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

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

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

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

Maybe that’s just me.

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

Llama 1.1

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

Llama 1.2

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

Llama 1.3

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

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

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

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

Llama 1.4

“You want some?” they asked.


I took it all.

(I left the basket.)

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

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

Llama 1.5

…into a single project.

Every Which Way

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

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

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

Llama 1.6

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

Llama 1.7

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

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

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

Llama 1.8

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

Shop Notes!

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

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

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

About Franklin

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His new book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book was brought out by Soho Publishing in May 2016 and is in its second printing.

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, Squam Arts Workshops, the Taos Wool Festival, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection/Makers’ Mercantile. Many of his independently published designs are available via

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet (presently on hiatus).

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Follow Franklin online via Twitter (@franklinhabit), Instagram (@franklin.habit), or his Facebook page.

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