Maker Spotlight: John Crane

When John Crane announced his retirement from academic librarian of Dartmouth College, co-workers started taking him out for celebratory lunches. When one such colleague arrived at his office for their scheduled lunch, she told John they weren’t actually going to lunch, but instead, she intended to teach him how to knit. Little did John know, that “lunch” would forever change his retirement years.

John quickly became obsessed with knitting and started creating patterns for items he knit for himself and his friends. John’s attention to detail and classic designs have since made him a favorite knitwear of many people, and those who are lucky enough to know him profess that he is one of the best hug-givers in the universe. 

John’s public knitting frequently leads to his meeting new people and making new fiber friends. Many of the guys pictured here with John in Provincetown, Massachusetts noticed him knitting and started joining him daily at 3PM at the “knitting table” in front of Joe Coffee when he is staying at his Provincetown home.

More than just a retired knitter, John continues to impress. He developed an Sheep Breeds: A World of Difference as an exhibit to celebrate the differences (and similarities!) of over 71 breeds divided into 5 categories. The hands-on exhibit allows the viewer to touch and feel fiber and yarn samples from each species. Yup. John doesn't "retire" like other people. 

Still one of our favorites, his Johanna Vest is the epitome of classic simplicity. Worked in HiKoo® Sueno, it is a knee length vest (pictured), and is also available as a shorter version.

Ask Hank: Holiday Edition

Hi everyone and Happy Holidays! Of course, every day is a holiday for me because I get to spend it with my family, but this time of year seems to have extra toys and treats. And lights. And happy people. And stress. Well, fear not. Helpful Hank is here with answers to some more of your questions. Read on, wonderful humans:

 Q: I’ve had several requests this year for hand knit socks, but not everyone is local to me. Do you have any tricks on how to size a sock for someone who isn’t around to try them on as you go?
Sock it to Me in Seattle

A: Isn't it getting close to the big day where you open presents? If you can't finish them in time for gift giving, you could send a card with a photo of the yarn and instructions for a tracing of their foot. Have them stand on a piece of paper, trace around the foot, cut it out, and send it to you. From there you can transfer the drawing to a piece of cardboard. Then you’ll be able to measure the entire length of the foot, note specifics like the person’s name and shoe size, and even mark certain areas where you know you like to begin your heel, toe, etc. That way, you can try the sock right on the cardboard template as you knit to see how you’re progressing! When you're done with the gift, you can keep the template for next year's socks (if you want to make it a tradition).


Q: I love giving gift cards but would like to include something small and handmade. Any suggestions? 
Gift Guesser in Georgia

A: How about making a gift card holder? This could be knit, crocheted, or sewn! Or, include something complimentary to accompany it, like a knitted coffee cozy to go with a coffeehouse gift card! Just be sure it’s made from an easily washable yarn! When wrapping gift cards, try putting them in larger boxes to confuse the recipient. A gift card in a shoebox with some marbles to rattle around makes for great and confusing fun until the wrapping is gone and the gift is revealed.


 Q: This is the last year I’m making gifts for everyone in the family. It’s too overwhelming! What can I do to avoid this in the future without having to start crafting in January? 
Fed Up in Florida

A: If you love making gifts, but hate the huge workload, consider holding a yearly drawing with slips of paper for everyone who wants a handmade gift. Each year pull out the number of slips you’re willing to make gifts for. Keep drawing each year until you’ve gone through the names! Once you’re through them entirely, enter everyone back in again.

Another idea is to purchase handmade items from other artists. Collect items through the year and as the holidays approach you'll have a gathering of goodies to share with those most important to you.


Q: I want to knit my cat a sweater for Christmas, but every time I try to put clothes on her she freaks out. Should I go for it anyway? She's so adorable in her little sweater...
-Purrfectly Happy in Samamish

A: If your cat doesn't like wearing sweaters, why force her? She might be too warm, or perhaps she has a style that's totally different from whatever you've provided her. Since she doesn't seem to love clothes, how about making her a little blanket for her bed? That way you get to give a hand made item, and your cat isn't traumatized. 

Also, since you mentioned your kitty, remember some plants are dangerous to pets. Pointsettia and pine are both health risks, so if kitty likes to chew on greenery, this thoughtful pup suggests avoiding live plants to keep them safe.


Q: I can’t stop snacking on all the holiday cookies I made for other people! HELP!
- Cookie Monster in Michigan

A: Every cookie should be taste tested to ensure it would pass Quality Control. I see this as an excellent service you’re offering your friends and family! If you want me to help, I love eating cookies and treats. Keep me healthy though, and remember no chocolate. I'm told it's bad for me. Peanut butter can be a delicious goodie though. OH! and while pets might keep asking for more, more, more, help me stay healthy by limiting treats during the holidays. 

And while the contents of a nicely wrapped present are a mystery to you, I have a keen sense of smell and might be tempted to tear into presents to find edible goodies. Keep edible gifts out of my reach until it's time to open them. 

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Our friendly mascot, Hank, loves to fetch answers to all kinds of crafting related questions. He's awesome at digging up facts and helps us help our customers. Have a question for Hank?  Click the button below!

Frida Peacock Part 1

Eat, Knit and Dye

I had so much fun with Sadie Fiery Sunset Fade that I wanted to try my hand at another. This time I’m doing a five-part fade set using Yellow-Green-Blue-Purple as my color scheme which I’ll call Peacock. Since I love knitting sweaters, five seems like an excellent skein count.

For my base for all of them, I will be using Frida. It’s a 100% Merino Wool Superwash with 16 microns of softness. It’s so super-duper soft, and just touching it during the dyeing process is luscious. It will make the most luxurious sweater.

For my dye colors across the entire Peacock fade, I mixed jars of it at once with 1 tsp of citric acid per color. I dyed everything on the same day too, but you’ll have to be patient to see the finished product!

With Jacquard Acid Dyes, I used:
• Yellow – Sun Yellow
• Light Green – Chartreuse (with a touch of Spruce)
• Green – Kelly Green
• Blue – Brilliant Blue
• Purple – Violet

I have been wanting to try out jar dyeing. I know a lot of people do this during the summer with solar dyeing, but it’s certainly not warm weather in Washington right now. But I have a workaround!

I soaked a skein of Frida in water for 30 minutes. I put a bit of the Yellow and the Light Green in jars. In the main dyeing jar, I added about an inch of the Light Green.

I pulled the yarn out of the soaking tub and I didn’t wring it out. Then I squished it into the jar.

In retrospect, I wish I had rung out the yarn. There was so much water in the yarn that the jar was nearly completely filled, and it didn’t leave much room for another color. Next time I try a jar method, I will wring out the yarn and then add the water.

I topped off the jar with yellow dye to the very tippy top. Using my gloved finger, I did poke the yarn down as far as it would go to get a bit more yellow dye dispersion. I capped off the jar and it put over to the side to work on the other yarns.

It sat for about 2 hours before it was time to heat set it. I grabbed a pot and filled it with water and put it in the jar (and the purple jar you’ll learn about next week). I took the lids of the jar because I didn’t want the heat to seal the jar or create other reactions like glass jar ruptures/explosions.  I brought the heat up to before simmering and let the jars hang out for 20 minutes. The jars did rattle around a bit in the pan, so I’m glad they weren’t capped.

I let the yarn cool overnight to make sure the dye had plenty of time to exhaust. I plucked it from the jar, rinsed it and hung it up to dry.

I’m happy with how it turned out. There is more white bare yarn than I expected, but that’s okay. Live and learn! And it’s a good start to the Peacock Fade!

Stay tuned for next week where you learn about the mysterious purple jar!

Ready to make your unique colorway? Hop on over to Makers' Mercantile® and pick up your undyed yarn and supplies. We can’t wait to see what you make, so tag us on social media with #makersmercantile!

About Tara
Tara Warburton is the former graphic designer for Makers' Mercantile® and a fine artist. She specializes in watercolor and colored pencil illustrations. She lives with her two cats, who are not helpful when knitting.

Tara Warburton's Frost Fairy

Fannie Semi-Tonal

Eat, Knit and Dye

I had no plan when I started this colorway. I had an empty fish pan and some leftover Jacquard Acid Dyes. My original goal was something stripy. That didn’t happen. But do I care? No. Why? Because the journey is half the fun!

I’m clearly in the middle of an obsession with Fannie because I’m using that base once again! And what’s not to love about this 100% Superwash Merino Wool?

The yarn was soaked in water before being placed in the fish pan. Water and 1 tsp of citric were added until the yarn was almost submerged. And the fish pan was stretched across two burners. I turned on the heat and brought the temperature to right before simmering.

In a condiment squirt bottle, I filled them with leftover Jacquard Acid Dyes. There are a blue and a purple bottle. Using the bottle, I added the dye.

First, I placed stripes of purple dye at regular intervals.

Second, I place the blue dye also at regular intervals.

I’m going to be honest. I wasn’t loving the stripes. It was a bit boring and bland for me. Using a prong, I squished the yarn around and that helped the dye disperse.

I left the dye exhaust. The yarn has gotten fairly evenly coated, but the color still seemed a bit anemic.

Using the handy dandy shower ring, I picked up the yarn and added dye directly to the water. I used both purple and blue.

And the dye exhausted. Nothing left to do but rinse it and hang it up to dry. 

It’s a really nice tonal. Certainly not one of the more exciting yarns that I have created, but still an excellent staple yarn. Or pair it with a more exciting yarn. I’ll put it in the win category.

It’s a really nice tonal. Certainly not one of the more exciting yarns that I have created, but still an excellent staple yarn. Or pair it with a more exciting yarn. I’ll put it in the win category.

Stay tuned for next week where I make another fade set!

Ready to make your unique colorway? Hop on over to Makers' Mercantile® and pick up your undyed yarn and supplies. We can’t wait to see what you make, so tag us on social media with #makersmercantile!

About Tara
Tara Warburton is the former graphic designer for Makers' Mercantile® and a fine artist. She specializes in watercolor and colored pencil illustrations. She lives with her two cats, who are not helpful when knitting.

Tara Warburton's Frost Fairy

January 2020 Knit Along with Franklin Habit

Winter Sapphire: A New Curious Knit-Along with Franklin Habit 

Makers’ Mercantile is pleased to announce the next Curious Knit-Along with Franklin Habit: Winter Sapphire. This simple but fascinating piece was inspired by the unusual construction of a bordered, triangular scarf first published in the 1840s. It’s worked neither from the top down nor from the bottom up–but from tip to tip. And in one piece! But this is no copy from the antique. Franklin has added not only texture–but color, blending two colorways of yarn for added depth. Closely related colorways will shimmer. More radical pairings will positively vibrate. Makers’ Mercantile will provide the perfect yarn–Zitron’s La Vie, a dazzlingly variegated blend of extrafine Merino, silk, and Tencel. It drapes and drapes and drapes; and when knit on the bias, as in the Winter Sapphire, it drapes even more. It’s soft enough to warm and comfort even a sensitive neck.  

Project

As always, our Curious Knit-Alongs are designed for the knitter who is looking to learn a little bit more about the history of knitting, the structure of knitted fabrics, and techniques they may not yet have encountered. All this, plus the fellowship of a friendly and supportive group moderated by the designer.

The KAL begins January 3rd, and the adventure will continue for the entire month of January, 2020.

Join the Knit-Along and spend time with other makers in the forum. Franklin will add witty instruction and guideance as the KAL progresses through the month of January. If the kits have sold out, or if you'd like to use different colors or yarn, use the links below to purchase kit components (while supplies last).

Materials

Materials

Zitron La Vie -

Color A - 3 balls

Color B - 2 balls

Finished Size

50" across long edge, 38" on each short side

Needles

addi® Rocket US 4 (3.50mm) 24” (60cm) long circular needle, or size needed to obtain gauge.

Gauge

20 sts and 40 rows = 4” in garter stitch

Notions

Yarn

Fiber Content

30% Extrafine Merino Wool

30% Silk

40% Tencel

Yardage / Weight

136 yards / 125 meters per 5- gram ball

Gauge

3.0-3.5 mm needles

7.5-8 sts per inch

Care Instructions

Hand wash, dry flat

Fannie Breaking

Eat, Knit and Dye

Sometimes when I am dyeing yarn I have a plan. Sometimes I have no idea what I am doing. Sometimes I just make it up as I go. This is one of those occasions. And spoiler alert: I am so enraptured with this colorway. Hold on to your horses, and let’s see what happened!

I’m using Fannie this week. I like the crispness of this 100% Superwash Merino Wool. It coordinates nicely with Zitron Lifestyle yarn.

As I was preparing for a day of yarn dyeing, I was tying the hanks with bindings so they don’t get all tangled. On this one, I decided to do something weird. I folded the hank in half and tied it into bubbles. I tied it tight because I was interested to see what the tie resists do.

I soaked the yarn bundle in water and 1 tsp citric acid for 30 minutes.

The soaking wet hank was placed into my crockpot with no additional water.

To make the colors, I pulled out some teacups and put a few drops of the Neon Blue, Neon Purple, and Green into individual cups. I added a few drops of the Blue into each cup. The teacups were filled with water, but I didn’t do any mixing.

I poured half the cup of dye water over a bubble.

I repeated that process with the purple and green alternating the blue. 

Taking a leap of faith, I figured the crockpot wouldn’t burn the yarn because it can only get so hot. I covered it with a lid and set it to high heat for an hour. I knew the runoff of the dye would make mud on the bottle of the skein, but because green, blue and purple complement each other for the most part, I wasn’t too worried.

After an hour, I fished the yarn out of the crockpot with tongs and let it cool in the sink.

I cut off the ties (look at the resist!) and rinsed the yarn.

And off it went to dry.

This is where I did my happy dance. The dye broke! What does that mean? It means the individual colors of the dye separated and set at different times. For example, the purple broke into purple and pink, which is a delicious watercolor effect. I don’t know where the navy came from, but I love it!

Just another example where it shows its pays to not have a plan!

Stay tuned for next week and another I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing experiment!

Ready to make your unique colorway? Hop on over to Makers' Mercantile® and pick up your undyed yarn and supplies. We can’t wait to see what you make, so tag us on social media with #makersmercantile!

About Tara
Tara Warburton is the former graphic designer for Makers' Mercantile® and a fine artist. She specializes in watercolor and colored pencil illustrations. She lives with her two cats, who are not helpful when knitting.

Tara Warburton's Frost Fairy

2019 Holiday Wishlist

We know that buying gifts can sometimes be a daunting task... especially when the gift is for a crafty maker. You might have no idea what to get for them, and that leaves you with options like "bath robe" or "blender"...

Here's a list of some of our favorites of this season. 


Sock of the month club

This one is a gift that gives all year long. Starting in January, we send out a monthly subscription box that includes yarn and pattern to make a pair of socks. More than that, we host a KAL group for the projects in Ravelry.

Oh! We also will be including other goodies in the packages... each month it's something different! 

The subscription box can be canceled at any time with a simple email to hello@makersmercantile.com - click "Learn more" to learn all the details about this club. 



addi FlexiFlips 8 inch set

We crafted a full set of addi® FlexiFlips for the much-loved maker in your life. Made specifically for North America, these specially designed 21cm circulars (3.5" tips with 1" cord) rest comfortably in the hand, and act as flexible double pointed needles. Easy to use, stitches are simply distributed over two needles, and then knit with the third - resulting in only two needle changes per row. ​

This full set includes all 11 sizes, so you'll never be without the perfect needles, and when you order the full set at our great low price, you get the fabulous FlexiRoll … the only needle case designed specifically for the addi® FlexiFlips, free!


Makers' Apothecary Candles

Our 8oz. candles are hand-poured by a small business in Kentucky and feature pure, natural soy wax, clean-burning cotton wicks, and non-toxic scents.

More than just a candle, each Makers' Apothecary candle features a secret hidden deep inside. After the candle has burned enough to reveal the package, Carefully retrieve, and then open the foil to reveal a handmade stitch marker!

Each candle will burn approximately 40-50 hours. Consider making a gift package with candle, yarn, needles, and some treats for a well-rounded gift!


Knitting Comfortably: The Ergonomics of Handknitting

Imagine being told you have to stop knitting because of discomfort in your hands, arms, neck, or back. Imagine the sense of frustration and the longing to get the needles back in your hands. Imagine the lingering doubt you might have when you can pick them up again: “What was I doing wrong after all these years of knitting?” “Will I get hurt again?” “Will I have to stop knitting forever to make this pain go away?” Maybe you’d like to be a faster, more efficient knitter, or a knitter who produces more projects, but you’re not sure what’s getting in the way.

This book will help you understand the ergonomics of knitting so you can improve your safety, efficiency, and productivity in knitting. You’ll learn to identify ergonomic risks that contribute to injury and reduce knitting efficiency. Throughout the book, you’ll be provided with activities and guidance to improve your knitting ergonomics so you can knit more confidently and comfortably. Through instruction in stretches, exercise, and self-care, you’ll also learn how to manage the discomfort common to knitters before it becomes an injury, and how to recognize when it’s time to seek help from a health-care professional.

Join me in this unique knit-along that will help make a more comfortable, lifelong knitter out of you.


Sheep Herd Tote

Hand printed on 100% Cotton w/ cotton handles
13"x15"

Machine Wash Cold/Warm inside out, Hang to dry, Iron on Back

Each bag is printed by hand and may have slight variations which adds to the charm and beauty. The handmade nature of the bag assures that each one is individually unique.
Use at the grocery store, farmers market, library, or anywhere! Great as gifts for others and yourself!


Hanging Circular Needle Organizer

Double sided hanging circular needle organizer with 17 available slots. Each slot includes a clear window for your custom size. One side is denim, and the other side is natural. Measures approximately 8" wide x 32" long. Made exclusively for Makers' Mercantile by DellaQ. At the base of the organizer is a zippered pouch, plus one more bonus slot for oversized needles!


addi click turbo interchangeable needle set

addi Click Interchangeable Turbo Needle Set is one of the most popular interchangeable knitting needle sets on the market. They feature some of the best joins out there with a lifetime warranty! We love the addi Click Sets and know them inside and out. If you have questions on anything addi make sure to contact us, we are happy to help you figure out which set is right for you. The addi Click Interchangeable Turbo Needle Set system provides 10 different sizes of addi Turbo® tips (3.50 mm, 3.75 mm, 4.00 mm, 4.50 mm, 5.00 mm, 5.50 mm, 6.00 mm, 8.00 mm, 9.00 mm, and 10.00 mm), three different lengths of our new, extremely pliable blue cords (24”, 32” and 40”), and one connector piece which helps to either store stitches or combine your cords. The Click tips require no tools to change; simply insert the cord deep into the tip, twist and release. The tips will remain secure until you change them, thanks to the Clicks' revolutionary locking mechanism!


Kinky Yarn

100% Superwash Wool
200g / 133 meters / 147 yards
12-16 sts and 20-22 rows = 4" on US 10-13 (6-9.0 mm) needles

... but why is it in a coil? This fun yarn comes pre-knit in a 12 stitch tube (not an i-cord) and is ready to dye. Keep it coiled and place it in dye for an unusual effect, or open the coil and dip it all the way in a dyebath. Depending on your process, the yarn might have light spots where the fibers are compacted in the knitting. We think the undyed spots are super cool.  After the yarn is rinsed and dry, you'll pull the tail and work right from the coil. The kinky texture will add dimension to your work. Want a smoother finished project? Block the project and it'll relax just for you. 

It's easy to dye this yarn, AND it's easy to get professional results, no matter your level of experience. 




Schacht Cricket 10" Loom

The Schacht Cricket Loom is compact, capable, and cute! The Cricket is made of high-quality, unfinished apple plywood and hard maple, and each comes with an 8-dent reed (sorry, no substitutions). Included are a threading hook, warping peg, table clamps, two shuttles, and two balls of yarn. At only 11 in x 18 in x 6 in and just under four pounds, it is truly portable. The 10 inch weaving width gives plenty of room to make a variety of projects without sacrificing portability. This loom is an ideal size for a new weaver of any age. As of April 2010, the Cricket has been redesigned with the ratchet gear and dog on the outside of the loom to make it even easier to adjust tension. Additional reeds, pick up sticks, and other accessories for the Cricket are available.

The Cricket series looms are a great way to get started weaving. Don't let their small size fool you! These looms are fun and versatile to use, and all Schacht looms are made with pride in the USA with high quality craftsmanship and materials in Boulder, Colorado.  These portable looms are great for teaching weaving classes for adults and children. They are fairly simple to setup and are small and inexpensive enough that students can take the looms home between classes.

The Schacht Cricket was a craft finalist in the prestigious 2014 Martha Stewart American Made Awards. When you purchase a Schacht loom you know you're getting a well-designed tool built by craftsman who are dedicated to weaving.


artfelt kit - holey scarf

Even with holes, this scarf will keep you warm. The holes give this scarf an eclectic look while the multi-colored roving add in a pop of color that will go with a lot of different wardrobes.


addi Rocket 2 [Squared] circular knitting needle

Meet the addi® Rocket2 Squared, a line of square shaped circular needles with the same speedy addi® Turbo finish and featuring the beloved addi® Rocket tapered tips. 


Sizes are listed in approximate US sizes -AND- exact metric sizes for your convenience. All addi® needles are manufactured to exact metric sizes.