Fridays with Franklin – The Adventure of the Transparent Excuse to Show You More Pictures of My Adorable Dog, Part Three

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The Adventure of the Transparent Excuse to Show You More Pictures of My Adorable Dog, Part Three

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

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

Rosamund (this is she)…

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…is not the only creature in residence here who is known on occasion to chase her own tail.

That, my friends, is exactly what I feel I’ve been doing since we last met.

In the inaugural “Fridays with Franklin,” I wrote about the meandering path creativity often takes, but I left something off the map.

It can happen that in working out an idea, even an idea I think is good, I find myself in a place where the fun little meanders and switchbacks turn into a sort of maelstrom. Or do I mean merry-go-round? Hamster wheel? At any rate, something that goes round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and gets exactly nowhere.

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This is not fun. Perhaps it would be if I were a hamster. I’ve never seen a hamster on a wheel who looked unamused.

But I am not a hamster.

To recap, I first thought I’d use this as the chart for the stranded color work dog sweater,

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until I decided it was too boring and replaced it with this

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until I decided it was too busy, so I ripped it out.

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That’s where we ended last time.

I turned to my original sketch

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for a refresher. I didn’t necessarily want to cover the fabric in checks, no. It doesn’t do to take a sketch too literally. What I had imagined something crisp and bold.

So I went back to square one (ha) and charted this.

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As I swatched, I thought, “This is a very, very simple chart. What if I jazzed up the fabric by knitting the borders between the little checked squares as garter stitch?”

Here’s what happened.

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I got as far as you see here before taking one snapshot. Then I decided this looked clunky and ripped it out.

After a walk around the block with Rosamund, who was still not wearing the new sweater I had now been swatching for a month, I sat down and charted this.

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It ain’t much. But in my Knitted Tessellations class, I’ve taught thousands (it’s a popular class, thank you) of knitters how to start with an unassuming niblet like this and apply various forms of symmetry.

Do that, and it could turn into:

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And that could turn into:

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And now, it seemed, I was cooking.

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I cast on yet another swatch, only to find that in reality my choice of colors gave me something I hadn’t seen in the chart: very pedestrian Xs and Os. Yippee.

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That chart, though. It was so promising. What if I flipped the colors and knit it again with light as dark and dark as light? Since the stitch count was identical, I decided to work out that idea on the same swatch.

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Here came another bend in the path, because what made me perk up was the change from one section to the next. That was interesting. What if I knit the chart in alternating bands–one repeat with purple (in this case, 033 Red Hat Purple) as Color A; and the next with lilac (specifically, 013 Violette) as Color A? Reverse, repeat.

So I kept swatching.

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I was feeling pumped. No, it wasn’t the bold, crisp pattern I’d had in mind. But I thought it would–once propagated across the full sweater–have a pleasant shimmery complexity.

Then I showed it (and the previous swatch) to a trusted colleague–someone of reliable taste, and dear enough to me that I can bear his unvarnished opinion; and what he wrote was, “The first one [meaning the garter/stockinette combination] is much more interesting. The second one is kinda muddy.”

Huh.

Looking at it with fresher eyes, perhaps that first fabric did have merit. The garter stitch borders reminded me of quilting, certainly desirable in a cold-weather garment. And it was closer to the original geometric image in my head. Was it the better motif?

I dithered for a few hours, then showed pictures of both to the one other person in my life who is sometimes invited to weigh in. He said, “I don’t know. The first one. No, the second one. I don’t know. They’re both fine. Which one do you like?”

At which point I began to feel like a hamster in a maelstrom.

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Have you ever seen a hamster in a maelstrom who looked happy to be there? No, you have not.

I was about to flip a coin–something which has helped me many times to stop spinning and start moving forward again. Then I thought, no. No, let’s do something more fun than that.

I want you, friends, to do the choosing. Please.

Since I can’t decide,** tell me which you would prefer as the starting point for Rosamund’s sweater–either Option A or Option B. (These, please understand, are the only options I will entertain. I am already befuddled enough for a whole maelstrom* of hamsters.)

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To vote, click here or on the image above, and you’ll be taken to a polling page.We will keep the voting open until noon, United States CST, on Monday, January 2, 2017. Only votes submitted here will count.

To find out what happens, please come on back in two weeks.

*Is a group of hamsters called a “maelstrom”? If not, I feel it should be.
**Before you suggest it, I did ask Rosamund which she prefers. She said this one or that one, only do get on with it before spring thaw.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Simpliworsted by Hikoo® (55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon; 140 yds per 100g skein). Colors: 033, Red Hat Purple; and 013, Violette.

addi® Turbo 16-inch circular 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 new book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book has 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, 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 Mason-Dixon Knitting, 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, four looms, and a colony of
yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

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Fridays with Franklin – The Adventure of the Transparent Excuse to Show You More Pictures of My Adorable Dog, Part Two

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The Adventure of the Transparent Excuse to Show You More Pictures of My Adorable Dog, Part Two

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

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

 

Sometimes when you know where you want to go and plan how to get there, you still end up in a ditch.

We ended last time with a peek at the swatch for Rosamund’s new sweater.

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(This is Rosamund.)

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I swatched with the usual good intentions:

  • To determine my stitch and round gauges.
  • To test the drape and appearance of the fabric.
  • To test the motif.

I also washed and blocked my swatch. Yes, I did. Oh boy, did I feel smug.

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The swatch was promising. Cuddly drape. Firm enough to be warm in a Chicago winter chill. The motif was fine.

When I sketched the sweater, I had in mind something bold and clean and crisp. A repeating motif, probably geometric. Not a large motif, though. Large repeating patterns are a tricky proposition on small garments, because there’s usually not enough space for them to breathe.

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The construction would be the same as that of the first sweater–neck down, in the round, with steeks. Familiar territory.

That motif, though. That motif. It bugged me.

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Would you look twice at that if it ran past you on its way to chasing a squirrel? No, you wouldn’t. Not even with that rich purple in the mix. So pedestrian.

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I decided to mess around with pushing stitches here and there, and at some length had jazzed it up into this.

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Repeated, it looked very promising in the chart.

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No need to swatch again, right? Nah.

Wrong.

I got this far

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and realized that I didn’t like it at all. This patterning is less crisp, clean, and bold than the first version; all those little changes made it feeble. Muddy. From a distance, it’s barely visible as a pattern.

So what to do? Rip. Reconsider. And swatch.

See you in two weeks–at which time I intend to have something more interesting to show you. Dang it.

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Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Simpliworsted by Hikoo® (55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon; 140 yds per 100g skein). Colors: 033, Red Hat Purple and 013, Violette.

addi® Turbo 16-inch circular 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 new book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book has 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, 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 Mason-Dixon Knitting, 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, three looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Makers’ Minute – Treasures at Makers!

We have so many goodies at Makers’ Mercantile both in-store AND online! Katie tours you around our shop to show you that treasures are at every turn!

See something you like? Call us and we will find what you’re looking for! For contact information, visit our website:

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Fridays with Franklin – The Adventure of the Transparent Excuse to Show You More Pictures of My Adorable Dog, Part One

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The Adventure of the Transparent Excuse to Show You More Pictures of My Adorable Dog, Part One

 

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

 

We’ve yet to see snow (he whispered, nervously) but winter has arrived in Chicago. This means that my friend Rosamund, shown here

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has taken to sleeping at night wrapped in both the duvet and the electric blanket with her cold nose buried in my warm armpit.*

I can’t blame her. I have more fur on my chest than she does, poor darling.

Her first sweater, which I wrote about in this adventure, has been in service almost every day for the past two weeks.

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This sweater was intended as a pilot project. First, to see if I could custom fit a garment to a four-footed model. Then, to observe how said garment would perform in the real world. So, how did it go?

I’m very impressed with the performance of Hikoo® Simpliworsted when subjected to heavy use by my cannonball of a dog.

Sauntering, trotting, running, jumping, twisting, bounding, rolling, and frenetic repeat performances of the “I See a Rabbit Polka” have done nothing to harm the yarn; it hasn’t faded, stretched or even pilled. Solid stuff, this.

It went through the washer and dryer after Little Miss Mudpie flopped in a puddle near the construction site on the next block. The sweater came out looking no worse for wear. Rosamund, being Hand Wash Only, was somewhat tougher to clean.

The Final Cut

I knew the “finished” sweater was going to require one more alteration.

When Rosamund goes for a walk she wears the purple harness we jovially refer to as her sports bra.

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Now, I could have adjusted the harness to fit over the sweater, but that would have spoiled the look and been less comfortable. I wanted her to wear the harness underneath, which means the sweater needed an opening in the center back for the leash to pass through.

I could have planned for this during the knitting; but remember that I was unsure of exactly how the fit was going to work out. I didn’t know if the sweater would sag or ride up, stretch or twist. I couldn’t have known with certainty where to put the opening.

So I let her run around in both for a while, on several different days, to see how the two pieces interacted. When I felt confident about where the leash loop and the sweater needed to align, I marked the top and bottom of that spot with a pair of locking-ring stitch markers.

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You know what’s coming next, don’t you? Don’t you?

A steek.

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Don’t be so melodramatic.

Steeks were quite the feature of the original adventure, and I wrote about them at length here–reassuring you that they don’t just happen, you usually plan for them.

That doesn’t mean you can’t decide after the fact to put one in, which is what I did.

After counting the stitches across the back to make sure I was exactly in the center, I moved my markers to indicate the top and bottom of the center (cutting) column of my intended steek.

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Then I used some more of the knitting yarn and a hook from my addi® Colors Crochet Hook Set to secure the pairs of stitch columns to the immediate right and left of the cutting column with chain crochet. (Again, for a full discussion of the technique, see The Adventure of the Warm Puppy.)

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Then I cut the opening.

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A crocheted steek gives such nice, neat edges that frankly I could have left that hole as it was. But my late grandmother’s voice echoed in my head, saying, “This opening is a stress point, and therefore subject to extra wear. Furthermore, those edges are raw and unfinished.”

My grandmother would have no more permitted me to send my dog out into the world with unfinished cut selvages showing than she would have attended a meeting of the Ladies Altar Rosary Society in her nightgown.

“Raw edges must be finished,” continued the ghostly voice, “and stress points must be reinforced, unless you want your poor grandmother to cry in heaven. Did I raise you right or did I not? OOOOoooOOOOOooooOOOOO.”

Fine, fine. Easy enough. I picked up and knit stitches (making sure I had a number divisible by four) around the opening…

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…on a set of double-pointed needles, then worked k2p2 ribbing to match the ribs at the legs and collar. I made the ribbing long enough to be turned over and sewn down on the wrong side, completely encasing the cut edges.

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It looks odd all by itself, yes. But now the sweater and harness work perfectly in tandem, and my grandmother’s ghost can go chill out with a beer.

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In the evening we went for another walk around the neighborhood. I took a packet of stitch markers, and as we trotted along I noted where on the finished sweater the top of her front leg really sits (Point A), and put a marker there.

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And I also noted with a marker how deep the too-large leg opening on the original sweater needed to be snugger fit (Point B).

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With the alteration points marked, I could now revise my measurements and prepare for the project that will be the heart of this new adventure.

Another Rosamund sweater in Hikoo® Simpliworsted, but this time, in…

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stranded color work.

Meet me back here in two weeks and I’ll tell you all about it.

*Does this make her…an armpit bull? Hahahahaha. Ha.

 

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Simpliworsted by Hikoo® (55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon; 140 yds per 100g skein). Colors: 611, Earth and Sky (sweater); 033, Red Hat Purple and 013, Violette (swatch).

addi® Steel double-pointed needles, 8 inch length

3.5 mm hook from addi® Colors Crochet Hook 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 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, 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 Mason-Dixon Knitting, 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, three looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.