Fridays with Franklin: The Edge of Crazy

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

For the first part of this project, click here.

It’s not often that I wish a project were larger. This one has been an exception. Every stage has been more fun than I anticipated–and the result makes me smile.

This is a small piece. I thought it would be a swatch.

I’ve carried it with me during the busiest teaching travel season I’ve ever had. It has been worked on in eleven states; in big cities and in the middle of nowhere; on land, on sea, and in the air; in view of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans; next to one Great Lake, two small lakes, and a medium-sized pond with a frog in it.

It’s seven inches wide and nine inches long.

When last we met, I was working on the decorative embroidery between the patches.

fwf-76-embroideryprogress
In addition to the buttonhole stitch (open and closed) and the feather stitch, I went cuckoo and added French knots with little tails in a few places where it seemed additional frivolity would be welcome.

It was fun.

At no point did this project require me to be serious or restrained. At no point did I have to ask myself whether more embellishment would be too much, or whether I ought to tread within the bounds of good taste. This project is crazy. It says so right there in the name.

When I had finished the lion’s share of the embroidery I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t want to leave the swatch a swatch. I didn’t have the time (or yarn) to do an entire blanket. But I had enough to make it up into a tiny, unserious cushion cover.

Since it was an unserious cushion cover, I kept dicking around with stuff I had been told never to do. For example, a very serious knitter once warned me that in cushion covers, one must always be sure the grain of the front fabric matched the grain of the fabric. In other words, you must always arrange the panels thus:

fwf-76-grains-matched

and never thus:

fwf-76-grains-perpendicular

If one broke this rule, she insisted, one’s cushion would…I don’t know what. Explode? I mean, the horizontal grain (rows) and the vertical grain (columns) of any knitted fabric do stretch at different rates; but why would this be a catastrophe in a cover over a stable (if squishy) center?

Anyway, she’s dead now, and she was mean while she was alive. So I decided to stick my tongue out at her, posthumously, and mix the grains up like a madman with nothing left to lose:

I striped the back panel at random with every color from the front except the purple, because for about a week I couldn’t find it.

I put one-row buttonholes into the upper back panel.

fwf-76-buttonholes

Wait. That sort of looks like a superhero mask, doesn’t it?

fwf-76-garterwoman
Garter Woman! Na na NA nana na NAAAAA!

This was, of course, an excuse to play with more buttons from Skacel buttons; so I lost a pleasant hour wandering among the hundreds on offer and settled on the Fancy Iridescent Glass Buttons because I was feeling both fancy and iridescent.

fwf-76-fourbuttons
Fancy Iridescent Glass Buttons from Skacel Buttons

I sewed the panels together with mattress stitch, and found that the joins were fine–clean, straight, unobtrusive–but altogether too sober. Insufficiently bonkers. So I pulled out my vintage needlework books in search of a mildly bonkers edging.

A pattern collection from 1905 turned up just the very thing, a picot edge, which looks like this:

fwf-76-picotedgecrochet
and is worked like this (I quote the original verbatim–if I can make sense of it, so can you):

Make a chain of the length required, work Sg. C [single crochet] or DC [double crochet] on this, then fasten yarn with a Sg. C in the top of a stitch; chain 3, insert the hook through the top of the first chain stitch, throw yarn over the hook and draw through both loops; fasten with a Sg. C in top of next stitch, or skip one stitch and fasten whichever way makes the picot lie flat.

I wanted to crochet the edging directly to the cushion cover; so rather than make a chain, I worked slip stitches all the way around the seam line between the front and back panels and worked the rest of the edging stitches into that.

fwf-76-crochethook
You may notice that I found the purple HiKoo Sueño Worsted that had gone missing. I used an addi Olive Wood crochet hook in size US D/3.25 mm because it seemed like it would do and it was near the chair I was sitting in.

The result was a very unserious ruffled edge–ruffled because instead of obeying the instructions about making the edge lie flat, I crammed the picots in. Jamming lots and lots of fabric into a smallish space gives you ruffles. Annoying when you don’t want them, delightful when you do.

fwf-ruffle-edge
It’s kinda like the edge of the petticoats on a cancan dancer. O, là-là! La plume da ma crayon! Défense de fumer!

Then on went the buttons, one-two-three-four. In four different colors. Because in crazy patchwork, more is more.

I have heard more than one knitter say that button placement makes him nervous. This is all I do–put the upper band over the lower and insert locking stitch markers through the buttonholes to mark the place each button needs to go. Boom.

fwf-76-buttonholesmarked
Neat little buttons, all in a row. A pretty sight.

fwf-76-buttonson

In case you’re wondering where I got a pillow form of the correct size (7 inches by 9 inches), I didn’t. I cut up an old cotton sheet that was in the rag bag and sewed one, stuffing it neatly with some clean, hand-dyed wool roving that I bought ages ago at a fiber fair, and have never been able to understand why I bought it, because the colors are hideous. No, I am not going to show it to you; and no, I’m not going to tell you who dyed it.

I’m not that crazy.

Now I have this hilarious little pillow…

fwf-76-pillow-01.jpg
fwf-76-pillow-02

fwf-76-pillow-03
…and I don’t know what it’s for, though I am absolutely going to use it as a sample for a new class on knitting and embroidering crazy quilt squares. If I can’t stop the madness, I might as well spread it around.

Epilogue in HiKoo Sueño

This is was my first encounter with HiKoo Sueño Worsted and I can’t say enough good things about it.

It’s so crisp and smooth, and the colors show off brilliantly. There’s been no sign of pilling, even though the balls of yarn and the knitting itself has been dragged around the country.

Even after the cushion cover was finished I didn’t want to stop knitting the stuff, so I whipped up an impromptu cowl for Rosamund without a pattern.

fwf-76-rosamund-hikoosueno-cowl
She likes it. She likes to have clothes on, especially as the weather in Chicago turns nippy. The only thing I think I might do is line it with woven fabric to keep the floats on the inside from catching on her collar. But that’s for another column.

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.)
Fancy Iridescent Glass Buttons (18mm) by Skacel Buttons
addi Olive Wood Crochet Hook
Clover Small Locking Stitch Markers

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: 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.

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: 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.

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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 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: Wear the Bee Socks

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

This column most often shows you the progress of one project at a time, which I’ve realized gives you a false impression of how I work.

I’ve been cleaning out my primary workspace for eight years, which is the same amount of time I’ve spent working in my primary workspace.

It’s not a complete mess, mind you. If it were a complete mess, it would be complete. Nothing in here is complete.

I have a sort of area devoted to “Fridays with Franklin” works in progress. It grows and shrinks and changes its shape and moves hither and thither, like a restless volcanic island made from yarn.

At any given moment there will be three things in progress, supplies for a couple more ideas, supplies from Makers’ Mercantile for which no idea has yet presented itself, and leftover bits of finished projects that haven’t been sorted into storage.

Right now the top of the island is covered by a large (well, large for me) crochet project using HiKoo Concentric, an intriguing alpaca gradient yarn that arrived attractively packaged in a plump bun.

fwf-63-hikoo-concentric
Two luscious buns of HiKoo Concentric from Skacel.

Two these buns have become little bundles of granny squares, and the granny squares need assembly into the final thing.

gathered-squares

But that means hauling around all the granny squares, and I’ve been on the move. That means the first over the finish line will be this pair of socks made with old favorite Zitron Trekking XXL Sport Sock Yarn, shown here in progress on my first set of addi Flexi Flips.

IMG_20180314_064940_259
(I love the FlexiFlips, by the way. My preferred tools for sock knitting have been double-points or two circulars, and these are a sort of hybrid of the two methods. You get a set of three, and two hold the work while you knit with the third. They took a little getting used to, but after about ten rounds, I found myself working faster than usual with hands that were relaxed and comfortable.)

These socks are for me. I don’t have much time to knit for myself, so I choose personal projects with care. Things I need go to the top of the waiting list.

I need these socks, because the only reliable source of reasonably-priced, durable store-bought socks that I’ve counted on for years recently slashed its line to remove all the colors I wanted to wear. No more bright yellows, reds, or purples. No more vivid greens. No pinks, no lavenders, no royal or robin’s egg blues. They still love to trumpet that they offer dozens and dozens of choices; but now all of those choices are either browns, tans, greys, black, or navy. Whee!

I also need these socks because I want socks with a fun motif on them. You can buy men’s socks with motifs, but these are almost always selected from the acceptable list of Things Men Can Have On Their Clothes.

Here’s the classic list:

1. Stuff You Hunt (Deer, Duck, Moose, etc.)
2. Horses
3. Card Suits (Heart, Diamond, Club, Spade)
4. Cars
5. Golf
6. Sailing
7. Naked Ladies

The only lasting additions in the past eighty or so years are “fun” science motifs (e.g., robots, spaceships, atoms) and superhero logos.

Here are things I don’t want on my socks:

1. Stuff You Hunt (Deer, Duck, Moose, etc.)
2. Horses
3. Card Suits (Heart, Diamond, Club, Spade)
4. Cars
5. Golf
6. Sailing
7. Naked Ladies
8. Science
9. Superheroes

I am in no way knocking you if you want these things on your socks. But you are well provided for, and can if you so desire buy what you like right off any number of shelves.

Me, I want colorful wool socks decorated with things men aren’t supposed to like, such as this curly-swirly lyre, taken from a nineteenth-century needlework booklet.

urn-chart
It’s a symbol of the god Apollo, sure; but Apollo doesn’t count as a superhero as he hasn’t got his own best-selling comic book and movie franchise. Apollo wrote poetry and cavorted with muses, both activities the modern American male is supposed to avoid.

Clocked

The socks I want have clocks. A “clock,” in hosiery, is a decoration at the ankle, possibly spreading up the leg a bit. The plural is either “clocks,” which makes sense, or “clox.” I hate the second spelling.

sock-sketch
I could knit the clock into the sock as a piece of intarsia. I have quite a few vintage knitting books with patterns for intarsia clocks,

vintage-montage

But I bristle at the thought of working a sock with a dozen strands of yarn coming off it. I’m sorry, no.

So I thought, why not try to make this happen with duplicate stitch? I’m an old hand at duplicate stitch–last seen in this column on the chest of Rosamund’s Wonder Woofin’ sweater.*

fwf-54-eaglefinished
Duplicate stitch embroidery mimics the structure of the knitting underneath, and if it’s done well it appears to be an integral part of the fabric. It preserves, as well as any embroidery can, the stretch of knitting. It might be just the thing.

If you’re not familiar with the technique, there’s a pretty thorough illustrated write-up of as part of the series on the Wonder Woofin’ sweater. (Bonus: adorable dog pictures.)

The Best Laid Plans

Again, I’ve done plenty of duplicate stitch–but I had never done it on a sock. More to the point, I had never done it at the gauge of this sock–nine stitches to the inch.

It’s my usual practice when embroidering a closed piece of work (like a hat or glove) to insert something, usually a piece of stiff cardboard, inside the work so that I don’t have to worry about accidentally stitching through the wrong part of the fabric. In this case, I have a solid wood sock blocker that did the trick. The fabric wasn’t stretched drum tight–just enough to make it lie nice and flat.

Here we are once again, embroidering our work from a chart, so what do we need? We need guides. I put mine in, using plain white sewing thread, doubled. I put in a baseline, and lines for the horizontal and vertical centers of the motif.

first-guides
Note: To make finding the center stitch a snap, before dividing the stitches to work the heel flap, I put a stitch marker halfway across the stitches at the back of the leg (seen here), and halfway across the stitches at the front of the leg.

For the motif, I first thought I’d use Color 1496. However, paired with Color 1027, it was too close to read well–another cool color, adjacent in the spectrum, almost identical in value. The embroidery would barely have shown up from a couple feet away.

purple-and-blue
Enter Color 1476, an emphatically yellow yellow. (One of the things I love about Zitron Trekking XXL Sport Sock is the enormous range of solid colors.)

purple-and-yellow
Much better.

Then there was nothing more to do than slip a strand into a tapestry needle and get down to it.

Lyre

It did not go well.

It took me two hours to get about five rows up the lyre chart. They were two unpleasant hours, full of language unsuitable for mixed audiences.

After a walk around the block that included a stop at a bar on the far corner, I took a fresh look at the thing and found it to be lopsided, full of stitches not quite of the correct size, and containing one error so fatal that further progress was impossible.

I ripped it all out. Which took another hour.

ripped-lyre
Kaboom!

Lyre, Lyre

I tried twice more. I ripped out twice more. I threw things.

Hive Mind

I decided I didn’t really like the lyre, anyway. What I really wanted on my sock was a bee. This bee, from an Edwardian filet crochet chart. I’ve been wanting to put this bee into or onto a project of some kind for years.

bee-chart
Bees are a favorite symbol of mine. So industrious. Famously busy. Elegantly designed.

Twice more, I started.

bad-bee-progress

Twice more, I ripped.

Just as I was about to give up and admit to you my utter failure, I realized what was tripping me up. I was doing everything I could to ensure success: working while alert, working without distractions, working under the best possible lighting conditions.

And yet, time and again, my it wasn’t working. I mean, look at this.

bee-annotated

The problem? I couldn’t always see–even under brilliant lighting–which row of stitches was which. So I’d suddenly jump up or down a row, or take a stitch that was two rounds high instead of one.

I needed more guidelines.

So I ripped myself back to a blank slate, and I put in lots and lots of guidelines.

The center, of course, yes. But also a guideline for every row in the chart.

guidelines-in-place
That may look like a lot to do, but we’re talking about a motif 19 rows high. Putting those guidelines in took about ten minutes.

And with them in place…

bee-progress

…the embroidery took about an hour.  And it was fun. The guidelines saved me at least a dozen times from making a big mistake, and at least five times showed me that I’d made a mistake immediately, which allowed me to correct it without fuss.

bee-on-lines

The guidelines slid right out.

removing-guides

And I had my bee sock.

finished-bee
I’m pleased to report that the embroidery is perfectly comfortable and stretchy–no lumps or bumps, and it flexes along with the knitting.

sock-on-foot
The bee looks lonely, though, so I think I’ll add a second on the other side. And of course, two more on the other sock. Or maybe three.

Oh. The second sock. I need to knit the second sock.

Maybe after I finish the big crochet project. See you in two weeks!

*I know. Superhero. But she’s the only one I like.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

HiKoo Concentric (100% Baby Alpaca; 437 yards per 200 gram cake). Shown in Color 1027 (Trixie).

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).

addi FlexiFlips flexible knitting needles (length 8 inches, shown in size US 0)

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: Welcome Wagon, Part Two (includes Five Hour Baby Jacket pattern)

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

For the previous installment, and an introduction to the Five Hour Baby Jacket, click here.

Rosamund’s worries were unfounded. I finished the jacket for Upstairs Baby in due course, and he came down for a fitting.

fwf-61-finished-front

fwf-61-finished-side

Upstairs Baby didn’t say much of anything about the jacket; he was too interested in his fingers and Rosamund kept licking his toes. But his mother was enormously pleased. The fit is spot-on. Upstairs Baby is about two-and-a-half months old; exact finished measurements are in the pattern below.

fwf-61-threequarter-5hbj

Speaking of the pattern…

The biggest difference between the original and my version is the closure. The original (and all the subsequent variations I have found) have simple buttonholes made with yarn overs. Upstairs Baby’s has a single button-and-loop closure, because that’s what his parents said they would prefer.

fwf-61-closure-detail

The closure is extremely easy to make. The most difficult part is choosing the buttons. Skacel Buttons offers so many that Makers’ Mercantile is still in the process of adding them all to the online shop.

I used shank buttons; but whether you choose a shanks or flats, I highly recommend that you also use button backers on this or any other piece of knitwear. Backers add strength and stability. They can be purpose-made, or you can use (as I have here) plain, flat buttons out of your button stash. I’m guessing my grandmother cut these off an old shirt in the 1980s.

fwf-61-buttonback

The stitch counts and gauge in this version differ from than those in the original. If followed exactly, the numbers in the original worked in a slender yarn at the recommended gauge of 4 stitches to the inch yield a very open, slack fabric. That’s not to my taste, and Chicago babies need warmth.

I want to be very clear that I do not consider the pattern that follows to be in any way an improvement on the original, which is a wonderfully clever and practical design. Aside from the changes noted above, all I’ve done is try to make the instructions very (very very) explicit, based in part on the questions that newbies left most often in the comments on other versions I’ve checked out. They may be annoyingly explicit for experienced knitters, who may find (for example) that the markers which set off the seed stitch borders are unnecessary.

If that’s so, that’s okay by me. Take the bits you like, set the rest aside. Do what suits you. That’s what patterns like this are for, after all.

(And by the way, though I’ve done my best to keep the errors at bay–well, you know how it is. Drop a note to Makers’ Mercantile if you find a goof, and we will correct it. Thank you!)

Franklin’s Five-Hour Baby Jacket: Yet Another Variation on the Theme

fwf-61-5hbj-front

Yarn

The sample was knit with 6 balls Zitron Gesa & Flo **held double throughout**. Note that knitting with a single strand of Gesa & Flo will not give you a sweater of the desired size.

You may substitute any yarn that will give you the indicated gauge and a fabric that makes you happy. Worsted weight yarns are a good bet; you might also test sport weight and aran weight yarns to see if they will work–yarn weights are notoriously shifty.

I recommend both HiKoo Simpliworsted and HiKoo CoBaSi Plus. The latter is especially nice for those who live in climates where wool might be too hot.

If you do not take the time to knit a gauge swatch, your finished sweater will end up becoming a gauge swatch.

Needles and Notions

1 circular needle, length about 24 inches, size US 6 or size needed to give you proper gauge; always take time to check your gauge

1 16-inch circular needle or one set short straight needles of same size as the circular above

two small buttons (sample uses these, size 18mm in silver finish)

7 stitch markers

2 rigid stitch holders (recommended) or 2 lengths of contrasting scrap yarn

blunt tapestry needle

scissors (these, from Bohin, are my current favorites for keeping handy in my project bag and sewing box)

Gauge

5 sts and 7 rows = 1 inch in stockinette stitch

Finished Dimensions

Chest: 18 inches
Body Length: 9 inches
Yoke Depth: 3 inches
Arm Length: 7 inches
Arm Circumference: 6 inches

Notes

Seed Stitch. This very simple texture pattern is used in the collar, cuffs, and hem instead of the garter stitch found in the original version. Seed stitch is usually worked on an even number of sts as follows:

RS: (K1, p1) across.
WS: (K1, p1) across.

When worked across an odd number of sts (as in the collar), the texture is symmetrical, with a k1 at each end.

kfb (increase). Knit into the front of the st in the usual way, then into the back. Makes 1 new stitch.

m1 (increase). Cast on 1 new st by making a backward loop over the tip of the right needle (sometimes referred to as the loop cast on, thumb cast on, or “e” cast on).

Instructions

Yoke
Using the method of your choice, co 39 sts. (Model shown uses the knitted CO.)

Rows 1-4. Work in seed stitch (see “Notes,” above), ending each row with k1.

Row 5 (WS). K1, p1, k1; place marker; p to last 3 sts; place marker; k1, p1, k1. (Note that the first 3 and last 3 sts of all yoke and body rows–the stitches outside these two stitch markers–will be worked in this way, including WS rows. Assume that these markers will always be slipped when you encounter, them unless otherwise noted.)

Row 6. K1, p1, k1; *(kfb, k1), rep from * to last 4 sts; kfb, k1, p1, k1. (56 sts)

Row 7. K1, p1, k1; p to last 3 sts; k1, p1, k1.

Row 8. K1, p1; k to last 2 sts; p1, k1.

Row 9. K1, p1, k1; p to last 3 sts; k1, p1, k1.

Row 10. K1, p1, k1; *(kfb, k2), rep from * to last 4 sts; kfb, k1, p1, k1. (73 sts)

Row 11. K1, p1, k1; p to last 3 sts; k1, p1, k1.

Row 12. K1, p1; k to last 2 sts; p1, k1.

Row 13. K1, p1, k1; p to last 3 sts; k1, p1, k1.

Row 14. K1, p1, k2; *(kfb, k3), rep from * to last 5 sts; kfb, k2, p1, k1. (90 sts)

Row 15. K1, p1, k1; p to last 3 sts; k1, p1, k1.

Row 16. K1, p1; k to last 2 sts; p1, k1.

Row 17. K1, p1, k1; p to last 3 sts; k1, p1, k1.

Row 18. K1, p1, k2; *(kfb, k4), rep from * to last 6 sts; kfb, k3, p1, k1. (107 sts)

Row 19. K1, p1, k1; p to last 3 sts; k1, p1, k1.

Row 20.  K1, p1; k to last 2 sts; p1, k1.

Row 21. K1, p1, k1; p to last 3 sts; k1, p1, k1.

Row 22. K1, p1, k3; *(kfb, k5), rep from * to last 5 sts; k3, p1, k1. (124 sts)

Row 23. K1, p1, k1; p to last 3 sts; k1, p1, k1.

Row 24. K1, p1; k to last 2 sts; p1, k1.

Row 25. K1, p1, k1; p to last 3 sts; k1, p1, k1.

Row 26. (On this row, you will place additional markers to indicate the fronts, back, and sleeves.)

K1, p1, k5, m1, k6, m1, k6, m1, k1, place marker. (23 sts for front)
K1, m1, k7, m1, k6, m1, k7, m1, k2, place marker. (27 sts for sleeve)
K2, m1, (k7, m1) 2x, k6, m1, (k7, m1) 2x, k2, place marker. (44 sts for back)
K2, m1, k7, m1, k6, m1, k7, m1, k1, place marker. (27 sts for sleeve)
K1, m1, k6, m1, k6, m1, k5, p1, k1. (23 sts for front)

Row 27. K1, p1, k1; p to last 3 sts; k1, p1, k1.

Row 28. K1, p1, k1. Knit across, inc by m1 before and after the 5 markers you placed in Row 26. DO NOT inc before or after the border markers you placed in Row 5. (152 sts)

Row 29. K1, p1, k1; p to last 3 sts; k1, p1, k1.

Row 30. Repeat Row 28. (160 sts)

Row 31. K1, p1, k1; p to last 3 sts; k1, p1, k1.

Sleeves
Work across right front as follows:

K1, p1, k1, slip marker, k22. Place these 25 sts (and the marker) on a stitch holder or length of scrap yarn. Remove the marker that indicates the beginning of the first sleeve.

**Begin sleeve (RS row):

(K1, kfb) 2x, k to 4 sts before next marker, (k1, kfb) 2x. Remove marker.

With second set of needles, work these 35 sleeve sts in stockinette st (k all RS rows, p all WS rows) for 26 more rows, ending by completing a WS row.

Decrease (RS) row:

K2; (k2tog, k3) 6x. (29 sts)

Purl 1 (WS) row.

Work in stockinette stitch (all RS rows, k; all WS rows, p) for 5 more rows.

Work in seed stitch (see “Notes,” above) for 4 rows, or for 8 rows if a turned-back cuff (shown on model) is desired. End each row with k1.

Break working yarn, leaving a tail of 10-12 inches.

With RS facing, join working yarn and k24 sts; m1; k across the remaining 24 sts before the next marker. Remove marker.

(IMPORTANT NOTE: the m1 in this row is designed to give the body an odd number of sts, and maintain the symmetrical seed stitch at the borders and hem. If you are adapting the pattern for yourself, and your border/collar/hem pattern does not require an odd number of sts, omit this increase and simply knit across the 48 sts of the back.)

The original pattern suggests that the back sts now be placed on a holder. I find I am able to leave them where they are on the circular needle cable, and knit the second sleeve with the same needle. Do whichever you prefer; what follows will be the same either way.

Return to ** and work the second sleeve exactly as the first.

Body
With both sleeves complete and with RS facing, join working yarn and work across remaining 25 sts (left front), ending with k1, p1, k1. This completes the first (RS) row of the body.

In the next row, you will join the live stitches on the needle to the back and right front sts that have been placed on holders. To do this, either knit them directly from the holder; or slip the empty left needle into the held sts from left to right, removing the holder once they have all been transferred. Take care not to twist sts as you transfer them.

Row 2 (WS). K1, p1, k1; p to last 3 sts; k1, p1, k1.

Row 3 (RS). K1, p1; k to last 2 sts; p1, k1.

Row 4. K1, p1, k1; p to last 3 sts; k1, p1, k1.

Rows 5-28. Repeat body rows 3 and 4. In Row 28, remove markers.

Work 8 rows in seed stitch (see “Notes,” above), ending each row with k1.

BO.

Seaming and Blocking

Sew underarm seams using tails from BO. Weave in ends. Soak and gently block.Allow to dry completely. Embellish if and as desired. (For information about the embroidery in the sample, click here .)

Loop-and-Button Closure

With circular needle (or a pair of double-pointed needles of the same size) CO 3 sts and work i-cord for a length of five inches. BO, leaving a 6-inch tail.

Using the CO and BO tails, sew the i-cord into a loop on the left-hand lapel of the jacket as shown, just below the final round of yoke increases.

Sew one button where the ends of the loop come together on the left front, and another in the corresponding place on the right front.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Zitron Gesa & Flo Yarn (100% Ultra Fine Merino. 98 yards per 25 gram ball) shown in Color 08, Pastel Lavender.

Schoppel-Wolle Edition 6 Yarn (100% Merino extrafine Superwash wool; 328 yards per 50 gram ball) shown in Color 2296, English Garden)

Metal Dragonfly buttons by Skacel Buttons (shown in 18mm, silver finish)

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: Welcome Wagon

fwf-logo-columnsize

As I mentioned last time, progress on the cross-stitch cushion has been temporarily halted due to the arrival of a new neighbor, to whom I shall refer in this space as Upstairs Baby. I haven’t got any photographs, but this is the general idea.

upstairs-baby

Upstairs Baby is the second, newborn child of the same couple who brought us Rosamund’s best pal, Little Girl Upstairs.

They are a lovely family and we adore them. Rosamund has been particularly excited to have a baby to play with, even if so far all the baby does when presented with the finest of chewy rubber bones and slightly mauled stuffed otters is lie in his basket and coo.

Clearly, a child of such quality must be in need of knitted clothes. We have undertaken to address this with all due haste.

Not that all due haste is enough to satisfy Rosamund, who has been perched on my shoulders, supervising.

27628730_10215446095090155_1660424957625722737_o
“Is he done yet? Why isn’t he done yet? He needs to hurry up. That weird bald puppy upstairs must be so chilly. “

I don’t know how she puts up with me.

27173145_10215446288174982_8288552108026571747_o
“He’s still not finished. Why is this taking so long? I thought he was supposed to be good at this. That bald puppy is going to be grown up soon.”

Time is precious, and so my thought has been to turn out yet another Five Hour Baby Jacket, also known as the Five Hour Baby Sweater.

The best online information available, a preamble to the earliest version I could find, credits the design of this piece as follows:

“This pattern was received by Sue Hulbert, sent to her by Anne Stoddard, was typed in by Jo Azary, and attempted-to-be-posted to the KnitList by Samantha Garbers and finally posted by Jo as Samantha’s post got lost in cyberspace.

Anne Stoddard writes,

‘Here is the explanation that I gave Sue H[ulbert] when I sent her the pattern. In approximate[ly] the year of 1950, I was frequenting a small yarn shop in my town run by two elderly sisters, one of them was very kind to me as she loved that I both knitted and crocheted. She wrote out this pattern for me to knit for my new little sisters that my mother was ‘continuously’ having (VBG). There are 8 of us. The two sisters have since gone to the big Yarn Store in the Sky but I remember their kindnesses every time I knit the sweater. I also gave this pattern to the women in the BAKG that knit for Charity for me and we have produced over a hundred baby sweaters for the maternity home “Siena House” in the Bronx. I sincerely hope that the women knitting from this pattern give at least one sweater to charity as this is what I meant the pattern to be used for.'”

As you would expect of any pattern that has been passed from hand-to-hand-to-hand-to-hand-to-hand for nearly seventy years, variations abound. Most of them fiddle with the yoke, adding or subtracting design elements. Some add a hood. Others include companion booties or a hat. The wording varies, and with it the accuracy and clarity.

I have made five of these jackets, which truly can be worked (if you are a reasonably capable knitter) from start to finish in five hours. However, I had misplaced my printed copy. Then I found that the source I’d used four or so years ago had vanished from the Internet.

No matter, I thought. I’ll just get it from somewhere else.

After the fifth variation from somewhere else went off the rails before I could finish the yoke, I decided I’d work out and write up my own variation–and you’ll find it in this space in two weeks, in the very next column.

Will my variation be better? I’d hesitate to use the word “better.” I will try to make it something you can use without putting a(nother) permanent angry crease in your forehead.

The Yarns

The Five Hour Baby Sweater’s claim to fame is its speed of construction–top down, one piece, minimal seaming.

What I love about it is that it lends itself to alteration and personalization. Do it once, and you’ll start to imagine how you could switch it up with different borders, necklines, stitch patterns, trims, and so forth.

I settled on these yarns for Upstairs Baby’s sweater.

fwf-59-newballs

The lavender is Zitron Gesa & Flo a German pure wool that is both soft and washable. It’s also on the fine side, so in order to meet the demands of the pattern’s gauge (again, more on that next time) I decided to use it doubled, knitting two strands as one.

The other ball–the one with the zillion colors–is Schoppel-Wolle Edition 6, in a colorway (2296, English Garden) that makes my heart sing and that plays well with the lavender. I want to use that to make the sweater a little different, and little more special.

The Basic Model

When knit up in most versions (including mine) the sweater is simplicity itself. Just a little stockinette cardigan collar and cuffs in something contrasting. The original uses garter stitch; I switched to seed stitch.

27625035_10215450606442936_984697185531786887_o

For embellishment, I decided to indulge myself with more embroidery. Embroidering my knitting is my current obsession. You may have gathered as much, as I’ve used it on the cushion cover, on Rosamund’s most recent sweater, and on the freeform crochet scarf, and so forth.

Running and Running

I could have gone bananas with covered the whole body and yoke in flowers and swirls and dinosaurs and kitty cats and Latin mottoes. In the end, though, with an eye on the clock, I settled on the simplest embroidery I could think of: running stitch.

Running stitch is the first stitch most people learning to sew or embroider learn. Even people who have never held a needle recognize it as “sewing.”

There is no easier stitch to work. You come up at A, you go down at B.

step-01

Then you continue, working right to left (unless you’re left handed) taking identical stitches until you have a dotted line as long as you like. Up at C, down at D.

step-02

You can make your stitches (and the spaces between) even or uneven. In the interest of simplicity and speed, I elected to go with stitches and spaces all equal to the width of one stitch.

And I determined that I would work them in blocks made of staggered rows, moving up one row with each line of stitching.

step-03
The Schoppel-Wolle Edition 6 is one jolly, slow blend color after color, and I wanted some of each color in the sweater. In a piece this tiny, that meant unwinding the ball into a bunch of mini-balls. If I hadn’t done that, I doubt I’d have used all of the first color in the ball.

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With the palette ready, all I did was choose a color at whim and work it into a block that might be fat, skinny, tall, short–it didn’t much matter. There was no real plan, no thought of symmetry.

sleeve-detail-01

detail-fronts

detail-back

I wanted the end to have some of the cuckoo joy of crazy quilting (another current obsession).

aerial-back

Closure

I consulted Upstairs Baby’s parents about the question of closure–would they prefer buttonholes (as written in the original pattern), ties, or loops? They chose loops.

So next time–in two weeks–I’ll show you how I decided to make the loops, and give you my version of the pattern.

aerial-front
I think I have enough time and yarn to add some additional embroidery (bringing the color up into the yoke) and make a matching hat, too. What do you think?

Dinner with Franklin at Makers’ Mercantile: February 20!

burien-caresI’m wildly excited to be making an in-person visit to Makers’ Mercantile on February 20, for a dinner to benefit the shop’s local animal rescue society and shelter, Burien C.A.R.E.S. . We will have merriment and frivolity and good food and piles of fun. Rumor has it we may even have a visit from some furry friends.

For information and tickets, click here!

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Zitron Gesa & Flo Yarn (100% Ultra Fine Merino. 98 yards per 25 gram ball) shown in Color 08, Pastel Lavender.

Schoppel-Wolle Edition 6 Yarn (100% Merino extrafine Superwash wool; 328 yards per 50 gram ball) shown in Color 2296, English Garden)

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.