Fridays with Franklin – The Adventure of the Transparent Excuse to Show You More Pictures of My Adorable Dog, Part Three


The Adventure of the Transparent Excuse to Show You More Pictures of My Adorable Dog, Part Three

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

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

Rosamund (this is she)…

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…is not the only creature in residence here who is known on occasion to chase her own tail.

That, my friends, is exactly what I feel I’ve been doing since we last met.

In the inaugural “Fridays with Franklin,” I wrote about the meandering path creativity often takes, but I left something off the map.

It can happen that in working out an idea, even an idea I think is good, I find myself in a place where the fun little meanders and switchbacks turn into a sort of maelstrom. Or do I mean merry-go-round? Hamster wheel? At any rate, something that goes round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and gets exactly nowhere.

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This is not fun. Perhaps it would be if I were a hamster. I’ve never seen a hamster on a wheel who looked unamused.

But I am not a hamster.

To recap, I first thought I’d use this as the chart for the stranded color work dog sweater,

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until I decided it was too boring and replaced it with this

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until I decided it was too busy, so I ripped it out.

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That’s where we ended last time.

I turned to my original sketch

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for a refresher. I didn’t necessarily want to cover the fabric in checks, no. It doesn’t do to take a sketch too literally. What I had imagined something crisp and bold.

So I went back to square one (ha) and charted this.

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As I swatched, I thought, “This is a very, very simple chart. What if I jazzed up the fabric by knitting the borders between the little checked squares as garter stitch?”

Here’s what happened.

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I got as far as you see here before taking one snapshot. Then I decided this looked clunky and ripped it out.

After a walk around the block with Rosamund, who was still not wearing the new sweater I had now been swatching for a month, I sat down and charted this.

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It ain’t much. But in my Knitted Tessellations class, I’ve taught thousands (it’s a popular class, thank you) of knitters how to start with an unassuming niblet like this and apply various forms of symmetry.

Do that, and it could turn into:

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And that could turn into:

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And now, it seemed, I was cooking.

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I cast on yet another swatch, only to find that in reality my choice of colors gave me something I hadn’t seen in the chart: very pedestrian Xs and Os. Yippee.

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That chart, though. It was so promising. What if I flipped the colors and knit it again with light as dark and dark as light? Since the stitch count was identical, I decided to work out that idea on the same swatch.

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Here came another bend in the path, because what made me perk up was the change from one section to the next. That was interesting. What if I knit the chart in alternating bands–one repeat with purple (in this case, 033 Red Hat Purple) as Color A; and the next with lilac (specifically, 013 Violette) as Color A? Reverse, repeat.

So I kept swatching.

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I was feeling pumped. No, it wasn’t the bold, crisp pattern I’d had in mind. But I thought it would–once propagated across the full sweater–have a pleasant shimmery complexity.

Then I showed it (and the previous swatch) to a trusted colleague–someone of reliable taste, and dear enough to me that I can bear his unvarnished opinion; and what he wrote was, “The first one [meaning the garter/stockinette combination] is much more interesting. The second one is kinda muddy.”


Looking at it with fresher eyes, perhaps that first fabric did have merit. The garter stitch borders reminded me of quilting, certainly desirable in a cold-weather garment. And it was closer to the original geometric image in my head. Was it the better motif?

I dithered for a few hours, then showed pictures of both to the one other person in my life who is sometimes invited to weigh in. He said, “I don’t know. The first one. No, the second one. I don’t know. They’re both fine. Which one do you like?”

At which point I began to feel like a hamster in a maelstrom.

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Have you ever seen a hamster in a maelstrom who looked happy to be there? No, you have not.

I was about to flip a coin–something which has helped me many times to stop spinning and start moving forward again. Then I thought, no. No, let’s do something more fun than that.

I want you, friends, to do the choosing. Please.

Since I can’t decide,** tell me which you would prefer as the starting point for Rosamund’s sweater–either Option A or Option B. (These, please understand, are the only options I will entertain. I am already befuddled enough for a whole maelstrom* of hamsters.)

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To vote, click here or on the image above, and you’ll be taken to a polling page.We will keep the voting open until noon, United States CST, on Monday, January 2, 2017. Only votes submitted here will count.

To find out what happens, please come on back in two weeks.

*Is a group of hamsters called a “maelstrom”? If not, I feel it should be.
**Before you suggest it, I did ask Rosamund which she prefers. She said this one or that one, only do get on with it before spring thaw.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Simpliworsted by Hikoo® (55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon; 140 yds per 100g skein). Colors: 033, Red Hat Purple; and 013, Violette.

addi® Turbo 16-inch circular 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 new book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book has was brought out by Soho Publishing in May, 2016 and is in its second printing.

He travels constantly to teach knitters
at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has
been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue
Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, Squam Arts Workshops, 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. Many of his independently published designs are available via

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon,
one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet. On an average
day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays,
cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep.

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.

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