This Is Not Going to Be Pretty, Part II: The Warpening

fwf-logo-columnsizeFor an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

I don’t want for a moment to give the impression that the idea I started messing with last time–painting a pattern on a warp-dominant fabric–is original to me.

fwf-56-finishedlotus
The experiment begun. For full details, see the previous installment of “Fridays with Franklin.”

There are many forms of weaving that paint or dye the warp to create a pattern in the finished cloth.

My inspiration was a fabric, not terribly well known these days, called chiné. Now, chiné (shee-NAY) is not the same as crèpe de chine or China silk. The name means “Chinese” and it may well have originated in China; though the examples of it that inspired me are not, in fact, Chinese, but French. Are you with me so far?

Chiné probably hit its all-time peak of popularity in France in the latter part of the 18th century. There is a tradition (not terribly well founded) that Madame de Pompadour liked to wear it, so on occasion you’ll find it called “Pompadour Taffeta.”

It’s expensive to produce. Christian Dior used it in the heyday of the New Look; and more recently designer Raf Simons (the now-former Creative Director of Dior) put it into his first collection for the house.

The fundamental aspect of chiné is the pattern painted upon the stretched warp threads before weaving–just as I painted my lotuses. The pattern persists in the finished fabric.

Here is a spectacular example from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York: a silk and linen evening overdress from the tail end of the eighteenth century. (For full details, see the dossier on the Met’s Web site.)

Picture 029
Evening Overdress in Chiné Weave. British, 1797-99. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.2198a, b. Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

That repeating sprig motif is woven right into the fabric. You can see it clearly in this view of the back.

Picture 008
Detail of Evening Overdress in Chiné Weave. British, 1797-99. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.2198a, b. Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The hallmark of chiné, which you either like or you don’t, is patterns that have lost their hard edges and become either dreamy as watercolor (if you like them); or blurry and out-of-focus (if you don’t).

I like them.

The softness is in part a result of painting upon those parallel strands of warp. During the painting process, they’re close together and held in place at both ends. They can support motifs with a fair amount of detail, like (or so I hoped) my lotus:

lotus-whole-orange

When the warp is wound onto the loom so weaving can begin, those painted parallel strands will inevitably shift a bit vertically in relation to one another. This result is a visual shimmer, sort of like this.

lotus-shiftedRe-Enter the Bunny of Better Judgment

You remember this fellow from last week? The Bunny of my Better Judgment?

bun-hitired

Direct-warping a rigid heddle loom like my Schacht Cricket isn’t difficult or terribly time-consuming. I can usually put a plain warp on in an hour or less.

But this warp, because it was going to be painted, couldn’t be done in the comfort of my dining room. No, I had to work in the unheated cellar of the Chicago Victorian in which I live–in November. It’s dark and chilly down there, and it kinda smells like the fall of the house of Usher.

The stretched, nine-foot warp had to be stenciled. I’d never done that before. It took ages to finish each motif, especially before I got a feel for the process about halfway through.

fwf-56-paintedwarp

By the time all the paint had dried to the touch, it was late and getting dark (or maybe my vision was going black). My feet hurt and my neck hurt and my knees hurt and my toes were numb and Rosamund needed to go for a walk and I was hungry and…

Project - Sketch 1_5

Yes. It would have been perfectly reasonable to call a halt, run around the neighborhood with Rosamund, and enjoy a celebratory fizzy water.

Instead, I decided to rush forward and wind on the warp. It would feel so good, I thought, to know I could start cranking out fabric the next morning.

Project - Sketch 1_8

How Not to Wind on Your Warp

I have never had trouble winding on a warp before. Not once. Not even though I am still a rank novice of a weaver.

I clipped the peg-end of the strands and started to crank, and immediately had issues at both ends of the process.

At the peg end, I had done nothing to keep the threads under tension. They began to shift, and continued to shift, and never stopped shifting until they were tied on. If you can’t guess that happened because of that, you’ll see in a moment.

At the loom end, I decided to use the roll of freezer paper (the paper I’d used to make my stencil) as a warp separator.

You can’t just crank your unwoven warp onto the naked back beam. You need to separate the layers, as they build up on the beam, with something sturdy–stout paper, slats of wood, slats from a window blind. Otherwise the yarns sink into one another and your tension is uneven. When your tension is uneven, your finished fabric is correspondingly uneven.

I had always used sliced-up brown paper bags to separate my warp, and I reuse the same paper repeatedly. But my brown paper stash was insufficient for this project–it wasn’t long enough and it wasn’t wide enough. The freezer paper was wider than the beam, but I figured I could just fold it up and stuff it in.

I should have measured it carefully and sliced precisely it to make a single layer of paper just wide enough. I didn’t.

I just rolled and folded. Usually my folding wasn’t very good. The paper shifted and bunched. I just kinda scrunched it down and kept winding.

Project - Sketch 1_6

Garbage In…

At length, the warp was wound, and so was my bobbin of quite gorgeous HiKoo Alpaca Lace Light.

filled-bobbin
HiKoo Alpaca Lace Light, ready to become weft. It’s so good that it has re-awakened my long-dormant fine lace mojo. That’s another column, though.

I don’t even have time this week to tell you about everything that went wrong with the weaving–I’m saving some of that for the next column.

I’ll tell you this. The devil-may-care folding and scrunching of the separating paper caused the tension of my warp threads to vary so widely that every shot of weft was an adventure. Would it pack in? Would it not? Heck, would the shed even open for me?

At great length, and only with much swearing and sweating and salty tears of frustration, I had woven a whopping five inches of fabric in the amount of time it would usually take to weave fifteen. This warp was, may I remind you, nine feet long.

Press Rewind

A sane person would have declared the warp a “dog” (weaving slang for a warp that just won’t work), cut it off, and thrown it out. I was tempted.

I was at least going to need to re-wind it with proper tension and a proper spacer. I decided to think it over, and meanwhile cut off the five woven inches and wet finish them.

This is what came out.

sample-02

I wish you could feel it. It’s dreamy. Weightless. Soft as Rosamund’s tummy. Drapes like mad.

sample-01
I have to admit that I even like the way the uneven weft (the result of the lousy winding job) wiggles back and forth, spreading in some places and bunching in others. Thanks in part to the sticky alpaca and llama fibers, no part of the fabric is unstable.

sample-03

Mind you there’s no pattern at all. Nothing but now-random scatters of paint. It’s pretty, but it’s not the lotus I drew. That part of the experiment is a complete flop–this time. I will try it again.

The fabric, though…I loved the sample fabric. I had to see how it would turn out. I had to keep going.

See you in two weeks.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom (15-inch version shown)
Schacht Cricket 12-Dent Reed (for 15-inch loom)
Delilah Undyed DK Yarn (100% Baby Llama, De-Haired)
HiKoo Alpaca Lace Light (shown in 1006 Smoke, 100% Baby Alpaca, 1540 yards per 100 gram hank)
Createx Acrylics Fabric Paint

About Franklin

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His newest book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book was brought out by Soho Publishing in May 2016 and is in its second printing.

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Squam Arts Workshops, the Taos Wool Festival, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue KnittingYarn Market News, Interweave KnitsInterweave CrochetPieceWorkTwist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection/Makers’ Mercantile. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet (presently on hiatus).

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Follow Franklin online via Twitter (@franklinhabit), Instagram (@franklin.habit), his Web site (franklinhabit.com) or his Facebook page.

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2017 Holiday Wishlist

‘Tis the season for giving, and we have had so much fun collecting all kinds of neat items for presents. After asking the creative team at Makers’ Mercantile what one item they’d suggest as the ideal gift for the crafter in their life, here’s what they came up with:

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Kim LOVES our sheep bowls, and thinks they’d be a great gift filled with candy or yarn as a host/hostess gift! Also she likes the Zauberball sock yarn because of its fun color changing and also how this single-ply version works up so snuggly soft!

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Liz also couldn’t pick just one item. (and yes, she made that cardigan; isn’t it great!? She wants a few skeins of Oh! because it knits up so amazingly… and also another mug from Creative With Clay.

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Kathleen loves Zauberball as well… and she chose the line Starke 6 for her favorite thing. Even when worked in a simple pattern this yarn makes such a great finished object. Imagine a lovely garter stitch scarf or seed stitch wrap!

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Our colorful friend Kesten grabbed another squishy favorite, Sueno! It comes in full size hanks HERE, and mini-hanks HERE! It’s a super soft fiber that’s perfect for big cozy sweaters, wraps, or even cowls!

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Oh…and then there’s me. I have tons of favorite things in the shop. Of course I will say (and this is true from ALL of us) that our customers are our favorites. You’re so creative and fun and inspire us every day!

But I have to pick something too, so I choose our new leggings! They’re so comfy!! Also, of course the addi® needles are a much-loved favorite. I do believe that when we work with good quality materials it makes a large impact on the quality of our finished projects.

So that’s it from us for now. We hope you continue to stay safe, and that you’ll come hang out with us in the shop or online very soon!

 

Happy Holidays from all of us at Makers’ Mercantile!

–Kyle

This Is Not Going to Be Pretty

fwf-logo-columnsizeFor an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

I am unabashedly in love with rigid heddle weaving. I’ve written about it repeatedly, in “Fridays with Franklin” and elsewhere.

My Schacht Cricket rigid heddle loom was reasonably priced and is sturdy, portable, reliable, and easy to use. I love what I make with it. I love the way it helps me to burn through stash and see new possibilities in old yarns.

I have crowed so much about it that shops and guilds have begun asking me to come over and teach rigid heddle weaving. I’d love to, but have said over and over that I don’t feel I’m quite ready yet to do that.

I’ve said over and over that I won’t feel qualified to teach it until I’ve done enough to have made lots more mistakes.

But this project, the project I will be writing about today, has moved me miles closer to be ready to teach rigid heddle weaving. Yeah. Let’s look at it that way.

Before we begin, I’d like to introduce the little bunny who will be playing the part of my Better Judgment.

fwf-56-firstbunny
We’ll be hearing a lot from him.

The Idea

This past summer I was privileged to attend a weaving conference for the first time. I took a bunch of excellent classes from some legendary teachers. I saw techniques in the fashion show and the gallery that set my brain on fire, including methods for decorating the fibers before weaving (i.e., painted warps) and after weaving (i.e., felted decorations, embroidery, shibori).

The painted warps especially grabbed my attention because of the possibility adding pattern to plain-woven fabric. Most of the painted warps were utterly abstract–bold splashes of color running into one another. Pretty, but it seemed to me that many yarns (like our own, dear HiKoo Concentric) could give much the same effect right off the ball.

What I wondered was whether I could paint a repeating pattern on a warp, then weave a warp-dominant (see next section) fabric with it. The finished piece would be boldly patterned and full of curves–large-repeat patterns and curves being the preserve, generally, of multi-shaft looms–but also be made simply on my Schacht Cricket.

I asked a pack of the experienced weavers I know if they had any advice about this, and they all said no, in their collective 600 years of weaving they hadn’t seen it done before quite as I proposed to do it.

fwf-56-toldyoubunny
Yes, perhaps.

The Canvas

A warp-dominant fabric is one in which the warp threads enjoy greater visual prominence than the weft threads that cross them. This may be a result of a difference in warp and weft yarn weights; or the result of packing of the warp yarns closer together than would be called for in a balanced weave.* Or it may be a combination of the two.

I wanted a big thick warp to paint on, and a delicate little weft to hold the warp together but not grab the spotlight.

So for warp I chose Delilah Undyed DK Yarn.

undyed-alpaca

And for weft I chose HiKoo Alpaca Lace Light.

fwf-56-alpacalacelight

My weaving friends said those fibers would be prone to stick together, so I might want to think twice. But they’re almost always weaving slippery stuff–tencel, silk, cotton, rayon. Whereas I have almost always worked in wool, and that is practically alpaca which is practically llama, if you squint. So what did they know?

fwf-56-bunnyeyescovered

Pegging It Out

One of the reasons I wanted to use the Schacht Cricket for this is that I’d always seen warp painting done (“always” being, you know–twice, from a distance) with the parallel strands of the warp stretched out on a framework. And of course if you use the direct-warp method on a rigid heddle loom, before winding on that’s exactly what you get.

The only change I needed to make, it seemed to me, was the orientation of the warping peg. The warping peg is usually vertical, and this causes the yarns to tilt as they approach it.

fwf-56-vertpeg
Standard vertical warping peg.

To keep my yarns horizontal all the way from loom to peg, I did this–which I’ll draw, since a drawing will be easier to understand than a photograph.

 

fwf-56-horziontal-warping-peg

You want to use a sturdy dowel, of course, or a length of smooth metal pipe or a metal rod. Your peg shouldn’t bend under the tension of all those wrapped yarns. If it bends, your yarn ends will be different lengths, and there your troubles will begin.

I hoped this theory would work in practice. You can imagine my delight when I stood looking at this.

fwf-56-stretchedwarp
The heddle is at the far end, to keep the it out of the way of the painting. This seemed like a good idea at the time.

The Motif

I knew perfectly well that no matter how much I care I took to preserve the lengths and alignments of my warp threads, they were going to wiggle and slip some during the process. So I told myself:

1) Do something large and abstract, rather than figural or representational.

2) Don’t put any fine, or even medium, detail into it. It’ll just get lost.

Then I started sketching. Within ten minutes I had forgot both 1 and 2. Ultimately I devised an Art Nouveau(ish) lotus with lots of detail.

lotus-cutout

The little bunny, in case you’re wondering, was out having a smoke at the time.

fwf-56-bunnycloset

The Stencil

I hadn’t done any stenciling in years, and never on yarn. In “Fridays with Franklin” I always use supplies from Makers’ Mercantile, so I asked them to send me two colors of their Createx Fabric Paint. This is a paint, not a dye. You apply it to the fiber and it sticks, and can be set permanently by putting the fabric in a hot dryer for 40 minutes after the paint is dry to the touch, or by ironing it. Nice.

I cut my stencil out of freezer paper, bought at the grocery store. It was inexpensive, a good size, and I was able to trace the design through it onto the shiny side of the paper.

fwf-56-tracelotus
Yeah, I added leaves. The flower looked so lonely without them.

and cut it out neatly with an X-Acto Knife.

fwf-56-cutstencil
Like buttah.

The Painting

I smugly made certain my warp was long enough to allow me some space to experiment. That was good thing, because my first lotus was a mushy mess.

I soon realized that I needed to support the warp on a smooth, flat surface while I stenciled. In my case, a couple of box lids stacked on the table underneath worked fine.

fwf-56-boxlids

 

Dabbing from the top with little vertical jabs worked well to apply the paint only where I wanted it, disturbing the threads as little as possible.

fwf-56-paintingstencil

But the wet stencil was pain to handle, even when I held it with one hand while dabbing with the other. (You can see it buckling in the photo above.) So I taped it (with strong packing tape) into an improvised, stiff frame made of cardboard strips. It worked!

With each repeat, my pace picked up and soon the lotuses were looking good, but ghostly.

fwf-56-silverlotus
The paint was dark in the bottle, but the yarn sucked it up and diluted it to a pale pearl. I was happy to have the gold to hand for reinforcements. With the silver dry to the touch, I offset the stencil and dabbed on the gold to turn the silver into a pretty, smoky shadow.

fwf-56-finishedlotus
Not half bad, if you ask me.

It wasn’t a quick process, but so what? This was starting look, dare I say it, I amazing.

 

fwf-56-paintedwarp
Dang, I’m good.

The rest was just weaving. And I know how to weave. What could possibly go wrong?

fwf-56-bunny-ring
See you in two weeks.

*A balanced weave has the same number of threads per inch in both its horizontal and vertical grains.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom (15-inch version shown)
Schacht Cricket 12-Dent Reed (for 15-inch loom)
Delilah Undyed DK Yarn (100% Baby Llama, De-Haired)
HiKoo Alpaca Lace Light (shown in 1006 Smoke, 100% Baby Alpaca, 1540 yards per 100 gram hank)
Createx Acrylics Fabric Paint

About Franklin

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His newest book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book was brought out by Soho Publishing in May 2016 and is in its second printing.

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Squam Arts Workshops, the Taos Wool Festival, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue KnittingYarn Market News, Interweave KnitsInterweave CrochetPieceWorkTwist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection/Makers’ Mercantile. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet (presently on hiatus).

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Follow Franklin online via Twitter (@franklinhabit), Instagram (@franklin.habit), his Web site (franklinhabit.com) or his Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like way too much knitting…

Happy November!! We have been very busy this month and we suspect a lot of you are busy too, preparing for the holidays and making things for people that you love.

First I have a confession to make. I am a lunatic and have pretty much no concept of how much knitting I can accomplish in a month. This little Advent stocking project has been an adventure. First I procrastinated and was no where near done…so I rewrote this entire piece confessing my not finishing but having the patterns ready to share. And then I discovered I had the deadline wrong and I had a whole extra week to knit. Which would have been very helpful had I knit on the actual project that week. And then! I got one more week and I don’t even know why and finally I got 24 tiny stockings knit. I would say based on how many I have knit and how much time I have wasted not actually knitting,  you could get this project done before the first day of December. I would love to hear about it if you do.

This is the face of someone who’s relieved to be almost finished with 4 feet of  lucet cord for the Advent calendar. (And then she did all four feet over because she liked icord better. Lol!)

Let’s talk for a moment about shiny yarn. As a general rule I pretty much HATE metallic yarns. They are rough and difficult and I will avoid them at all costs. And then I got a box of Vegas. This yarn is lovely! Its got lots of sparkle and shine, it feels nice and even if I had to rip back a bit the yarn cooperated nicely. Some red and green and I was happily knitting an assortment of sparkly little stockings. The cones go a long way…and Cee Cee’s project this month uses Vegas too so you might just need one in every color.

I knit four sizes of stockings using two patterns and every bit of my willpower to actually fininsh. I made one that is 16 stitches around and one that is 24, and then I did a few of the stockings holding the yarn double which created a little more variation in size. If you hold the yarn double, just know I added an extra row or two on the foot before doing the toe so the foot would look long enough. Turning a tiny heel is just as amazing as turning a full grown sized one, and that little bit of wonder will help you carry on when you are somewhere between 15 and 20 and its turning into a LOT of little stockings.

I make probably between 50 and 100 of these during the holiday season, because they are a great little gift. I keep a few on hand in case I need a hostess gift or a little something for someone. Last year all my students got a tiny stocking for Christmas. This year I sold a bunch that someone will be tucking Christmas bonus checks in. They make great package ties instead of a bow, They are a fun way to make a small gift extra special. The smallest size holds a lip balm very well, so that’s a fun way to make an inexpensive thing a special thoughtful gift. And even before I finished this project and when I was still very tired of knitting stockings, a friend needed 8 for her staff…and I agreed to do them without even flinching. They really are that delightful. 

Cee Cee has been busy and actually does things with sticks beside knitting….here she is playing steel drums with composer Tyler Swick at her fall concert. (she knit him an elephant). 

And then we went to see something that had been on our bucket list for awhile, the Chihuly Exhibit at Maker’s Mark in Loretto, Kentucky. And it was beautiful…

Her project this month is awesome because it involves buttons, a very small amount of yarn and a very short amount of time. The folks at Loome have figured out how to make one tool do a variety of braids, pom poms and tassels.They have a few different models to choose from, and also a tool to help you trim a pom pom that doubles as a kumihimo braiding tool. Makers’ sent her the loome tool she had been wishing for, and she got a chance to experiment with using it as a lucet and learning a very old craft. She’s a totally history nerd so she loves learning how to do really old things…and making a square braid on a lucet is a really old thing. Lucets have been made out of bone, deer antlers, and all sorts of things. This one would be fun to add a doodle to, or personalize, but she hasn’t decided what she wants to do yet.

Cee Cee says “This would be a great gift for kids to find in their Christmas stockings!”   (I expect that was a hint to have  every variety Loome makes in HER Christmas stocking) And I think ages 10 and up would have a lot of fun with it. The folks at Loome have a fabulous Instagram feed and lots of videos on YouTube. A lucet braid is a very simple braid to learn and hey, if you’ve got some travel time this holiday season, this would be a great thing to do instead of playing video games or watching movies the whole time.

We attach the button to the square end where we start, and then make a loop just big enough for the button when we sew through the end and securely finish it off. Don’t stop with one length…make a bracelet that wraps around 2 or three or more times. We use a lot of scraps but are very fond of CoBaSi for lucet braids…the stitch definition makes for a beautiful bracelet.

Cee Cee discovered that not all yarn makes great lucet cord and had an afternoon of frustration with beautiful ombre wool that she was crazy about. She tried and tried but the tugging on the lucet made it too tight and it would occasionally break when she was tugging it. And then she remembered the icord.                                       

This bracelet was done in icord and then finger crochet and finished off with a gorgeous button.

This one is a triple wrap icord and a bright pop of color for a button.

And since we’ve been seeing pom poms dangling from bags and keychains, she decided to try that too!

And one final gorgeous button with just a little sparkle and some icord. (Vegas yarn is so elegant used in a bracelet!)

A three stitch icord or lucet braid is so easy and works up quickly so it’s easy to have a last minute gift… less than ten yards of yarn for any of our projects here, and nothing took longer than an hour and a half.

She has two more really pretty bracelets in progress, but you’ll just have to wait to see them (since her Mom had her braiding 4 feet of cord for an Advent calendar.)

Cee Cee really enjoys giving gifts…this whole journey began with her desire to give something to comfort others. So I asked her to tell me why making gifts to give is so important to her. “When you make something to give, it shows that you took time to create something one of a kind for that person to enjoy. I love the joy of creating something that a person loves to receive and is just especially for them.”

The other thing we’ve been thinking about is presents… it’s the season for choosing things to get for the people we cherish. (And both of us absolutely love making a wish list because getting stuff is fun too!) The best part is, you can make  a wish list too and somebody is going to win a wonderful prize! So here’s a list of things that both of us love from Makers’ Mercantile:

  1. This has been on Cee Cee’s wish list awhile…it’s a coloring book by Franklin Habit. Cee Cee got to meet Franklin a few years ago and she adores his artwork.
  2. We’re both working on improving our knitting skills so we want to try out Alterknit. It looks like a great book!
  3. Buttons…this idea was all Cee Cee. Choose a good hand full of glorious buttons and sprinkle them in a stocking. (You can point your crafter to this post, or Franklin’s post about cufflinks if they need an idea or two)
  4. We are both bag obsessed, and Cee Cee loved the Crafters gonna craft craft craft bag ( the tune sounds familiar) and the Love Sack bag in the blanket stripe pattern
  5. CoBaSi…. Just get all of it in every color. Trust us. It’s a great yarn. (The sock yarn is awesome! I’m knitting Cee Cee a gift out of it for the blog next month. Shhhh! It’s a secret )
  6.  And because we are constantly taking them away from each other…more Flipsticks. We really like having two different tips on a needle, and Cee Cee loves that they are different colors because that helps her keep track of which needle she is on.
  7. : Mumbles something about olive wood interchangeable needles, hot pink scissors and a delightful sewing box:
  8.  And maybe more yarn. Because….yarn.
  9. Sheep pull toy. We can’t have a real one and this one would be a beautiful addition in our crafting space.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving friends. We will see you next month with some fun last minute Christmas ideas.

P.S. Cee Cee says I have to share the little nutty moment I had 3 seconds after knitting the final stocking. I was done. You know how it is. You love a project, it’s wonderful but it is done. After counting twice, much to the amusement of my dear daughter I was coming up with 23 instead of 24 stockings. I jumped up and started fussing and Cee Cee started laughing at me…I was sitting on number 24! So as you hustle through your last minute holiday crafting, don’t forget to check the chair cushions for missing parts.

-BeLinda

ABOUT 

CeeCee1Cee Cee Creech is growing up in a home full of creativity. Mom BeLinda loves making things, and Cee Cee loves it too. In 2011, Cee Cee changed their lives when she wanted to knit elephants to comfort the residents of Joplin, MO after a tornado destroyed their town.

This mom/daughter team has raised thousands of dollars, and made/distributed toys for charities all over the world. Today, Cee Cee is a high school student, curious maker, and the teen craft ambassador for Makers’ Mercantile. Follow their adventures on the Craft Corner.

Waffler Hat Pattern

IMG_2688

First things first: Get the free pattern HERE!

Next: Gather your materials in the shop. (Use code: VICKIE10 at checkout for 10% off!)

One hank Super-Quick Alpaca in the color of your choice HERE

Size U.S. 36 (20mm) addi® needles HERE

Large eye tapestry needle

Happy Making!

-Vickie

vickiehowell

ABOUT VICKIE HOWELL

Vickie Howell is the Host/Executive Producer of The Knit Show with Vickie Howell. Season one debuts on YouTube on October 5, 2017. For more information on Vickie and the rest of her projects follow @vickiehowell and @theknitshow on social media.

Wonder Woofin III: Starry Starry Butt

fwf-logo-columnsizeFor an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

I thought at first that I’d use duplicate stitch for the stars on Rosamund’s costume, but duplicate stitch has one great weakness. You are limited to embroidered stitches the size and shape of your knit stitches.

That means her stars would have looked something like this.

fwf-55-starchart
Not even in my most wishful state of mind is that a five-pointed star. That looks like a Space Invader doing front squats. Unacceptable.

In the dim recesses of my memory lurked an image of my late grandmother, the tailor, embroidering perfect five- and six-pointed stars on a client’s fancy party outfit. I dug through every embroidery guide on my shelf–about two dozen books, from the eighteenth century to the present–and found nothing. The entries for “Stars, embroidered” led to this kind of thing…

fwf-55-starstitch

which is fine for folksy work, but not what I needed; or this kind of thing

fwf-55-lazydaisy

which is a Lazy Daisy, not a star. Don’t try to tell me otherwise.

I began to wonder if past-life regression therapy might get me where I needed to go. Or perhaps I ought to hire a medium? Would my grandmother be annoyed if I contacted her in the great beyond to ask how she put the stars on Mary Ellen Zemicki’s bicentennial hostess pajamas? Was there a good time to call? When do they air Lawrence Welk in heaven?

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“Hush now,” said my grandmother’s ghost. “I’m trying to watch the Lawrence Welk program.”

Star Map

Meanwhile, I went ahead and mapped out the placement of the stars on the tail of the costume. I used contrasting yarn and basting to give myself a set of guidelines, just as I’d done for the eagle.

fwf-55-starfield
In the first and third rows, the stars are centered on the lines. In the second row, the stars are centered between the lines.

Oh Say Can You Sew

In the end, a séance was just too much work to throw together quickly and I had to rely on experimentation and blind luck. I could remember this: you began by embroidering something that looked just like a child’s drawing of a five-pointed star. And I half-remembered a chant that started, “One and three, and two and four…”.

I cracked it. Here it is.

This is not a complicated stitch. I’m going to break it down very, very carefully so you can do it on your own without getting lost.

Our star will be based on an underlying shape: a pentagon. The five points of the pentagon will become the five points of our star, and we number them like so for reference:

star-diagrams-01

We begin with a base layer, worked once, like this:

Needle up at 1, needle down at 3.

star-diagrams-02

Needle up at 2, needle down at 4.

star-diagrams-03

Needle up at 3, needle down at 5.

star-diagrams-04

Needle up at 4, needle down at 1.

star-diagrams-05

Needle up at 5, needle down at 2.

star-diagrams-06

The base layer is now complete.

From here, we continue ’round and ’round the points of the star in rounds that grow smaller and smaller until the center of the star is filled in. All of these rounds follow the same rules, and here they are.

Needle up just below and to the left of  point 1.
Needle down just below and to the right of point 3.

star-diagrams-07

Needle up just below and to the left of point 2.
Needle down just below and to the right of point 4.

star-diagrams-08

Needle up just below and to the left of point 3.
Needle down just below and to the right of point 5.

star-diagrams-09
Needle up just below and to the left of point 4.
Needle down just below and to the right of point 1.

star-diagrams-10.jpg

Needle up just below and to the left of point 5.
Needle down just below and to the right of point 2.

star-diagrams-11

Round complete.

Continue in this manner, with the stitches of each round being taken a little closer to the center of the star. This diagram shows (in blue) what the next round will look like after it has been worked. The star is complete when the center is filled in, ending with a stitch from 5 to 2.

star-diagrams-12
The key is:

“Up at the left.
Skip a point.
Down at the right.
Back a point.”

If you remember that, you’ll remember the stitch.

Tips…

When you’re learning this stitch, rotate the work as you go so that the point you are dealing with is pointing UP. This will help you keep your “rights” and “lefts” clear.

Each round of stitching moves a little closer to the center of the star. How much closer? About the thickness of your embroidery yarn is a good bet.

Tip your needle so that you taking all stitches after the base layer from just under the threads laid down in the previous layer.

The number of round you’ll require to fill in the center of the star will depend upon the dimensions of the star and the size of your embroidery yarn.

Perfect and Uniform

One perfect star is a fine thing to achieve, but a field of many looks best if all are uniform in size and spacing. I’d laid out my guidelines, but I knew I couldn’t freehand twelve matching stars. Variation is fine for a folksy look, but not for this project.

So I printed out a plain pentagon of the proper size, and traced the points twelve times onto a sheet of medium weight water-soluble stabilizer with a fine-tipped permanent marker.

fwf-55-sharpietrace

fwf-55-penttraced
I cut out the pentagons as I needed them, one at a time, and pinned them to the sweater.

fwf-55-pinnedstabilizer
Using a sharp chenille needle with an eye large enough to accommodate my yarn (a size 18, in this case), I embroidered the stars over the stabilizer and the knitted fabric. A blunt tapestry needle won’t work well with stabilizer.

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When they were all complete, I immersed the sweater in plain, cold water to remove the stabilizer. Voilà.

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Rosamund, suited up and ready to fight injustice.

Do allow the piece to dry completely, of course, before trying it on.

Tricolor Muffin Hat Pattern Now Arriving on Runway Four

Meanwhile, we’ve put together the pattern for the Tricolor Muffin Hat. It’s free–just click HERE.

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The Tricolor Muffin Hat.

It may be, of course, that red, white, and blue is not your cuppa tea this winter; so here are some possible alternate color sets in HiKoo Simplicity (with coordinating LOVaFUR pompoms) for your consideration.

With Pompom: Fox–Scarlet 399032-0015

trio-01
Turkish Coffee, Really Red, Silver Hair

With Pompom: Raccoon–White 399028-0001

trio-02
Nile Blue, Still Waters Multi, Seattle Sky

With Pompom: Luxury Raccoon–Black 

trio-03.jpg
Black, Purple Reign Multi, Edgy Eggplant

With Pompom: Luxury Raccoon–Royal 

trio-04
Royal Blue, Indigo, Grape Soda

With Pompom: Kids Gold–Leopard

trio-05
Brown Bear, Make Me Blush, Edgy Eggplant


What’s up next?

Well, if you stop by in two weeks I’ll show you what I’m doing with these…

undyed-alpaca
…and a couple bottles of paint.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

HiKoo Simpliworsted (55% Merino Wool, 25% Acrylic, 17% Nylon. 140 yards per 100 gram hank)
HiKoo Simplicity (55% Merino Wool, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon. 117 yards per 50 gram hank)
Delilah Undyed DK Yarn (100% Baby Llama, De-Haired. 109 yards per 50 gram hank)
LOVaFUR Handmade Vegan Fur Pompoms
addi® Click Turbo Interchangeable Needle

About Franklin

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His newest book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book was brought out by Soho Publishing in May 2016 and is in its second printing.

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Squam Arts Workshops, the Taos Wool Festival, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue KnittingYarn Market News, Interweave KnitsInterweave CrochetPieceWorkTwist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection/Makers’ Mercantile. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet (presently on hiatus).

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Follow Franklin online via Twitter (@franklinhabit), Instagram (@franklin.habit), his Web site (franklinhabit.com) or his Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonder Woofin II: Ply Like an Eagle

fwf-logo-columnsizeFor an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

Another Halloween has come and gone.

I happily observed several of my own favorite seasonal customs, including re-reading The Turn of the Screw, watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” twice, and re-watching Sally Brown’s spectacular concluding tirade a dozen times.

greatpumpkin08
“YOU OWE ME RESTITUTION!” Image from “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”courtesy and © Warner Home Video.

Then I wandered over to Walgreens at midnight and waited for them to put all the leftover candy on sale for half price.

Since last Thursday’s sneak preview, Rosamund has made the rounds in her new costume, knit from HiKoo Simpliworsted.

fwf-53-roz-ww-sweater-front
Her heroic efforts to return the rabbits, squirrels, and pigeons of our Chicago neighborhood to the side of peace and justice earned her many cookies and pats on the head.

roz-patrol
“Come out here! It’s not too late–we can live in peace and harmony!”

She posed for souvenir photos with tourists visiting Wrigley Field. And she was quite the toast of our favorite hangout, Murphy’s Bleachers, when we paused for refreshment during a long patrol.

 

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Making the world safe is thirsty work.

We will call this a success.

I plan to raise the neckline about three inches to make it more suitable for long-term wear as part of Rosamund’s wardrobe of winter sweaters. She loves wearing clothes (except hats–therefore no tiara with the costume). And in our neck of the woods, no domesticated animal with a coat as fine as hers is safe outdoors in midwinter without extra warmth.

I’ve had many requests for the pattern, which is immensely flattering. Patterns for dog sweaters are notoriously problematic, though.

Dogs vary in shape and size to an extent that makes the grading system used to re-size human garments almost useless. A chihuahua, a dachshund, and a mastiff are the not same figure scaled upwards; you cannot just add stitches and rows to a chihuahua sweater to fit it on a mastiff. And that’s to say nothing at all of mixed breeds.

The best way to knit a sweater for a dog is to tailor the sweater to THAT dog. This is not particularly difficult, and in fact is a great way to dip your toe into the shallow end of the knit-to-fit pool.

Rosamund’s knit-to-fit Halloween sweater is the same basic shape I knit for her in this series and this series, with changes to color, ease, and detail.

If you wish to knit for your dog, the best thing to do is:

  • become familiar with the method of measuring and calculating I laid out in the first series and refined a bit in the second series,
  • sketch out some ideas for what shape, fit, and details you want,
  • take your dog’s measurements,
  • knit and measure an ample gauge swatch,
  • do a bit of math, and
  • cast on, knitting to fit as you go along.

That’s why I’m not going to take you through the whole process of making this sweater from start to finish. It’s ground we’ve covered before.

I was already familiar with the yarn–HiKoo Simpliworsted is fantastic for pet sweaters, being both tough and washable. I took a new set of measurements to see if Rosamund had changed shape appreciably. (She hadn’t.)

And I sketched, because sketching pushes me to think out those all-important transition points in a project. For example, should the costume’s waistband sit a Rosamund’s own natural waist, just behind her ribs? (Yes.) Should I attempt some sort of trompe l’oeil effect near the shoulders to suggest a strapless bustier? (No.) (NO.)

fwf-54-roz-hallow-sketch
After that, I knit to the measurements–simple. Well, simple except when my math was wrong and my rate of decrease at the neckline was so slow that by the time I sensed a problem, the neck of the sweater was long enough to accommodate a baby giraffe.

Big Yellow Birdie

A gold eagle across the chest was a must, as we were paying homage to the 1940s/50s vision of the superhero in question.

I thought I might do the eagle in intarsia, but ultimately settled on duplicate stitch–a form of embroidery also sometimes called Swiss darning. (I don’t know why it’s supposed to be Swiss. I couldn’t find a truly plausible explanation anywhere. Switzerland isn’t the only place it’s found, and in fact doesn’t seem to be any more proprietary about it than any other country full of knitters.)

Why duplicate stitch?

Partly for ease of working. I wanted to knit the upper part of the sweater in the round, with steeks for the legs. Intarsia can be done in the round, most happily with Anne Berk’s “Annetarsia” method–as we saw in this series. But intarsia is best for large, solid shapes; the eagle, as I first charted it out, had rather a lot of detail.

I thought of knitting the gold and afterwards using duplicate stitch to embroider the red details. That would have been silly, though–duplicate stitch will (especially at a worsted gauge) stand out a bit from the base fabric. We wouldn’t want the background overshadowing the foreground. So why not knit with red and duplicate stitch in gold?

The other advantage to duplicate stitch: I could look at the finished chest, count the available stitches and rows, and figure out exactly where to place the eagle.

Eagle Charting

If you’re going to work a motif in duplicate stitch, most likely you’ll want to follow a chart. If you make your own, on ready-made graph paper with a square grid, beware of the distortion this will cause. Your knit stitches are unlikely to be square, unless you achieve a plain stockinette gauge in which your stitch and row counts are identical.

So in plotting a duplicate stitch chart, take advantage of so-called “knitter’s” graph paper, in which the grid is made up of rectangles that mimic the proportions of your stitches. A little Web searching will uncover multiple sources of printable papers, some of which will allow you to type in numbers from your swatch and get a custom grid. (I hesitate to link to any, because the addresses of such sites change constantly.)

Knitter’s graph paper will allow you to create a design with the confidence that your finished motif will not be distorted. I began by sketching mine with a pencil, then moved over (in the interest of saving time) to a computer program. About an hour of messing around got me to this point.

chest-eagle-knit-v1
The working draft, jiggles and all.

The rough-and-ready cut-and-paste method I used in Adobe Illustrator to move the gold stitches around makes it rather jiggly, but it was enough to get a nod of approval from a friend whose comic book expertise I trust. I knew how many stitches and rows I had to work with because I was able to count them on the finished chest. (I counted three times, to make sure.)

With the chart ready and the sweater ready, I could start stitching.

Eagle Placement

Now, if you’ve never embroidered something like this before, you may well wonder how you know where to begin. The answer is that most embroidery (not all, most) will begin near the center of the design.

First, find the center of your chart and mark it with a line. Most often, you’ll mark the center horizontally and vertically. But you don’t have to do only that. You can mark whatever parts of the design you feel will help you keep track of where you are. On large designs like this, I often add guidelines either at regular intervals or (as with the eagle) along key points of the motif like the top and bottom of the body.

Here’s the chart with my guidelines added in white.

chest-eagle-knit-v2

Next, you mark those same guidelines on your fabric. There are many ways to do it, but on knitted or crochet fabrics I prefer thread tracing.

Grab a highly contrasting yarn or thread, one that does not appear anywhere in the embroidery. In this case I’m using some spare white Simpliworsted.  Thread it on your needle and sew a running/basting stitch lines in exactly the places your guidelines appear on the chart.

fwf-54-threadtrace
(I had to use my phone camera in the available lousy light on an airplane–therefore the lousy picture. I think it will, at least, show you the idea.)

Usually I’d prefer to use something finer to trace the lines, like a doubled strand of sewing thread. But as I was working away from home, on an airplane, without recourse to stash, I used what I had. That’s what you do. That’s life.

Once your fabric is marked, it’s merely a question of counting out from a guideline to your starting point of choice and beginning to embroider. As your thread-traced lines gradually grow superfluous, it’s okay to take them out.

fwf-54-eagle-progress
So let’s talk about how duplicate stitch is worked.

Eagle Stitching

Duplicate stitch is one of the simplest forms of embroidery, and is so called because the embroidery stitches mimic the shapes of the knit stitches underneath. Ideally, once duplicate stitch is complete it looks as though the embroidery is part of the knitting. Often, it’s used to add small details to intarsia projects when just a stitch or two of a certain color is needed.

It can be done on stockinette, ribbing, and garter stitch; but it’s easiest to learn on stockinette.

You’ll want to use a blunt needle–the sort you use for weaving in ends is fine–and a yarn the same weight as the yarn you used to knit the fabric.

The basic stitch is no more than this:

  1. Come up from the wrong side, at the base of the stitch to be duplicated–the point marked A in the diagram.
  2. Insert the needle beneath the “shoulders” of the stitch as shown in the diagram and pull the yarn through.
  3. Send the needle down to the wrong side again at point A, pulling the yarn through until the tension of the embroidered stitch matches the tension of the knitted stitch.
fwf-54-dup-step-01
Come up at A, behind the shoulders of the stitch, and go down at A.

To duplicate a block of stitches, you’ll generally want to work in rows from the bottom to the top, right to left. (Left-handed embroiderers may prefer to work bottom to top, left to right.) So, our next stitch in the row begun above would start at the asterisk (see diagram below), and proceed as directed above.

 

fwf-54-dup-step-02
Come up at the asterisk, which now serves as hole A, and repeat the directions above.

With every other row in a block of duplicate stitches, turn the work 180 degrees so that your first row is worked with the motif right-side up, the next with the motif upside-down. This isn’t strictly necessary, but may be less taxing on your fingers, and means you will always be working right-to-left or left-to-right. The stitching will be identical, though hole A will be above the stitch you’re duplicating rather than below it (see diagram below).

Basic RGB
The first row of three stitches having been completed, the work is rotated 180 degrees. The first stitch of the new row begins at A.

For single columns of duplicate stitches (there are lots of those in the eagle), work from the bottom to the top.

Tips:

 

If you want to work different parts of the design with the same length of yarn, take care not to carry the embroidery yarn more than a scant inch across the wrong side. It gets messy, causing lumps that distort the right side of the work.

Start and end each length of yarn by leaving 6-inch tails on the wrong side of the fabric. When that group is complete, weave the tails under the stitches on the wrong side to secure them and trim the tail short.

That’s all there is to it. Stop and examine your work-in-progress frequently. Not only will this help you catch and fix errors before you are very far gone; but it may also help you improve your design.

I found as I worked that a lot of the stitches I’d charted to shape the top of the wings were overkill–I only needed about two blocks across the top to get a perfectly fine effect. Since tons and tons of duplicate stitching can interfere with the stretch and drape of a piece of knitting, paring it down to just what’s essential is always advisable.

The finished eagle:

fwf-54-eaglefinished

Coming Up: Star Booty and Muffin Top

The costume also needed decoration at the other end: five-pointed stars across the tush. I could have used duplicate stitch for those, as well; but instead went with an embroidery stitch that gave me a far better result and was fun to work, too. In two weeks, I’ll give you the full details in glorious color.

fwf-54-starstush
The lasso is made from lucet cord–but that’s a topic for another day.

And speaking of glorious color, we’ll also be releasing a free pattern for the Tricolor Muffin hat, with suggestions for alternate color trios in HiKoo Simplicity and coordinating LOVaFur Pompoms. Red, white, and blue will be far from your only options. Both Simplicity yarns and the LOVaFur pompoms are presently on sale…

fwf-52-newsletter-teaser
The Tricolor Muffin:Free Pattern Arriving Soon

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

HiKoo Simpliworsted (55% Merino Wool, 25% Acrylic, 17% Nylon. 140 yards per 100 gram hank)
HiKoo Simplicity (55% Merino Wool, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon. 117 yards per 50 gram hank)
LOVaFUR Handmade Vegan Fur Pompom (shown in red/white/blue)
addi® Click Turbo Interchangeable Needle

About Franklin

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His newest book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book was brought out by Soho Publishing in May 2016 and is in its second printing.

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Squam Arts Workshops, the Taos Wool Festival, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue KnittingYarn Market News, Interweave KnitsInterweave CrochetPieceWorkTwist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection/Makers’ Mercantile. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet (presently on hiatus).

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Follow Franklin online via Twitter (@franklinhabit), Instagram (@franklin.habit), his Web site (franklinhabit.com) or his Facebook page.

Wonder Woofin: A Fridays with Franklin Preview of Coming Attractions

“Fridays with Franklin” is supposed to appear on Fridays. The clue is in the name. And today is Thursday.

But if I waited my turn, I wouldn’t have a chance to show you Rosamund’s Halloween costume before Halloween. So Makers’ Mercantile has graciously agreed to allow me to offer you this sneak peek.

In the pantheon of superheroes, there’s only one whose adventures I enjoyed as a child. The others bored me. Rosamund likes her, too; and is a princess, a protector, and a survivor in her own way.

fwf-53-roz-ww-sweater-front
She’s my little princess, anyhow.

fwf-53-roz-ww-sweater-back
The yarn is HiKoo Simpliworsted, and in these pictures it has already been once through the washer and dryer. Good stuff, for things that need to be washed and dried frequently.

In the next two installments of “Fridays with Franklin,” I’ll tell you more about how this was designed and worked–including an in-depth tutorials on the duplicate stitch eagle, and the embroidery of those stars. I’m rather proud of the stars. I’m also proud of the fit across the butt. Rosamund has such a curvaceous posterior. She gets it from my side.

(By the way, if you’re tuning in for the first time, you can jump back to the first “Fridays with Franklin” to learn what this column’s all about.)

See you next Friday!

About Franklin

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His newest book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book was brought out by Soho Publishing in May 2016 and is in its second printing.

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Squam Arts Workshops, the Taos Wool Festival, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue KnittingYarn Market News, Interweave KnitsInterweave CrochetPieceWorkTwist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection/Makers’ Mercantile. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet (presently on hiatus).

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Follow Franklin online via Twitter (@franklinhabit), Instagram (@franklin.habit), his Web site (franklinhabit.com) or his Facebook page.

Muffintop

fwf-logo-columnsizeFor an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

A few weeks ago, I came home to find a box from Makers’ Mercantile on the doorstep.

That’s one of the perks of this gig. I don’t have to go out and hunt for wild yarn with my net and spear. Yarn comes to me.

Usually it’s yarn I’ve asked for. But not this time. Not in this box.

No, in this box…

fwf-52makersmercantilebox
was a Makers’ Mercantile sheep bowl

fwf-52-sheepbowl

…stuffed with…

fwf-52-yarntrio

HiKoo Simplicity (DK weight, 55% Merino Wool, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon) in red (054 Vavava Voom), white (001 White), and blue (051 Raffi), along with…

399031_20170531154825

…one LOVaFUR Vegan Pompom, also in red, white, and blue.

At the bottom was a note suggesting that I take the contents (the yarn and pompom, that is–not the sheep bowl) and make them into something. A challenge. A dare!

I’m as patriotic as the next knitter, but those colors were a curveball. Red, white, and blue is a charged combination for lots of folks–not only Americans–and it’s not often associated with chilly weather. To me, it shouts fireworks, barbecues, and swimming pools.

I briefly considered crocheting a 1970s Yankee Doodle bikini,

fwf-52-bikini

but

a) HiKoo Simplicity streeeeeeeeeeetches when soaking wet, and
b) I couldn’t think of any place to stick the pompom that wouldn’t be either ridiculous or indecent.

With three skeins of wool blend and a pompom, clearly I ought to make a hat. Alrighty, then.

Swing Time

The pompom was the key. I have in my albums a few photographs of my mother in full 1960s regalia: Mary Quant knock-offs meant to give Detroit teenagers some of the verve and spark of swinging Londoners.

I saw that in the winter of 1969 she had gone to Niagara Falls in an oversized newsboy cap topped with just such a big, fluffy faux fur pompom. It perfectly matched her dressy short overcoat, with equally fluffy faux fur collar and cuffs.

The effect was goofy, but fun–an ensemble for a party girl who didn’t mind if her clothes shouted a bit.

There was my answer–let the pompom be the crowning touch on a hat that was boldly graphic, happy, even silly. A hat with some swing, in Union Jack colors. You can accessorize with red, white, and blue in the winter. Sure you can. James Bond did, while parachuting off a precipice in the Alps.

spywho-parachuste-xlarge
Still from The Spy Who Loved Me. © 2008 Danjaq, United Artists, CPII. 007 TM and related James Bond Trademarks, TM Danjaq.

It didn’t take long to realize that the effect I wanted didn’t come across in conventional, concentric stockinette stripes running ’round and ’round from the band to the crown. I’d seen that a million times. It wasn’t surprising enough to support the pompom.

fwf-52-stripey

I toyed with a few other ideas, like an asymmetrical Mondrian-inspired take on stranded colorwork.

fwf-52-modernhat

That didn’t get far. It’s not a bad idea, though structurally it’s more suited to intarsia than stranding. I might come back to this one another time. But no matter what I did, in these colors I couldn’t get it to look anything other than an Uncle Sam hat gone horribly awry.

Over the Top

I’d ripped back to just the band for the fourth time when I thought about the garter stitch short rows in the cage purse. Those had been so much fun to knit. I could do the hat in garter stitch, right? No law against that. And I could also build it in successive short rows. Like this:

fwf-52-method

Each stripe would “eat up” two of the live stitches at the top of the band. The stripes would run across the top of the hat, instead of around the circumference. And there would be none of the usual decreases in the crown to interference with the progression of red, white, blue, red, white, blue.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Nothing gets me overexcited like trying out a new way to knit a familiar shape. I hate stopping to eat, or pee, or answer e-mails, or see people. I just want to go go go go go go until I find out whether it’s going to work or not.

I figured before I began that I’d need to increase in each stripe or the hat would be very short and fit like a teeny-weenie beanie. I planned the placement and rate of increases and zoomed along until in a gratifyingly short time the hat was almost off the needle. So I stuck it on my head.

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I think the stitch markers really add to the je ne sais quoi.

Oh, yeah. Fetching. Yeah.

Those two weird outcroppings at the right and left would have to go–or the whole idea would have to go.

The diagnosis? The bulges were the fault of the constant, violent increasing–clearly I needed to slow it down a bit. I’d been so worried about the hat being too small that I made it too big. Too big at each side. It sprouted saddlebags.

The next version, with increases tapering off about halfway through, was better.

fwf-52-secondproto
This better #@$!* work the second time, he thought.

I figured I could eliminate the remaining oddity in the shape with judicious blocking. HiKoo Simplicity is very malleable when wet.

As is my custom with any tam, I stretched the unblocked piece over a dinner plate.
Rather than soak it, I pulled out my steam iron and shot the top and (especially) the turned edge with jets and more jets of very hot steam, until everything except the band was quite damp. (If your iron doesn’t have a steam jet option, you can do this over a boiling tea kettle if you promise to be careful with your fingers.)

 

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Hover the hot iron near the fabric as you steam, but don’t touch the iron to the fabric.


I avoided steaming the band, because wet Simplicity stretches and a sopping wet band would have grown too large to fit properly. (Simplicity returns to its original dimensions after a spin in the tumble dryer–but then the entire hat would have come unblocked.)

Leaving the steamed hat on the plate, I set it aside to dry thoroughly overnight.

Drying things overnight is wonderful, because at some point exhaustion kicks in and I fall asleep and stop poking the piece every five minutes to see if it’s ready yet.

Crowning Touch

To find the exact center of the dry crown, I measured with the hat still on the plate and marked the spot with a locking ring stitch marker.

fwf-52-measuretop
I tied on the pompom. (LOVaFUR poms tie on, so you can change them out and move them around if you like.)

I called over a friend who has the perfect look for a hat like this.

I held my breath. I put it on her.

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I’m calling it a success.

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I’m calling it groovy, baby.

fwf-52-side-wideshot

I’m calling it…the Tricolor Muffin.

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Coming Up…

Wouldn’t you know it, the yarn for the next project arrived while this hat was in progress. And wouldn’t you know, it’s also heavy on red, white, and blue–though this time in HiKoo Simpliworsted and with the addition of gold.

When I opened the box, somehow Rosamund (whom you may remember from The Adventure of the Warm Puppy and More Excuses to Show You Pictures of My Adorable Dog) knew the contents were intended for her. Smart girl.

fwf-52-rozandyarn
Stop by in two weeks and I’ll show you what’s up.

In the meantime, we’ll be putting together a free pattern for the Tricolor Muffin. And if you don’t think you’re feeling quite up to the patriotic combo, we’ll have suggestions about other trios, other yarns, and other coordinating pompoms in the LOVaFUR line.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

HiKoo Simplicity (55% Merino Wool, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon. 117 yards per 50 gram hank)
Sheep Bowl (exclusive to Makers’ Mercantile!)
LOVaFUR Handmade Vegan Fur Pompom (shown in red/white/blue)
HiKoo Simpliworsted (55% Merino Wool, 25% Acrylic, 17% Nylon. 140 yards per 100 gram hank)
addi® Click Turbo Interchangeable Needle
Makers’ Mercantile Tape Measure (shown in Orange)

About Franklin

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His newest book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book was brought out by Soho Publishing in May 2016 and is in its second printing.

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Squam Arts Workshops, the Taos Wool Festival, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue KnittingYarn Market News, Interweave KnitsInterweave CrochetPieceWorkTwist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection/Makers’ Mercantile. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet (presently on hiatus).

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Follow Franklin online via Twitter (@franklinhabit), Instagram (@franklin.habit), his Web site (franklinhabit.com) or his Facebook page.

Craft Corner – Felted Acorns

I’ve tried to start this post with about a dozen different cheery “It’s fall y’all!!!” greetings, but as I write, it’s the first week in October, and there’s just a lot of bad news. Cee Cee and I have been talking about recent events, and it’s no surprise she likes hearing the survivor stories because they give her hope. As one way of dealing with this, she made a couple of bluebirds to give to friends. Our conversations have nudged me from worry, to feeling hopeless, to being hopeful. Cee Cee and I have found that connecting with friends to spread hope and joy around is contagious. And of course our favorite way to connect to joy,  is to create! So let me tell you what we’ve been up to.

We’re not what you’d call fancy people. In fact 97% of my phone’s photo album is full of images trying to avoid shots of our very outdated dining room wallpaper! Well, This month brings a project that helps our decor dilemma. Thanks to wool felted acorns, a couple of pumpkins and some gold paint we have a lovely Fall table centerpiece! Every time I walk past it, it makes me smile. We tried a few different techniques, including needle felting, wet felting, and artFelt® to make Cee Cee’s acorns. ArtFelt was definitely the most fun! We added a few drops of essential oil and now they smell good too. We created our “wooly” pumpkin by gluing roving to every other section of its orange little body. We were surprised how the colors matched perfectly. Cee Cee wants a whole field of wooly pumpkins!

CeeCeeacorns

October is also known for not only Halloween, but also for something called Black Cat Awareness Month. Cee Cee loves cats so of course she wants to celebrate it. She says there are stories about black cats being treated badly because of being associated with witchcraft. When I asked her where she learned this, she answered “in a cat magazine!”

Time for a little fact checking. We sat down at the computer and started searching for facts to support this statement, and learned that according to many sources, this is more of an urban legend than reality. (Cee Cee was relieved!) We did learn however, that black cats (in October and all year long) are less likely to be adopted, and spend more time in shelters. She made a sweet little black cat to remind people to be a little extra kind to our feline friends, and to consider adopting a black or tuxedo kitty next time you’re ready to grow your fur-family.

feltcat

She sketched out a simple cat and stitched him up in an afternoon. You can make your very own by getting the pattern on the Makers’ Mercantile website HERE. She’s including the pattern even though she thinks you should be brave and trust your own artistic abilities to sketch out your own cat pieces.

Find yourself a little joy this month and make something. Even better, make something and give it to someone else who needs a little joy. We’re busting out the knitting needles and turning lots of heels for a November project to help you get ready for the holidays.

Now for an exciting giveaway: This felt cat will get to come live with one of you! Cee Cee is giving him away….all you have to do is leave a comment in the blog (tell us what you love to make in the Fall) and we will choose a winner! Winner will be selected and announced in November’s Craft Corner post.

Have a wonderful month!!!

-BeLinda and Cee Cee

P.S. Don’t forget to leave us a comment!! Cee Cee can’t wait to find out who wins her little black cat!

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

artFelt® Acorns

artFelt® paper
artFelt® tackboard
artFelt® needles
Makers’ Mercantile® Felter’s Wool (assorted colors)

Cee Cee’s Felt Cat

Black Felt
Scissors
Embroidery Floss

ABOUT 

CeeCee1Cee Cee Creech is growing up in a home full of creativity. Mom BeLinda loves making things, and Cee Cee loves it too. In 2011 Cee Cee changed their lives when she wanted to knit elephants to comfort the residents of Joplin, MO after a tornado destroyed their town.

This mom/daughter team has raised thousands of dollars, and made/distributed toys for charities all of the world. Today, Cee Cee is a high school student, curious maker, and the teen craft ambassador for Makers’ Mercantile. Follow their adventures on the Craft Corner.