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

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

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

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

So, at last, the moment of truth.

Snip, snip, snip, went the steeks. Like a beautifully de-boned chicken, Rosamund’s new sweater lay open on the table.

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In this shot, the live stitches along the underside of the tummy, which had been held on scrap yarn, have been transferred to a short (8-inch) Addi Turbo circular needle.

After turning under and whip stitching the halves of the bridges…

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…it was time for the first try-on. The moment of truth.

It fit.

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Celebratory cookies all around.

While I was doing my victory dance, Rosamund wandered off to chew on Mr. Happy Fuzzy Pumpkin (now the late Mr. Happy Fuzzy Pumpkin), still wearing the sweater. As she is recently turned two years old and therefore officially a dog teenager, that is her way of saying, “Oh, my dear Papa! Your loving generosity thrills me through and through! To think that I, a dog of humble origins, am now favored with made-to-measure handknits! I adore you and am so grateful.”

At length, a discreet bribe of two more peanut butter cookies allowed me to retrieve the work-in-progress so that I might apply the finishing touches.

First, the forelegs each got about two inches of simple knit 2, purl 2 rib worked on stitches picked up and knit on four double-pointed needles. I could have done them on an eight-inch addi Turbo circular needle, but the double-pointed needles were close to hand and the circular needle was All The Way Over There. You know how it is.

Next, the turtleneck. I love how Rosamund looks in a turtleneck, and she seems to appreciate the warmth.

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This was done on a short circular needle after picking up and knitting stitches through the cast-on edge, in more knit 2, purl 2 rib.* Of course, I could have done the turtleneck first as part of the body. So why do it afterwards? Because I am still new at fitting Rosamund, and wanted to hedge my bets. Had the body once again come out low at the shoulders, I could have camouflaged it with an even taller turtleneck.

I’ve learned by watching Rosamund live in her first sweater that I needed to stitch that turtleneck edge down after folding or it would be forever unrolling. I took a few stitches at each of six points spaced evenly around the neckline. I think this will hold the collar nicely without sacrificing stretch. If not, I’ll try something else.

The last step was a bit of edging all around the lower edge of the tummy (those stitches shown above, waiting on the short circular needle) and the three sides of the rear flap.

The flap was particularly in need of further attention as the two final ridges of garter did nothing to stop it from curling up.

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I ought to have foreseen this, I know, and worked more garter stitch at the tush end to begin with; but I’ll know better next time.

Also from a purely aesthetic perspective, the edges of the flap where the bridge halves had been turned under still looked naked . It’s rare to leave any steek untrimmed, because no matter how neatly you work that newly-created selvedge is always a bit wonky.

The tummy stitches didn’t need more than four rows (so, two ridges) of garter stitch to finish them off.

The flap I decided to handle this way: pick up and knit stitches along this path on a circular needle…

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…and work in flat garter stitch for about four ridges (that’s eight rows).

And at the tush end, I thought it would be nice to curve the trim by throwing in some short rows.

Short rows have a reputation for being complex, but I can never quite understand why. A short row is–as the name suggests–no more than a row in which you stop and turn your work before all the stitches have been knit. There are many (many) ways of dealing with the holes that develop at the turning points, but those methods aren’t complicated once you understand what is to be done.

Garter stitch short rows are even simpler, because you don’t do anything at the turning point but turn. I kid you not. You get holes, yes. But the tendency of garter stitch ridges to pull together in the finished fabric means the holes won’t show up unless you’re working at quite a loose gauge.

So this was the path of the knitting at the end of the flap.

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That’s just one short ridge, but it was enough to give the end of the flap a gentler, curved shape; and the additional garter stitch eliminated the curl.

With all complete, we put the sweater back on and stepped outside on an unseasonably pleasant day for the official test drive.

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The sun was brilliant, the wind was sharp. I was elated to find that the high relief of the garter borders–the fabric that you, dear readers, told me to use–caught the shadows beautifully.

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The HiKoo® Simpliworsted was warm and comfortable enough that we were able to enjoy the garden–even in its drab winter disarray–long enough for a much-needed frolic and breath of air before returning indoors for a celebratory cookie.

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It’s tough to express how much I’ve come to love this yarn–a pleasure to work with, lovely to look at, and durable enough to survive on a dog who expresses her love of nature by rolling around in it.

So, I’m calling this adventure a success. If you’ll please join me in two weeks, there will be something entirely new to play with.

Meanwhile, Rosamund says thank you very much to all of you for helping with her sweater.

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*Is there a stitch in all of knitting more interminable than knit 2, purl 2 rib? Working those five inches of turtleneck felt like climbing Everest on a pogo stick.

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 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 (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.

 

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

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

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

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

We now resume the knitting of a new sweater for Rosamund–this is Rosamund–

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which has been by far the longest-running “Fridays with Franklin” adventure to date.

We’re nearing the end, though. Take a look at what finally popped offa my needles.

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Is it a dog sweater? Or did some demented worm from outer space shed a cocoon on my work table?

I know. It’s a lousy photo. But it was so late, y’all. So late. You should see what I looked like at that hour. No, you shouldn’t.

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Anyway.

You may remember I was so dubious about this stitch pattern that I didn’t bother to measure my first swatch before ripping it out. Just my luck that most of you voted to make it the basis of the sweater.

I had to grit my teeth to get past the ugly duckling stage. Most knitting projects have one, have you noticed? It’s a point at which you are well begun, with a several inches complete, and you suddenly feel with sick certainty that the finished project won’t be worth the bother.

I mean, look at this. Bleah.

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Now, I teach motif design to knitters. I stand in front of every class and say the same thing: don’t judge your fabric until there’s enough there to judge it fairly. A repeating motif will almost never show itself to advantage until you let it repeat, and repeat, and repeat. That’s where you find the power, the beauty, and the interest. Maybe I should listen to myself.

That simple square, multiplied

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becomes something greater. I need to put the sweater on Rosamund to make the final call, but I can say with certainty that I’m happy to have worked with the more unusual motif. It doesn’t look like something I’ve seen a million times before. It sure doesn’t look like something I’ve made a million times before–and that alone is worth the time spent.

Rosamund’s last sweater had only a tiny bit of short-rowing to make the top longer than the bottom. This time, I wanted to be sure to give her back more coverage with a much extended tail, as in the sketch.

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Tail End

I could have done that by working in the round to the back flap, then working the flap itself (including the shaping) flat. Many patterns for the “shirt-tail” sweaters that become popular now and again do just that.

The potential problem is that most knitters (myself included) will find that even with the same needles and yarn, their flat gauge differs significantly from their circular gauge. More than likely, the fabric of the tail wouldn’t have matched the body unless I took the time to mess around with different needle sizes, and that’s annoying.

Also annoying? Purling wrong side rows in stranded color work. Can I do it? Yes I can. Do I enjoy it? No I do not. Is life too short to spend it knitting stuff you don’t want to knit? Yes it is.

So, seeing as I already had two steeks in this thing–one for each leg hole–why not add a third? When I reached the beginning of the tail, I put the live stitches for the lower (tummy) half of the sweater on a piece of scrap yarn,

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and then used a simple backward loop to cast on a bridge of seven stitches

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to form the basis of the steek that, when cut open, would allow the tail to lie flat.

(For more on steeks and how they’re constructed, click back to The Adventure of the Warm Puppy, Part Three.)

With the bridge in place, I could keep knitting in the round, decreasing as desired on either side of the bridge to shape the flap.

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Of course, the knitting itself starts to look bizarre. This, however, is temporary. It’s also an asset if you’re the sort of show-off knitter who likes confused strangers to come over and ask what the hell you’re making.

What’s left now is the cutting, the fitting, and the finishing.

The fitting, of course, can’t happen until after the cutting–and there, I must admit, lies the rub in working with steeks. Because you can measure and measure and measure again–and I did–but you can’t really try the thing on before you cut. And while cutting isn’t difficult, un-cutting rather is.

So I’m off to get the scissors. I invite you please to stop by again in two weeks. And then, oh then, I do hope we will have sewn this puppy up. So to speak.

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.