July 2019 Knit Along with Franklin Habit

Franklin Habit's Counterpane Pillow Knit-Along 
Featuring Zitron Herbstwind 

Join us for Franklin Habit’s Counterpane Pillow Knit-Along featuring Zitron Herbstwind, a fantastically soft extrafine Merino wool from Tasmania. We know you love Franklin's patterns as much as we do, and joining this knit-along is easy:

1.) Purchase the pattern on Ravelry HERE, and join along using existing stash, or handspun yarn. 

2.)  Purchase a minimum of 3 balls of Zitron Herbstwind in the color(s) of your choice, from Makers' Mercantile, now through the end of July. Enter your Ravelry ID at the time of purchase and automatically receive your digital copy of the pattern when the KAL kicks off on July 5th. 

The Counterpane Knit-Along starts Friday July 5, 2019.  Get your supplies now!

Project

The Counterpane Pillow is worked in pieces, and then joined together with simple finishing. Five buttons complete the cover. 

This project requires knitting knowledge including: knit/purl, simple increasing/decreasing, and finishing; all on straight or circular needles. 

Need buttons? Enter code COUNTERPANE at checkout to receive 15% off buttons for your Counterpane Pillow!

Materials

Materials

Zitron Herbstwind 

1-color Pillow: 3 balls of one color

2-color Pillow: 2 balls C1, 2 ball C2

3-color Pillow: 1 balls C1, 1 ball C2, 1 ball C3

Finished Size

12” (30.48 cm) high x 12” (30.48 cm) wide

Needles

addi US 3 (3.25 mm) 24” (60 cm) circular, or size needed to obtain gauge 

Gauge

24 sts and 28 rows = 4” in stockinette stitch

Notions

Yarn

Zitron's Herbstwind - a fantastically soft extrafine Merino wool from Tasmania.   Learn more about this fantastic yarn!

Fiber Content

100% Tasmanian Merino Extrafine

Yardage / Weight

50 grams

Approximately 181 yds (165 m)

Gauge

US 5-6 needles

5 - 6.75 stitches per inch

Care Instructions

Superwash, dry flat

Tutorial Videos

The Chilly Dog May 2019 Knit Along Week Four

Having fun with the Line Drawing Knit Along with Ellen Thomas of The Chilly Dog?

The fourth week is all about the heel and Ellen has provided a video to help you out.

Don't forget to join us on the Makers' Mercantile Ravelry Discussion Group!

Want more info on the KAL or Zitron Art Deco Yarn?  Check out our KAL Information.

Still need your yarn or other supplies?  Check out Makers' Mercantile!

Monster Along with BeLinda Creech

June 2019 Monster Along with Belinda Creech

BeLinda Creech's "Monster"  Make-Along ...
Featuring Makers’ Mercantile exclusive Kinky Yarn

BeLinda Creech is hosting June’s Makers’ Mercantile KAL

Join educator and toy-maker BeLinda Creech for the June Makers' Mercantile Monster-Along! Using Kinky Yarn, she will provide ideas and encouragement as you craft your very own monsters. All it takes is 1/2 of a coil of Kinky Yarn, a little felt, some buttons, and your inner child! We can't wait to see everyone's creations!

Want the pattern for free? Purchase Kinky Yarn now through 6/30, and receive a download code for the pattern for free!

The Line Drawing Knit-Along starts Saturday June 1st, 2019.  Get your supplies now!

Project

Monster Along with BeLinda Creech

Toymaker BeLinda Creech handcrafts fiberarts “creechures” in her Kentucky studio. When showing her work at craft fairs and galleries, patrons comment “wow!” or “This is so amazing.. can I take a photo?” They love the imagination involved in crafting a toy but not many realize that the “making” of a toy is almost as magical as the giving it away.

In this Monster-Along, we're going to make a toy and talk about why it matters.

BeLinda took her little Sharpie monster to knitting class yesterday and her students loved him. They talked about how cute he was and how he fit in their hands just perfectly and how he felt so good to hold. Guess what? All that stuff really matters to her. She loves seeing smiles, and making people laugh, and having a moment of joy. The size of the monster and its simplified features are part of what help it to be an ideal first toy for you to make (either alone, or with your little one).

For her, the most ideal toys come from imagination, and aren’t tied to culture or television shows. These special creatures provide the chance to create an identity as well. What name might you choose? Does he like popcorn? Beets? Does he live in the air conditioner because he likes how the wind blows through his fluffy body?

The best part? It's not just kid stuff. While BeLinda teaches children both in schools and at an art studio, many of her favorite customers are grown-ups who look at something she made and it sparks interest in their inner child.

Let’s make a new friend. Maybe it's for you, or a kid...or a grown-up friend that needs a little joy. BeLinda will be on Ravelry all June long to cheer you on in your project so come join the conversation there and feel free to ask questions.

Schedule

Join BeLinda and your fellow Monster-Makers in the Makers' Mercantile Ravelry Group Page. This forum provides a space for you to share progress, stories, and ideas as you bring your monsters to life. 

Materials

Materials

1 coil of Kinky Yarn

Finished Sizes

Approximately 9” from hand to hand, and 8” head to toe, 2” thick 

Needles

Gauge

12 sts + 24 rows in 4” garter stitch

Notions

Tapestry Needle, Stitch MarkerTwo (2) buttons or safety eyes, scrap felt, embroidery thread, ¼ cup vinegar, Polyfill or other stuffing, scissors

Skill Level

Intermediate

Yarn

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

Fiber Content

100% Superwash Wool

Yardage / Weight

200 grams
133 meters / 147 yards

Gauge

12-16 sts and 20-22 rows = 4" on US 10-13 (6-9.0 mm) needles

Care Instructions

Hand Wash Cold, Dry Flat

The Chilly Dog May 2019 Knit Along – Week Three

Having fun with the Line Drawing Knit Along with Ellen Thomas of The Chilly Dog?

The third week is all about the toe and Ellen has provided a video to help you out.

Don't forget to join us on the Makers' Mercantile Ravelry Discussion Group!

Want more info on the KAL or Zitron Art Deco Yarn?  Check out our KAL Information.

Still need your yarn or other supplies?  Check out Makers' Mercantile!

The Chilly Dog May 2019 Knit Along – Week Two

Having fun with the Line Drawing Knit Along with Ellen Thomas of The Chilly Dog?

The second week is all about the foot and Ellen has provided a video to help you out.

Don't forget to join us on the Makers' Mercantile Ravelry Discussion Group!

Want more info on the KAL or Zitron Art Deco Yarn?  Check out our KAL Information.

Still need your yarn or other supplies?  Check out Makers' Mercantile!

Fridays with Franklin: Hot, Wet, and Kinky

Fridays with Franklin logo

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

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

And so I undertook to do something further with my second cake of Kinky Yarn, which didn’t look to be too interesting since the painted bits that were so cute on the cake…

…didn’t penetrate past the exterior. Most of the strand remained untouched, as was immediately apparent when I uncoiled the cake.

strip of uncoiled kinky yarn showing limits of painting
Too much white.

Keep in mind that I am neither an experienced nor an enthusiastic dyer. My next move, therefore, was based on convenience rather than wisdom. I had used up my supplies of Textil Marabu fabric paint and Fashion Spray Marabu. So I bought the least expensive, most readily available dye I knew of.

Kool-Aid.

Oh yeahhhhhhh.

You’ve probably heard about Kool-Aid’s potential use as a dye; but in case you haven’t, here are some of points in its favor:

• It’s non-toxic.
• It’s cheap.
• It’s easy to find.
• It’s easy to use.
• It doesn’t require the use of additional acids.

And some points against it:

• It’s neither very strong nor very brilliant.
• It works only with animal fibers (it will not dye cotton, linen, or synthetics).
• Others may drink it before you can use it.
• It may tempt an enormous, anthropomorphic jug to bust through your kitchen wall.

As I stood in line at the supermarket, I realized I hadn’t made or consumed Kool-Aid since leaving home to go to college. Prior to that, I must have drunk hundreds of millions of gallons during a childhood that straddled the 1970s and 1980s.

Ours was not a progressive household where food was concerned. My mother thought whole wheat bread was un-American and my father refused to eat it. He still does. We had dinner with the kitchen television on. All our vegetables–such as there were–came from cans. My school lunches always included a gooey, unnatural cake of some kind from Hostess, and on fancy days the standard entrée of a peanut butter sandwich was replaced by the ultimate culinary luxury–a thermos full of Spaghetti-Os.

We were not, in short, the sort of family in which one turned up one’s nose at Kool-Aid. We drank it by the gallon. It was the first thing I ever made in the kitchen, and there was a violently orange Tupperware pitcher devoted to it. It was the only beverage to which we children had free access, the only thing we could take from the fridge without permission. Thirsty? Drink some Kool-Aid. Drink as much Kool-Aid as you want, was my mother’s policy–just please stay outside during all daylight hours and don’t bother me unless somebody is broken or bleeding.

This may shock younger readers. I hasten to reassure them that my mother was not uncaring or unfeeling–quite the opposite. This is just how it used to be in America, especially during the summer. Every house in our neighborhood had a Kool-Aid pitcher, and every house had a mother who wanted to be left alone from June to September.

Out of loyalty to my longtime favorite flavor, I bought two packs of Orange. I always preferred Orange. Grape was a distant second. Fruit Punch was tolerated but never loved; to me it tasted like birthday parties. The more exotic options like Lime and Apple weren’t even on my radar. I didn’t know anyone who drank those. Maybe people who ate whole wheat bread.

Enough about drinking Kool-Aid. How do you dye with it?

Kool Aid Dyeing: A Brief and Inexpert Guide

First, if your yarn is brand new, I’d give it a wash. Nothing fancy, just wash the skein–following the manufacturer’s guidelines for fiber content–with a little soap. Then rinse out absolutely all the soap. Your water should run clear.

Then soak the yarn in clean water while you prepare your dye pot.

If you are going to work with “real” chemical dyes, that’s a big undertaking and among many other precautions, you need to use pots and spoons dedicated solely to dyeing.

With Kool-Aid, however, just grab a deepish pot that looks like it will comfortably hold your yarn.

(You can do Kool-Aid dyeing in the microwave, but my microwave is on the blink and so I’m only going to talk about the stove top.)

Dump your Kool-Aid powder into the pot. The general principle, which is not difficult to grasp, is that more powder gives deeper color. There’s a practical limit, though, so don’t go nuts. That’s all I got for you. If you’d like an extended treatise on the subject, I refer you to this splendid article from Knitty.

Pour in some water–don’t fill the pot–and stir until the powder dissolves.

Put in your yarn.

Add enough water to cover the yarn.

Put the pot over the flame and heat it until the water is just shy of boiling. Then turn off the flame, cover the pot, and let it sit for a good half hour. Stir it from time to time, if you can remember. I forgot.

In a half hour, maybe a bit more, you should hope to see that the water is clear–that means your yarn has absorbed the dye.

If the water isn’t clear, try heating up the pot again, and letting the yarn sit until the water cools.

Then rinse the yarn thoroughly and let it dry. Use warm water to rinse, as shocking hot wool with cold water may encourage felting.

I was deeply alarmed to see that when removed from the bath, my yarn was a dead ringer for Cheetohs. I hate Cheetohs.

Oh, dear.

Kinky is knit into a tight strip, which inevitably prevents dye from reaching every spot on the strand equally. So I hoped the lurid glow of the exterior fiber would probably be moderated by some paleness in the interior.

I wound my Kinky into a hank on my niddy noddy so that it would dry more quickly…

…and then hung the tied hank in the shower to let it dry.

You do not, of course, want to wind yarn that is even a little wet into a ball.

Sure enough, the wound yarn was only moderately Cheetoh-esque. It was actually rather closer to Spaghetti-Os, of which I have only fond memories Quite a relief. And in spite of the thorough soakings and washings, much of the kink remained as gentle waves.

Gently kinky.

Now, as to what to make with it? I can’t decide. I’m still swatching.

But I’ve have had fun playing with dye, and I plan to do it again. That Kinky has encouraged me to try dyeing (not a favorite thing) and knit with bulky (also not a favorite thing) and helped me to enjoy both is nothing short of remarkable.

Next time, we’ll revisit a project I’ve set aside for a while–and talk about an exciting new direction for “Fridays with Franklin.” See you in two weeks!

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Kinky Yarn (100% superwash wool)
addi Click Turbo Interchangeable Needle Set
Textil Marabu fabric paint
Fashion Spray Marabu textile spray paint

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 Bookwas brought out by Soho Publishing.

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 Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist 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.

The Chilly Dog May 2019 Knit Along – Week One

Ready to get started on the Line Drawing Knit Along with Ellen Thomas of The Chilly Dog?

The first week is all about the leg and Ellen has provided a video to help you out.

Don't forget to join us on the Makers' Mercantile Ravelry Discussion Group!

Want more info on the KAL or Zitron Art Deco Yarn?  Check out our KAL Information.

Still need your yarn or other supplies?  Check out Makers' Mercantile!

Fridays with Franklin: Very Kinky, Indeed

Fridays with Franklin logo

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

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

If you want your Kinky Yarn to be kinky, you have to let it dry thoroughly before you unravel it. After I’d finished my dye jobs, I went away for a week. Probably a good thing, or I’d have been poking and prodding it to see if it was still damp. To speed it along, of course, you can uncoil the cake.

I was happy to see that the extra soak on the sprayed cake (dyed with Fashion Spray Marabu) had done some interesting things to the interior.

Oooh.

When I uncoiled the cake, I was even more excited by the effect.

Ooooooooooooh!

I was less thrilled with the painted cake (decorated with Textil Marabu) because of course the decoration was limited only to the outer surface. The inside was still blank.

Not quite ready.

If I were to use the paints again (and I would–they were a pleasure to work with) I think I’d just paint the unrolled coil. For the moment, I set aside this cake of Kinky (that is never not going to sound weird) for further manipulation.

The sprayed cake was begging to be knit up. I unraveled it from the end, rolling it into a ball as I went. Very easy. The strand was undeniably kinky.

Sure is kinky!

I wasn’t really sure what to knit with it. I decided not to decide until I’d messed around with it a little bit.

I knew I’d need a large needle, not only because Kinky is bulky but also because it’s lightly spun and lofty. If you knit a lofty yarn of any weight with a relatively small needle, you’ll squeeze the life right out of it.

I worked from plain garter stitch into moss stitch and then double moss stitch, increasing my needle size a few times to see which would give me a fabric that made me happy.

What’s more exciting than swatch photos?

Ultimately I settled on US 10 (6 mm) addi Clicks. For hands used to working with nothing much above a US 4 (3.5 mm), that took some getting used to.

Curiosity drove me onward. I really wanted to see what would happen with this stuff. I didn’t want to work only in garter stitch–too familiar. Moss stitch wasn’t much of an improvement. Double moss looked a bit better.

It made sense. This yarn was
• bulky,
• kinky, and
• variegated.

The combination calls for a bold, simple repeating stitch pattern if you’re going to use one. Anything delicate or finely detailed will just be lost.

On a hunch, I pulled out a Victorian pattern from my collection, suggested in the nineteenth century publication Weldon’s Practical Knitter as the center for a knitted coverlet.

It’s bold, simple to knit, and makes a non-curling fabric that’s the same on both sides. Here it is, translated into modern knitting terminology.

Wedge Pattern (1880s)

Multiple of 8 sts plus 3

Row 1. Slip 1, knit 4. [Purl 1, knit 7] to last 6 sts. Purl 1, knit 5.
Row 2. Slip 1, purl 4. [Knit 1, purl 7] to last 6 sts. Knit 1, purl 5.
Row 3. Slip 1, knit 3. [Purl 3, knit 5] to last 7 sts. Purl 3, knit 4.
Row 4. Slip 1, purl 3. [Knit 3, purl 5] to last 7 sts. Knit 3, purl 4.
Row 5. Slip 1, knit 2. [Purl 5, knit 3] across.
Row 6. Slip 1, purl 2. [Knit 5, purl 3] across.
Row 7. Slip 1, knit 1. [Purl 7, knit 1] to last st. Knit 1.
Row 8. Slip 1, purl 1. [Knit 7, purl 1] to last st. Purl 1.
Row 9. Slip 1, purl 1. [Knit 7, purl 1] to last st. Knit 1.
Row 10. Slip 1, knit 1. [Purl 7, knit 1] to last st. Purl 1.
Row 11. Slip 1, purl 2. [Knit 5, purl 3] across.
Row 12. Slip 1, knit 2. [Purl 5, knit 3] across.
Row 13. Slip 1, purl 3. [Knit 3, purl 5] to last 7 sts. Knit 3, purl 4.
Row 14. Slip 1, knit 3. [Purl 3, knit 5] to last 7 sts. Purl 3, knit 4.
Row 15. Slip 1, purl 4. [Knit 1, purl 7] to last 6 sts. Knit 1, purl 5.
Row 16. Slip 1, knit 4. [Purl 1, knit 7] to last 6 sts. Purl 1, knit 5.

How do you know which was to slip? Here’s a general tip to carry with you. Always as if to purl, unless otherwise stated; and also–if the last stitch of the previous row was a knit, slip with the working yarn in front, but if the last stitch of the previous row was a purl, slip with the working yarn in back.

The Wedge Pattern played nicely with the yarn. You can’t see the precise shapes of the wedges, but the regular changes from knit to purl gives the fabric a very interesting and pleasant faceted effect.

Happy and kinky.

I knit on 27 stitches until the yarn was almost used up, ending with Row 16. After binding off, I had a long rectangle about four feet by 18 inches.

That would be a frustratingly short scarf. But all I had to do was give a half twist in the middle and whip stitch the ends to gather to make it into a very luxurious, cozy moebius cowl.

Finished moebius cowl.

However, as I was unable to find a willing model I must present it to you on an unwilling model: me.

Zowie!
Mysterious!
Cozy!

Okay, okay–I kid. Here it is on one of my most loyal models. As we were in a hurry she didn’t have time to put her face on.

The other cake (well–now it’s a strip) of Kinky remains to be used up after a bit of further decoration, and that’s what I’ll show you when we meet again in two weeks.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Kinky Yarn (100% superwash wool)
addi Click Turbo Interchangeable Needle Set
Textil Marabu fabric paint
Fashion Spray Marabu textile spray paint

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 Bookwas brought out by Soho Publishing.

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 Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist 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.

May 2019 KAL Line Drawing Socks with The Chilly Dog

May 2019 Knit Along with The Chilly Dog

May 2019 Knit Along with The Chilly Dog

The Chilly Dog's "Line Drawings"  Sock Knit-Along ...
Featuring Makers’ Mercantile exclusive Zitron's Art Deco 

Ellen Thomas (a.k.a. the Chilly Dog) is hosting May’s Makers’ Mercantile KAL 

May 2019 Knit Along with The Chilly Dog

Join Ellen Thomas of The Chilly Dog for the May Makers’ Mercantile Knit-Along! Featuring Zitron Art Deco, the pattern is written in needle neutral terms so you can use your favorite small circumference knitting method. Ellen will be using addi FlexiFlips in the companion videos.

Want the pattern for free? Purchase Zitron Art Deco at Makers’ Mercantile now through 5/31, and receive a download code for the pattern for free!

Or purchase the pattern and use the yarn of your choice!

​The Line Drawing Knit-Along started Thursday, May 9, 2019.  Get your supplies now!

Project

May 2019 KAL Line Drawing Socks with The Chilly Dog

Line Drawing Socks - featuring Zitron Art Deco yarn

Line Drawing Socks is a top down sock with an afterthought heel
and 4 Point, or 4 Corner, shaping at the toe and heel. (Psst... that means no Kitchener stitch.)

We'll be making our socks with Zitron Art Deco yarn. It's self-patterning, so the colorwork magically emerges as you knit.

Ellen will be demonstrating the skills on her bamboo addi FlexiFlip needles, but the pattern is written in needle neutral terms, so if you are already a sock knitter you can use your favorite addi double pointed needles (dpns) or circular needles.

Schedule

Segment

Date

Intro

May 2, 2019

The Leg

May 9, 2019

The Foot

May 16, 2019

The Toe

May 23, 2019

The Heel

May 30, 2019

The pattern will be available at Maker's Mercantile and remember to connect with other knitters on Maker's Mercantile Ravelry Group Page. The forums let knitters of all skill levels participate ... it's like having a knitting tutor 24/7!

Videos

Ellen Thomas has created videos to go with each week.  Watch and enjoy your Knit Along!

Materials

Materials

1 x Zitron Art Deco, Shown in #01

Finished Sizes

Adult XS (S, M, L, XL)

• sock foot circumference 7 (7 ., 8, 8 ., 9) inches

• sock foot length 8 . (9, 9 ., 10, 10 .) inches

• sock leg height from floor to top of cuff 
         10 . (10 ., 10 ., 10., 10 .) inches

Needles

2.75 mm, or size needed to obtain gauge, 
addi FlexiFlipsdpns or circular needles

Gauge

32 sts x 40 rows = 4 inches in Stockinette Stitch

Notions

Yarn

Zitron's Art Deco - You'll love working with this self-patterning sock yarn!  Make a simple sock to let the yarn shine or spice it up with something more advanced!  Made by Zitron, this yarn is not only Superwash, but also super-soft.  Grab a ball today to transform your next project into something brilliant. 

Fiber Content

80% Virgin Wool, 20% Nylon

Yardage / Weight

100 grams. 
400 meters / 437 yards

Gauge

34 stitches & 50 rows = 4" on US 2 - 3 (2.5-3.0 mm)

Care Instructions

Machine Wash or Dry Clean, Dry Flat, Iron Low Heat, No Bleach

Fridays with Franklin: I Get Kinky

Fridays with Franklin Logo

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

I get the darnedest stuff in the mail from Makers’ Mercantile. The latest box was preceded by a note that said, “I’m send you something kinky.”

I’m not a prude, but that did give me pause.

What arrived in the mail was yarn. Oddly packaged yarn. I’ve had yarn in skeins and balls; but this arrived as two neat little cakes.

Two new cakes of Kinky Yarn.
The only yarn I’ve ever seen that includes the word “badass” on the tag.

Cute, right? Turns out this is a new yarn, and it’s called Kinky. And you buy it in a cake. It looks like this.

The cake is plain, and that’s the point. The note enclosed said that decorating a cake of Kinky is step one before using it. Decorate it with what? Just about anything, apparently. Dye, paint, markers–whatever will leave permanent mark on the fiber–it’s 100% superwash wool.

Which explained why these were also in the box.

Marabu Textil and Marabu Fashion Spray
Interesting…

I’m not a dyer, and I admit that on the list of things you can do with yarn, dyeing it is way down my list. We all have our limits; that’s one of mine.

I’ve dabbled in dyeing, and the process reminds me of the fishing trips I was forced to endure as a child. You drop in the string, and you wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. Then you pull the string out and see what you got.

Just not my cup of tea.

But this was different. The Kinky Yarn cake is made up of a knitted tube, rolled and tied. The instructions suggested that I could unroll and decorate it, or not.

I decided to leave the cake intact. That way it would feel less like dyeing, and more like putting the finishing touches on a fancy dessert.

For cake one, I pulled out a paint brush and a couple bottles of Textil Marabu textile paint. This stuff looks like poster paint and acts like it, too–it’s got the same consistency. But instead of using it to announce a bake sale or the drama club’s production of Glengarry Glen Ross, you use it to paint fiber or fabric.

This was, wonder of wonders, fun. It didn’t take long for me to have this little cutie sitting on my work table.

Kinky Yarn cake painted with Textil Marabu paints.
Note the foil-covered surface. Also, I was wearing one of daddy’s old shirts as a paint smock.

This would be neat way of getting the kiddies involved in your fiber work, if you can trust the kiddies with paint or markers. Put on the smocks, cover the table, and let them go to town. Keeping an eye on them, of course. Then knit, weave or crochet with what they’ve created.

Sort of be a fun gift to a knitter or crocheter, too. Paint it up for them with Bon Voyage, Happy Birthday, or a portrait of the cat. Or put out one for each guest at yarn lover’s party, with markers and paints for decorating in the center of the table.

For the other Kinky cake, I used Fashion Spray Marabu, which comes in a little spritz bottle. Unlike Textil Marabu, which is pretty thick, Fashion Spray Marabu is what the name suggests–a spray.

Word to the wise: when you press the nozzle the first time to test it, aim it a scrap of paper or cloth. Like this.

Test spray on paper towel.
Pfffffffffffffffft…

Do not, I repeat do not, accidentally aim the nozzle at your face. I learned that the hard way. There is no photograph, because I was busy going ack ack gah cough ack while wondering if I were now Permanently Smurfed.

The spray was super fun. Spritz here, spritz there. I used two colors, and had a good time applying them over each other and watching how they blended where they touched.

Kinky Yarn cake sprayed with Fashion Spray Marabu.
Good enough to eat.

I let both cakes dry thoroughly, which is also recommend for Kinky. Only after it’s dry do you undo the cake, unravel the tube, and wind the dyed yarn into a ball. The yarn will be kinked–therefore the name. The kinks can be left in, to add interest to your fabric. Or, if you don’t like the kinks, block the finished piece and they disappear.

After drying, I was pleased with the appearance of both cakes, but checked the spray version and noted that of course the spray liquid hadn’t penetrated far beyond the surface.

The untouched interior of the yarn cake.

That’s part of the fun of the knitted cake structure; it means some parts of the fiber are likely to remain untouched and produce unexpected effects–sort of like the game you play whentie-dyeing t-shirts. But I didn’t want this much of my cake to stay white. So I did one more thing.

I took what was left of my blue fashion spray and diluted it with enough water to allow me to dip half the cake into it. There I let it stand for a few hours.

Then I took out the cake, and prepared a similar bath with the remains of the purple spray. I dipped the other half and let it stand for a few hours.

Kinky Yarn cake half submerged in dye bath.
Exciting action shot.

Next time, I’ll show you what sort of yarn I got from each cake, and knit some up to check out the results.

See you in two weeks…

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Kinky Yarn (100% superwash wool)
Textil Marabu fabric paint
Fashion Spray Marabu textile spray paint

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.

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 Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist 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.