Blog

FiberStories: Zitron Filigran

First... where'd the name come from? Filigran translates roughly to "filigree" which is a term that describes the delicate threads used to decorate the garments of royalty in years past. Often crafted of gold or precious metals, these fine threads created the timeless motifs we now view in museums. 

Keeping the delicacy of the thread in mind, Atelier Zitron developed a yarn that is strong, supple, and lightweight. The super soft merino promises to stand the test of time; holding intricate lace stitches in place and creating heirloom garments.

Let's take a moment to chat about the manufacturer of this gorgeous yarn. The process Zitron uses to craft their products are environmentally friendly, and dyed in accordance with Oeko-Tex Standard 100. That means their processes were tested by Oeko-Tex for harmful substances and every component (from the dyes, to the fibers) were found harmless in human ecological terms. Tests are conducted by independent partners, and the criteria for certification is updated annually.

  • 100% Superwash Merino Wool
  • 656 Yards (600 meters) per 100 gram hank
  • Single Ply
  • Made in Germany

Want to try your hand at lace knitting with some of the highest-quality yarn available? Try Zitron Filigran. We have selected three patterns (above) to offer inspiration. Want more project suggestions? We invite you to visit the work of renowned European lace designer Monika Eckert HERE.

Frida Peacock Part 2

Eat, Knit and Dye

Last week I tried dyeing with a jar and liquid dye. This week I’m going to find out what happens with dry dye. (Spoiler alert: It’s a bit of disaster!) This part of the Peacock Fade Set (Last week was Part 1).

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

In the jar, I added a ½ teaspoon of citric acid and 1/8 tsp of the Brilliant Blue dye powder. I don’t know why I added more citric acid. I’m sure I had a reason, but I can’t remember what that reason was.

The yarn had been soaking in water. I wrung out the skein and squished half of it into a jar. I added 1/8 tsp of the Violet dye powder directly onto the yarn. I squished in the rest of the yarn.

Slowly, I added water into the jar until it was up to the brim. I capped it and set it aside.

After a while, I checked on the yarn and I wasn’t happy at all. The color had barely moved. It was going to look awful.

To confirm my fear, I pulled out the yarn to see what was happening. The purple was laying in a blob of color and there was barely any blue. And a whole lot of bare yarn. This would not do!

Taking the yarn out of the jar, I added ½ cup of water and let the blue dye dissolve. Then I squished the yarn back into the jar. With my finger, I made a divot in the top of the yarn and added more purple dye powder.

More water was added to the jar. I also kept poking at the yarn with my finger to help the purple dye move down further.

That’s better! There is at least some color now! I think when using the dry powder, I shouldn’t have wrung out the yarn before I added it. It might work better that way. 

The yarn sat for another hour before hopping into the pot with the other jar from last week. As a reminder, the water was brought up to simmering for 20 minutes. It was cooled overnight in the pot.

I rinsed out the yarn and hung it up to dry. It turned out pretty cool. I’m certainly glad I went back and added more water into the equation. It kept it from being a blob!

And now I have the bookends for my Peacock Cock Fade set.

Stay tuned for next week where I work on the middle of the set!

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

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. 

---------

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