Fridays with Franklin: Adventure in an Old Book, Part Two

fwf-logo-v11For an introduction to this ongoing series, click here.

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

This was my idea: to make Elvina Corbould’s “Wheat-ear Pattern,” published in 1878 in The Lady’s Knitting-Book, Second Series, into a knitted collar. Many of you had the same idea. When Part One of this excursion hit the streets, in came a trickle of messages all saying, “Land sakes, what a lovely collar that would make!”

I felt encouraged, as we could not possibly all be wrong.

I imagined something like this,

Old Book 2.1

and selected two colors of Hikoo Simplicity inspired by watery locales.

Old Book 2.2

Singularly appropriate for a wavy, ripply fabric. The bulk of the knitting would be vivid blue, shot with occasional rounds of dark grey to show off the undulations.

As I (literally) took off on a teaching trip, I cast on with the first ball of Fijian Waters. A few inches and 37,000 feet later,

Old Book 2.3

I was bored to tears.

It wasn’t bad. Just dull. Predictable. Similar to a dozen lacy collars I’d seen before. A few rounds in a different color wasn’t going to change that.

This is adventure? Stripes? Meh. Back to the drawing board.

What about working the collar in bold blocks of color, rather like squares on a chess board–but bigger?

Old Book 2.4

That could work.

The I-Word

Bold, solid blocks of different colors in a single piece of knitting are most often created with a technique known as intarsia.

If you just shivered, I understand. Intarsia awakens strong feelings in the bosom of the knitter. In the latter part of the twentieth century it was employed, notoriously, to create some of the most misbegotten sweaters the world has ever known.

But we must remember that this is not intarsia’s fault. Like any other technique, it can be used for good or ill. The choice is yours.

I haven’t the time or space for a comprehensive discussion, but here is a nutshell account.

In an intarsia fabric, every discrete area of color requires its own supply of yarn. This drawing shows us a hypothetical piece in green and orange.

Old Book 2.5

We are looking at the right side. We begin by knitting across from right to left with the orange yarn. When we reach the point at which a change to green is called for, we twist the old (orange) and new (green) yarns together once to interlock the sections.

This interlocking is repeated every time one color gives way to the next, on both sides of the work. Skip the interlocking and you will end up with a fluttering miasma of unattached scraps of fabric, which makes for a very odd, drafty sweater.

Only one color is ever active at any given time. Unused colors just hang out, waiting for their turn. This is why elaborate intarsia works-in-progress often grow to resemble mating season in a dark stash closet.

There is more to intarsia than this but, frankly, not a whole lot more.

Intarsia creates a single-layered fabric with no floats (strands of unused color), ideal for lace. It was clearly the way to go for the collar, but there was an issue. I wanted to work in the round. Intarsia has traditionally been worked flat–even when used to make argyle socks, often considered the apotheosis of the method.

Here is why.

This drawing is an aerial view of an attempt at circular intarsia, just starting out.

Old Book 2.6

We begin at START HERE and merrily knit our way around, interlocking at the color changes as we go. All is well.

But then we come to Round Two,

Old Book 2.7

and immediately hit a brick wall. We are back at START HERE and need the green yarn. Instead of being where it ought, however, the green is now sitting at the far end of the orange section, utterly ignoring our fevered entreaties to Come Here at Once. If you have cats or teenagers, you know this feeling.

I could have surmounted the problem by working the collar as a flat strip and sewing it closed with a seam. This is, in fact, how argyle socks are traditionally finished. I immediately rejected this idea on the grounds that I did not feel like doing that.

There is a convoluted, long-standing method for working circular intarsia that I also rejected; because I tried it once and hated it so, so much that after six rounds I grew convinced of the pointlessness of human existence and ate an entire chocolate cheesecake in the bathtub while listening to a worn out mix tape of The Smiths given to me by the college boyfriend who broke my heart.

Paging Dr. Anne

This might have meant a radical reconfiguration of the design were it not for a fairly recent innovation in intarsia, conceived by intarsia master Anne Berk.

Anne feels about intarsia the way I feel about shadow knitting–that it’s a good egg, really, and just needs some love and understanding. She tackled the thorny issue of working this stuff in the round without recourse to cheesecake, and compiled the results in this book, Annetarsia Knits: A New Link to Intarsia.

Old Book 2.8

Her solution is so simple, yet so marvelously effective, that when I read it I grew absolutely furious that I hadn’t thought it up myself. That’s probably for the best, as nobody would want to buy a book called Franklintarsia.

In particular Anne’s way of dealing with the beginning of the rounds, which present special problems, is so perfect it makes me giddy. I couldn’t remember exactly what she does and didn’t have my book handy when the collar began, so I bunted.

My result is below. Anne’s is above. Hers wins, obviously. What with it being perfect and all.

Old Book 2.9

And so the collar was worked in fits and starts on four airplanes and a ship, yet popped off the needle almost before I knew what was happening. So pleasant.

Old Book 2.10

I was half tempted to leave it unblocked, to preserve the rippling…

Old Book 2.11

…but gave it a good soak to settle it down, and laid it out to dry. I pulled the points out to make sure they were all even…

Old Book 2.12

…but didn’t need to pin them.

Old Book 2.13

Old Book 2.14

I am quite pleased.

The Recipe: Frumentum

This collar began with the Wheat-ear pattern, so I’m calling it “Frumentum,” the Latin for “grain.” If you’d like to make one, here’s what to do.

Materials

Two balls each of two colors Hikoo Simplicity. I used Seattle Sky (C1) and Fijian Waters (C2).

A circular needle size US 4/3.5mm, or the size you need to achieve a gauge you like. Maximum cable length will be 24 inches, but shorter will likely be more comfortable. I used my beloved Addi Short Lace Clicks with a 16-inch cable.

A copy of Annetarsia Knits, or instruction in the method through one of Anne’s classes. I can’t present it to you here, alas, but both Anne and her book are readily available everywhere these days.

1 stitch marker

Instructions

Wind all four skeins of Simplicity into balls; you’ll have them all in play at one time once the intarsia begins.

With C1, cast on 136 sts using the method of your choice. Join to work in the round, taking care not to twist. Place marker to indicate beginning of round.

*Knit 1 round, purl 1 round

Repeat from * 1x.

Work the first intarsia passage as follows:

With C1, work 2 repeats of Round 1 of the revised Wheat-ear chart (see below) across the first 34 sts. Join the first ball of C2 and work 2 repeats of Round 1 on the next 34 sts. Follow this with a 2 more repeats in C1, joining the second ball of that color; and then begin 2 more repeats of C2, ditto. You should now be at the beginning of the round, with all four balls of yarn attached to the work.

Work the entire Wheat-ear Pattern chart through Round 16, interlocking sections and rounds using Anne Berk’s circular intarsia method. When the chart is complete, break the working yarns, leaving 8-inch tails.

Work a second full repeat of the chart, alternating the colors of the sections (grey atop blue, and vice versa). When complete, break working yarns.

Work a third repeat of the chart through Round 8 only, once again alternating the colors of the sections.

Old Book 2.15

Work the upper selvedge entirely in C1 as follows, breaking the other working yarns as you reach them:

*Knit 1 round, purl 1 round

Repeat from * 1x.

Bind off in purl.

Break working yarn and weave in ends. Soak and gently block on flat surface, shaping top and bottom points into even scallops. Allow to dry completely before wearing.

For the Next Adventure…

No, wait. Wait. I don’t think I’m quite finished with this yet. See you in two weeks.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Hikoo Simplicity (55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon, 117 yards per 50 gram hank). Colors: Fijian Waters (Blue) and Seattle Sky (Grey).

addi® Click Interchangeable needles, size US 4/3.5mm.

Annetarsia Knits: A New Link to Intarsia by Anne Berk (Double Vision Press, 2014).

About Franklin Habit

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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Makers’ Minute – Lilly Brush

Katie educates us on ‘pills’. Why do they happen? How can you get rid of them? The Lilly Brush is the answer for all your natural fiber pill removal needs!

Buy a Lilly Brush below in Red or Black

Buy Hikoo® Simplinatural Yarn

Download the free ‘Classic Checkered Vest’ pattern, as seen in the video

Transcription

Hi, I’m Katie and this is your Makers’ Minute!

Today we explore the world of pills.

What is it? What causes it? Why it’s not a big deal?

Pills are those little balls that typically happen on areas of high traffic on your body.

This sweater is made out of Simplinatural. Simplinatural is beautiful because it has a halo, it’s super soft and fluffy.

Anything that can be categorized as ‘fluffy’ has potential to pill. But why? When little fluffy fibers meet their friends, and this happens, friction gathers the fibers and the gathered fibers are pills.

It just wants to be with its fiber friends. Don’t worry. Pills are not a big deal. We have lots of things to take care of them including this awesome Lilly Brush.

The Lilly Bursh has a cap for easy travel abilities and is super easy to use on all-natural fibers. Simply brush! It’s also great for removing pet hair, fuzz, and lint.

The Lilly Brush is only meant for your all natural fibers. But why not my synthetic fibers? Synthetics are a whole different story. Because their man-made, they’re really long fiber. And when those are created into pills, they have to be cut-off rather than brushed off.

The Lilly Brush – available in red and black, and available right now at Makers’ Mercantile.

Makers’ Minute – Allen Designs

Katie discusses unique bags, coasters and journals from Allen Designs in this Makers’ Minute!

 

All items in this video may be purchase via the link below:

http://www.makersmercantile.com/bags-and-totes/all…

 

Transcription

 


Hi, I’m Katie Rempe, and on your Makers’ Minute today we’re learning about Michelle Allen Designs. Michelle Allen is located right here in the Pacific North West.

What exactly does Allen Designs have to offer? Let me show you.

Video with a text: Coasters… set of 4

Video with a text: Coin Purse… Stitch Marker Central

Video with a text: Wristlet Bag… Fits your phone!

Video with a text: Small cosmetic Bag… Perfect for larger notions

Video with a text: Large Cosmetic Bag… Did someone say Sock Bag?

Video with a text: Journal… For all your deep dark secrets

Video with a text: Shopping Bags! One for your sweater… and afghan… and new yarn!

Video with a text: Cat Lovers… Your cat will climb in these bags

Video with a text: You’re a Woot… All Things Owls!

All these Michelle Allen Designs can be purchased through MakersMercantile.com

Makers’ Minute – Hikoo® Rub-A-Dub

In this video, Katie talks about Hikoo® Rub-A-Dub and the 6 new colors that are available! It’s a 100% microfiber in a massive 200 gram skein (108 yards). Buy the featured products below! (Shammy Pattern is free with Rub-A-Dub yarn purchase!)

Buy Hikoo® Rub-A-Dub & Shammy Pattern:

http://www.makersmercantile.com/hikoo-rub-a-dub-1.html

http://www.makersmercantile.com/shammy-pattern-by-katie-rempe-for-makers-mercantile.html

Skacel’s Free Hooded Blanket Pattern:

http://www.skacelknitting.com/Rub-a-dub-Squeaky-Clean-Toddlers-Hooded-Towel/

Transcription

Hi, I’m Katie Rempe and this is your Makers’ Minute!

Today we’re talking about Rub-A-Dub!

This yarn won’t worm. It was made in a specialty factory that makes mop heads. So each fiber is sewn in place and won’t come out.

200 gram hank will give you a hundred and eight yards which is enough to make a shammy! This shammy is absorbent, super soft, perfect for your bathro, kitchen. This shammy pattern is a Makers’ Mercantile exclusive and free to you with the purchase of the yarn.

This is also a great yarn for baby. It’s a super chunky yarn so it knits up really quick and skacel has a free pattern for a hooded baby blanket.

With your purchase of the yarn, you also get a free pattern on the label for a washcloth and a wash mitt. The colors we have available are: smurf, astro, piglet, snuffy, kermitt, and snuggles.

All the colors including classic white are all available right now at MakersMercantile.com

Fridays with Franklin – Adventure in an Old Book, Part One

fwf-logo-v11

For an introduction to this ongoing series, click here.

When I have the luxury of knitting without a deadline, one of my favorite things to do is knit swatches.

I admit that I have odd ideas about what constitutes a good time. Most knitters I have met say they would prefer to give a cat a bikini wax rather than knit a swatch. I, however, have learned most of what I know about yarn by turning out hundreds and hundreds of itty bitty scraps of fabric.

Sometimes I knit swatches for mundane reasons: to check gauge, test drape, or plan a design. Other times, as in this adventure, I knit them just to see what happens. I get a kick out of that. And in the long run, it’s productive. Just as most of my best ideas for cartoons bubble up after hours of aimless doodling, so my best knitting designs follow miles and miles of stitching with no special goal in mind.

I have a particular goofy passion for working from nineteenth century patterns. I won’t go into all the reasons why here; but chief among them is the mystery. It’s not uncommon for pattern books from the 1840s through the 1890s to offer you either only a rudimentary or misleading illustration of what you’re making, or–most often–no illustration at all. You get a rather bald title–“For a Gent’s Patterned Glove, with Fingers” and that’s it.

To work from these is to participate in the original mystery knit-alongs.

I’d been wanting to play with The Lady’s Knitting-Book (1878) for some time. The author, credited on the title page only as E.M.C., has been revealed as Elvina M. Corbould. She was quite prolific. For this adventure, we’ll dip into the second series of The Lady’s Knitting-Book, which ran to at least four volumes; she also produced (or at least put her initials upon) multiple works on crochet, netting, and needlework.

Old Book 1.1

One of the things I like about Elvina’s knitting books is that she is liberal in her dispensation of stitch motifs. I wasn’t in the mood to knit a Whole Thing, just little bits. If one of those little bits were to give me a bigger idea, I could see about turning it into a project.

I ran down the alphabetical table of contents

Old Book 1.2

and chose three, based entirely on how interesting their names were.

First up was “Talisman Pattern,” because how on earth can you not be curious about something that calls itself that?

Old Book 1.3

It revealed itself to be a variation of basket weave. Hmm. Well, okay.

Old Book 1.4

A perfectly nice variation, but not something I felt like doing more of. Not now, anyway.

Old Book 1.5

But here is the chart, in case you would like to try it. (Note: Corbould includes a garter stitch border for all her motifs; I put them on my swatches, but have omitted them in this article.)

Old Book 1.6

Next I took a crack at “Lorne Pattern.”

Old Book 1.7

This was intriguing because it was short–just three rows–and appeared to be lacy, as the instruction to “wool forward” (meaning yarn over, an instruction still to be found in some British publications) was frequent.

The result was extremely interesting: a fully reversible fabric displaying the characteristics of lace and those of ribbing.

Old Book 1.8

Old Book 1.9

Definitely worth another look. Here, if you would like to try it yourself, is the chart.

Old Book 1.10

And then “Wheat-ear Pattern,” the most elaborate (or at least the longest) of the three.

Old Book 1.11

Now this was interesting.

Old Book 1.12

I like lace generally, but I particularly enjoy lace motifs that mess around with early and delayed decreases. What does that mean? It means that the openings in the lace–created with yarn overs–are separated by one or more stitches from the decreases that compensate for them. As here:

Old Book 1.13

Used repeatedly and systematically, these do fun things to the grain of the fabric. It can cause the rows to ripple in curves, as here:

Old Book 1.14

It can also, when taken to an extreme, cause a scalloped selvage:

Old Book 1.15

This was a motif to explore further. After a few repeats I found I wanted to knit a bunch more, which is always a good sign.

Of the three I tried, this was the only one of Elvina’s patterns to include errors. I’ve corrected them for the chart.

Now, what to do with it? I have an idea. See you in two weeks.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Hikoo® Simplicity (55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon, 117 yards per 50 gram hank). Colors: 013 Violette (Talisman), 026 Pale Yellow (Lorne), 036 Silver Hair (Wheat Ear).

Pages from The Lady’s Knitting-Book, Second Series by Elvina M. Corbould. Available in digital form here from the University of Southampton, as part of the Richard Rutt Collection.

About Franklin Habit

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.

Makers’ Minute – German Short Rows

Do you despise short rows with a fiery passion? German short rows are the answer!

In this week’s Maker’s Minute, Katie quickly shows you this easy technique for short rows that’s sure to become your favorite!

Products used in this video:

– addi® Natura circular needle

– Hikoo® Kenzington yarn in color #1024 – Hokitika

Transcription

Katie: Hi, I’m Katie Rempe and this is your Makers’ Minute on German Short Rows.

Woman: What is this?

Katie: Hey wait, don’t go! Just because I said short rows doesn’t mean they’re not cool. They’re super easy.

We’re going to do the ‘wrap and turn’ on this stitch here. Knit it. Slide it back to the left-hand needle. Turn your work then wrap your working yarn around the right-hand needle on the outside to get this double stitch.

On the purl side, it’s almost the same thing. Purl the stitch for the ‘wrap and turn’. Have the yarn facing the right side or the back, slip it back onto your left-hand needle.

Turn your work and then wrap the working yarn around the right-hand needle. To close out your double stitches, you just knit them together as if they’re on stitch. When you reach a double stitch on the purl side, just purl them together as if they’re one stitch.

So next time you read a pattern that has short rows in it, don’t freak out. Remember, you’re now a pro at German short rows.