Monthly Archives: January 2019

Fridays with Franklin: More Fun with Felt

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

With preparations for our February 2019 Victorian Knit-Along running at full steam, this is going to be a brief (but breathless) edition of “Fridays with Franklin.”

I found some time to continue work on the artfelt upholstery project that began here.

If you’re not familiar with artfelt, there’s a whole lot of information (and a link to Karin Skacel’s how-to video) in that column.

This time, I was determined to avoid ending up with too little fabric to cover the cushion. I cut out a piece of artfelt paper the full size of my felting mat–nearly two-and-half feet square.

Out came the artfelt roving, and I started laying it out with no particular pattern in mind. Last time, I tried a floral and was extremely taken with the results. This time, I started with sort-of stripes.

stripe-roving

The roving naturally pulled apart into what you might call wedges, sections with a fat end and a tapered end. So as I worked across the paper I started to let the shape of the wedge determine the shape of the next splash of color.

wedges-roving
The visual energy in the piece grew.

wedge-progress

Once I’d finished covering the paper, I stepped back and was absolutely gobsmacked by the result.

paper-covered
It’s not that it was a flash of genius. Not but any means.

It just didn’t look like what I think of as my style.

I have many shortcomings as a designer, and near the top of the list is a certain timidity. This was so bold, I would have sworn someone else had done it. Surprising. Exciting.

paper-covered-closeup
I often say, and I’ll say it again, that when a medium is new to you, it’s a good idea to let the medium tell you what it likes to do before you try to tell it what to do.

About 45 minutes of tumbling in a low-heat dryer gave me a beautiful fabric which was–again!–smaller than estimated, but large enough to be useful.

artfelt-felted

I try not to use the word “magic” in here. But that’s how the transformation feels. I love the way all those separate fibers on a sheet of paper become a length of fabric. I love the way the process reactivates the natural crimp (waviness) of the wool.

I could have gone ahead with the upholstery after the felt was dry…but no. A friend sent me some snapshots of a cushion her great-grandmother had embroidered with silks in the early 20th century. The cushion was ragged, badly in need of conservation, but still undeniably gorgeous.

And I was conceived of an irresistible desire to embroider the felt with silk.

Happily, Makers’ Mercantile has a line of hand-dyed embroidery silks that you can buy in small, reasonably priced bundles. So I went nuts and ordered a dozen different colorways.

silk-embroidery-floss
The pure mulberry silk itself is so divine that I’ve started working it into the swirls and wedges in small running stitch, about the simplest embroidery stitch there is.

embroidery-01
Where is this going? What’s it going to look like when it’s complete? I…um…I don’t know.

emb-progress
Right now, I’m about the furthest out I’ve ever been, doing something wholly unlike me. It’s not just fun, it’s exhilarating. I don’t want to stop. So I’m not going to.

For better or worse, I’ll show the results next time we meet.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet bought your skein of Infinito to join in our merry knit-along, there’s still time. We set out on February 1, 2019. It’s going to be grand. Full details are here.

feb-kal-2019-websize

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

artfelt paper
artfelt wool roving
Makers’  Mercantile Pure Mulberry Silk for Embroidery
Zitron Infinito (100% extra fine merino, 550 yards [500m] per 100g hank), sample is shown in Colorway 2

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.

1 Fridays with Franklin: Time Travel with Me

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

I haven’t finished messing around with artfelt–in fact, I can’t wait to show you what I’ve been up to. But I’m going to have to wait, because today another project needs the spotlight.

We’ve been wanting to do a knit-along in this column for ages. We’ve waited, though, until the perfect yarn appeared for the idea we had in mind.

This is the yarn.

fwf-81-zitron-infinito

It’s called Infinito, from Zitron, and it’s a 100% extra fine, fingering weight merino–and it’s a Makers’ Mercantile exclusive.

Infinito is a gradient yarn, and what I love about it is the sllllllllllloooooooooowwwwww nature of the color change. In this colorway (Number 2), the skein begins with a deep purple and shifts, almost imperceptibly, to a handsome lavender as the strand progresses. (Note: The white bit that makes it look like the Bride of Frankenstein isn’t actually knit–it shows you where the color repeat begins. Very useful for multiple-skein projects!)

Because the shift is so gradual, I knew I could use this for lace without any risk of the color obscuring the patterning. And with the generous yardage (550 yards, or 500 meters, in a single 100 gram hank), I suspected I could also do something really impressive with one skein.

I also had a hankering to dip into waters where I love to swim–my collection of knitting manuals from the 19th century.

So that’s going to be our knit-along. We’re going to work, together, through a 19th century pattern. Here is our goal:

feb-kal-2019-websize

It’s a scarf, quite a luxurious one, worked in one piece from beginning to end. It’s about five feet long by about nine inches wide. As you’ll see however, the basic pattern is easily adapted to change both the length and the width. At this size, it requires one skein of Zitron Infinito.

Where did this pattern come from? I’m not going to reveal all just yet, but I’ll tell you this much: it’s a (very) light adaptation by a nineteenth century master of our craft; and as the knit-along progresses, you’ll learn much more about her.

On four successive Fridays in February, I’ll be releasing another piece of the pattern. Along the way, there will be historic information and tips about knitting lace, including a look at how and why this design works.

New lace knitters with an appetite for adventure will find it a fun challenge and skill-builder; veteran lace knitters may be surprised by some of the unusual maneuvers employed in fabric. There will be both charts and written directions, so you may take your pick.

This isn’t a superfine lace, you’ll note. The yarn is a fingering weight, and I used a US size 4 needle to work it. Your needle size may vary, of course, based upon your swatch (ahem). More on swatching to come.

All the while, participants will be able to interact with each other and the supportive Makers’ Mercantile hosts in the KAL forum. The exact location will be announced; in the meantime, watch the Makers’ Mercantile blog and join the shop’s mailing list.

At the end, as a finale, I will publish a facsimile of the original printed pattern, along with notes about how to read it, and how our modern version differs from the designer’s vision.

No registration is required. Supplies of Zitron Infinito are (how ironic) finite, so do go and buy your skein as soon as possible to be sure you get the colorway you like best.

I do hope you’ll join us. To tempt you, here are a few more photographs.

We’ve got plenty of room in the Time Machine. You can add the project to your Ravelry queue right here.

fwf-81-kal-hem

fwf-81-kal-fold

fwf-81-kal-half

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Zitron Infinito (100% extra fine merino, 550 yards [500m] per 100g hank), shown in Colorway 2

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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