Makers’ Minute – Luv and Lee Yarn by Zitron

Are you looking for a super soft yarn that’s also super wash?? This is it! Available in an array of solids and variegated colors, this could be the ticket to your new knitting or crochet project bliss.

 

Shop Luv & Lee yarn here!

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Makers’ Minute – Neko Double Pointed Needles

These Neko Double Pointed Knitting Needles will blow your mind! Learn why these ground breaking DPNs are the perfect match for all your small circumference knitting in the round needs!

Browse Neko Needles!

Transcription

Welcome to the new Wednesday home of Your Maker’s Minute. As always, I’m Katie, and today we’re going to be talking about these super cool Neko thumb-pointed needles. They’re bent?

Unlike traditional double-pointed needle where it’s usually a set of five, small, straight needles, this is a set of three, longer, curved needles.

Are you more of a visual person? Not to worry. The back of the packaging has all the needles in action to demonstrate just how to use them. These needles are great for anything you need to in the round that’s small circumference. So, hats, socks, sleeves, small cowls, perfect.

This actually makes a circle. So while four double-pointed needles, or even three double-pointed needles will make a circular fabric, this is actually entirely circular, causing less stress on the fabric over-all. It’s also really easy to keep track of which needle you need to knit off of, because there’s only one needle where the yarn is knot. Now as we know, you always want to knit to where the yarn is knot. Neko, the name of the company, is actually a Japanese word for cat. Thanks college!

These needles are in a large range of sizes; from small for socks, and large for bulky hats and cowls, and even extra-long, just for those projects that call for a few extra stitches.

You can find the entire selection of these Neko needles right now at makersmercantile.com.

 

Fridays with Franklin – The Adventure of the Stealth Blanket: Part One

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The Adventure of the Stealth Blanket: Part One

For an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

I often wonder that more knitters do not keep Life Lists in the way that ardent bird watchers do.

A birder’s Life List is (as the name implies) a tally of all birds s/he has definitively spotted. But many Life Lists are also aspirational; they include all the species that might be spotted in a neighborhood, in a country, on a continent, or (for the extremely ambitious) around the world.

Completing that kind of Life List could require a trip fraught with expense and discomfort solely to check one little box. Behold, at last I have seen the Speckle-Breasted Willie Warmer. Check.

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Me, I have a running tally–in the form of my Ravelry projects page. Yes, I have knit a square shawl, a triangular shawl, a circular shawl, cuff-down socks, toe-up socks…Check, check, check, check.

You probably have one, too. Ravelry project pages are common as corner houses. But what about a list of the things I haven’t knit? What’s missing? I started taking stock.

Would you believe it turns out I’ve never knit a blanket?

Again and Again and Again

I have knit bits of blanket. In other words, I have finished a piece here and there that, had I knit many more of that piece, and sewn them all together, I would have made a blanket.

My problem is that I am not by nature a knitter who thrives on repetition. I can finish a second sock, because my feet are small, my socks go quickly, and the idea of stopping after only one makes me feel abashed and ridiculous. But when I meet someone who tells me she’s making her eleventh shawl from the same pattern, all I can do is stand and blink. Eleven of the same thing? Eleven? How do you do that?

Mother Was a Quilter

My late mother, bless her memory, thrived on repetition. She often fixed early in the year on a single project–an electrified ceramic Christmas tree, a macramé hanging shelf, a suite of framed floral cross stitch miniatures–and would turn into a one-woman gift factory, turning out two dozen identical specimens for delivery to friends and relations well in time for December 25. She was always organized and she never sweated.

I did not inherit any of this from her.

Near the end of her life she discovered quilting and went into orbit. Precision! Repetition! Protocol! It was an art form she’d been born to explore. Sadly, after two years and a dozen perfect quilts, she was gone from us forever. Four uncompleted projects were still sitting, waiting, in her sewing room on the day she died. Along with her pin cushion, just as she’d left it.fwf stealth 2.jpg

Knitting Patchwork

I got to thinking that I might like to make a patchwork-inspired blanket as an homage to Mom. I would knit it, but I’d take my design and construction cues from quilting.

One of the most common design units in quilting, often the first a new quilter is taught, is a square patch made of two identical triangles, like this:fwfw stealth 3.jpg

I’ve sewn a lot of these. I’d never knit one, but I knew it wouldn’t be difficult. Just do up a square on the bias, changing yarns halfway across. It’s such a simple idea I know I can’t be the first person to try it. I’m probably not even the twentieth. But I didn’t rush off to Ravelry to check. When I do something like this, I’d rather find my own way if I possibly can. Do I reinvent the wheel sometimes? Sure I do. I also learn a heck of a lot more about how stuff works.

Square Recipe

I sat down with one of my favorite tweedy yarns – Hikoo® Kenzie, and a size US 6 (4mm) addi® Click needle that I guessed would give me (your gauge may vary) the kind of garter stitch I like: firm. You want the fabric in a blanket to drape, but not droop. Loose garter stitch tends to stretch in a frowsy fashion I find extremely unattractive.

As to the yarn choice, the Kenzie has what I consider to be an ideal fiber mix for a luxurious blanket. The merino and alpaca are both soft and warm. The nylon is durable and resists stretching out of shape. The angora gives a hint of halo without obscuring the stitches. And the silk noils, which take dye so differently than the other fibers, give the yarn a shimmer that adds depth without glitz.

After a few attempts, I’d refined my two-triangle square to give it equal amounts of both colors (oddly enough, by using slightly more of the second color), and four nice sharp corners.fwf stealth 4.jpg

Since I was working in garter stitch, for increasing I used Elizabeth Zimmerman’s make one: create a backward loop with the working yarn over the right needle. When you encounter this loop on the following row, knit it through the back.fwf stealth 5.jpg

It’s quick, it’s simple, and in garter stitch fabric it pretty much disappears.

Here’s my recipe for one 5.5 inch square.

Gauge: 4 sts / 8 rows = 1 inch

Yarn: Kenzie by Hikoo (50% New Zealand Merino, 25% Nylon, 10% Angora, 10% Alpaca, 5% Silk Noils; 160 yds per 50g skein). Color 1: 1002 (Grey Salt), Color 2: 1013 (Tekapo).

First Triangle

With C1, cast on 3 sts.

Row 1 (RS) Knit.

Row 2 (WS) Slip first stitch as if to purl with yarn in front, make 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 1. (2 stitches increased.)

Row 3 (RS), Slip first stitch as above. Knit across, knitting the increases from the previous row through the back.

Row 4 (WS). Slip first stitch as above, make 1, knit to last stitch, make 1, knit 1. (2 stitches increased.)

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until you complete the WS row that gives you 35 stitches.

Break C1, leaving 5-inch tail.

Transition Rows

NOTE: Do not slip the first stitches of these rows.

Row 1 (RS). Join C2. Knit across, knitting the increases from the previous row through the back.

Row 2 (WS). Knit across.

Second Triangle

NOTE: Your shaping rows will now be right side rows.

Row 1 (RS). Slip first stitch as above, slip-slip-knit, knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. (2 stitches decreased.)

Row 2 (WS). Slip first stitch as above, knit across.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you complete the WS row after decreasing to 5 sts.

End of Square

Row 1 (RS). Slip first stitch as above, slip 2 stitches together as if to knit, knit the next stitch, pass the slipped stitches over the knit stitch. Knit the final stitch. (2 stitches decreased; 3 stitches remain.)

Row 2 (WS). Bind off as follows: slip first stitch as above, knit the following stitch, pass slipped stitch over–2 stitches. Knit the next stitch, pass the previous stitch over–1 stitch. Break C2 and pull end through.

Block and weave in ends.

Play With Your Blocks

This patch is wildly versatile. It can be arranged in so many different ways that entire books have been devoted to it. I knit sixteen–which was, in itself, a milestone for me–and spent a pleasant afternoon arranging them in different ways.fwf stealth 6.jpg

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These aren’t nearly all the possible combinations–just some I that I tried. I love a project that allows you experiment with changes in direction as you move along. The first thing you try out is so seldom the thing that works best.

Mind you, this is still not a blanket. It’s just a pile of squares. They need to be sewn together, and there needs to be more of them. Many more. Many, many more.

We’ll talk about that in two weeks.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Kenzie by Hikoo (50% New Zealand Merino, 25% Nylon, 10% Angora, 10% Alpaca, 5% Silk Noils; 160 yds per 50g skein). Colors 1002 (Grey Salt) and 1013 (Tekapo).

addi® Click Turbo Needle Set

About Franklin

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His new book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book has just been brought out by Soho Publishing.

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, Squam Arts Workshops, 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 Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Knitty.com, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection. 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. On an average day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep.

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

Makers’ Minute – Dye Kits by Botanical Colors

Katie talks about the amazing dye kits from Botanical Colors, a Seattle based company! This dye is great for yarn, fabric and more! They’re all natural and come in a range of kit options, and are the perfect way to dip your toes into the world of dyeing!

To purchase kits, click here

To see available classes, click here

Transcription

Hi, I’m Katie with Your Makers’ Minute and this week we’re talking about our own natural dye kits and classes that we have to support your learning experience. This natural dye extract kit by Botanical Colors is a really great way to introduce yourself to dyeing. This will dye approximately 3 to 4 pounds of fabric, so you’ll have lots of practice. Open up the kit and you’ll find powders to make:

  • Rich purple logwood
  • Lac
  • Cutch

And bottles of liquid dye like:

  • Saxon blue (it’s in the indigo family)
  • Fustic. Fustic is used to make the khaki uniforms of all of our favorite military people (at ease soldier)

You’ll also find a packet of aluminum sulphate and cream of tartar. But the best thing is this very helpful sheet of paper. The front side tells you all about fiber preparation. The backside gives you approximations on how to mix colors which you might want. If taking on this challenge by yourself seems a little overwhelming, not to worry.

 

Our very own Rhonda teaches a class on this very kit. To find when this class may next be offered, go to makersmercantile.com and search for hand-painting fabric class with Rhonda. If you need help finding one of our dye kits for signing up for one of our classes, feel free to call this number below and one of our Makers’ Mercantile employees will be happy to help. Thanks for joining me on this Makers’ Minute and I’ll see you next time.

Fridays with Franklin: The Adventure of the Warp with Two Brains, Part Four

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For an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

For the first part of this adventure, and to find out who the heck Mary and Sylvia are, click here.

 

You’ve seen the fabrics I created for Mary and for Sylvia, and you’ve seen how they were made. You haven’t yet seen what happened once those fabrics came off the loom.

Spaced Out

This was my first shot at two projects on a single warp, so as part of my project planning, I checked out different ways to deal with the transition from one to the next.

I chose the one that seemed easiest: I cut a piece of typing paper to twice the desired depth of my fringe–a number I’d worked out as part of my warp calculations–and slipped it into the warp when Mary’s fabric was finished.

Brains 4.1

When the whole megillah came off the loom, here’s what I was left with between scarf one and scarf two.

Brains 4.2

All I had to do was slice that unwoven passage right down the center and blammo, two scarves, plus fringe.

Except I hadn’t left enough space.

The unwoven stretch was exactly, precisely, beautifully twice the desired length of my finished fringe. My finished fringe. Finished after knotting.

Knotting requires extra yarn. Moreover, this fringe was so short that no amount of sweating, swearing, wishing, and hoping would allow even my doll-like fingers to tie it up.

I gave up and went to bed, hoping that perhaps tiny mice might come in the night and take care of it for me. I even left my copy of The Tailor of Gloucester on the work table as a hint.

Brains 4.3

And the next morning, as if by magic…

Nothing.

Stupid mice.

And Now For Something Completely Different

Okay, fine. No fringe. If no fringe, then what? Throw it all out and start over? I won’t pretend the thought didn’t cross my mind.

After about an hour of Cookie-Assisted Meditation (CAT), I settled on the idea of making both lengths into what these days are commonly called “infinity scarves”–closed loops of material, usually long enough to be doubled around the neck. If I sewed the ends together, I wouldn’t need fringe.

But I’d still need to secure those cut selvedges, or the fabric would unravel in finishing. That was the first order of business.

In weaving, there’s a popular alternative to knotted fringe called hemstitching. Now, hemstitching tutorials always tell you to that you must do it while the fabric is still on the loom. As my fabric was lying in a forlorn heap on the work table, that ship had sailed.

However, I realized after reading through a bunch of different accounts that hemstitching is closely related to one of the first hand sewing stitches I’d ever learned–blanket stitch, which is a sibling of buttonhole stitch. Both blanket and buttonhole stitch share a common purpose: they keep cut edges from unraveling.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Here’s how blanket stitch works, in two steps. Really, there’s no difference between Step One and Step Two except that the former begins by tacking the sewing thread to the fabric. (Tacking is taking a series of very small stitches all in one place. It’s preferable to a knot–far more secure.)

You’ll notice I worked from left to right, which is the usual direction. If you are left-handed, you will probably want to work from right to left.

Brains 4.4

When I was finished–it didn’t even take that long*–I had a reasonably secure selvedge,

Brains 4.5

and a quick but careful pass with my rotary cutter reduced the ends to a minimum.

Brains 4.6

I did this on both cut edges of both scarves. This gave me fabric stable enough to wet finish (soaked and agitated in hot, soapy water in the sink; rinsed; and pressed flat with an iron through a cloth to dry).

I pressed “Sylvia” gently, from the flat side, on top of two layers of fluffy towels, which helped to avoid flattening the loop pile too much.

Closing the Loop

To sew the long rectangle into a loop, I wanted a seam that would be as strong and as unobtrusive as possible. I also wanted those cut selvedges to be protected from abrasion.

There are a few seams that will do this; I chose the one that seemed the best bet for working by hand* with this fabric: the flat felled seam.

Step One

The first step in our flat felled seam is to align the ends of the scarf as you’ll see below: wrong sides together, with the selvedge of the end closer to you one half-inch below the selvedge of the other end. Pin your ends in place.

Sew yourself a nice, strong seam (I used backstitch) just below the selvedge on top, and press your seam** with an iron.

Brains 4.7

Step Two

Fold that back selvedge–the one sticking up–towards you and down so it meets the lower selvedge. Now you’ll have a folded flap 1/4 of an inch high. Press** this fold.

Brains 4.8

Step Three

Fold that flap down again (it will now be resting on the surface of the scarf) and use back stitch quite close to the folded edge to sew the flap down. Press** the seam.

Brains 4.9

What you end up with is a strong, small and (how delightful) reversible seam that encloses both selvedges completely.

My seams weren’t absolutely perfect, but you know what? I think they look pretty presentable.

Brains 4.10

Action Shots

And now, a moment of unadulterated honesty.

I sat looking at the finished pieces

Brains 4.11

and thinking that I still, after all this work, didn’t like “Sylvia.” Of course, Sylvia liked “Sylvia,” but I thought it looked…weird. And not fun weird, just weird. That’s not a nice feeling.

Sylvia stopped by in the afternoon on the way to her Esperanto poetry workshop for a fitting. I had her put on “Mary,” first.

Brains 4.12

“I’ll take this one, for sure,” she said, stroking it the appreciatively.

“That’s spoken for,” I said. “But this one has your name on it.”

She tried it on, and I’ll be darned…

Brains 4.13

That’s what it needed. A person inside it. Looped and draped, the fabric came roaring to life–and frankly, was a little more interesting than “Mary.” A complete reversal of opinion on my part. The scarf I’d hated became the scarf I preferred.

There’s a little lesson in there, I suppose. Knowing your own taste is very good. But allowing yourself to experiment and be surprised is even better.

We start a new adventure–a knitting adventure–in two weeks…

Brains 4.14

The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

*If you’re wondering about options for securing the selvedge with a machine stitch, there are many. Many weavers like a zigzag or short straight stitch. However, I prefer to work by hand when it’s practical; and a lot of you who are reading this don’t have access to a sewing machine. Always keep in mind–what’s done by machine now was done by hand for centuries. The machine may be a marvelous convenience, but the hands are no less useful for all that. Don’t let the lack of a machine stop you from doing anything.

**Perhaps you are wondering if you really, really must press the seams. Not at all. If you would like to end up doing twice the work with twice the trouble for results half as satisfactory, you may skip the pressing.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Zitron Trekking (75% New Wool, 25% Nylon; 3.5 oz/100g per 459 yds/420m). Colors: 210 (Buff) and 240 (Red).

Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom (15 inch) with optional 12-dent reed, by Schacht Spindle Company

11-inch Slim Closed-Bottom Boat Shuttle by Schacht Spindle Company

The Women (1939). For information on sources, visit the official IMDB page .

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 new book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book has just been brought out by Soho Publishing.

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, Squam Arts Workshops, 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 Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Knitty.com, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection. 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. On an average day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep.

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

Makers Minute – Worsted vs Woolen Spun

Katie talks about the differences between yarn that has been spun in the ‘Woolen’ method vs the ‘Worsted’ method.

Shop HiKoo Kenzie Yarn

Shop HiKoo Kenzington Yarn

Shop HiKoo Sueno Worsted Yarn

Transcription

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

Today we are gonna be talking about woolen spun versus worsted spun.

Normally when we talk about anything that’s worsted, we’re talking about the thickness of yarn, like a medium weight. In this instance we’re actually talking about how the fibers are spun.

Woolen spun fibers are washed, scoured, then carded. The worsted fibers go even further. They are also washed, scoured, and carded, but then they’re also combed and drawn before being spun into place. So all those fibers are going in one direction whereas the woolen fibers typically are going in multiple directions, and that’s what gives it its fluffy airy look. The worsted yarn will be a little bit stronger whereas the woolen yarn will break a little bit easier.

You may be wondering by now if one is better than the other. Really, it’s totally personal preference. If you’re looking for something that’s super warm but light, a woolen spun may be better. If you’re looking for something that will be less likely to pill and probably wear better over time, worsted spun may be the better choice.

Now, I would just like to remind you that pills are a big deal. You should definitely check out my video on pills.

 

This has been your Makers Minute, and I’ll see you next time.