Cage Match, Part One

fwf-logo-v11It scarcely seems possible, but by the close of this series we will have reached the fiftieth installment of Fridays with Franklin. Fifty! Can you imagine?

I was flipping through my binder of shade cards from Makers’ Mercantile looking for the next yarn to play with when my elbow knocked over a little basket of yarn that was sitting on the work table. Odd balls of yarn spilled all over the floor. Or they would have, if they’d hit the floor. Instead they spilled all over the four open boxes on the floor that were already full of other odd balls of yarn. You couldn’t actually see the floor.

It appears that nearly fifty columns full of knitting, crochet, and weaving have landed me with quite the buffet of leftovers.

That’s not something to cry about, I know; but please keep in mind that I live in a large city and do my work in a very small room. How small? Not much larger than the footprint of a king-sized bed. It is crammed, absolutely crammed, with things I need. Here, I’ve drawn you a little plan:

fwf-47-workroom

Of course, what you don’t see in the plan are the things I have hanging from the walls and ceiling, including my Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom, my card weaving loom from John Mullarkey, my swift, my project bags full of things in progress, and other hanging bags full of weaving, spinning, and embroidery tools. Every inch is spoken for.

I try to keep leftover yarns organized and sorted into the bins under the bed in the next room. That’s the place where, by mutual agreement, my stash lives. If it won’t fit under the bed it has to leave the apartment. Fortunately, it’s a big bed. Good intentions don’t sort skeins, though; so I have a perpetual backlog on the workroom floor. The prettiest little tripping hazard you ever saw.

Seeing as we’re celebrating a milestone of sorts with this adventure, I think it’d be fun (and prudent) to hold back from ordering new stuff and make use of what’s already to hand.

fwf-47-yarnbowl

Talk about memory lane.

There’s HiKoo Simpliworsted here from The Adventure on the Floor (the crocheted mat) and The Adventure of the Warm Puppy and The Adventure of the Transparent Excuse to Show You More Pictures of My Adorable Dog (sweaters for Rosamund).

There’s HiKoo Rylie from The Adventure of the Scarf That Ate the World (and the Into the Hoods interlude that followed).

There’s HiKoo Kenzie and also HiKoo Kenzington from The Adventure of the Stealth Blanket (the Ohio Star quilt-inspired afghan and pillow).

There’s Schoppel-Wolle Leinen Los from The Adventure of the Little Poser.

And that’s just the top layer.

These are wildly different yarns, in wildly different fiber blends, constructed in all manner of methods from chainette (Kenzington) to felted singles (Leinen Los).

Pushing the pile around didn’t give me fun ideas for using them all together. An obvious choice would have been some sort of scrap blanket, but one of the yarns (Leinen Los) isn’t really well suited to that. A scrappy shawl might be fun–but a shawl made with a significant quantity of hefty Kenzington might suffocate you.   

Then I got a note from one of my friends at Makers’ Mercantile in which she mentioned one of their most popular kits–the Cage Purse. You may well have seen a friend with one of these, or you may well have one yourself.

The cage bit…

fwf-47-cage-full

…comes ready to use. The fun is knitting (or crocheting) a liner for it. The open cage supports your work, which means you don’t have to resort to felting in order to get a bag that won’t droop and sag when you fill it. And because it’s a cage–well made from good leather and handsome, sturdy rivets…

fwf-47-cage-detail

…whatever sort of liner you create is beautifully shown off.

Makers’ Mercantile sells the cages as part of several kits (like this Brown Kit, or the Red Kit shown below) – each with yarn, pattern, and fabric for a lining…

399041_20170531154848
…or you can buy just the cage (in a choice of colors such as Basil) and use your imagination. That’s what I decided to do.

The Amazon Arrows cowl in our last adventure

fwf-46-a-after-button-detail

…had so much going on (miters! shadow knitting! duplicate stitch! I-cord!) that I felt this piece ought to be as simple as possible. When you have four very different, eye-catching yarns in eight or ten colorways all smooshed together, I think it’s unwise to make the structure of the fabric complicated as well.

So, what’s the least complicated knit fabric? Probably garter stitch: when working flat, knit all stitches and all rows. I cast on for a small swatch…

fwf-47-aerialswatch

…and within a few inches I got that tingle in my chest that either means I’m onto something I like, or that I shouldn’t eat half a pan of brownies right before bed. I hadn’t been eating brownies.

This is nothing but garter stripes with changes from yarn to yarn at will. Most of the colors are fairly closely related (clearly I have a thing for purples and blues), but as we noted the yarns themselves are strange bedfellows. And I like that. The fabric was looking good, and the swatch was (brace yourself) fun to knit. Truly fun.

When you find yourself smiling at a swatch, that’s a good sign.

I sketched out what I needed to make. Pretty simple, really.

fwf-47-bagsketch

All that remained before calculating my cast-on numbers was a plan for how to make that happen. There were two obvious options.

Option 1…

fwf-47-option-01

…was flat construction. Knit panels and sew them together. That would make sense, as garter stitch is a natural result of flat knitting. I don’t mind sewing–it’s quite fun, really, once you know a little bit about what you are doing–and the side seams would give the bag some structure.

On the other hand, a seam sewn in a fabric with this many yarns would never be invisible. Not a deal-breaker, but a point to consider. It also might be tricky to sew a good seam when joining panels where two very different yarns are meant to align at the selvedges. In fact, just getting all four sides to be exactly the same length might be a challenge.

Option 2…

fwf-47-option-02

…was primarily circular construction. Knit the bottom as a flat panel, then pick up and knit around the edges and work the body of the bag in the round. Without doing anything special at the corners, this bag would have softly contoured sides. It might be possible to give those corners a touch more definition using Elizabeth Zimmermann’s “phoney [sic] seams” technique–slipping the corner stitches every other round.  There would be no sewing. But every other round, in order to make garter stitch, would have to be purled.

Either way, we’re talking about a ton of ends to weave in. Happily, I like weaving in ends.

So, what to do?

See you in two weeks!

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Makers’ Mercantile Leather Cage Purse available separately or as a kit
addi® Olive Wood Circular Needle available in fixed and interchangeable varieties
Schacht Cricket 15-inch Rigid Heddle Loom
HiKoo Simpliworsted (55% Merino Wool, 25% Acrylic, 17% Nylon. 140 yards per 100 gram hank)
HiKoo Rylie (50% Baby Alpaca, 25% Mulberry Silk, 25% Linen. 274 yards per 50 gram hank)
HiKoo Kenzie (50% New Zealand Merino Wool, 25% Nylon, 10% Angora, 10% Alpaca, 5% Silk Noils. 160 yards per 50 gram ball)
HiKoo Kenzington (60% New Zealand Merino, 25% Nylon, 10% Alpaca, 5% Silk Noils. 208 yards per 100 gram hank)
Schoppel-Wolle Leinen Los (70% Wool, 30% Linen. 328 yards per 100 gram ball)

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 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.

Fridays with Franklin Afternoon Addendum: The Adventure of the Llama on the Corner, Concluded

So.

This morning, when what was to have been the final word on the mitered, shadowed HiKoo Llamor cowl appeared online, I took a fresh look at that duplicate stitch embroidery.

fwf-46-dupstitch

It was…fine. Scattered around like speckles, albeit speckles (as I wrote) speckles for a control freak, since I was able to put them exactly where I wanted them.

Fine is fine, but don’t you hate settling for fine?

On a human neck–because that’s where a cowl counts–the piece as a whole had some of the verve I wanted, what with the happy jumble of stripes going every which way.

fwf-46-a-before-neck

But the duplicate stitches in pink, the color I loved best, the key to everything, weren’t doing much. A strong color should not make a feeble show.

I ripped ’em all out and started again. This time, I echoed the triangles in the knitting with the embroidery, all the way down the line.

fwf-46-a-flat

That was more like it.

Now, as far as I’m concerned, the piece is finished. Maybe another adjustment here or there; but the embroidered triangles are amplifying the iridescent effect I was hoping to create with the use of shadow shadow knitting.

fwf-46-a-after-button-detail

I am not displeased. I think this might even be worthy of writing up a pattern, if folks are interested.

I’m going to call it–in honor of certain Amazon princess and her countrywomen–“Amazon’s Arrows.”

It’s not a tough knit at all, you know. Any advanced beginner should be able to handle it readily, and seasoned pros might enjoy the novelty of the construction. What do you think?

fwf-46-a-after-neck-detail

And now…back to work on our next adventure. See you in two weeks!

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Addendum

HiKoo® Llamor (100% baby llama; 109 yd per 50g ball), available in the Peruvian Palette, the Natural Palette, and the Carnival Palette
Skacel Buttons from the Corozo, Agoya Shell, and Horn lines
addi® Olive Wood Circular knitting needles used to work the entire project

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 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 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/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.

 

The Adventure of the Llama on the Corner, Part Five

fwf-logo-v11For an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

I find that so often that the finishing touches on project can make or break it.

After weeks of fooling about with the structure, the mitered shadow cowl in HiKoo Llamor had reached full length.

fwf-46-aerial-scrunchy

But it was missing something.

This pink (1775):

fwf-46-pinknowriting
Before I go any further, remember that color choices are always personal. You may look at that pink and cringe. You may hate all pinks, or that pink in particular. You may look at the full length of the cowl and feel that there is already, if anything, too much color packed into it without adding more.

fwf-46-knitting-finished

To my eye, though, these foreground colors–unto and including the orange (1752)–are all muted. Dimmed. Pretty, but subdued. My intent was a piece full of energy. The crowd needed a brilliant party-starter to wake it up. Therefore:

fwf-46-pinkwriting

My first thought was to throw one ridge of the pink into a garter border running right round the edges. A test showed pretty quickly that even a narrow border like that…

fwf-46-edge-reject

…was too much. Too heavy, visually, for the piece. There’s so much pattern in the center that even garter stripes at the edge were de trop. I wanted a party. Not a riot.

Yet–is there not always a yet?–the cowl needed an edge treatment. Not only for color, but–is there not always a but?–for structure. HiKoo Llamor, being 100% baby llama, is buttery soft and superbly warm. It also drapes like crazy. That’s fabulous, unless the drape is so uncontrolled that the cowl sags around the neck like a wet rag and all the fancy mitering and shadowing has been for nothing.

I turned to an old ally, applied I-cord.

fwf-46-appliedcord

There. Yes. Color (but not too much) and structure.

fwf-46-jellyroll

I Need Closure

This was supposed to be a cowl, not a scarf, so it needed to close into a tube. That meant buttons. Lucky for me, Makers’ Mercantile is gearing up to present the entire (gigantic) line of Skacel Buttons.

Skacel Buttons is a new enterprise, so I was given special permission to dip into stock before it became generally available. If you want to see the full range, you can get a peek herebut do please keep in mind that you’re looking at a wholesale site. This means you can’t order directly from Skacel. If you see something you like, and you will, ask your favorite yarn, craft, or sewing retailer to order for you. The lines have just hit the market this season, so they’re ready when you are.

I asked to play with four different styles.

From the Corozo line…

fwf-46-round-buttons

From the Agoya Shell line…

fwf-46-shiny-buttons

From the Horn line…

fwf-46-big-buttons

fwf-46-carved-buttons

And engaged in the time-honored custom of laying them on the fabric and pushing them around and squinting…

fwf-46-buttons-compared

…until I determined that the iridescence, shape, and color of the Agoya Shell buttons were just right. Interesting, eye-catching, yet quiet enough to play second fiddle to the yarn.

I churned out a little more of the I-cord, unattached,

fwf-46-cordloops

to create three button loops. Everything got sewed on.

 

fwf-46-buttonloops

And, done! Well. Sorta done! Not quite done.

Because now the pink at the perimeter was so very pink that the center was sunk into gloom. It needed a lift.

fwf-46-no-embroider

Out came the tapestry needle. I spent a pleasant hour duplicate stitching  random bits of pink into the stockinette stripes of the rectangles. Think of it as speckled yarn for control freaks.

fwf-46-dupstitch

Better.

Success?

fwf-46-finished-folded

Hmm.

When the cowl is worn, the flickery effect of the shadow work appearing and disappearing isn’t as pronounced as I hoped, though it’s certainly there.

fwf-46-worndetail

I think my ultimate idea–a blanket–might show it off more because there’d be more surface area.  On the other hand, the color work is handsome enough that I don’t feel too crushed. But still…it needs…

Wait a minute. Wait wait wait. This will be the first Fridays with Franklin with an Afternoon Addendum. Yes.

Our next adventure starts in two weeks. But I’ll be back here in a few hours. I need to go get my scissors.

 

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

HiKoo® Llamor (100% baby llama; 109 yd per 50g ball), available in the Peruvian Palette, the Natural Palette, and the Carnival Palette
HiKoo Kenzie (50% New Zealand Merino Wool, 25% Nylon, 10% Angora, 10% Alpaca, 5% Silk Noils; 160 yd per 50g ball) – used as the background in the button photographs
Skacel Buttons from the Corozo, Agoya Shell, and Horn lines
addi® Olive Wood Circular knitting needles

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 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 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/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.

The Adventure of the Llama on the Corner, Part Four

fwf-logo-v11

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

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

Looking at my little heap of Hikoo Llamor shadow knit mitered squares–version 2.0–I found myself wanting to simplify the piece even further. 

These squares made less noise, but they were still squares I’d need to sew together. No matter how I might arrange them, seam lines would be a distraction.

small-sq-pile

Turning over ideas, I noted that if you make a mitered square like this:

miter-square

then it stands to reason that you make a mitered rectangle like this:

miter-rectangle

and that could be interesting. (If you’re unfamiliar with the basic principle behind the mitered square in knitting, take a look at Part Two of this adventure.)

I intended the cowl to be two mitered squares high. Working each pair of squares as a single mitered rectangle would eliminate half the seams while giving me the same changes in grain. Groovy.

The effect in shadow knitting, viewed from the long edge, should be a large central triangle in a solid color, while the smaller triangles at either side would be in stripes.

rectangle-bottom

Viewed from the short edge, the same rectangle should offer small colored triangles flanking one large striped triangle.

rectangle-side

This is an arrangement quilters will recognize as the classic block “Flying Geese.”

fwf-45-geese

At the end of the first rectangle, I goofed around with attaching the next rectangle seamlessly. The first go was…weird. It was one of those times when theory was fine…

increase-theory

…but the reality was a mess.

fwf-45-mess

On the other hand, that mess has gone into my files for use in another project. When you try something new and it fails, take careful notes before you rip or cut or throw the whole thing out the window. I cannot tell you how many times Tuesday’s sad snarl has become the basis for Wednesday’s cover story.

Once I’d hit on a solution for the seamless join, I started fiddling with other details as the swatch progressed:

  • I mixed the colors to see what they do to each other.
  • I decided after some to make all the spine stitches in stockinette (even in the garter stitch stripes) to preserve the sharp line of the double decrease. I like the way it boldly divides the central triangle from the smaller triangles.
  • I fretted over the selvedges. They’re important to me. I wanted the upper and lower selvedges to be neat (of course) and also wanted them to match; and, if possible, I wanted them to be genuinely handsome, possibly even a design feature.

My swatch grew until it was nearly the length I needed for the finished cowl.

fwf-45-swatch

By this point, my yarns had been knit, ripped and cut so much that I ordered up a fresh pile of Hikoo Llamor. I worked out my color order. The foreground colors are the top line, the background colors are the bottom line.

llamor-palette

You’ll note that the hot pink–aptly named Rosa Fuerte, number 1775 from the Carnival Palette–is outside the line. That’s because it’s going to come into play as an accent and liven things up.

As I write this, the body of the cowl is nearing completion. I’m pleased to see the shadow effect is working pretty much as I had hoped.

Here it is from the top…

fwf-45-strip-top

…from the side…

fwf-45-strip-side

…and from the end.

fwf-45-strip-end

That means trim and finishing, and the final verdict on this experiment, are all that’s yet to come–in two weeks.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

HiKoo® Llamor (100% baby llama; 109 yd per 50g ball), available in the Peruvian Palette, the Natural Palette, and the Carnival Palette
addi® Olive Wood Circular knitting needles

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 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 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/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.

The Adventure of the Llama on the Corner, Part Three

fwf-logo-v11For an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

It’s not there yet.

This project, this mitered shadow knitting project, is knocking for me a loop right here on stage in front of you all. I won’t whine, though–this is what I signed on for back in the first column. When it doesn’t work, I’ll show you.

My last word on the first set of a squares…

Llama 2.7

…was that I liked them enough to move forward with them. That feeling didn’t last long.

As is so often the case, they’re weren’t “bad.” Just not right.

single-large-sq

The wide borders took up a lot of real estate. The shadow-knit spaces inside were puny. Squashed. And they were supposed to have been the main event. This, plus the changes in color, plus the texture of the yarn–it was all becoming too much.

Time to re-think and to simplify.

Over-complication is a perennial issue for me. When making plans, the imaginative half of my brain gallops while the sensible half trots. My notebooks fill up with schemes for projects with unusual structures and complicated color work and fine yarns and interesting texture, and

There’s an old saying in classic menswear that if a man wishes to be eye-catching but remain elegant, he gets one thing. One statement piece. That may be a boutonnière, a pocket square, a bowler hat, a bright bow tie, a boldly patterned jacket–but he must pick one and only one.

menswear

As a wise fellow behind a Savile Row counter once said to me, as I ogled an ornate silver set comprising cufflinks, tie clasp, money clip, pocket watch with chain and fob, lapel pin, and signet ring: “Respectfully, sir does not wish to appear to be a Christmas tree.”

franklin-tree

You may or may not agree with that notion, but I find it helps me whittle my designs down to a point where they don’t sag under the weight of too many Interesting Features. Also, to a point where they become something you can knit with only two hands and one brain.

What was the one thing to show off in this cowl? Why had I started this in the first place?

It was, I remembered, the potential magic of the shifting patterns in a piece of shadow knitting created with multiple changes of grain. I hoped that as the viewer’s viewpoint shifted, pattern would appear or vanish in different parts of the piece at the same time.

The borders interfered with that, so I took them out. I also made the spine as small as possible.

What had been arranged like this over seven stitches…

old-spine

…I now arranged over only three stitches.

new-spine

That caused a very abrupt change in grain at the decrease point. Now the differences between the two halves of the square really popped. Exactly what I wanted.

single-small-sq

I used a centered (sometimes called vertical) double decrease (sl2-k1-psso), which turns three stitches into one and gives you a neat, symmetrical bundle with the central stitch on top. It looks like this:

double-dec

Here’s how you do it.

  1. Work to the three stitches involved in the decrease.
  2. Slip the first two stitches together, as if to knit, from the left needle to the right needle.
  3. Knit the next stitch.
  4. Past the first two stitches, together or separately, over the knit stitch.

I use this double decrease all the time. It doesn’t lean to the right, like a knit three together (k3tog). That’s nice when, for example, you are bringing together a pair of converging lace diagonals. In fine and/or slippery yarns, it’s also much easier to control. When I k3tog in fine silk or cotton, I almost invariably drop one of the three live stitches before I’ve got them all secured. Not so with sl2-k1-psso.

I made these new squares little smaller, too, thinking they might look less clunky.

My square pile started growing again.

small-sq-pile

Then I got another idea. A much better idea. I think.

Dang it.

See you in two weeks?

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

HiKoo® Llamor (100% baby llama; 109 yd per 50g ball), available in the Peruvian Palette, the Natural Palette, and the Carnival Palette
addi® Olive Wood Circular knitting needles

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 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 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/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 Adventure of the Llama on the Corner, Part Two

fwf-logo-v11The Adventure of the Llama on the Corner, Part Two

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

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

Here’s what I have in mind.

As I wrote in the previous installment, shadow knitting only shows its hidden pattern when the viewer is looking at the fabric from a low angle across the horizontal (row) grain.

Llama 2.1

What I have wanted to mess around with for ages is this: a piece of shadow knitting that deliberately obscures part of the hidden pattern from every angle. A piece that will never, ever, show you everything no matter where you stand.

This shouldn’t be terribly complicated. All it requires is that we make sure every so often to change the grain of the fabric. This could be as simple as knitting the work in pieces, with the grains at (for example) right angles to one another. One of my earliest sketches looked something like this.

Llama 2.2

That’s nothing more than two pieces joined together. It would work.

Or…we could take advantage of knitting’s ability to produce a single piece of fabric that contains within itself a change of grain. We could knit a mitered square.

Mitered squares are not at all difficult. They boil down to a simple recipe.

1. Cast on double the number of stitches you need for one side, plus one “spine” stitch that will be located halfway across the row.

2. Begin knitting. On every other row, decrease one stitch (using, theoretically, any single decrease) on either side of the spine stitch, which will be the center of the row.

3. Continue until you have about three stitches left.

4. Bind off.

That’s it. I mean, you can finesse it by pairing your decreases so they slant toward or away from the spine stitch. But really, that’s it.

What you get is a square with a horizontal (row) grain that bends 90 degrees when it reaches that spine.

Llama 2.3

And since almost any solid fabric that can be knit in stripes can be worked as shadow knitting, a shadow mitered square should be interesting. Not necessarily good, mind you. But interesting. We’ll see.

The Color of Shadows

I didn’t say much about the colors of the HiKoo Llamor in my pile last week. Here they are, chose from across the line’s Peruvian, Natural, and Carnival palettes.

Llama 2.4

I know. That pink is really pink. I want it that way. I’m in the mood for color, and the brilliance of the pink strikes me as a nice shot of energy in the midst of all the more muted shades.

In fact, I like all of these so much as a jumble that I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time deciding which two to pair in each square. I’m just going to grab and go.

Testing, Testing

The first square off the needles was promising. Not perfect, but promising.

Llama 2.5

I got the effect I wanted: a shadow triangle in each half, with contrasting shadow borders in the middle and sides. As with most shadow fabrics, there is a tendency to curl–but a nice wet block…

Llama 2.6

…calmed the curl and cause the fabric to bloom. The Llamor, which was already soft pre-blocking, became positively buttery; and unlike some pure llama yarns I’ve worked with, it gained a gentle halo instead of busting out in a total frizz.

I wasn’t absolutely satisfied with structural details of the square, but I’ve decided to do something kind of outside my comfort zone. Rather than rip the whole thing out and start again, I’m going to stick with it and press on. I have limited time and a limited supply of Llamor on hand.

Llama 2.7

Four down, a third in progress. (I know, I know. It’s a shaky photo. I was excited. And also 37,000 feet in the air on an Embraer RJ145 in the middle of turbulence.)

I think we’re going to make this a cowl.

Come back in two weeks, and I’ll show you what I’ve got.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

HiKoo® Llamor (100% baby llama; 109 yd per 50g ball), available in the Peruvian Palette, the Natural Palette, and the Carnival Palette
Schoppel-Wolle Gradient (100% merino wool; 284 yd per 100g ball)
addi® Olive Wood Circular knitting needles

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 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, 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 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/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), or his Facebook page.

Fridays with Franklin – The Adventure of the Llama on the Corner, Part One

fwf-logo-v11The Adventure of the Llama on the Corner, Part One

When I move from one project to the next, I swing like a pendulum.

I’ve always been a little in awe of artists like Picasso who, famously, go through “periods” in which they obsess over a particular fascination for an extended time. Picasso’s Blue Period was what it sounds like–a span of three years in which almost every painting he undertook was a vision tinted with blue. Now, blue is my favorite color–but honestly, three years? A week, maybe a month. Variety. I need variety.

Maybe that’s just me.

Our last adventure was crochet in the bewitching Schoppel-Wolle yarn Leinen Los. Leinen Los has an attractive but limited palette of four colorways, three shown here…

Llama 1.1

…and using just two of them turned out a bag that had the earthy-crunchy hippie look I so desired.

Llama 1.2

With this finished, I find myself swinging in the opposite direction. I want to knit. And I want color, color, color, and more color. Our gray and gloomy spring is, no doubt, feeding the impulse. Even as the local flora has been obliging…

Llama 1.3

…the skies of Chicago, and the overall atmosphere, remain resolutely mucky.

This brings me to the choice of yarns for our next adventure. Last time I was at Makers’ Mercantile in person, I also dropped by the headquarters of Skacel Collection. I like it there. The people are nice, the light is flattering, and the air smells like fresh yarn and needles.

I was picking up a few Addi Swing crochet hooks, but in passing by someone’s desk I was arrested by the sight of a little pile of llama in a basket.*

It was a sampling of this, HiKoo® Llamor. It’s made from 100% Baby Llama.

Llama 1.4

“You want some?” they asked.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

I took it all.

(I left the basket.)

Seriously, do not offer me yarn unless you mean it.

Now I have in mind to do something that will let me put (if possible) this whole tumble of buttery-soft color…

Llama 1.5

…into a single project.

Every Which Way

What I’d like to do is use them in a piece I have been mulling over–and even swatched a bit in various scrap yarns–for more than a year. It’s an idea for shadow knitting, the technique we explored with Schoppel-Wolle Gradient in the first Fridays with Franklin adventure. (If you’re unfamiliar with shadow knitting, also called illusion knitting, click here for the capsule explanation.)

One of the usual concerns in shadow knitting is legibility. You have a hidden motif in the fabric. Can you see it? Is it clear? Can it be read?

This is partly determined, of course, by where the viewer stands in relation to the fabric. The fabric has two grains, horizontal (rows) and vertical (columns).

Llama 1.6

Only a person looking across the horizontal grain from a somewhat steep angle will be able to see the hidden pattern.

Llama 1.7

Messing around with shadow knitting (I love knitting it, and I teach it a great deal) has encouraged me to question the persistent emphasis on legibility. If a big part of the magic of the technique is that the “secret” images appear and disappear, why not focus on that–rather than expecting it to act as a billboard? I mean, if you want absolutely clearly to present a message, you can do that in stranded color work, intarsia, duplicate stitch, embroidery–any number of other techniques.

What I want to toy with is this: can I get an interesting effect from a piece of shadow knitting in which I deliberately obscure the pattern? Can I make a piece in which you will never, ever see all of the pattern at once–and if I can, what will the result be? Cool? Or just silly?

Curious? Stop back in two weeks and I’ll show you where this is going. In the meantime, I’m swatching and swatching and swatching with the HiKoo® Llamor. Divine. Colors deep as mountain lakes, soft as–well, soft as a baby llama…

Llama 1.8

*Llama in a Basket is the name of my new Peruvian funk metal band.

Shop Notes!

In celebration of Mother’s Day: until May 13, 2017, buy a Makers’ Mercantile gift card valued at $25 or more, and receive a Makers’ shopping bag, Lavishea Bar, and a calendar.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Schoppel-Wolle Leinen Los (70% wool, 30% linen; 328 yd per 100g ball)
HiKoo® Llamor (100% baby llama; 109 yd per 50g ball), available in the Peruvian Palette, the Natural Palette, and the Carnival Palette
Schoppel-Wolle Gradient (100% merino wool; 284 yd per 100g ball)
addi® Swing crochet hooks

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 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, 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 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/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), or his Facebook page.

Fridays with Franklin – The Adventure of the Little Poser, Part Four

fwf-logo-v11The Adventure of the Little Poser, Part Four

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

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

 

The nice thing about having made as many mistakes as I have is that admitting one more isn’t terribly difficult.

Remember the lovely card-woven strap I started last time? The one meant to hold up my crocheted yoga mat bag with strength and style?

Poser 4.1

Everything was hunky-dory for about seven repeats. Then this happened.

Poser 4.2

That, my friends, is a broken warp thread. Now, broken warp threads happen in weaving all the time and they are usually no big deal. When they break, you fix them and weave on.

But this warp thread spelled doom. It was a confirmation of what I had known in my heart all along. Schoppel-Wolle Leinen Los is a wonderful, unique yarn–but it’s not suitable for warp. It’s not strong enough.

I’ll say it again: I knew this.

Warp yarns need to be firm and strong, which most often means constructed from multiple plies (strands) of a strong fiber or fiber blend, twisted firmly together. Leinen Los is a single strand held together by felting. There’s an old weaver’s test for warp strength: break the yarn in two. If it twangs or pings when you break it, it may be a good warp yarn. If it gives you more of a soft pop, pick another. Leinen Los made no sound at all, except perhaps the distant rumble of failure. It drifted apart.

Poser 4.3

So why did I do it? Because I’d fallen in love with the yarn. It’s bewitching. When it came time to weave the strap, I couldn’t get past the idea of using it for the entire bag even though I knew better. Strong attachment to your first idea can be fatal. It’s a rookie mistake, but I fear that in this way I will forever be a rookie.

That’s terribly poignant. I may have shed a pensive tear. And still I had a yoga mat bag with no strap.

I considered a few options, including pairing the Leinen Los as weft with a stronger warp yarn on my Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom. But I was on the road without either the loom or the other yarn. (Card weaving with Leinen Los and weft wouldn’t have been much of an option, as the weft yarn in card weaving is hidden by the warp.)

I swallowed my pride and my fancy concepts and I turned to crochet. Just good old double crochet…

Poser 4.4

…with a contrast edging all around in single crochet.

Poser 4.5

The edging not only gave a neater, more finished appearance; it also counteracted stretch and droop, because the grain of the edging runs counter to the grain of the strap.

Poser 4.6

Once the strap was complete I decided to kill two birds with one stone and simultaneously attach the band and add the piping that I wanted and the top and bottom edges of the bag.

To attach it, from the right side I worked single crochet through both the strap and the bag.

Poser 4.7

As Leinen Los is such a gently constructed yarn, working the join with crochet was a better option that sewing it on. Sewing pulls the working strand repeatedly through the fabric, wearing it a bit each time. Softly-spun knitting yarns may abrade so much even over a short sewn seam that they just fall to pieces. Or (worse) they may appear to survive–and your seam fails soon after you put it to the test. Crochet, on the other hand, doesn’t subject any one length of the strand to repeated stress during the working.

With the strap secured, I continued the single crochet around the bag until I met up with the beginning.

Poser 4.8

This is not a revolutionary idea. But it looks nice and it lends a bit more stability to the bag at two key points.

The bag and strap were now complete (yay) but plain (boo).

You may recall that I had hit upon a solution for dressing up the bag with little chains of flowerettes, or whatever the hell you want to call them, to weave in and out of the clusters in the fabric.

Poser 4.9

Happily, focusing on the strap for a while allowed me to return to the bag with fresh eyes. I saw that the chains were not cute, or fun, or unusual. They made the bag look like it was suffering from a vile dermatological complaint.

A couple of people told me to leave it plain. Flowers, they said, would make it too feminine–and then I couldn’t use it. Here’s my thought on that: if we’d perhaps like to slow down the destruction of the natural environment and the planet as a whole, maybe we should stop telling men and boys that flowers are something only women are supposed to enjoy.

I went back to my tiny crochet library, messing around with one vintage floral edging after another.

I learned a lot about making edgings, but even when I stripped an edging down to its fundament it always reminded me of something my grandmother would have put on a Sunday apron.

Poser 4.10

That’s not in and of itself a bad thing, except that it was wrong for this project. This project was supposed to recall my mid-1970s crochet-and-macramé borderline hippie Southwestern childhood.

I kept thinking and seeing daisies. Daisies. Daisies. Daisies. And more out of frustration than anything else I decided to see if I could make a single daisy on my own. After all the fooling around with edging motifs, and all the freeform experimentation in the The Adventure of the Fallen Flowers

Poser 4.11

…it turned out that I could. After so many setbacks, that felt great.

So I made a bunch of them.

Poser 4.12

Then I sewed them on the bag, after pinning them in place with the help of a friend and a full-length mirror. I wanted to make sure I got the best effect from the, uh, “random” placement.

I liked it.

Poser 4.13

Poser 4.14

I liked it so much that after making an i-cord drawstring out of two strands of Leinen Los held together, I added a daisy to each end. They’re cute, and they keep the string from pulling out of the bag.

Poser 4.15

And I had my yoga bag.

Poser 4.16

I was so jazzed that I made up a yoga playlist to go with it, drawn from the time in my life that inspired the bag. Ladies and gents, the mellow sounds of my parents’ stereo cabinet. Enjoy in a hammock with a nice rosé if vriksasana is not your thing.

  • Jim Croce, Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)
  • Gordon Lightfoot, If You Could Read My Mind
  • The Eagles, Peaceful Easy Feeling
  • Judy Collins, Both Sides Now
  • The Bee Gees, How Deep Is Your Love
  • John Denver, Annie’s Song
  • The Doobie Brothers, Listen to the Music
  • Fleetwood Mac, Dreams
  • Maria Muldaur, Midnight at the Oasis
  • Cat Stevens, Morning Has Broken
  • Jim Croce, Time in a Bottle

I’m ready for the next adventure. I hope you’ve enjoyed this one. See you in two weeks!
Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Schoppel-Wolle Leinen Los (70% Virgin Wool, 30% Linen • 328 yards per 100 gram ball). Colors: 0908 (White) and 8495 (Gray-Brown)
Addi® Swing Crochet Hooks

Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle 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 new 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, 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 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/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), or his Facebook page.

Fridays with Franklin – The Adventure of the Little Poser, Part Three

fwf-logo-v11The Adventure of the Little Poser, Part Three

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

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

Today I’m setting aside the bag part of the yoga mat bag, the one we’ve been making from Schoppel-Wolle Lenien Los (on sale through April 15, 2017 at 20% off for 2 or more balls), so that we can focus on the strap.

Poser 3.1

Homemade straps are a Dirty Little Secret of the knit and crochet world. It’s fun to knit your own bag. It’s fun to crochet your own bag. But most bags need straps or handles, and neither knitting nor crochet is particularly good at meeting the challenges of life as a strap.

You may well have been, as I once was, the victim of one of the ten million knitted beginner bag patterns that blithely instructs you to knit and attach a skinny yard of garter stitch. And what does garter stitch famously do? Garter stitch stretches.

Poser 3.2

Somehow, the patterns never get around to mentioning that.

In the same yarn and worked in an equivalent gauge, crochet usually stretches less than knitting–but still it stretches. Ask anyone who wore a crochet bikini in the 1960s.

What are we to do?

You can purchase a ready-made strap or handle, or even a whole support system. Lots of folks take this route. (The leather and plush caged purse kits offered by Makers’ Mercantile have been flying off the shelf.)

Poser 3.3

But what if you would like the entire piece in the same yarn? What if you want to make it all yourself?

When I first started collaborating with John Mullarkey––a fiber artist known particularly for his work with card weaving––this question came up immediately, because card weaving most often produces long, slim straps. And they’re strong. And guess what else? They don’t #@$%! stretch.

Our first experiment with this was a bag made from Hikoo CoBaSi. I knit the body in a mosaic design, and John wove the coordinating strap.

Poser 3.4

I’ve been using it ever since as a model in my mosaic knitting class, and students always coo over the strap and ask if they could do something like that.

Yep. Because card weaving is a very, very accessible form of weaving.

A Few Words About Card Weaving

I can’t possibly give you a full-length introduction to card weaving (also known as tablet weaving), but here’s a tiny bit about how it works. (If you’d like to dive in on your own, check out John’s DVD.)

First, the loom. The loom is a deck of cards.

No, I’m not kidding. The loom, shown here…

Poser 3.5

…is a deck of cards.

Cards come in different shapes, but the square is the most common.

Poser 3.6

You’ll note that each corner of the card has a hole, and the holes are lettered A, B, C, D.

To warp the loom–that is, to put on the threads that allow us to begin weaving–we follow a draft that tells us what color thread is put through each hole in each card, and whether they are put through the card front-to-back or back-to-front.

Here, for example, we have a card threaded front-to-back as follows: A, light; B, dark; C, dark; D, light.

Poser 3.7

The warped deck of cards then only needs something to hold each end of the warp threads taut. This could be (among the many possibilities) two sticks in the ground; two poles; the weaver’s own belt and a tree; or clamps attached to a table.

A more portable solution is an inkle-style loom pressed into service with the beginning and end of the warp tied together, which creates a circular warp.

Poser 3.8

(This particular small loom from my collection is one John Mullarkey produces for use in his classes, but others–such as the Schacht Inkle Loom, available by special order through Makers’ Mercantile–would serve the same purpose.)

Card weaving is usually warp-faced, meaning these warp threads are going to dominate the appearance of the finished fabric.

To weave our pattern, we follow our draft to turn the cards either forward (away from the weaver) or backward (toward the weaver) so that a different hole comes into the top position.

Poser 3.9

And as we do this, different combinations of threads are brought to the top of the shed, as you can see here. These are two of the sheds used to make the strap design.

Poser 3.10

Poser 3.11

The shed, for those new to weaving, is the space between the raised and lowered warp threads that our cute little shuttle

Poser 3.12

passes through, carrying the weft thread that locks the fabric together.

So we turn the cards, pass the shuttle, turn the cards, pass the shuttle, and–if all goes well–out comes a beautiful, strong patterned band.

Poser 3.13

Will all go well?

How about we talk about that in two weeks, when we bring this adventure to a close?

Tools and Materials Appearing in this Issue

 

Schoppel-Wolle Leinen Los (70% Virgin Wool, 30% Linen • 328 yards per 100 gram ball). Colors: 0908 (White) and 8495 (Gray-Brown) – On sale through April 15, 2017 at 20% off for 2 or more balls!

Hikoo CoBaSi (55% Cotton 16% Bamboo 8% Silk 21% Elastic Nylon • 220 yards per 50 gram ball).

Leather and Plush Caged Purse Kit (shown in Ripe Plum–other colors available)

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 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, 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 Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist Collective; and 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), or his Facebook page.

Fridays with Franklin – The Adventure of the Little Poser, Part Two

fwf-logo-v11The Adventure of the Little Poser, Part Two

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

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

Before we go any further with this crocheted yoga mat bag,I want to make sure you understand something.

When it comes to crochet, I still don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m enthusiastic. I’m ambitious. But when you get right down to it, in this adventure I’m no more than a little kid suddenly announcing to his mother that he is a fireman, or a dragon slayer, or prima donna assoluta of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Wishing will not make it so.

This is a dangerous place to be. I know just enough crochet to have ideas about what I want to make. Yet my technical skills aren’t within a mile of my imagination.

So my swatches have been bizarre–curiosity, fumbling, swearing, and ripping. So much ripping.

I have had in mind a yoga mat bag with an open mesh structure. And I’ve known that I want it to be floral. How exactly? Not sure. Just…floral.

Poser 2.1

I can draw it.

Poser 2.2

It’s the transition from ink to yarn that’s been sticky.

I messed around with a floral mesh I found in an old stitch dictionary and thought for certain I’d cracked the code. I got exactly this far

Poser 2.3

and got stuck, and cried a little, and then ripped it out.

I thought I might do the whole bag in filet crochet. For those not familiar, filet crochet is form of lace based upon a square mesh made primarily of double crochet. It’s very old-fashioned and it polarizes the crochet community–you either hate it or love it. I love it. I mean, look at this design from Grand Album de Modèles pour Filet No. 3, published in 1908.

Poser 2.4

And, boy oh boy, filet crochet is dead easy to chart. Light squares are filled bits of mesh. Dark squares are open bits of mesh. I can do that.

Poser 2.5

So I tried it with Schoppel-Wolle Leinen Los, only to find that while I adore filet in fine, smooth yarns, in a larger gauge and more rustic yarn it bears an unfortunate resemblance to the lumpy raffia tote bags that my late grandmother’s more adventurous friends used to bring back from package tours of the Caribbean. So I took a shot at lancet stitch, which is often used in conjunction with filet crochet.

Poser 2.6

Nope! It’s a hard truth of fiber arts: not every yarn is suited to every technique. I really like Leinen Los. I really like lancet stitch. I do not like them together.

The meshes I tried were all either too open or too closed or too dang ugly; or, most often, I’d get one round into the making of some mesh I’d dreamt up and realize I couldn’t get there from here–I didn’t have the knowledge to realize my idea.

Poser 2.7

I whined to my buddy John Mullarkey about this. He’s primarily a weaver, but has years of crochet under his belt. We were teaching together at Stitches West, and I showed him the little misbegotten snippets and my sketches of wild, ornate open fabrics.

“I don’t think crochet will do that,” he said. Repeatedly.

I was by then desperate to make progress, and rather equally desperate to not turn out yet another yoga mat bag composed primarily of double crochet.

“Try this,” he said.

“This” was little clusters of treble crochet alternating with open spaces.

Poser 2.8

It wasn’t going to set the world on fire, but sometimes I just need to move forward somehow, anyhow, or I’ll get into one of those states where the neighbors find me on the front sidewalk attempting to set fire to all my yarn.

John suggested I alternate the colors randomly, rolling a die for the number of stripes. I tried it. It felt…wrong. My gut was telling me to do a simple round-by-round change. As you can see above, I went with my gut.

This wasn’t unattractive. It also wasn’t floral or especially original. However, I’d learned in The Adventure of the Fallen Flowers that one of the joys of crochet is that it readily accepts the addition of new layers and new elements­–far more so, I find, than knitting.

Maybe I could use this simple mesh as a framework. A trellis.

What if I made flowers separately, as a second step?

So I started to noodle around with different flower shapes, separating my experiments with lengths of chain stitching.

Then it hit me. Why not go ahead and work the all the flowers on chains,

Poser 2.9

then twine the floral chains through the mesh?

Poser 2.10

I like it. It’s not exactly right yet. I don’t know how original it is. I don’t know if ultimately it will be a success. But right now, I like it. It’s giving me something of the overall effect I had in my head, and I don’t feel like I have seen it already in seven free patterns.

And so…onward. In two weeks, I’ll show you how it’s come along–and I think we’ll be ready to talk about making the strap.

A Note About the Crochet Hook

The mention of the quizzically shaped Addi® Swing Crochet Hook in the last column stirred up a bunch of questions. After a couple weeks of using it, here’s my take.

I use a “knife” rather than “pencil” hold when I crochet, which is the grip that the Swing was designed to accommodate.

Poser 2.11
This means my thumb rests exactly where the designer intended, and the positioning is effortless. When I picked up the hook, that’s where my thumb landed. The grip of my other fingers feels equally natural.

The handle is made of soft, light plastic that’s easy on the hands, but doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy.

I have arthritis in both wrists and spend upwards of eight to ten hours a day doing handwork. For me, the Swing has made crochet far more comfortable. I find myself working steadily for longer periods with far less fatigue, though I am still careful to take reasonable breaks.

Now, a caveat: no two people have the same hands, and no two people crochet exactly the same way. If you have been crocheting for a long time, you might find yourself taking some time to adjust to a different grip. But especially if you’ve got issues with your wrists or fingers, as I do, an Addi® Swing might help you as it has helped me.

See you in two weeks!

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Schoppel-Wolle Leinen Los (70% Virgin Wool, 30% Linen • 328 yards per 100 gram ball). Colors: 0908 (White) and 8495 (Gray-Brown).

Addi® Swing Crochet Hooks

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 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, 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 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/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.