Fridays with Franklin: Bunny Overload

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

People who wish to organize themselves often say they’re “getting their ducks in a row.” I envy people with ducks. I don’t have ducks, I have bunnies.

bun-01

The thing about bunnies is, bunnies multiply.

bun-02
Quickly.

bun-03
May and June have been months of near-constant work travel; and that always fools with my brain. When my body gets unsettled, my brain goes with it. I lose focus. The upside of that is ideas multiplying like–well, like bunnies.

The downside is that I follow this bunny, then that bunny, and never catch up with any of them.

My worktable (which is, in reality, two worktables in Chicago; the folding trays of forty airline seats; and innumerable hotel desks and restaurants) is entirely too cluttered. So I’ve been decided it’s time to finish up, clear up, and round up.

The long-awaited Bee Socks (done in good ol’ Trekking XXL Sport) are getting their final duplicate stitch additions to the swarm.

bee-sock-progress
I’ve been having so much fun with these, but if I don’t call a halt then I won’t get anywhere with the next pair (also to be duplicated stitched) I cast on in Color 1496. I haven’t settled on a motif yet. That’s one of the advantages of duplicate stitch–I can have a good ponder while I knit. Dogs? Penguins? Excerpted lyrics from Anita Ward’s immortal 1979 disco classic “Ring My Bell”? I can’t decide, and for the moment I do not have to.

And I have not given up on the Zoom Loom triangle shawl that I wrote about last week. The more squares I add on, the more I like it. That’s not uncommon with a self-patterning yarn. You have to give the self-patterning (or, in this case, the colors that would have self-patterned) enough room to repeat before the piece starts to look balanced. An ugly duckling stage is inevitable.

zoom-loom-02

The hand of the fabric, by the way, is lovely. I’m thinking I might do more weaving with Zitron Art Deco, perhaps on my Schacht Cricket.

zoomloom-01
Don’t stop believing.

With the Bee Socks and the Zoom Loom project tidied up, I’ll be able to focus on an idea I’ve had in mind for ages, and about which I am so excited that I think it’s going to become a new class. It’s a piece of knitting, and here’s the inspiration…

inspiration
And this is the yarn…

sueno-basket
My African woven pot basket from Big Blue Moma runneth over.

It’s HiKoo Sueño Worsted, a mix of merino and viscose that comes in a handsome array of colors and feels like a pat on the head from an angel.

I’ll show you what I’m up to in two weeks.

Note: The contest I mentioned at the end of the previous column has been postponed because y’all bought so much Zitron Art Deco all of a sudden that Makers’ Mercantile is nearly sold out. When supplies have been replenished (more is on the way from Germany) we’ll tell you what we have in mind.

 

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Zitron Art Deco (80% Virgin Wool, 20% Nylon; 437 yards per 100 gram ball). Shown in Color 05.

Zitron Trekking XXL Sport Sock Yarn (75% Superwash Merino Wool, 25% Nylon. 459 yards per 100 gram skein.) Shown in Color 1407 (sock), 1476 (bee), 1496 (blue).

HiKoo Sueño Worsted (80% Merino Wool, 20% Viscose. 182 yards per 100 gram hank.)

Woven Pot Basket from Big Blue Moma

Schacht Zoom Loom

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. He will lead his own knitting cruise to Bermuda in September, 2018.

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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Fridays with Franklin: The Zitron Art Deco Challenge Part Three, Square Dance

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

To see the first part of this Zitron Art Deco challenge, click here.

I’ve been looking forward to this part of the challenge. Weaving with self-patterning yarns is always a total gas. You can do the simplest possible weave and still get effects that make your heart flutter.

June has been, as usual, an on-the-go month with more time spent away, teaching, than at home. That means all projects must be portable. The smallest loom I own is this one.

zoomloom
It’s a Schacht Zoom Loom, John Mullarkey’s updated take on the venerable handheld pin loom. Pin looms of various sizes have been around for ages; the Zoom Loom is distinguished by being particularly light, tough, and comfortable to use. Most pin looms give me a cramp in the hand after a square or two. This one doesn’t.

Pin loom weaving is simple, an excellent point-of-entry for the newbie; but the end product is handsome enough to make it a useful tool for any weaver.

You warp in three stages…

stage01
One.
stage02
Two.
stage03
Three.

…wrapping the yarn around the pins, right off the ball.

Then, with the included long weaving needle, you weave.

stage04
Weaving can be plain or patterned. Given that Zitron Art Deco is already patterned, I chose to keep the weaving plain.

finished-squares

Now, one challenge presented by a pin loom is that you cannot adjust the spacing of the pins, which means you cannot change the sett (the number of yarns per inch) of your finished fabric. Art Deco is a bit slim for the sett of the Zoom Loom, and right off the loom what you get is fabric that’s very open and a bit unstable. The weaving term for this is “sleazy.”

backlit

Well, okay. This is a challenge, after all–and that means experimentation. If you’re not a weaver (yet), the finishing process for handwovens may startle you. Handknitting and crochet are most often blocked gently, with the wet fabric shaped carefully hand or stretched gradually on cords, pins, or wires. Woven fabric, however, is often soaked and then pummeled mercilessly either by hand or by machine.

A naughty voice inside my head said,

bunny-wash
and so I did, which gave me this pile of soggy squares.

soggy-squares
Then the voice said,

bunny-dry

and I did. I put them through a full cycle in a HOT dryer. A brazen violation of the washing instructions on the label. Did I feel guilty about this?

bunny-no
What I got were squares that were wrinkled, yes, but also pleasantly firm. (A quick press with a warm iron got rid of the wrinkles.)

post-wash
I decided to firm them up a tad more with quick edgings of single crochet, using a Size 2.75mm hook, working all stitches under the first thread in from the selvedge.

edged-squares
Then I started joining them with more crochet. Little bitty flowers.

flowerjoin
I had no plan here. I think I was high on the fumes from the dryer. Because after a considerable amount of time I had made this…

grossthing
????

…which, frankly, is one of the ugliest things I have ever made. What’s the superlative form of ugly? Fuglissimo? What the hell is this, anyway? Is it a garment? I wouldn’t wear it. I wouldn’t let you wear it. I wouldn’t polish my boots with it.

There’s just too much going on. You got the lumpy little flowers, some of which (again, I blame the dryer fumes) are backwards. You got the chain stitch diamond at the center, where I didn’t know what else to do. Plus you got all the color going this way and that.

No. Horrid. Do over.

I rearranged the squares

traingle-layout
and joined them with simple slip-stitch crochet, using a size 3.25mm hook. That meant the slip stitches were just a little too small to allow the squares to lie flat, creating a gathered fabric.

gathered
Then I put the whole piece through the wash-and-dry process again, just to be a little dickens.

finished-02
finished-side

finished-front
Now I think we have…well, not something. But at least the start of something.

In two weeks, I’ll wrap up my part of the Zitron Art Deco challenge with a look at the knitting, crochet, and weaving stages; and I’ll introduce Stage Four– a challenge for you.  With prizes, of course.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Zitron Art Deco (80% Virgin Wool, 20% Nylon; 437 yards per 100 gram ball). Shown in Colors 01, 03, and 05.

addi® Colours Crochet Hook Set

Schacht Zoom Loom

Bohin Embroidery Scissors (shown in red)

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. He will lead his own knitting cruise to Bermuda in September, 2018.

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.

Fridays with Franklin: The Zitron Art Deco Challenge Part Two, Poppin’ Wheelies

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

To see the first part of this Zitron Art Deco challenge, click here.

This week, we’re back to crochet. I love having multiple forms of craft in play all at once. I find that I get more finished when I do. It’s refreshing to set aside knitting and play with crochet; or do a bit of weaving and then change over to embroidery.

A change, as my grandmother often reminded me when I had finished washing the woodwork and was set about weeding the garden, is as good as a rest.

Ye Ollde Crochette

Once again, my current challenge is to take Zitron Art Deco (a USA exclusive to Makers’ Mercantile, shown here in Color 03)…

zitronartdecoyarncolor05
Zitron Art Deco, Color 03

…and work it so that the planned self-patterning is all mixed up; but gives a result that’s pleasing.

I am still miles away from knowing enough about crochet to design anything interesting. So I turned to my shelf of antique and vintage patterns in search of something fun.

In the twenty-eighth series of Weldon’s Practical Crochet, published in London in the last quarter of the nineteenth century (pinning down more exact dates for individual issues of Weldon’s Practical Needlework is tricky), I found this tantalizing little number.

photogravure
Mmmmmmyeeeeeaaaahhhhbaybeeeee

This was intended to be worked in white Number 10 or Number 12 cotton as an antimacassar–a decorative but practical cover for the back of chair, meant to protect the upholstery from the macassar oil used by men to dress their hair.

I wanted to see it with Zitron Art Deco–a heavier gauge, and splashed with color. While I was waiting for the Art Deco to arrive in the mail, I grabbed some of the Schoppel-Wolle Edition 6 left over from the Five Hour Baby Jacket embroidery and had a go.

test-wheel-edition6-yarn
Test wheel in Schoppel-Wolle Edition 6

This was enough to get me excited. I worked it straight from the original pattern, albeit with the usual pause to check the differences between British and American crochet terms. Of course, I paused only after I had already done it wrong. I always guess, and guess incorrectly, when I can’t recall whether British single crochet is bigger or smaller than American single crochet.

Here, translated into modern American crochet language, is the pattern.

Antimacassar Worked in Wheels
originally published in Weldons’ Practical Crochet, Twenty-Eighth Series (1880s)

Note on gauge: with the Zitron Art Deco yarn used in the sample and an addi® Colours crochet hook size US B (2.5mm), the author created large motifs measuring about 3.5 inches in diameter.

Beginning. Chain 8, join into a ring.

Round 1. Work 16 single crochet into ring.

Round 2. Chain 7 (counts as first treble crochet and chain 2). *Treble crochet under both threads of next single crochet, chain 2. Repeat from * until you have 16 treble crochet (including beginning chain). Join final chain 2 to fifth stitch in beginning chain.

Round 3. Work 3 single crochet into each chain 2 space of previous round. (Total of 48 single crochet.) Join to close round.

Round 4. Chain 7 (counts as first double treble crochet). Work 3 double treble crochet under both threads of next three single crochet, chain 5. **Work 4 double treble crochet into next 4 single crochet, chain 5. Repeat from ** until you have 12 groups of 4 double treble, all separated by chain 5. Join to close round.

Round 5. Work 1 single crochet between the second and third double trebles of the first group of the previous round. Work 8 single crochet around the following chain 5. Continue in this way, working 1 single crochet between the second and third stitches of each group of 4, and 8 single crochet around each chain 5.

Subsequent wheels are joined in the fifth round by uniting*** fourth and firth single crochet stitches of two successive outer loops to the corresponding stitches of previous wheels (see illustrations).

The space between a group of four wheels is filled with a small circle (the original pattern charmingly calls it a “circlet”) formed by working the wheel motif through Round 3. In working Round 3, unite*** the center stitch of every fourth space to the outer loop of an adjacent wheel.

***I used a flat join for these.

Wheels on Fire

Turns out the dang wheels are addictive – and easy to memorize. After wheeling twice, in the privacy of my own home…

two-wheels
…I took to wheeling in public. Without a pattern. Without caring who saw me. I HAD NO SHAME. I HAD TO MAKE MORE WHEELS.

four-wheels

When I eventually regained full control over my faculties, I found I had a little garland of wheels.

wheels-unblocked-strip

I liked it very much. It made me smile. It made me giggle. It made want to flip up my kilt and run barefoot through a meadow.

The garland was a little wrinkly, so I soaked and blocked it. No pins. Just soaked in clean water, patted into shape, and laid flat to dry.

blocked-artdeco-garland
Then I liked it even more.

blocked-garland-closeup
The way the self-patterning colors break up, the individual wheels look a little odd and unbalanced–but connected as a large piece, they look vibrant. And the motifs are bold enough to stand out in through the color changes.

fwf-68-newsletter-photo
I want to keep adding to the garland until it becomes a scarf or a shawl. I know I will, since I am unable to stop making these wheels and they all have to go somewhere. In the meantime, with the work at about 17 inches long, Little Girl Upstairs (Rosamund’s dear friend, and big sister to Upstairs Baby) was kind enough to model it for me.

zitron-artdeco-wheels-finished
She told me she expects to get it when it’s finished.

Update on the Part One of the  Zitron Art Deco Challenge: Knitting

The knitting part of the challenge is complete. I made the short-rowed cowl in Color 01 about as high as I figured it ought to be and bound off. Decent little thing. Cute fabric, good drape. Amusing to knit.

unblocked-cowl-dressform
As I’ve said before, my customary practice with all knitting is to wet finish. It smooths out the stitches, cleans the fabric, and lends a more professional appearance.

This cowl is an object lesson in the benefits of wet blocking. I soaked it for a couple hours in plain, tepid water; then removed it from the water, rolled it up in old towels, and jumped up and down on it until it was still damp, but not sopping.

Then I laid it flat to dry. Look what happened.

unblocked-cowl-dressform
Before Blocking
blocked-nolablel-dressform
After Blocking

Not only is it (much) larger, with better drape; but the fabric itself is handsomer. The short-row lozenges have opened up beautifully as the stitches relaxed.

cowl-fabric-blocked
And all that comes from about half a ball. Yes, that will do.

blocked-knit-artdeco-dressform

We’re going to make the complete pattern for this available as a free Makers’ Mercantile download. Watch this space.

Coming Up Next…

For the third part of the Zitron Art Deco challenge, I’ll be weaving this…

zitronartdecoyarncolor02
Get over here, you cute little thing, you.

…on a Schacht Zoom Loom. Self-patterning yarns usually do crazy cool stuff when you weave with them. I expect shenanigans of the very best kind.

New in the Shop

Makers’ Mercantile was so pleased with the demand for my “Yarn Sheep” leggings that they asked me to do another yarn-themed design for them. The result is “Endless Yarn”–cats and balls entangled forever. Available in sizes XS to 6XL–full details are here.

cats-and-yarn-inked
“Endless Yarn,” a new design for leggings for Makers’ Mercantile.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Zitron Art Deco (80% Virgin Wool, 20% Nylon; 437 yards per 100 gram ball). Shown in Colors 01, 02, and 03.

addi® Colours Crochet Hook Set

Schacht Zoom Loom

“Endless Yarn” Leggings designed by Franklin Habit

“Yarn Sheep” Leggings designed by Franklin Habit

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. He will lead his own knitting cruise to Bermuda in September, 2018.

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.