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Fridays with Franklin: The Adventure of the Warm Puppy, Part Four

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The Adventure of the Warm Puppy: Part Four

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

For the the first part of this adventure, click here.

 

 

Rosamund is still waiting patiently for her new sweater.

Warm 4.1

A View of the Bridge

When last we left our steek, it looked like this.

Warm 4.2

Before we go further, let’s take a closer look at the place where all the action is going to happen: the bridge.

The bridge is the fabric we created specifically so that we could cut it open. Our version–used in making the leg openings for Rosamund’s sweater–requires an odd number and a minimum of five. This swatch steek has seven stitches, worked in reverse stockinette.

Warm 4.3

That center stitch is where we cut. The pairs of stitches on either side are where we secure the fabric before cutting, so that cutting does not lead to unraveling.

To this point we’ve been looking at the steek from the right side of the fabric…

Warm 4.4

…but now we’re going to flip it over so that the wrong side is uppermost. This shows us the little Vs of the reverse stockinette, which makes it easier find our way around.

Warm 4.5

It’s useful to have guideline for both the securing and the
cutting; so once the knitting is finished, I sew a running stitch right
up the center column with a piece of scrap yarn. I can, quite literally,
cut along the dotted line.

Securing the Bridge: Part I

We will secure our bridge using my favorite method: the crocheted steek. I didn’t invent it, I just love it. There are several variations; this one is not the “correct” one–it’s the one I use, and therefore the one I feel comfortable demonstrating.

If you don’t think of yourself as one who crochets, even if you have never used a hook to do more than pick up dropped stitches, don’t stop reading just because I used the C word. This is about the simplest crochet there is. You can do it.

We need, of course, a crochet hook. While knitting Rosamund’s sweaters I fell so in love with my addi® Olive Wood circular needle that I decided I should try out the Olive Wood crochet hooks, as well. The construction is top-notch, and the handles aren’t just comfortable; they’re little works of art.

Warm 4.6

The size hook I choose is usually equal to or slightly smaller in diameter than the needle used to knit the fabrics. If you’re using a slippery fiber, choose the smaller size.

Recall that we wish to secure the pairs of stitch columns immediately on either side of the center stitch. To be specific, we wish to crochet together the legs at the center of each pair, here colored red.

Warm 4.7

We’ll begin by inserting the hook under the legs at the base of the right-hand column, then pulling through a loop of our crochet yarn.

Warm 4.8

(I could have used the sweater yarn, but the purple Simpliworsted is easier to see in this demonstration.)

Then, bring the working yarn over the hook once more to make a loop, and pull this loop through the stitch legs and through the first loop on the hook.

Warm 4.9

*We move up to the next pair of legs, and put the hook through both.

Warm 4.10

Yarn over the hook again, and pull this new loop through the stitch legs and through the loop on the hook.

Warm 4.11

Repeat from * until you have secured all the legs in the pair of columns.

Warm 4.12

When you’ve finished, snip the working yarn leaving a six-inch tail and pull the yarn through the final loop to secure it.

Confession Interlude

The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that in the above photos, I actually moved out from the center one stitch too far when working my chain. I could pretend that never happens to me, but I promised when this column began that I would show you stuff that goes wrong.

So what did I do? I pulled the crochet out and did it over. Both the bridge and I survived the operation unharmed.

My point? It’s no big deal.

Steeks are no big deal.

Securing the Bridge: Part II

When side one is complete, turn the work upside-down (so the last of your chain crochet stitches is now nearest you) and work side two exactly the same way.

When you’re finished, this is what you get. (I’ve trimmed the yarn tails here to get them out of the way.)

Warm 4.13

Get the Scissors

Then we cut along the dotted line. Use small, sharp scissors (embroidery scissors are my favorite). Take your time. If you’re cutting something circular, put a piece of paper or cardboard or a slim book inside the tube to make sure you cut only the bridge.

Warm 4.14

Warm 4.15

Warm 4.16

Voilà, a beautifully shaped and utterly stable opening in our knitting.

Warm 4.17

Was that so hard?

Warm 4.18

The edges of what used to be the bridge fold to the wrong side, and can be gently sewn down using whip stitch. I prefer to do this using the yarn used to knit the fabric.

Warm 4.19

And here we have the view from the right side.

Warm 4.20

The edges of the opening are now ready for whatever you wish to do next. One of the reasons I left the reserved stitches on a scrap of yarn is that nine times out of ten, I will finish the opening with a picked-up edging or by picking up stitches for a sleeve. Those reserved stitches are waiting for me to do either. It saves a bit of time and trouble.

Puppy, Warmed

And so my experimental sweater for Rosamund is complete.

Warm 4.21

My finishing touches–to mitigate the over-large leg holes and the unintended off-the-shoulder neckline–were additional ribbing at the legs and collar. I think the turtleneck rather suits her, don’t you?

Warm 4.22

Warm 4.23

Warm 4.24

She loves the sweater. I had to chase her around to get it off her, even though she knew that as a reward for modeling nicely we would play in the sprinkler.

This test piece has shown me what to do and not to do for her next sweater. I learned a lot about knitting to fit a dog, and I had a blast doing it. There will be a lot more Rosamund sweaters in “Fridays with Franklin,” because it seems to me they could be fun way to test new techniques and design new fabrics.

Plus, as Charles M. Schulz famously wrote, happiness is a warm puppy.

Ready for a new adventure? I’ll meet you back here in two weeks.

Floralia Update

Kits and patterns for the Floralia Blanket (and a matching pillow) from this adventure are available from Makers’ Mercantile.

Warm 4.25

If you’d like help in choosing colors for your project, a member of staff will be delighted to assist you. They’re awfully good at that sort of thing.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Simpliworsted by HiKoo® (55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon; 140 yds per 100g skein). Color: 611, Earth and Sky.

addi® Olive Wood circular needles size US 4, 16 inch (40 cm)

addi® Olive Wood 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 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.

 

Fridays with Franklin: The Adventure of the Warm Puppy, Part Three

fwf-logo-v11The Adventure of the Warm Puppy: Part Three

 

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

For the the first part of this adventure, click here.

 

In the two weeks since the last installment, I’ve had more than a few inquiries about one aspect of Rosamund’s sweater-in-progress…

Warm 3.1

…namely, the leg openings and how they were made.

I knew from the first that I wanted to work this piece in the round, with steeks cut for the forelegs. That aroused comment, because there is a widespread sentiment in the knitting community about steeks.

Warm 3.2

This is silly.

Steeks are not frightening in the least, nor are they difficult. They’re like everything else in knitting: bewildering, when you don’t know how they’re done; and exciting, once you do.

Since so many of you asked for more information about steeks, we’re going to devote the next two parts of this adventure to those in Rosamund’s sweater.

Steek?

A steek, if you are unfamiliar with the term, is an opening cut into a piece of knit fabric that follows the vertical* grain–the columns of stitches, as opposed to the rows or rounds. The word comes to us (thanks to the inimitable Alice Starmore) from the Shetland word for “gate” or “opening.” Steeks are traditionally much used on Fair Isle sweaters.

Warm 3.3

You will sometimes find “steek” definied as a “slashed vertical opening” because “slashed” sounds more dramatic than “cut,” as though you went at your sweater with a kitchen knife or meat cleaver. Indeed, who among us has not felt the impulse?

But steeks are almost never impulsive. You plan for them.

Planning the Opening(s)

Rosamund has two front legs. Therefore, two steeks. Therefore, double the fun. Where to place them?

Let’s take another look at the measurements.

Warm 3.4

Measurement F, the distance from the collar to the shoulder, tells us how long our top-down sweater must be when the openings begin: 5 inches.

The sweater reached 5 inches after a series of increase rounds–described in detail in the previous installment. At this point, the number of stitches per round had risen to 124 stitches.

To figure out where in that round to start the openings, this is what we do.

1. Take note of our gauge, which is 4.5 stitches and 6.5 rounds per inch.

2. We look at measurement E, the space between the legs: 4 inches. At our gauge, that means we must preserve 18 stitches at the bottom center between the openings.

3. Next we look at measurement H, the leg circumference, to figure out how many stitches are required in this first round for each opening. The total measurement is 9 inches, and we will make use of roughly one half** of that number: 4.5 inches, which at our gauge is roughly 20 stitches.

And so that first round–the foundation round of our steeks–will look something like this:

Warm 3.5

Knitting the Openings

With calculations complete, we start knitting.

It would have been kind of messy to show this on the actual sweater, so instead I cooked up a simple swatch to demonstrate how one steek opening is made. The swatch is small–only 26 stitches wide–and knit flat; but the process was the same on the circular sweater.

Here I’ve knit a few rows of stockinette to stand in for the sweater from the collar down to the foundation round of the leg holes–the round we planned above.

Warm 3.6

In that foundation round, when we reach the stitches needed to begin the opening, we slip them onto a piece of scrap yarn

Warm 3.7

and then we cast on*** a certain number of brand new stitches to serve as the foundation of what is often called the “bridge.” This is the fabric that’ll be cut. The number of stitches in the bridge can vary. For the steek technique I have in mind, we need an odd number and a minimum of five. I used five in Rosamund’s sweater, but to make this demonstration very clear I cast on seven.

Warm 3.8

Now, if you are accustomed to reading your knitting, you won’t necessarily need stitch markers on either side of your bridge stitches. But if you are new to steeks and/or not confident in reading your knitting, they can be helpful.

Warm 3.9

With the bridge stitches cast on we simply continue knitting.

The main fabric, as before, is in stockinette. To distinguish the bridge fabric, we work it in reverse stockinette.

Warm 3.10

If we want to shape the opening, and we often do, it’s easy and frankly rather magical. Let’s say we want to expand the width of this opening at both sides. First, we knit up to the last two stitches before the first marker, and we knit two together.

Warm 3.11

We slip the marker and work the bridge stitches as usual. THIS IS IMPORTANT: All shaping happens outside the bridge. The bridge stitches do not decrease or increase; if we start with seven, we end with seven.

Once past the bridge and second marker, we slip, slip, knit to decrease in the first two stitches.

Warm 3.12

In the following row, we do not decrease.

If we repeat these two rows–one with decreases, one without–five times, we begin to see that our opening is changing shape**** and the knitting looks extremely odd. People who have never worked steeks will begin to think you are some kind of mad genius. There is no reason to tell them otherwise.

Warm 3.13

Once the steek has reached its full height, we bind off only (only!) the bridge stitches. Be sure not to bind off any stitches that are part of the main fabric. If you’ve been using markers, you can discard them now.

Warm 3.14

When, in the following row or round, we come to the place where the bridge used to be, we cast on whatever number of stitches the pattern calls for. This number will vary. In the photograph above, you’ll see that I cast on ten stitches–the total number I had decreased–so the swatch will lie nice and flat while I demonstrate the cutting process…in two weeks.

Warm 3.15

See you then!

*There is a method for cutting an opening that follows the horizontal grain, and we will certainly play with it another time because it’s super fun.

**This was a guess on my part, and gave a very wide leg hole. Next time, I will probably go with a smaller fraction of the total measurement–something closer to about a quarter.

***Working with a single color, I typically use a simple backward loop cast on.

****Please don’t get the impression that you must mirror your shaping. You may shape in any way that suits you. Rosamund’s leg openings were shaped only along the upper edge, rather like a racer-back tank top, because I didn’t want to remove any of the fabric covering her delicate pink undercarriage.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Simpliworsted by HiKoo® (55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon; 140 yds per 100g skein). Color: 611, Earth and Sky.

addi® Olive Wood circular needles size US 4, 16 inch (40 cm)

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.

Makers’ Minute – Olive Wood Click Set Unboxing

Katie unboxes the brand new and extremely popular Olive Wood Click Set from addi®! Made from the same recycled olive wood as the fixed circular needles, you’ll love the inclusion of SOS cords with this set.

Shop for an addi® Olive Wood Click Set

Transcript

Oh hello, and welcome to your Makers Minute! I’m Katie and today we are going to be unboxing the Olive Wood Click Set.

So, right off the bat, you’ll notice the first thing that you pull out is the Click set wallet in this brand new olive green color. The zipper in the back houses the three cables for your Addi Click set and your Addi gauge. Turn it back over and open it to find not only your Addi gold heart pin but also some literature about this product as well as your tips. These tips start at a US 4 and go all the way up to a US 11. Just like it’s fixed circular needle counterparts these are also beautifully marbled olive wood. The points are nice and sharp, and they’re very smooth to the touch. For a video demonstrating the correct way to connect your cables to your tips click below.

Another bonus of this product is that the Olive Wood Click Set comes with the signature SOS cables. SOS cables have a split in the cord, so you can thread your lifeline through your knitting without skipping a beat. The 24, 32, and 40-inch cords that come with this set all have that great feature!

We can’t wait for you to try out your new Olive Wood Click Set. Click below for all of the details on how to order it right here at makersmercanitle.com.

Check out our Makers’ Minute on correctly ‘Clicking’ your Clicks Tips:

Makers Minute – Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month! You can help by purchasing Egg-stra Special Sock Kits and pre-make knitted items on the Makers’ ‘Giving Back’ section of the website.

Remember, taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your loved ones!

For more information on Ovarian Cancer Research and Awareness, visit www.marsharivkin.org

Purchase Egg-stra Special Sock Kits

Visit the ‘Giving Back’ Section of Makers Mercantile to purchase pre-made items.

 

Fridays with Franklin: The Adventure of the Warm Puppy, Part Two

fwf-logo-v11The Adventure of the Warm Puppy: Part Two

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

For the the first part of this adventure, click here.

 

 

With my HiKoo Simpliworsted and measurements at the ready,

Warm 2.1

it was time begin to cooking up a sweater for Rosamund.

Warm 2.2

It would be a very simple sweater, likely quite imperfect, meant to serve as a fitting guide for other, more complex designs. Rosamund is going to need a whole wardrobe, you see. This is no ordinary dog. This is a dog so clever, good-tempered, and beautiful that she might well have a lucrative career ahead of her as a therapy dog, or even a Tumblr meme.

Warm 2.3

Warm 2.4

Warm 2.5

Warm 2.6

You can’t have a dog of such quality walking around in just any old thing.

Sketching It Out

Even when I’m planning a project this plain, it helps to do up a simple sketch that maps the key features.

Warm 2.7

Then I like to mark up the sketch with thoughts about what techniques might work best.

Warm 2.8

I reserve the right to change my mind at any time, of course. I usually do. But this gives me a place to start.

Down the Slope

In Part One, I wrote about a knitter I met who got her jollies by knitting fitted rock cozies. We didn’t get to know each other well, but she once showed me the fundamental principle for figuring where and how much to increase and decrease. I’ve used it ever since, in countless and varied projects.

Here’s an example of how I put it to work in shaping Rosamund’s new sweater, literally right at the start.

First, note two places in which you have a noticeable difference in circumference. In this case, the first was the neckline–where the sweater would begin–and the shoulders, where Roz’s legs join her body.

Warm 2.9

That’s a difference of seven inches.

And we note how long the distance is between these two measurements, along the shoulder slope.

Warm 2.10

Now we take into account what this means in terms of our gauge, which is 4.5 stitches and 6.5 rounds per inch.

Warm 2.11

 

A Brief Diversion on Fudging

The mathy among you will have noticed some funny business is going in the photograph above. For one thing, the neck measurement is 21 inches, and at 4.5 stitches to the inch, that means the neck should be 94.5 stitches around. Instead, it’s given as approximately 92 stitches.

What gives?

Well, first of all–we can’t cast on half a stitch.

Second, our original sketch indicates that we want to begin this circular sweater with a collar of knit 2, purl 2 (k2p2) ribbing. That requires a number of stitches evenly divisible by 4, and neither 94 nor 94.5 will work.

So what do we do? We fudge. We find the nearest number to 94.5 that is divisible by 4. We could go higher, but I chose to go slightly lower, to 92 stitches.

It’s a tiny difference. It’s not going to throw the piece out of whack.

By the same token, we don’t worry that the shoulder measurement of 28 inches “should” require 126 stitches, not 124. We also want to end the sweater with k2p2 ribbing, and so it will be convenient if we maintain numbers evenly divisible by 4 throughout. Therefore, 124.

I could have chosen to use 128 as my fudged number, rather than 124. Why didn’t I? It just felt like the right thing to do at the time. If I had been worried that two stitches less would make the piece too small, I could have gone up. Instead, I decided that with a limited yarn supply (only two skeins to hand) it would be a good idea to eliminate stitches where possible, and went down.

A big part of becoming a confident, adventurous knitter is learning not to sweat the small stuff. Two stitches in a worsted weight dog sweater is small stuff.

Fudge it.

Now, Back to the Math

So this is our problem (and it’s a math problem, but the sort of math problem even I can do).

We need to increase from 92 stitches to 124 stitches, a total of 32 stitches.

Warm 2.12

And we have, potentially, 32.5 (we’ll call it an even 32–more fudging) rounds over which to increase this number of stitches.

This is where things get slightly fuzzy, if you will pardon the expression. You have a choice to make based on your own judgement. Is the shaping gentle (like, for example, most sweater waist shaping) or sharp (like the explosion of stitches that shape a knitted tam)?

Warm 2.13
Roz’s shoulder slope looks to me gradual, which means we want to space the increases out over many rounds, rather than do them all at once. The nice thing about working with knitted fabric is that it is obligingly stretchy and drapey–it almost wants to fit whatever you put inside it. That means there’s not one correct answer, but a range of possible correct answers. So, we can take a guess and try it out.

Here’s my guess. To calculate 32 increases over 32 rows, we divide the number of rounds by the number of stitches. And we get…drum roll, please:

1

Which means 1 increase in every round.*

For gentle shaping, it’s usually best to put at least one plain round between increase rounds. (The more plain rounds between increases, the gentler the shaping will be.) So here, at Rosamund’s shoulders, I prefer to increase two stitches every other round. Spreading decreases out also gives the shaped area of the fabric a smoother line, though of course the change will still be noticeable.

A reasonable plan, right? Right. The only remaining question was where in each round to place the increases. It seemed logical to stick them opposite each other another along the lines of the shoulder. Where the body grows, so does the fabric.

To sum up:

  1. Figure the difference in stitches between Point A and Point B.
  2. Figure the number of rows/rounds between Point A and Point B.
  3. Divide the number of rows/rounds by the number of stitches to increase.** This will give you the number of increases per row/round. If you end up with fractions, choose a nearby whole number using your best judgment.
  4. Decide exactly where in your rows/rounds you want your shaping stitches to occur.

Decreases work the same way.

Many Rounds Later…

We’re going to jump ahead now to the first fitting. I had decided early on to work the entire body in one piece, in the round, with steeks for the leg holes. Perhaps you shudder at the mention of steeks–because there is a widespread misconception that steeks are frightening. They aren’t, but I want to set aside steek talk for our next installment.

Today, let’s look at where all the calculating and knitting and calculating and knitting got us.

Warm 2.14

These are catch-as-catch-can photos, because Rosamund was not as interested in showing off her sweater as she was in the squirrels making whoopee in the porch rafters.

Verdict: Not bad.

Warm 2.15

I could have given this another inch or two of length from neck to shoulder. And it might be cute to knit her a turtleneck. I think she could carry that off. (In case you’re wondering, the orange scrap yarn is holding live stitches conveniently created during the formation of the steeks.)

Warm 2.16

I used short rows to make the sweater longer on the back than the belly, so she’d be nice and warm at the rear but wouldn’t pee on my knitting. I could have done more short rows for additional back length. In fact, I could use an additional two to three inches all around here. So that’s duly noted for next time.

Warm 2.17

Clearly–meaning, you can see it from down the block–the biggest flaw is the size of the leg*** holes. After I opened the steeks I realized that my own biceps fit easily through them. I’m small, but I’m not as small as Roz–whose legs measure about nine inches around where they join her body.

This is what happens when you don’t trust your own numbers. I kept looking at pictures of her (as opposed to actual her, since my travel schedule meant much of the knitting had to be away from home) and thinking, “That’s not big enough. She’s so muscular. Thighs like a shot put champion. Man, I’d love to have those thigh muscles. Let’s make this just a bit wider. And she’ll need ease, so she can run around. Lots of ease.”

So I wound up with 14-inch leg holes.

Still, now I know what not to do. That’s the point of this exercise, after all–to figure out what basic measurements and shaping Rosamund’s sweaters should (and shouldn’t) have.

I believe I can do something about the legs and make this into a wearable sweater, good for early fall if not the coldest parts of winter. Let’s talk more about the legs, and about steeks, in two weeks. By which time it may well be winter in Chicago.

*Have you any idea how relieved I was that the math worked out so nicely? Pure chance, but I’ll take it.

**If the number of stitches to increase is greater than the number of rows/rounds across which you will increase, flip this around. Divide the number of stitches by the number of rounds.

***I keep typing “arm holes.” Knitting for an animal is kinda weird.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Simpliworsted by HiKoo® (55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon; 140 yds per 100g skein). Color: 611, Earth and Sky.

addi® Olive Wood circular needles size US 4, 16 inch (40 cm)

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.

 

Makers’ Minute – Caribou Yarn by HiKoo®

Katie tells you about her favorite furry yarn, Caribou by HiKoo®! It’s great for baby items, toys, and anything else you want against the skin! Caribou Critter Kits AND blankets kits are available as well, see below!

Shop Caribou

Shop Puff the sheep pattern

Shop Caribou Critters Pattern

Shop Caribou Critter Kits – Dog

Shop Caribou Critter Kits – Monkey

Shop Caribou Critter Kits – Bear

Shop Caribou Squares or Stripes Blanket Kits (pink/purple)

Shop Caribou Squares or Stripes Blanket Kits (blue/green)

Shop Caribou Black and White Gingham Blanket Kit

 

 

Fridays with Franklin: The Adventure of the Warm Puppy, Part One

fwf-logo-v11

The Adventure of the Warm Puppy: Part One

 

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

 

 

Meet Rosamund

I must begin this adventure by making introductions.

I would like you, please, to meet my dear companion, Rosamund Adelaide.

Warm 1.1

When Rosamund arrived, she was only eighteen months old; yet she had already suffered a life, as Lady Bracknell put it in The Importance of Being Earnest, “crowded with incident.”

Born into an “accidental” (read “irresponsible”) litter in downstate Illinois, she was taken from her mother far too soon and sold via Craigslist to an abusive brute.

When the authorities arrived to remove the brute’s wife and child to a safe place, they begged that the dog also be taken away, as he would likely kill her by way of revenge. She was emaciated, so much so that she was nearly dead already.

She was dropped at a shelter where, because of her breed (she is a bluenose pit bull), she was marked for swift euthanasia. In the nick of time, a rescue society claimed her and brought her back to health. A foster home cared for her until the happy day she left all that to be with me. She was re-christened, rather grandiosely, after a fictional duchess and an actual queen. In casual settings, she answers* to Roz.

Warm 1.2

In spite of all she suffered, she loves everyone–men, women, children, other dogs, even cats. She is polite, endlessly playful, and touchingly affectionate. Her sole aversions are pigeons and rats–a distaste we share.

Warm 1.3

It has only been three months. I can’t imagine life without her.

Winter Is Coming

She took up residence here in Chicago just as warm weather arrived. Our summer, though hot, is at best fleeting. Winter lasts for about nine months and is famously brutal.

One look at Rosamund’s short, sleek coat and nearly bare tummy told me that she would require a sweater. No. Many sweaters.

You can buy dog sweaters, of course. Quite nice ones, if you are prepared to pay handsomely. But for this tiny girl, I wanted only the very best–and if possible, I wanted to make it with my own hands.

Solid as a Rock

Way back when I first attended a knitting circle, there was a woman in the group whose specialty was knitting rock covers. By which I mean that she enjoyed knitting covers for rocks. She would trawl the lake shore or construction sites or public parks looking for odd-shaped hunks of stone about the size of her first, then knit little stockinette cozies that grew and shrank to snugly enclose each one.

What she did with them after that, I have no idea. Perhaps she hurled them through the windows of journalists who wrote things like, “Knitting–it isn’t just for grandmothers any more.”

I wasn’t tempted to try knitting for rocks myself, but when confronted with the wriggling bundle of compact, muscular curves that is Rosamund, I thought of it. The Rock Knitter had told me a bit about her method–measuring the difference between two points, making simple calculations, and doing some guesswork.

Rosamund, when stubborn, is very much like a rock with bewitchingly soulful eyes. Perhaps the same calculating and guessing could guide me to a sweater that would make both of us happy on a snowy day.

The Measure of the Mutt

Mind you, I’d never knit a dog sweater before. Not from a pattern, not at all. So I set out knowing that this first attempt might go cockeyed. In fact, it probably wouldn’t end in a wearable garment.

But that’s not unusual in made-to-measure, is it? A fine suit or gown requires multiple fittings. A couture design begins with a test garment called a toile–also called a muslin–that’s meant only to serve as a guide for making the real thing.

This first go would be my toile. Once the basic shape was established, I could vary it to my heart’s content.

I needed measurements. Lots of them.

Happily, Rosamund was wonderfully docile–even amused–during our little gavotte with the tape measure. She gave it a nibble, found it didn’t taste good, and decided to indulge me and my odd fancies.

She has all kinds of angles I’d never considered until I started trying to map her topography. I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d need, so I might have gone slightly overboard. Better too much information than too little.

Warm 1.4

These are the measurements I took, in no particular order:

A. Neck (with collar): 21 inches

B. Collar to end of ribs, measured along chest: 13 inches

C. Chest circumference: 27 inches

D. Waist circumference: 21.5 inches

E. Space between forelegs (across chest): 4 inches

F. Neck (at collar) to shoulder: 5 inches

G. Chest to waist: 10 inches

H. Circumference of leg: 9 inches

I. Outside width of leg: 5.5 inches

Raw Ingredients

I hedged my bets with my choice of yarn.

HiKoo® Simpliworsted is a workhorse–soft, reasonably priced, and resilient; with wool for warmth, nylon for strength, and acrylic to keep its shape. It’s easily washable, too. So if the coat did come out well, it’d withstand the abuse Rosamund would inflict upon it. If it didn’t come out well, I wouldn’t have broken the bank and could try again.

Warm 1.5

This variegated colorway seemed a good choice, too. I didn’t plan any stylish details in this prototype, but the gentle color changes of the yarn itself would offer interest even in plain stockinette.

And Of Course…

I swatched.

This was more fun than you might expect, because I was using my first addi® Olive Wood circular needle. These needles are absolutely delicious, by the way: strong, smooth, and beautiful, with a nice, sharp tip. Soft in the hand. Isn’t the grain lovely?

Warm 1.6

I knit up a generous swatch to test the drape and density of the fabric, to decide between 2/2 and 1/1 ribbing, and to check my stitch and row gauge.

Warm 1.7

Many knitters only pay lip service to swatching for gauge, but for the kind of knitting I intended it was absolutely vital. Without accurate measurements, I’d be lost before I began.

I know it’s common to say, cynically, that swatches lie. I’ve said it myself. But even the most deceitful swatch tells you more then no swatch at all.

After all this, at last we come to calculating the cast on and getting down to knitting.

Warm 1.8

So much more about that in two weeks.

*Especially if you are holding cheese.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Simpliworsted by HiKoo® (55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon; 140 yds per 100g skein). Color: 611, Earth and Sky.

addi® Olive Wood circular needles size US 4, 16 inch (40 cm)

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.

Makers’ Minute – Lavishea Lotion Bar

Katie introduces you to this brand new scent of Lavishea made just for Makers’ Mercantile! It’s called ‘Nuts About Chocolate’ and is sure to be your new favorite scent!

Shop for this product here

Transcript:

Hi, I’m Katie and this is your Makers’ Minute! Today we talk about the knitters’ best friend, the Lavishea Lotion Bar.

This scent was made just for Makers’ Mercantile! It’s called Nuts About Chocolate. For any of you who have been lucky enough to visit our brick and mortar store, you know that we also have an amazing in-house gluten-free bakery called Rylie Cakes.

The reason we partnered with Lavishea is because they have an amazing track record, especially with crafters. The reason Lavishea has become such a popular lotion bar among knitters and crocheters is because after you use it there’s no leftover greasy residue and you can go right back to crafting.

Now you can bring a little piece of Makers’ Mercantile and Rylie Cakes along with you anywhere you go. Go ahead and shop for our exclusive scent of this Lavishea lotion bar right now at makersmercantile.com.