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Czech Buttons

One would presume that Czech Glass buttons are made in the Czech Republic, but doing so would be a mistake. You see, after WWII, many Czech families who had been making glass buttons for centuries in the traditional Czech way, moved to Southern Germany. And with them, they brought their button-making knowledge. Although thousands of button making families migrated to Germany after the war, less than 100 of these families are still making buttons. With cheaper labor available just about anywhere in the world, this time-honored tradition is now limited to less than 100 families in Germany. However, the families that remain, still make these buttons using the same techniques their ancestors used, and in some cases, even the same equipment!

It all begins with very large rods of glass.  These rods are heated in a furnace with an open flame.  The temperature of the furnace needs to be anywhere between 1500 and 1800 degrees to melt the glass, depending on what kind of glass is being used.  Once the glass is beginning to melt, the buttons can be formed.  


This is done with a special tool, that holds a mold in it.  The mold can be interchanged so that you can create different shapes and impressions with the glass.  

This is actually a very quick process, and dozens are made every minute – even by hand. BUT, this is just the beginning of the process! Once the buttons are formed, they need to be annealed properly – this is the process of cooling down the glass at a very slow speed, so that it will not easily break in the future. This is one step that is not usually performed properly in countries where imitation Czech Glass buttons are made.  Thus, the cheaper buttons tend to break far more than a button properly annealed in the trained hands of a professional.  

Once cooled, the buttons need to be separated – this is done with a two small, round, very sharp circular blades – think of a can-opener, it is similar to that.  After being separated, each individual button will need to have the edges smoothed out, which is done on a grinder.  Not until the button is perfectly smooth, is it ready to sell.

Once cooled, the buttons need to be separated – this is done with a two small, round, very sharp circular blades – think of a can-opener, it is similar to that.  (photo) After being separated, each individual button will need to have the edges smoothed out, which is done on a grinder.  Not until the button is perfectly smooth, is it ready to sell.

Makers’ Mercantile carries Czech Glass buttons – made in Germany, just like this. 

Make Along Update

THE WEEKENDER

JANUARY 3 - FEBRUARY 28, 2020

We are giving ourselves until the end of the month to finish The Weekender sweater by Andrea Mowry. While we have a suggested time frame for the knit along it's never to late to join in and finish at your own pace.  We recommend using HiKoo® Trenzado or any other worsted weight wool.

Believe it or not, we already have two completed sweaters!

And we've got a third sweater working on the last few rows of the first sleeve!

Knit using

HiKoo® Kenzie 1026 Kea

We are so excited to finish up our sweaters and wear them in March!
If you've been knitting along from afar, share it with us on social media by tagging us @makersmercantile.

THE WITCHING HOUR KAL
FEBRUARY 7TH - MARCH 27TH

Knit Using HiKoo® Sueno

Knit using HiKoo® Simplicity Spray and HiKoo® Sueno 

Join in the Fun!

It's still early in the knit along and because we are so excited to have you knit along with us we are offering the pattern FREE with the purchase of the yarn!

Fannie and the Mad Scientist

Eat, Knit and Dye

I fully admit it. I have no idea what I’m doing with this one. I’m just going to poke around and see what happens. If it’s great, awesome, if it sucks, awesome. As long as I had fun! 

I grabbed a hank of Fannie, 100% Merino Wool Superwash, and got to work! I soaked it in water for 30 minutes and contemplated my dyeing options.

I decided to give food coloring another go. I filled up a pot with water up to about an inch. I added yellow food color.

I scrunched up the yarn and literally dropped it into the pot. The accompanying splash was not impressive.

Using the Green, Yellow and just a touch of the Neon Blue food coloring, I just dribbled random drops everywhere.

To make things more interesting, I smushed the yarn and dye around until it started blending.

Happy with my mad scientist concoction, I turned on the heat to just before simmering and let the dye exhaust. And naturally, I let it cool, rinsed it and hung it up to dry.

It’s an interesting concoction of random blurs of color. I like it. It's random and weird. I’m glad I tried out this technique!

Stay tuned for next week for something bright and sunny!

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

February Sock of the Month

Howdy Ya'll!

Is it just me or was January 872 days long? But now you probably got your February sock box, and since we are inching towards Valentines Day we're celebrating all things love and sweets... so perhaps February will scoot a long a little better. (January seriously. It was not pretty!)

First of all, isn't the yarn just yummy? I loved watching it change as I knit these socks and I love how squooshy it is. I am a loose knitter and almost every sock I knit is done on US1s. I knit these on size US2 FlipSticks. That sharper tip was so perfect for the yarnover stitch in the pattern.

And speaking of that little stitch, loosen up on that...I ripped back more than once because I just kept pulling it too tight and it looked funny and made little holes. Once I loosened up, the arrows started to pop and they were so much fun. Creating them made the pattern go faster, and it was such fun watching them take shape. (I realize now that in progress pictures would have been so helpful for you guys and I just didn't think of it but I will do better next month, I promise!)

The other thing I wanted to mention was the size of the sock. I worried that it wasn't as adjustable like a lot of patterns I use or create.... And with that stitch count.. how's this going to fit my fat foot?! It fit me great (also I love the ribbing on the ankle) but then! In some sort of sock magic! It also fit my teen daughter with a slimmer and smaller foot. So go for it. There's a lot of give in the fit!

If you didn't get this month's box, or you're curious what's inside, you can watch Karin reveal the February Sock of the Month box in this video:

I hope you like your stitch marker. CeeCee and I really wanted to capture how deep and beautiful the red of the yarn was. We love making stitch markers and playing in beads. In a future month we might create a stitch marker tutorial for you...they make great gifts and are so fun for sharing and swapping.

I'm in the Ravelry group (I'm Knittybe over there) so please hop over there and join the conversation. If you get stuck, or something doesn't make sense, please ask! I know you will enjoy knitting these cozy socks and I'm glad to help you if you need it. I love knitting socks and if you're new to it, it really doesn't need to be scary.

I may have already had a peek at the yarn for next month...in fact, it *might* be on my needles right now. It's beautiful yarn. The pattern is fun. It is different from anything I've done before and I don't want you to miss it! Please sign up for March before they sell out!

Your sock knitting pal,

BeLinda

Sadie Sorbet

Eat, Knit and Dye

The crockpot has returned! I love dyeing things in it because it’s so easy. Just pour the dye, set it, and leave it. Since I use my crockpot to make actual food, I’m sticking with food-safe dyes. In this case, its food coloring.

This week I am working with Sadie, a 80% Merino Extrafine Superwash Wool and 20% Nylon that I just adore.  You should seriously check it out!

I prepped a skein of Sadie by soaking it in water for 30 minutes and attaching a shower hook. To prep the dye, I got out three teacups, filled them with water and 1 tsp of citric acid.

Here’s how the food coloring broke down:
• Orange Teacup: 3 drops of Yellow and 3 drops of Pink
• Rose Teacup: 3 drops of Yellow and 3 drops of Red
• Pink Teacup: 3 drops of Pink and 3 drops of Red

I put the yarn in the crockpot like I was folding a hand towel, so it was draped over itself. I poured the food coloring directly onto the yarn in sections. First the Orange Teacup over the middle, and the others on the sides.

I popped on the lid and turned on the crockpot on high for an hour. I checked with a spoon to see if the dye had exhausted and it had. The yarn was cooled, rinsed and hung to dry.

The crockpot has returned! I love dyeing things in it because it’s so easy. Just pour the dye, set it, and leave it. Since I use my crockpot to make actual food, I’m sticking with food-safe dyes. In this case, its food coloring.

This week I am working with Sadie, a 100% Superwash Merino Wool that I just adore.  You should seriously check it out!

For such a simple project, it turned out gorgeous. It looks like a delicious sorbet and now I’m hungry!

Stay tuned for next week where I play with more food coloring!

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

FiberStories: Concentric

  • 100% Baby Alpaca
  • 437 yards per 200 gram cake
  • Four non-plied strands held together
  • Worsted Weight
  • Made in Peru

Concentric has been a hit since it entered the HiKoo® line a few short years ago. With each cake boasting a 200-gram put-up and 437 yards, this worsted weight yarn makes a big impact with just one cake.

Do you love Alpaca? We do, too! Concentric is made from 100% Baby Alpaca by the alpaca experts in Peru. It’s soft, supple, and perfect to wear against the skin. It's also stronger than sheep wool, lighter weight, is hypo allergenic, and does not pill.

Concentric got its name thanks to its slow color change which, when presented in a cake, look like the concentric rings on a tree. Consisting of four non-plied strands, each strand gradually changes color as you work thru the cake until you’ve completely transitioned from one color to the next. This helps keep otherwise boring projects exciting and quick to finish! 

Check out all the available colors of HiKoo® Concentric HERE!

March 2020 Knit Along with Kyle Kunnecke

The key to what, you ask? Success? Change? Happiness? Love? 

Choose your goal and move forward stitch by stitch as you create the repeating large-scale skeleton key motif in the Unlocked cowl. 


In this KAL sponsored by skacel, Kyle Kunnecke guides you with helpful video instruction that clearly demonstrates two-handed knitting, working with two colors at once, and his favorite technique, locking floats. 

HiKoo® Concentric is used in this project because not only does it shift in color, but it is also made of luxurious 100% Baby Alpaca. The resulting fabric is soft, lightweight, and cozy.

Project

We will venture into the world of large expanses of negative space within the motif of this cowl. This provides an excellent opportunity to learn (and master!) locked floats in the round.


The Unlocked cowl is worked from the bottom up and requires knitting knowledge including: cast-on/bind-off, knit/purl, reading charts, securing/locking floats; all on circular needles. 

Join the Knit-Along and spend time with other makers in the forum. Kyle also designed a very limited edition project bag for this KAL. Want one? The first customers to purchase two cakes of HiKoo® Concentric will receive the bag and a custom stitch marker in addition to  a download code for the pattern as a thank you for signing up early.

Now through March 31, 2020, any customer who purchases two cakes of HiKoo® Concentric will receive the pattern as a free gift.

In the forum, Kyle will check in and offer information and support as you craft your way to completing this beautiful cowl. 

Materials

Materials

HiKoo® Concentric

MC - 1 cake

CC - 1 cake

Finished Size

9.25" high

54" circumference

Needles

addi®  US 7 (4.50mm) 32” (80cm) long circular needle, or size needed to obtain gauge.

Gauge

22 sts and 24 rounds

= 4” in pattern after steam blocking

Notions

Yarn

Fiber Content

100% Baby Alpaca

Yardage / Weight

437 yards

per 200 gram cake

Gauge

5 stitches per inch

US 8 (5.00 mm) needles

Care Instructions

Hand wash, dry flat

What about a Pink Base?

Eat, Knit and Dye

The base of your yarn can change the color you get in a final project. We have found it makes colors have more of a jewel tone with a Silver Base and warmer if it has a Buttercream Base. But what happens if you have a pink base? Only one way to find out!

This week’s experiment, I am usingI am using HiKoo® Sueño in 1100 Natural and 1116 Ballet Slipper. It’s an 80% Merino Wool and 20% Bamboo Viscose. It’s a truly delightful yarn.

As you can see, Ballet Slipper is a lovely shade of pink all on its own. I started by soaking the yarn in water for 30 minutes while I prepared the dyes.

I am using Jacquard Acid Dyes which I mixed into glass jars with a 1tsp of citric acid per jar. I used 1/8 tsp of Salmon, Turquoise, and Lilac.

I put the hanks into a pot and filled it with water so the yarn was fully submerged.

The Dye was added into stripes on top of the water and I let it exhaust.

Using my prongs, I checked to see how much yarn hadn’t gotten dyed. It was a lot.

Way more than I expected wasn’t dyed. Time to change tactics!

I switched to a taller stock pot and filled it with a lot of water, so the yarn could freely float.

I directed the dye to the bottle of the pot using the syringes.

Sadly, the blue dye pretty much overwhelmed the pot. I shrugged and let it exhaust. It’s one of those cases where things don’t go the way you want them too. But we will never know if we don’t try!

I rinsed out the yarn and hung it up to dry. I’m still really surprised how much yarn didn’t get dyed. I’m not super thrilled with my results, so these will be candidates for a re-dye

But we have learned that the pink does mute the colors. The blue still reads like a blue on Ballet Slipper, but it has purple undertones. Overall, I would say the pink gives everything the rosy sunset look to things. It’s overall very pretty, and I would recommend it!

Stay tuned for next week and the return of the crockpot!

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

Frida Peacock Part 5

Eat, Knit and Dye

We have reached the finish line of the Peacock Fade Set! (Check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4) This set has been about different ways to place yarn when doing the dye work, and today’s colorway is no exception.

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

While the yarn was soaking in water for 30 minutes, I filled a pot with green dye and approximately an inch of water and Green dye. By holding the shower hook, I slowly started pilling the yarn on itself.

In the end, I had a mountain of yarn sticking out of the dye.

Using a syringe, I applied the Blue dye to the top of the syringe. I felt like I was covering a snow-cone with syrup.

I turned the heat on and brought the temperature up to before simmering and left it alone for 15 minutes.

Using my tongs, I moved the yarn around. There were some bare areas, but that’s not a problem because there is plenty of green dye in the water.

I loosened up the mountain of yarn and added some water (at the same temperature of the yarn in the pot, I didn’t want it to felt). And I left the pot to exhaust.

I like it. It was a good way to get a two-color skein where the placement was more random then a half and half painted hank. I’m excited to see how this one knits up.

And that concludes the Peacock Fade set! Overall, I’m pleased with how it turned out especially since I tried 5 different techniques during this journey. I am a little fussy that 3 of the skeins have bare yarn and the other 2 don’t. I’ll let this set sit for a while, and if it still bothers me before knitting it up, I will do some over-dyeing in the same colors to get all 5 of the skeins to have matching color saturation. (This is also the benefit of writing down what colors you use, so 6 months from now, if you want to touch up the hanks or dye more to match, you know what you used.

Stay tuned for next week where I look at another base 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

Frida Peacock Part 4

Eat, Knit and Dye

On to the next in the Peacock Fade Set series! I really enjoyed Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, but now it’s time to focus on Part 4. This skein will be next to the Blue and Purple bookend, so it will be Green/Blue/Purple.

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

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know the yarn had been soaking in water for 30 minutes. I wrung out the excess water and crumpled it into a messy handful of yarn. (Only do this if you have tied off the yarn in multiple paces AND you have a shower ring. Unless you like yarn knots. Your choice, really.)

The yarn was plopped into a pan and filled with water. The water level is fairly low; plenty of yarn is sticking out of the water.

Using a syringe, dollops of dye were applied in random places.

I did this until the yarn surface was completely covered in color. The heat was turned up to near simmering, and then the dye exhausted until the water turned clear.

I flipped over the yarn and of course, bare areas were showing. So, more dye was blobbed all over the place. The yarn marinated like weirdly colored spaghetti until all the dye exhausted.

I’m really surprised at how much bare yarn is still showing. I’m thinking I should have added more water or perhaps less citric acid. However, it still works as part of the fade set.

Stay tuned for next week where I try one more experimental yarn placement and finish up the Peacock fade!

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