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

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

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

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

Here’s what I have in mind.

As I wrote in the previous installment, shadow knitting only shows its hidden pattern when the viewer is looking at the fabric from a low angle across the horizontal (row) grain.

Llama 2.1

What I have wanted to mess around with for ages is this: a piece of shadow knitting that deliberately obscures part of the hidden pattern from every angle. A piece that will never, ever, show you everything no matter where you stand.

This shouldn’t be terribly complicated. All it requires is that we make sure every so often to change the grain of the fabric. This could be as simple as knitting the work in pieces, with the grains at (for example) right angles to one another. One of my earliest sketches looked something like this.

Llama 2.2

That’s nothing more than two pieces joined together. It would work.

Or…we could take advantage of knitting’s ability to produce a single piece of fabric that contains within itself a change of grain. We could knit a mitered square.

Mitered squares are not at all difficult. They boil down to a simple recipe.

1. Cast on double the number of stitches you need for one side, plus one “spine” stitch that will be located halfway across the row.

2. Begin knitting. On every other row, decrease one stitch (using, theoretically, any single decrease) on either side of the spine stitch, which will be the center of the row.

3. Continue until you have about three stitches left.

4. Bind off.

That’s it. I mean, you can finesse it by pairing your decreases so they slant toward or away from the spine stitch. But really, that’s it.

What you get is a square with a horizontal (row) grain that bends 90 degrees when it reaches that spine.

Llama 2.3

And since almost any solid fabric that can be knit in stripes can be worked as shadow knitting, a shadow mitered square should be interesting. Not necessarily good, mind you. But interesting. We’ll see.

The Color of Shadows

I didn’t say much about the colors of the HiKoo Llamor in my pile last week. Here they are, chose from across the line’s Peruvian, Natural, and Carnival palettes.

Llama 2.4

I know. That pink is really pink. I want it that way. I’m in the mood for color, and the brilliance of the pink strikes me as a nice shot of energy in the midst of all the more muted shades.

In fact, I like all of these so much as a jumble that I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time deciding which two to pair in each square. I’m just going to grab and go.

Testing, Testing

The first square off the needles was promising. Not perfect, but promising.

Llama 2.5

I got the effect I wanted: a shadow triangle in each half, with contrasting shadow borders in the middle and sides. As with most shadow fabrics, there is a tendency to curl–but a nice wet block…

Llama 2.6

…calmed the curl and cause the fabric to bloom. The Llamor, which was already soft pre-blocking, became positively buttery; and unlike some pure llama yarns I’ve worked with, it gained a gentle halo instead of busting out in a total frizz.

I wasn’t absolutely satisfied with structural details of the square, but I’ve decided to do something kind of outside my comfort zone. Rather than rip the whole thing out and start again, I’m going to stick with it and press on. I have limited time and a limited supply of Llamor on hand.

Llama 2.7

Four down, a third in progress. (I know, I know. It’s a shaky photo. I was excited. And also 37,000 feet in the air on an Embraer RJ145 in the middle of turbulence.)

I think we’re going to make this a cowl.

Come back in two weeks, and I’ll show you what I’ve got.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

HiKoo® Llamor (100% baby llama; 109 yd per 50g ball), available in the Peruvian Palette, the Natural Palette, and the Carnival Palette
Schoppel-Wolle Gradient (100% merino wool; 284 yd per 100g ball)
addi® Olive Wood Circular knitting needles

About Franklin

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

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, 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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