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.

 

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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.