The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Bat, Bat, and Batt February 7, 2011

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



This is a bat.




And this is a batt.




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!


113_5365   113_5364


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:




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


IMAG0302  IMAG0305


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


Grandmother's 80th Birthday 2010-12-03 129

The happy recipient!


Knitdar July 17, 2009

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 1:34 pm
Tags: ,

I’ll admit it.  I’m a pretty big Harry Potter fan.  No, I don’t have any wizard memorabilia or costumes and I don’t listen to wizard rock.  But I have read the books once (…or thrice) and I enjoy the movies.  I’m not ashamed.  The series hits all of my buttons… well-written, good characters, thoroughly developed world, and completely over the top magic.


We went to see the latest movie (which was fun) and I got distracted by this hat:



Pretty pretty hat!  In the back of my mind I was deconstructing that hat, even as [important plot elements] were going on.  Luckily, they showed a lot of that hat!  Sadly, the same cannot be said of the matching gloves Hermione was wearing or the Fair Isle scarf.  An industrious knitter has already written a pattern for this hat at JL Yarnworks


The top decreases are really beautiful (there’s a picture on Ravelry,) but personally, I’d go a different way.  The original hat was not quite a beanie.  It had little “ears” sticking off the sides, as if the hat had been knitted in a tube, decreased slightly, and then grafted together to form a rectangle instead of a dome.  Just my two cents.


Even though I’ve been knitting straight for almost three years now, I never noticed knitwear in the movies much before.  Now I can’t help it!  I was watching some old episodes of How I Met Your Mother and my eyes were glued to a chunky Aran vest.  It’s a good thing that character changed or I might not have paid any attention to the rest of the episode!  Well, it’s not that bad.  But it’s like I’ve got a “knitdar;” my eye is unnaturally attracted to Hollywood knitwear.


Knitdar: Be careful, it could happen to you!


Round One March 31, 2009

Filed under: Knitting Projects,Musings — Cailyn @ 3:27 pm
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I started creating PDFs of all my patterns a few months ago.  If you’re on Ravelry, you might have seen that you can download the PDFs from the pattern pages.  But apparently I never put the PDFs on the blog!  I’m not sure how that slipped my mind.  It might be because my mind is slowly becoming a jelly-like substance that things only occasionally stick to.  I don’t have all the patterns completed yet, but here is Round One, freshly uploaded onto the WordPress servers.


Albuquerque Gloves


Snowflake Fingerless Gloves

Arthurian Anklets

Crystalline Socks

Danube Socks

Socks, circa 2008

Emily’s Scarf

Fireflake Hat

Felted Mousie


The link to download the PDF is located just under the pattern title and just above the pattern information, like this:




Patterns not yet PDFed:


Shenandoah Socks

Grand Tetons Socks


Fireflake Hat January 14, 2009

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




Denouement December 30, 2008

Filed under: Knitting Projects — Cailyn @ 11:25 am
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I haven’t written anything in a few days, have I?  Oops.  It’s been busy, what with felting four pairs of clogs. Oy, that was a lot of felting!  Even in the washer.  The father/brother-in-law got some nice heathered earth tones, Pampas, Camel and Amber Heather.  Very nice.  Lowell’s are Forest and Claret, a somewhat interesting choice and still up for debate.  It looked so darn good in the skeins.  My mother-in-law’s turned out the best, I think.  White and black with embroidered spots to look like dalmatians!  Very cute, I think.


100_4161   100_4162  

100_4160   100_4154


I received some great gifts, like the Yarn Harlot’s page-a-day calendar and the first two volumes of Barbara Walker’s stitch dictionaries.  So many ideas… so little time.  Lowell and a friend bought me the whole set of Harmony interchangeable circulars, so I now can knit my worsted weight with more than a size 7 or size 10.5.  Very helpful, let me tell you!  Didn’t get that blocking board that I was hinting at but that’s okay.  I’ll acquire it another way, *evil laugh*.


In terms of gifts given to other people, they all went pretty well.  Obviously, I’ve told you about the family of slippers.  Did I mention that I’m now sick of that pattern and don’t want to see it again for at least a year… and now, right after I cast off the last stitch of the last slipper joyous about the fact that I wouldn’t be knitting any more slippers… now my pair of slippers developed a hole in the sole that apparently no amount of needle felting is useful against.  Oh, the irony!  Guess I’ll be knitting that pattern again very soon…


Oh right, other knitted gifts.  Well, my mother-in-law got a lovely pair of socks, knit from Dream in Color Smooshy in Deep Sea Flower.  The pattern will be up shortly (I hope.)


  100_4121    100_4118


And Lowell got a hat (this was the last minute project that I’m still surprised I pulled off without him seeing much of it.)  I love this hat so much.  It turned out a little short for him (despite the obsessive attention to length), but fits me great!  I’ll be ripping back to before the decreases and making it a little longer for him; shouldn’t take more than an hour or so.  I will also be knitting this hat for me!  I’m thinking a white background with dark to light blue accents.  I may already have the yarn in my Knit Picks cart.  The pattern will also be up soon.


IMG_2454    IMG_2455


Finito! September 16, 2008

Filed under: Knitting Projects,Musings — Cailyn @ 11:09 pm
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What’s this?


Is that a swatch in Wool of the Andes Bulky Scuba?  Why, yes, I believe it is!  Any day you get yarn is a good day and 8 skeins of this stuff took up a nice-sized box.  I love the color.  Sometimes it’s very blue, sometimes it’s kind of green and it’s nicely muted.  I spent much of the morning knitting a swatch, because I seem to have left my brain down by the mailbox.  The first time through, I got perfect gauge.  But then I realized that things didn’t quite look right… Duh, I had crossed the cables wrong, two sts over one instead of one st over two. So, rip out and try again.  This time, I got something close, but not quite right.  Too many stitches per inch.  And here’s the funny part:  I tried to fix this problem by swatching with smaller needles.  What am I, an idiot??  Apparently yes, because I spent a good 15 minutes doing some very creative math and trying to figure out how I had gotten more stitches per inch than before.  Sigh.  Rip out, cast on again, do the cables right this time… No matter how I measure this last swatch, I keep coming up with different measurements.  I’m serious, sometimes it’s 19 sts/4 in, sometimes it’s 17, and a few beautiful times, it’s the correct 18sts.  Even when I measure it in the same darn place, I get different gauge!  I’ve decided to just cast on and hope that it resolves itself into something resembling 18 sts/4 in.  So, I’ll play it a bit fast and loose with the gauge.  I might regret this decision, but it’s a vest.  What’s the worst that happens, right?  (I really hope the Gauge Demon didn’t hear that!)


After a marathon session of knitting on Saturday night, and I do mean marathon, I finished the Aran Tam.  (It’s amazing what kind of motivation  “Every row I have fewer stitches to knit!” is.  I really barreled through this once I reached the cables.  Although it still took me 3 or 4 hours to finish.)

100_3762   100_3763

I really like the diamond cables I substituted, but the rice stitch I used for the half-diamonds doesn’t really pop like I had hoped.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to add a pom-pom on top, as is traditional. (I probably will.) The yarn on top there is the tail that has to be woven in. 

Here’s another picture of the original to compare:

582266505_ef0b9ce9fd   100_3763

And here it is on my big head facing, of course, away from the light source.  Really, I’m a special kind of stupid today.


I think I’m going to run a few strands of elastic through the ribbing at the bottom.  I’m not sure if it’s the grip of the yarn on itself or the provisional cast on (probably not) or the fact that the brim was knit on size 3 (!!) needles, but it’s not very stretchy.  But other than that, I’m quite pleased with my first tam!  Thank you again for the yarn, Norman!