Fridays with Franklin: Still Crazy

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

For the first part of this project, click here.

The more I worked on the knitted crazy quilt square, the more I began to appreciate why crazy quilting had become a craze in the nineteenth century.

There is a freedom of invention in the work you simply don’t find in pieced quilting that commits you to, for example, create identical multiples of a half-square triangle (as I did in the Floralia Blanket). Beyond that, the decorative embroidery along the seams is a holiday of invention.

You don’t have to commit to much of anything when you’re embroidering the seams on a crazy quilt. If you have, say, fifty seams to embroider, you can embroider them fifty different ways. You can combine as many different stitches along a seam as you can fit. You can change your colors as you will. You can use floss, thread, yarn, or ribbon.

The square was looking pretty good with its combination of open and closed buttonhole stitches…

fwf-74-squareprogress
…and even on such a small piece there was still room for more experimentation.

I switched to a color of HiKoo Sueño that I’d ordered, but had rejected out of hand as being probably too stark to look well on the patches: 1111 Cream, which isn’t bone white, but would (I felt sure) appear unpleasantly cold against the intarsia patchwork.

The stitch I chose is an old favorite–and another I learned from my grandmother. It’s common name is feather stitch, and my grandmother said it was her mother’s quick decoration of choice for the collars of little girls’ blouses.

Project - Sketch 1_20

Following buttonhole and closed buttonhole (see the previous installment of this saga) with feather stitch shows us once again how often small changes in how a stitch is made turns it into something with a surprisingly different appearance. Feather stitch is really just a variation on buttonhole. Here’s how you do it.

You’ll want to imagine (or draw in, or trace with basting stitches in contrasting thread) three parallel guidelines, like so:

fwf-75-feather-guidelinesThe stitches will be worked from the top down.

At Point 1, bring the needle up on B (the center line).  Take it down at Point 2, on C (the right line). Immediately bring it up again at B, with–this is important!–the working yarn under the needle tip as shown below.

fwf-75-feather-01.jpg
If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll notice that this is quite similar to the creation of a buttonhole stitch. You create a loop of yarn on the right side of the fabric by coming up at 1 and going down at 2; and by keeping that loop under the needle as you come up at 3, you catch the loop on the working yarn and create the first stitch.

Next, you’ll do pretty much the same thing, but in mirror image.

Go down at Point 1 on A, the left line. Come up at 2 on B, the center line–keeping the loop of working yarn under the needle as you pull through.

Project - Sketch 1_19
Then do the same from C to B. Then the same from A to B. Then C to B. Then A to B. Then C to B. Then A to B. And so forth, until you have the length of stitching you desire. To end a line of feather stitch, take a final small stitch down into B to secure the last loop.

Project - Sketch 1_20

Feather stitch is lots of fun and–as my great-grandmother understood–it gives you a lot of bang for your buck, because it is quick to work and yet looks far more complicated than it actually is.

My big surprise at this stage was finding that the color of HiKoo Sueño I’d considered unsuited for this project actually worked better, in my eyes, than the others.

fwf-75-hikoosuenocream
I thought it wouldn’t do enough to tone down the unintentional 1980s Colors of Benetton brightness of the patchwork. I have to admit, it shows up beautifully.

fwf-75-featherstitched-square
In fact, I may take out all the embroidery and rework it in Color 1111.

fwf-75-featherstitch-closeup

The more of this crazy work I do, the happier I am to be going crazy.

Next time we’ll finish up the embroidery and decide what exactly to do with this piece.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

HiKoo Sueño Worsted (80% Merino Wool, 20% Viscose. 182 yards per 100 gram hank.)
HiKoo Sueño (80% Merino Wool 20% Viscose; 255 Yards per 100g hank.)

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.

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: Gone Sailin’

fwf-logo-columnsize

My friends, I’ve been at sea leading a knitting cruise; and we have landed in Bermuda after across seas as smooth as glass and blue beyond blue.

But as you can see below, I’ve brought Maker’s Mercantile with me.

fwf-bermuda
Hamilton, Bermuda. #placesyoucanknit

The color of Zitron Trekking XXL Sport Sock that I’m using, Number 1406, has proven to be an uncannily perfect match to the blue of the water and more than a few of the beautiful buildings here in Hamilton.

I’m working these as plain socks in a solid color on addi FlexiFlips, and I’m going to embroider them with duplicate stitch motifs as a sort of companion/sequel to the Bee Socks–which were also knit in Trekking XXL Sport. Yeah…I love this yarn. It’s the not just the clear colors that get me, it’s the quality. The strength. It lasts. I know I can trust it not to wear out in a month.

 

I’ll be back home soon, and see you next Friday with the latest on the knitted crazy quilt project.

Fridays with Franklin: More Crazy

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

For the first part of this project, click here.

The first shipment of yarns intended for the embroidery on my knitted crazy quilt square is still out there, somewhere, possibly at the bottom of Lake Michigan. The second shipment arrived intact. It’s a beauty.

fwf-74-suenodk
HiKoo Sueño from Skacel.

The square was knit in HiKoo Sueño Worsted, so I chose its little (DK weight) sister, HiKoo Sueño, for the finishing touches.

A great deal of the beauty in traditional crazy quilting lies, of course, in the purely ornamental “seams” that run along the borders between patches. The earliest guides in my collection (from the  1880s) are wildly inventive in this regard. Seams were often made from combinations of two, three, or more stitches. The effect was dazzling and rich.

inspiration

In later crazy quilts, especially those from the 1920s and 1930s, these decorations are usually far simpler, even crude.

On the one hand, this may well be because twentieth century women had more outlets for their creativity, and were less confined to the home. And that’s wonderful.

On the other hand, the quilts (in my opinion) became far less interesting and far less beautiful.

Fancy seams would be my choice for the knitted square, but as I contemplated the reality of the test piece a few things became clear.

quilt-with-hand
I am very happy with the appearance of the garter stitch fabric. When I roll all these techniques into a class, we’ll be working garter stitch intarsia. But the bumps of garter fabric present a challenge to the embroiderer–they will tend to obscure very fine details. Embroidery floss, for example, is going to sink into the crevices and disappear.

To combat that, I chose a dk weight yarn. Heavy enough to show up on the fabric, light enough (I hoped) to allow a modest amount of intricacy.

The sizes of my “patches,” though, meant I’d given myself very little room to play with. For future experiments, I’m planning on larger patches–and fewer of them.

Meanwhile, I needed to work with the fabric I’d made.

For a bold effect I chose a favorite stitch that is so easily varied that its forms can (and do) fill entire chapters in embroidery guides: buttonhole/blanket stitch.

If you’re wondering about the slash, it’s because these two stitches–buttonhole and blanket–are worked almost identically. The chief difference is spacing and scale.

Blanket stitches are usually larger, and stand a bit apart from one another.

fwf-74-blanket-st

Buttonhole stitches are usually finer, and by definition are taken so close together that no fabric shows between them.
fwf-74-buttonhole-st
In embroidery, however–as opposed to plain sewing–the term “buttonhole stitch” often designates the stitch made as an embellishment, even if the uprights of the individual stitches do not touch.

Before I go any further, I will mention that an online debate has been raging over whether what I am about to describe is truly buttonhole stitch or whether that name is more properly applied to a similar stitch worked somewhat differently. And that’s all I’m going to say about the debate, because I think it’s uninteresting and I don’t care.

Anyway, here’s buttonhole/blanket stitch as taught to me by my late grandmother, Pauline. She began sewing buttonholes for money when she was seven years old, and continued to work as a professional tailor and seamstress until she was 93.

fwf-74-pauline
Pauline as a seven-year-old schoolgirl in Smock, Pennsylvania, in the 1920s.

The plain vanilla version of the stitch asks you to imagine two parallel guidelines, like so.

fwf-74-guidelines
The upper and lower guidelines, in blue.

If you are right-handed, you will work the seam from left to right. If you are left-handed, you will work right to left. These diagrams are drawn from the right-handed point of view, because the world is unfair and left-handed people know that.

Begin by bring the needle up through the lower guideline, at the spot marked START HERE.

fwf-74-buttonhole-diagram

From there, all stitches are made in the same way. Take the needle down through the upper guideline at Point A. Bring it up at Point B, on the lower guideline.

As you bring the needle up–this is IMPORTANT, so PAY ATTENTION–make sure the loop of working yarn on the right side of the fabric is under the needle, as shown. Pull through until the the loop gently but firmly catches on the working yarn.

Repeat for length of seam. To finish, take a final stitch downward at Point C, to the right on the lower guideline.

Buttonhole stitch looked nice on the knitted square. Not spectacular, but you gotta start somewhere.

fwf-74-buttonhole-photo

Now, as I mentioned above, buttonhole’s variations are many and lovely. One of my favorites is closed buttonhole stitch, which makes tiny triangles along the seam.

fwf-74-closed-butt
In my embroidery classes, some students see these as a fleet of sailboats. Others see them as a school of shark fins. This probably says something about them, psychologically, but I’d rather not know what it is.

fwf-74-sharkfin
Please do not ever tell me your innermost thoughts.

Closed buttonhole stitch takes two steps. The first step, simply enough, is to make a buttonhole stitch.

fwf-74-closed-step-02
Closed buttonhole, step one.

Now we close the buttonhole stitch. Take the needle down again at Point A (yes, the same hole), and bring it up at Point C, on the lower guideline, a little further along to the right.

fwf-74-closed-buttonhole
Closed buttonhole, step two.

Repeat as desired. Make a buttonhole stitch, close it. That’s all.

On the knitted square, closed buttonhole looked pretty darn cute.

fwf-74-closedphoto
My favorite crazy quilt seams combine multiple stitches to make the embroidery really sing, so the experimentation will continue. I need to play with all the colors, too. Never be satisfied with your first attempt at anything.

More about that next time.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

HiKoo Sueño Worsted (80% Merino Wool, 20% Viscose. 182 yards per 100 gram hank.)
HiKoo Sueño (80% Merino Wool 20% Viscose; 255 Yards per 100g hank.)

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.

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: Butthurt

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

In my life there is (and always has been) a constant battle between the useful and the beautiful, the aesthetic and the ergonomic.

It’s no use going all Corbusier on me, either, and suggesting that I learn to appreciate household goods that are meant to be cogs in a machine for living.

I grew up in military houses decorated by a mother who used beige as an accent color, and once rejected a bedspread of pale gray striped with white as Too Busy. Carved details on furniture gave her headaches. Antiques gave her the heebie-jeebies. She was sure they were either haunted or harboring lice.

Naturally, I have grown up to become the sort of person who uses old bits of china and silver–the more floral, the better–to hold tools in my workroom. I love color. Lots of color, as you may have gathered from the beginnings of my excursion to crazy quilt knitting last time.

workroom-china
The piece with the fans and sunflowers is a British-made Aesthetic Movement toothbrush holder. Somewhere up there, my mother is gagging.

My intent this week was to show you the next stage of the crazy quilt project, but two things happened. First, the dear postman who was entrusted with the stage two yarns threw them, so far as we can tell, into Lake Michigan. I hope the fish enjoy them. Perhaps they can knit themselves little fish mittens.

Second, my workroom chair threw my butt out of whack.

Here’s the chair. Cute, right? That’s why I chose it. It’s cute.

chair
In the background is my trust Schacht Wolf Pup 8.10, nakedly awaiting our next adventure.

My workroom is in a building my mother probably would have admired. It was built as an automotive garage, and includes such charming features as cinderblock walls, rubber industrial flooring, and dropped ceilings.

That’s Chicago, baby. You get what you can get. If I want a skylit studio in a sweet vintage building, I’ll have to give up knitting for a living in order to afford it.

I figured I could warm up the space with furnishings and décor, sparse as they presently are. The chair is a key part of that. Not for me, some rolling plastic and rubber grotesquerie from an office supply chain. Heavens, no.

It was all fine until I spent a  long day in the chair, pushing out work to meet a draconian deadline–then stood up and fell right down again.

Wouldn’t you know, wood slats and a rush seat don’t offer the last word in lumbar support; nor do they cradle my aging buttocks in a manner sufficiently ergonomic to keep them happy. The sweet little chair just about crippled me.

I appealed to a local friend who is an expert in these matters, and she told me to turn the chair into a plant stand and go buy something sensible. I got all quivery and weepy.

She sighed and said, fine– if I must insist upon using it, at least pad the damn thing. That might help.

So I warped my trusty Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom, because I wanted to weave the fabric for my new cushion. Because of course I did.

The yarn had been in my “Fridays with Franklin” stash since the last time I played with shadow knitting in these pages. I adore shadow knitting, in fact it’s a subject I teach with the zeal of an evangelist. But that project failed to make me happy–the theory of the mitered shadowing didn’t turn out as I’d hoped.

I kept all the leftover yarns, though, because the yarn did make me happy. It’s gorgeous stuff–HiKoo Llamor, 100% baby llama.

leftover-llamor-yarn
The sewing box isn’t an heirloom–it came from the Aumuller Korbwaren line carried by Makers’ Mercantile. There’s a link at the end of this entry.

Those colors  would punch the industrial gloom of the workspace right in the nose. There are echoes of them in some of my painted china. That shocking pink may well set the drop ceiling on fire.

I couldn’t keep my butt waiting forever, so I made the warp (almost) as simple as I could: stripes, symmetrical, tied on without any real planning. I followed my nose, putting some of each color into the mix.

warp-ties
Except I forgot the purple, because it fell off the table.

A warp like this takes a newbie like me about two hours to finish. I love the look of a fresh warp. It’s so orderly. Full of potential.

warp-backbeam
spreaders
For the weft pattern, I settled on more simplicity: eight shots of each color, forming broad stripes. To prepare, I wound a bobbin of each color (including, this time, the purple). Using a boat shuttle meant changing from one to the next was as easy as clicking out the old bobbin and clicking in the new.

bobbins
Then, I wove.

weaveinprogress

It took about four hours–maybe it would have been three if I hadn’t been watching The Crown–to whip up this.

yardage-folded

yardage-flat

The fabric is off the loom, but not finished. I need to:

• stabilize the cut ends with two quick lines of machine sewing,
• repair three or four skips (places where the shuttle went over or under a wrong warp thread),
• wet finish the fabric so it will be ready to sew into a cushion.

I’ll show you the finishing next time, though I’m just about to get down to it. This project has a certain urgency. Happy butt, happy me.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

HiKoo Llamor Yarn (100% Baby Llama, 109 yards per 50g ball)
Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom, 15-Inch
Aumuller Korbwaren Large Cantilevered Sewing Box (one style of the many carried by Makers’ Mercantile)

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: Crazed

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

All of us who make things are prone to funny little peeves and preferences.

One of mine–one that I have in fact shared with students who bring up the question of inspiration–is an aversion to pieces of needlework in which one technique tries to ape another. Knitting pretending to be crochet. Crochet pretending to be knitting. Knitted or crocheted versions of things usually (and for good reason) sewn with woven fabrics. I don’t care for it.

There’s no rhyme or reason to this aversion of mine. It’s purely personal. Instinctive.

So imagine my surprise when I was leafing through a much-loved copy of Weldon’s Practical Needlework (a late Victorian publication from England, available in facsimile reprints) and stopped at this, one of my favorite illustrations…

inspiration

…and found myself thinking, It would be fun to knit a crazy quilt.

I’m not supposed to think that. If you want to make a crazy quilt, I said to myself, then get out the rag bag and sew one.

My naughty brain would not leave the idea alone. It had been some time since I’d indulged myself in intarsia–a technique too maligned, too often considered unwieldy. This would be a golden opportunity to play with it.

Crazy quilting, if you are not familiar with it, became something of a Craft Madness in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

Unlike the workaday cotton or wool pieced quilts meant as bedcovers, crazy quilts most often recycled odds and ends of luxury fabrics like silk and velvet. But any fabric could be used. The combinations found in extant pieces are astonishing. This example from the Metropolitan Museum of Art is representative.

62.143
Aletta Whitehouse Davis (1830?–1925), Crazy Quilt (c. 1885). Made in New England from silk, silk velvet, cotton, and chenille. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Gift of Reverend and Mrs. Karl Nielsen, 1962.

The scraps could be any shape. Colors, textures, and fibers were mixed at the pleasure of the maker.

The result–sometimes called an “art quilt”–was often used as a stylish throw for the parlor sofa, or might be draped over the furniture in a fashionable “Turkish corner” filled with artsy exotica.

And because a crazy quilt isn’t only about the joining of colorful bits with odd shapes, I’d get to decorate the piece with embellishments. Embellishments were fundamental to crazy quilting–the place for the needlewoman to really flaunt her creativity.

The Davis quilt is covered with embroidery and appliqué in cheerful profusion.

62.143
Embellishment meant I could look forward not merely to intarsia, but to intarsia with stuff on it. And, as you will have noticed if you tune in regularly, I am in love with projects that allow me to combine techniques.

When I realized that after two months of daydreaming I still wanted to try this, I gave in and asked Makers’ Mercantile for a mess of HiKoo Sueño Worsted in a jumble of pretty colors.

sueno-basket
The pot basket from Big Blue Moma (you can get one from Makers’ Mercantile) is so cute I want to carry it everywhere.

This is a favorite workhorse worsted of mine. It’s warm. It’s soft, but tough. The color range is wide enough to allow craziness. It makes a handsome finished fabric.

I chose colors that I remembered seeing in old crazy quilts, especially my favorite 1880s-1890s examples.

The late Victorian crazy quilters were the most exuberant and profuse in their decorating, even including things like appliquéd paper scraps and photographs, beads and buttons, tassels and fringes, and even paint.

I didn’t know if I’d go that far, but I figured my experimental base ought to at least admit the possibility.

Crazy Knitting Without Going Crazy

Now, intarsia (if we set aside extreme examples) is not the frenetic waltz with an octopus that it is often imagined to be.

Yes, it can get kinda stringy with multiple ends hanging off the work-in-progress. But  a little advance planning keeps them nicely managed.

Me, I love intarsia; but I choose my projects carefully. The technique is wonderful for bold patterns constructed from large areas of flat color. It is less wonderful (from the standpoint of the knitter) for fussy patterns constructed from fifty billion wee bits of color.

My crazy square,* therefore, was laid out with enough shapes and colors to evoke patchwork. But the shapes were mostly on the large side, and almost no row in my chart ever had more than four strands of color in play.

Here’s my chart. There was no plan to it. I just filled in shapes until it looked like I thought it ought to.

crazy-garter-chart-v01
The collision of the star symbol and the dot symbol is unfortunate, but I was in a hurry. After I printed out a working copy to take on the road, I shaded the star squares lightly with a pencil to make them easier to read.

I also decided to work this experiment as intarsia in garter stitch. For those of you who are new to the party (welcome!) that means that in my flat-knit fabric, all stitches would be knit stitches. No purling (until the final row, but more on that later).

My reasons for this were as follows:

• The gauge of garter stitch is roughly square–the number of stitches per inch is usually about the same as the number of rows per inch.

So I could lay out my chart on a plain ol’ square grid and not worry about differences between stitch gauge and row gauge. Yes, I have access to “knitter’s graph paper” with a non-square grid; but this was easier. And it was right at hand. And as you know, if you read this column regularly, I am LAZY.

• The primary visual feature of garter stitch is the ridge formed by two consecutive rows of knitting: once across the right side, once across the wrong side.

Working my chart in garter stitch meant that the order of the colors in any wrong side row would be identical to the order of the colors in the preceding right side row. So on all wrong side rows, I could ignore the chart and just work the colors as they presented themselves. If the next stitch on the left needle was blue, I would knit into it with the same blue. Ditto for all the colors. No need to look at the chart. Simple. Easy. See, “I am LAZY,” above.

• Garter stitch lies flat.

• Garter stitch looks pretty.

• I like garter stitch.

Using garter stitch meant numbering my chart rows appropriately, like so:

crazy-garter-chart-v02
Right side rows are odd numbers, worked right to left. Wrong side rows are even numbers, worked left to right. Each row of squares in the chart is worked twice: once right to left, then once left to right.

Yes, every row of squares in the chart is knit twice. Once across for the right side, once across for the wrong side.

Now, as to the stringy bit.

Intarsia requires a separate strand of working yarn for every block of color in a given row. If you’re not familiar with intarsia at all, you might like to check out this installment of an earlier Fridays with Franklin adventure for a decent introduction.

To keep dangling ends to a minimum, one of the things I like to do is estimate how much yarn a given block of color will require, then reel off that much of it. I don’t wind these strands onto intarsia bobbins, or wrap them into butterflies. I just let them hang.

How do I estimate the amount of yarn I need for a block of color? It’s pretty simple. Takes a bit of time and counting, but it’s worth it to me in terms of time saved (in the end) and annoyance avoided.

Estimating Yarn for One Block of Intarsia

Step One. Take the yarn you’ll be using, and wrap it gently but firmly ten times around the needle you’ll be using.

needle-wrapped
Wrap that needle.

Step Two. Remove the yarn from the needle and measure how much you used for those ten wraps. That’s how much you need for ten stitches. (Let’s say, for demonstration purposes, you got a result of 6 inches.)

ruler
Measure the yarn you wrapped.

Step Three. Count up the number of stitches in that block of your intarsia design. (Let’s say, for demonstration purposes, you have 108 stitches in the block.)

Step Four. The math bit.

If you’re working in stockinette stitch (each row in the chart is worked one time), do this:

Divide the number of stitches in the block by 10. (We get 10, with a remainder of 8.)

Multiply the resulting whole number (ignore the remainder for the moment) by the number of inches you needed for 10 wraps. (We multiply 10 by 6, and get 60).

To this number, add additional length for the remainder. (Since eight is pretty near 10, I’ll add in the full six inches needed for 10 wraps. Our total is now 70.)

Add in an additional 12 inches for tails at the beginning and end.

So our hypothetical strand would be measured out to 78 inches.

If you are working in garter stitch, do as above; but multiply your total by 2 before you add in the 12 inches for your tails. (We do this because every square in our chart represents two knit stitches, not one.)

This is a loosey-goosey way to estimate, yet I’ll be darned if it doesn’t get me the right length almost every time.

The Naked Square

Once I had done up a chart, and counted the squares in each block, the knitting clicked along with refreshing ease.

I cast on using the long tail method, following the color order given in row 1.

caston

Since the long tail cast on not only casts on, but also works your first row of knit stitches, I followed it by knitting row 2 of the chart. In the photo above, I’ve just finished row six. I think it’s row six. I’m pretty sure it’s row six. Where are my glasses?

From there, it was shockingly quick work to finish the entire chart. I ended by binding off in purl, following the order of the colors, on the right side after completing wrong side row 80.

See?
quilt-with-hand
It’s not perfectly square, but it’s close enough that it could be easily blocked to square; or I could adjust the chart to make it knit up square. All part of the experimentation process.

Also, please admire my tidy backside.

crazy-quilt-reverse
If this side is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

Just for fun, I put a photo of the finished square into Photoshop and multiplied it. I do this a lot, by the way, to see how a small sample of a repeating motif will look across a larger field.
crazy-quilt-repeat

It’s encouraging. This is the same square repeated, of course; but if you used the same chart, and knitted it in different colors each time; then rotated the squares as you put them together; you could achieve a finished knitted quilt with something of the non-repeating verve the original quilts offer.

I kinda hoped that would be the case.

The greatest surprise was finding that my colors were strongly evocative of the “paint spatter” Trapper Keeper I carried to school in the 1980s. This was not, I admit to you, an entirely pleasant surprise.

But now comes the embellishment, and we’ll see if we can temper the Valley Girl vibe with that. Fer shure.

See you in two weeks.

*Note that the Davis crazy quilt, like many from the time, is formed from small squares later joined into a single large square. This kept the work as portable as possible for as long as possible, and allowed for flexibility and adjustment in laying out the final design. A sensible method indeed.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

 

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

Woven Pot Basket from Big Blue Moma

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: 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.

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.

Fridays with Franklin: The Zitron Art Deco Challenge Part One, Get Shorty

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

My first idea is seldom my best idea.

I started my three-part Zitron Art Deco challenge with knitting. It felt good to be back on familiar ground again after so much crochet.

Mind you, I’m increasingly fascinated by crochet. But I’m in that Slough of Despond I reach whenever I’ve learned enough about a new craft to want to play with it, yet haven’t learned enough to get very far on my own.

My challenge is to take this self-patterning yarn…

beauty-03

…and use three techniques (knitting, crochet, ZoomLoom weaving) to mess around with the patterning that Zitron intended. Their pattern is very handsome; I’m just a congenital contrarian.

Now, commercial self-patterning yarns most often assume three things:

1) you’ll be knitting stockinette,
2) you’ll be knitting at an “average” gauge (not notably tight or loose),
3) you’ll be making rounds or rows of “average” length (not notably short or long).

So the first and easiest way to break the self-patterning is to choose a texture other than stockinette. Even switching to garter stitch will incite a metamorphosis.

I didn’t feel much like playing with very loose gauge, and only a die-hard masochist would undertake very tight gauge. I picked a needle I figured would give me decent garter stitch and cast on.

It’s also fun to see what happens to self-patterning yarns when you employ any method that pulls a stretch of yarn out of what would otherwise be its accustomed row. Knitting into the row below will do it; so will slip stitch knitting.

slippy-the-slipstitch
Slippy McSlipstitch is three rows high.

In all my years of knitting I’d not yet tried what you might call extreme slip stitch, in which the stitches to be slipped are given extra yarn (usually through double, or even triple, yarn overs); and then these stitches are slipped on three, four, five, or even six (or more) rows.

That’s where I started, and the result was okay.

slipped-swatch

It’s not unattractive. With some elaboration–changing the frequency of the slipping, or varying the lengths–it might become quite interesting. It didn’t grab me, though. I was mildly curious about what else to pursue along this line, but only mildly.

Is mildly enough?

There’s one other tactic you can take with self-patterning yarns. Rather than breaking up the pattern–which is really a carefully organized form of color pooling–you can keep the pooling, but change the way it shows up.

I was thinking about this as I set out to once again clean up the samples in my workroom. The ad-libbed short row purse liner from Cage Match came to light,

fwf-50-finished-closeup
Cage Purse with Knitted liner in various Makers’ Mercantile yarns and fabric lining by Cotton + Steel.

and I wondered if I might not just use the same technique–building of up a fabric made of continuous short-rowed motifs–to alter the pooling and patterning in Art Deco.

 

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of short rows here–if you’d like to know more, do click over to read the Cage Match series–but in brief, I decided I’d try knitting a fabric built up gradually from small short row lozenges like this.

path-of-shortrows
Many turns make a lozenge.

The early stages were, as early stages in any repeating fabric often are, ungainly. When I teach motif design, a point I hammer home is that a repeating motif only begins to sing when you let it repeat.

One round of lozenges wasn’t much too look at. It wasn’t enough knitting to even bring every color in the color way into play.

beginning-cowl
You’ll notice there are also little passages of stockinette mixed in with the garter. At first, this was a mistake. It happened because I turned the work and knit in the wrong direction.

You may have heard, though, that a mistake repeated regularly becomes a design element. I thought, why not keep it and see what happens?

So the fabric grew.

beauty-closeup
And as it has grown larger, I have found myself very pleased indeed. The self patterning is there…it’s just not there in the way the maker intended.

beauty-02

beauty-01
I like this so much that when the challenge is complete, we will put the pattern together–it’s a cowl, worked in the round–and issue it right here on the Makers’ Mercantile blog.

Meanwhile, the second part of the challenge–crochet–is under way with Art Deco in Color 05. I’ll show you in two weeks.

zitronartdecoyarncolor05

Where Are They Now? – An Occasional Look at Past Projects

I am pleased to report that the embroidered Tunisian crochet pillow (in HiKoo CoBaSi Plus) is giving excellent service as a companion to loafing and napping. It still looks as crisp as the day it was finished. Please enjoy this action shot starring Rosamund.

rosamund-finished-pillow
We have plans to eliminate the remaining ugly green throw pillows as quickly as possible.

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.

Makers’ Mercantile Leather Purse Cage (shown in Brown)

addi Click Turbo Interchangeable 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 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: Whither Shall I Wander?

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

For the first part of the granny blanket project, click here.

I decided to break open the fourth bun of HiKoo Concentric, and give the granny square blanket a border and edging. In for a penny, in for a pound.

unblocked
My first granny square blanket, as yet unadorned.

Maybe half a pound. I briefly entertained the idea of making the edging elaborate–even frilly. I have vintage crochet books stuffed with hilariously complex edging patterns that look like they’d be at home on Belle Watling’s underwear.

1e84ef69e23e0148010325fbd3154e9e--gone-with-the-wind-southern-belle
Belle Watling, as played by the immortal Ona Munson in “Gone with the Wind.” Her simple, spare style was a revelation to my pre-teen self. Please note, and admire, the owl lamp.

Frills take time, though. I’m still not a quick or clever crocheter; and the calendar was pressing me to finish this project and move on with others. Sometimes a deadline is my best friend–it keeps me from going bananas with those tiny touches that, in sufficient numbers, can crush the life right out of a design.

So my border, at last, was no more than three rounds of double crochet triplets circumnavigating the assembled granny squares.

border-edging
And my edging was a single round of a simple scallop, worked into each open space, with slip stitches between.

crochet-border-simple-franklin-habit-makers-mercantile
I wanted the edging stitch motif to have a bit of heft to it, to give the blanket (which was already drapey in excelsis) even more comforting heft. So the scallop, compared to the typical granny square triplet

 

stitch-comparison
uses more yarn to fill in the same amount of space.

The swing of the blanket it delicious. But what happens when you cram so many additional stitches of the same gauge into an edging–any edging, knitted or crocheted? The edge will ruffle.

edge-ruffle

I decided to call this a design feature. See my amazing ruffled edge? I meant to do that. Shut up.

I’m honestly awfully fond of this blanket. You can do up a less expensive granny square blanket, to be sure. If you are crocheting one that is going to be dragged around the house by the kids, and have soda pop and corn chips spilled on it, and require heavy laundering once a week, you might prefer to go with something more robust and economical, like HiKoo Simpliworsted.

However, if you are making a special gift; or if you have a reached that divine level of adulthood that allows you to spoil yourself silly with something plush and gorgeous while you nap or cuddle, I don’t think you’d be disappointed in HiKoo Concentric.

Certainly, my personal Blanket Quality Inspector, Rosamund, is taken with it. I was still shooting photographs when she decided to hop up on the worktable and make herself comfortable.

rosamund-grannysquare-franklinhabit
It took some doing, including the rare promise of a spoonful of peanut butter, to get her to give up her seat. And if you think Rosamund is easily pleased by any old blanket, you have not met Rosamund.

hikoo-concentric-grannysquare-draped-franklinhabit

hikooconcentric-crochet-grannysquare

What’s Next?

With the border approaching completion I began to wonder what I ought to show you next. I’m still knitting the second Bee Sock, so that’s not much to see.

But then Makers’ Mercantile told me they’d brought in a new self-patterning yarn from Zitron called Art Deco. In fact, they’re the sole American retailer to offer it. They sent me a few balls to play with, and I’ve decided to use it in a challenge.

artdecoyarnafricanbasket
I love the little basket they sent with the yarn–woven by an ethical collective in Bolgatanga, Ghana; and imported on fair trade terms by Big Blue Moma. Makers’ Mercantile has them in stock, along with larger shopping and project bags.

Zitron Art Deco is designed with self-patterning in mind; but I’m going to try it out in three techniques–knitting, crochet, and weaving on a Zoom Loom–and in every case do my darnedest to mess up the handsome pattern that the very clever and hard-working people at Zitron intended to appear.

I hope they won’t mind too much. I’ve always been contrary when given instructions. As a child I had a collection of Matchbox toy cars, as American boys of my generation were supposed to. But instead of zooming around racetracks and smashing into one another, my cars all had aristocratic titles and eccentric personalities, and gathered for tea and theater parties. (Lady Mathilde Heffington-Smythe was born a Studebaker.)

Remember, just because the label tells you how you should knit it, doesn’t mean you have to knit it the way they tell you. Or that you have to knit with it at all.

So, three two-ball projects with Zitron Art Deco.

One project in Color 01,

zitronartdecoyarncolor01
Zitron Art Deco Yarn, Color 01

one project in Color 02,

zitronartdecoyarncolor02
Zitron Art Deco Yarn, Color 02

one in project in Color 05.

zitronartdecoyarncolor05
Zitron Art Deco Yarn, Color 05

Challenge one: knitting! See you in two weeks…

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

HiKoo Concentric (100% Baby Alpaca; 437 yards per 200 gram cake). Shown in Color 1027 (Trixie).
Zitron Art Deco (80% Virgin Wool, 20% Nylon; 437 yards per 100 gram ball). Shown in Colors 01, 02, and 05.
Woven Pot Basket from Big Blue Moma
Schacht Zoom Loom
addi Color-Coded 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 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.