knit the next stitch on the needle as normal and continue on your way.  The second picture shows what things look like after you’ve knit the new loop but before knitting the next stitch.

  100_3694 - Copy (2) 100_3694 - Copy 

There’ll be a little hole where the increase is, but after a few rows, it’s practically invisible!  But there it is.


LLinc (Left-Leaning Lifted Increase)


Knit to the point where you need to increase.  This time the stitch needed is the second stitch below the stitch just worked on the right needle, shown in orange.  Don’t use the stitch directly below the stitch just worked (blue).  The orange stitch is part of a previous row, just like the stitch used in LRinc; the blue stitch is part of the row you’re currently knitting into, which would make your increases be on different rows and probably look ugly.

100_3675  100_3679  

Insert the right needle into the left (closest) leg of the orange stitch.  Knit into the back of this new loop.  Knit the next stitch on the needle as normal and continue on your way. 

100_3694 - Copy (3) Copy of 100_3694 - Copy  


Ta-da, mirrored increases!  Pretty, huh?

100_3694 Copy of 100_3694