2019 Holiday Wishlist

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

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


Sock of the month club

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

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

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



addi FlexiFlips 8 inch set

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

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


Makers' Apothecary Candles

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

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

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


Knitting Comfortably: The Ergonomics of Handknitting

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

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

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


Sheep Herd Tote

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

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

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


Hanging Circular Needle Organizer

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


addi click turbo interchangeable needle set

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


Kinky Yarn

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

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

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




Schacht Cricket 10" Loom

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

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

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


artfelt kit - holey scarf

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


addi Rocket 2 [Squared] circular knitting needle

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


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


Ergonomics of Knitting – Carson Demers

"I’ve been a knitter much longer than I’ve been a physical therapist or an ergonomist, but I still remember my first addi experience.  I was knitting an afghan with let’s say “rustic” wool, and (horrors) bamboo needles.  Ah, the ergonomically unenlightened knitter that I was.   More time spent than one would hope for the amount of fabric produced, I confess my forearms were positively sore.  Then one evening while working on that project in a knitting circle at a local yarn shop I spied them.  Shiny, sleek, and downright sexy (yes, a knitting needle can be sexy!), someone across the table was working with an addi Turbo®.  I can’t lie - I was indeed first impressed by how beautiful those needles looked.  But, it didn’t take much observation to see how effortless they made that knitter’s work.  Stitches were soaring.  So then and there I bought a circular to replace the bamboo needle I was using.  Smooth, fluid, and best of all comfortable, my knitting experience was transformed.  

That was my first addi Turbo® and I’ve been a fan ever since.  I’m a lot more ergonomically savvy now than I was at that time and I still love my Turbos.  They pair perfectly with yarns that offer resistance on other needles, reducing the work of forearm and hand muscles. Their cables are strong, smooth, well behaved and support even a heavy afghan without fuss.  I love how the reflective surface of the needle creates value contrast with nearly any yarn - which makes using them easy on the eyes in more ways than one.  Comfort is always an ergonomic priority and addi Turbos® help me knit comfortably."

It's no secret that we are fans of Carson Demers and his work to help fiber artists continue making with less opportunity for injuries. his book, Knitting Comfortably: The Ergonomics of Handknitting contains all the information you could need to help ensure a long life of comfortable crafting. We are also delighted to offer this book for purchase in our shop and online. 

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

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

Want to knit comfortably? Get your very own copy of Carson's book here:

About Carson Demers:
By day, Carson is a physical therapist who runs an ergonomics program for a San Francisco Bay Area medical center. Every other moment, he’s knitting, spinning, designing, teaching, writing, or otherwise up to some fiber fun with a watchful eye toward ergonomics. His passion and experience in fiber arts combine with his expertise in physical therapy and ergonomics to create a unique skill set that he eagerly shares with the fiber community at local yarn shops, guilds, and major knitting events across the country. He is a regular contributor to Ply magazine.

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.

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.

Fridays with Franklin: Nineteenth Century Knit-Along, Part Three

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

For the previous installment (Week Two) of the knit-along, click here.

Here we are in Week Four, the final week of our Nineteenth Century Knit-Along. We need to cap our project with its final edging.

Before that, though, let me tell you some more about what you’ve been working on.

The designer of the piece is Jane Gaugain, one of the most important figures in the history of knitting. She has often been called, and with reason, the mother of fiber arts publishing. Okay, I’ve called her that a lot.

Here’s why.

Jane Gaugain (born Jane Alison, in the early 19th century) was a Scotswoman who was born into a tailoring family and married an Edinburgh haberdasher.

After her marriage, she went to work in the family firm, and was instrumental in turning it into a thriving operation. Among the lines sold from the Gaugains’ premises were needlework supplies, including fine, gorgeously dyed merino yarns from Germany that became known in the English speaking world as “Berlin wools.”

Jane realized that to sell more wool yarns, she needed to provide her customers with knitting patterns–and so in the 1830s she began to distribute them. A subscription volume (a sort of forerunner of the Kickstarter) of mixed patterns in the late 1830s proved so popular that in 1840 she published an expanded version of it entitled, The Lady’s Assistant in Knitting, Netting, and Crochet.

For more about Jane, I highly recommend Kate Davies’ excellent article “In the Steps of Jane Gaugain.

It’s The Lady’s Assistant from which our pattern was taken, albeit in an adapted form. I was thrilled to tears (no exaggeration–I cried) to find my copy (the later edition of 1846) on a trip to Cambridge, England, in a shop that let it go for a reasonable price because it was outside their specialty.

gaugain-book-cover.jpg
gaugain-book-titlepage.jpg

The original name of the pattern was “Pyrenees Knit Scarf,” and the original differed in several respects from our modern version.

• It was wider. The cast on was 125 stitches.

• It was done in multiple colors. Mrs. Gaugain specifies white and blue.

• It was longer. The suggested length was “about two yards and a half.”

• And it had tassels. The finishing included “drawing up at both ends, and attaching a tassel thereto.”

The pattern called for Berlin wool, but a note at the end suggests “glover’s silk” as an alternative–this being a yarn in a weight similar to that of the Berlin wool, but spun from (did you guess?) silk.

Jane was a pioneer in committing to the printed page what had most often before that been passed along directly from knitter to knitter, by spoken word and demonstration.

Her quick mind and gift for organization are evident from the first. She made handy use of abbreviations (using existing type–so that, for example, a symbol for a knitted decrease could be inverted to indicate the purl version of that decrease). She organized many of her more complex patterns row by row.

And although it certainly could not be said to be charted, there is a hint at charts to come in the way the Pyrenees Scarf pattern is laid out on the page.

Here it is, in full, as printed in my copy.

original-pattern-01

original-pattern-02

original-pattern-03.jpg

Finishing Your Scarf

Once you’ve finished the Final Edging, you’ll want to wet block your scarf. Otherwise, no matter how lovely your knitting has been the thing is going to look like a very large and elegantly dyed length of crumpled toilet paper.

Pretty much all knitted lace requires blocking, but lace with patterning on every row requires it especially. I wondered how much of a trial this was going to be. I love the results of blocking lace, but I won’t tell you the process makes me jump for joy.

Here’s what I did, and what I recommend you do.

1. Fill a perfectly clean receptacle (this may be a large bowl, a sink, a washtub, or any such thing) with tepid, clear water. If you like (I like) put in a dollop of a gentle soap like baby shampoo or a purpose made wash like Soak (available from Makers’ Mercantile).

2. Gently swish the soap into the water. You don’t need to make suds. Suds are annoying.

3.  Put your scarf gently into the water and press it down below the surface. Let it soak there for at least an hour. Two wouldn’t be amiss.

4. Once the scarf has had a nice bath, remove it from the water. Wet lace will stretch under its own weight, so support it as you lift. Imagine it’s a baby. Or a puppy. Whichever you’d rather hold.

5. Squeeze it gently to remove the excess water. It should be damp, but not sopping.

6. If you haven’t used a no-rinse product like Soak, rinse the piece in a bowl of clear water. Then remove and squeeze, as above. Otherwise, go right to the next step.

7. Now, here’s the beautiful thing. Most lace needs to be pinned out while damp. Jane Gaugain doesn’t specify pinning. In fact, she says nothing about blocking at all. What I found, to my delight, is that the wet Infinito expanded (as superwash wools like to do) under its own weight.

All I did was lay it out flat on a smooth surface, and gently smooth and pat it to the finished dimensions. I used a yardstick to make sure it was square from and even from end to end.

Had I pinned it, it would be a little longer and little wider, and a bit more open. But I was so happy with the un-pinned results that I didn’t bother. I just left it there (in my case, on a little-used kitchen island on a couple of clean towels) until it was mostly dry.

Then of course we needed to use the kitchen island, so while the knitting was still a little damp I draped it over the shower curtain rod in the guest bath.

If you aren’t using Infinito, you may want to pin your piece out. Soak it, lay it out without pins, and see what you think.

Given that we wanted to keep this project within the bounds of one skein, I didn’t elect to gather-and-tassel as prescribed. If you’d like to try that, and/or to try another scarf closer to Mrs. Gaugain’s original vision, I’d love to see what you do.

The Pattern

Enjoy the complete version of the Nineteenth Century Knit-Along scarf pattern by either updating to the latest version on Ravelry HERE, or by downloading the complete pattern via the Makers’ Mercantile website:

downloadnowbutton

Here ends our knit-along. I thank you for coming to play with us. Would you like to do this again? What shall we do next? Post your suggestions in the Ravelry group…

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Zitron Infinito (100% extra fine merino, 550 yards [500m] per 100g hank), shown in Colorway 2
Soak Wool Wash

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 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.

Fridays with Franklin: Nineteenth Century Knit-Along, Part One

fwf-logo-columnsizeWelcome, everyone, to the first “Fridays with Franklin” Knit-Along at Makers’ Mercantile.

I could not be more delighted at the number of you who have chosen to join us. Our journey will be into, and through, a pattern from the early days of knitting as we know it–knitting as a pastime.

The history of knitting is awfully sketchy. Our beloved craft has been very good at keeping out of both the written and visual records. Nor does as much of the work itself survive, certainly far less than we would wish.

That makes the occasional glimpse of it all the more tantalizing, but does mean our timeline is more full of holes than…well, than this thing we’re about to knit.

feb-kal-2019-websize (2)

What we do know is that the widespread adoption of knitting by hobbyists–people, mostly women with leisure time, who knit because they wished to rather than because they had to–emerged in the first half of the nineteenth century.

This woman, handsomely dressed and comfortably seated in her bourgeois drawing room, is emblematic of this new species of knitter.

lace-knitter
Prior to the late 1830s, we find no knitting books as we think of them today: collections of patterns aimed at instructing the amateur at home. Then…kaboom! They were everywhere. What happened to bring on this sudden flood? More on that in a later installment.


For now, here’s what I’d like you to know.

When I teach classes on working with nineteenth century patterns, one of the first obstacles I encounter is the physical appearance of the patterns themselves. They look horrible. Pages crammed full of cramped type, few illustrations (if any), and archaic terminology that befuddles the novice.

This isn’t our pattern, it’s not even from the book our pattern came from, but it’s pretty representative of what you get from the 1840s through about the 1870s.

old-pattern.jpgThe common impression is that because these patterns look primitive, the objects they generate must also be primitive, or at least clunky.

But they’re not.

One of the reasons I chose this particular pattern for our knit-along is that it is relatively simple while also being fabulously inventive.

As I rummaged through my collection looking for likely projects, I was able to envision (as you likely do with modern patterns) what was going on, even without the benefit of a photograph.

Reading through this piece, I could see that the structure wasn’t unusual. The basic unit of lace knitting is an open increase (a yarn over), and a corresponding decrease. Unless a yarn over is being used to shape the garment, it will always have a corresponding decrease somewhere in the fabric. It might be close by or far away, but it will be there.

A bit of scribbling on my graph paper confirmed what I suspected from reading. This stole used the standard unit of yarn over-plus-decrease to create lacy chevrons, like this.

chevrons-illo

That is the single most common arrangement in all of lace knitting. It’s day one of learning to design lace.

This wasn’t a novel prospect, but hey, it could be pretty.

Then I noticed how many different forms of single decrease (in which two stitches become one)  there are in the pattern. And the designer is very, very specific about them–she does not merely say to decrease, or narrow–which was quite common at the time. She tells you exactly which decrease to use where.

Now, that was intriguing. Why do that? There could be many reasons. It could be a fault of the designer–needlessly complicating what could have been quite simple. That happened then, just as it happens now.

So I cast on a swatch, and after one full repeat I was hopping up and down like a little kid at his birthday party. Because these decreases–one of which I had never seen before–didn’t merely keep the stitch count consistent. They actually changed, significantly changed, the appearance of the fabric. The chevron structure was there, but the finished lace looked remarkably different.

You’ll see.

Now, a couple of notes before you begin. I know, it’s more reading–but skip these at your peril.

Winding Your Infinito

Our official yarn for the project is Infinito, available in the United States exclusively from Makers’ Mercantile. The structure, colorways, and fiber of this yarn made it a perfect companion to the pattern, and one skein will give a about a five-foot long piece if your gauge (see below) is akin to mine.

Infinito is a yarn specially dyed to give a sloooooooooow transition from one color to the next. The beginning of the color repeat is marked by an undyed (white) passage which, depending upon where you start winding, will either be at the beginning or end of your wound ball.

This white yarn is not meant to be knit with. It may simply be cut off. It is not included in the listed yardage of your skein.

Swatching

Patterns for shawls and stoles often say “exact gauge is not vital,” and it’s true that you have more leeway in a non-fitted piece than you do in, say, a sweater. However, as this is a one-skein piece, I do urge that you swatch for gauge. (You’ll find the recommended gauge in the pattern link below–but hang on second before you scroll down, okay?)

We’ll keep it fuss-free. With needles that seem like they’re about the right size, cast on 24 stitches and work in garter stitch until your work is about 4 inches long. That’s not very much knitting, honestly.

When you’ve got that finished, take your gauge measurement. You don’t need to bind off the swatch, or block it. In fact, take care not to stretch it. Just measure. If you’re off, go up or down a needle size and try again until you get into the right neighborhood.

Then pull out your swatch, and cast on with those needles.

Casting On

Our cast on is the designer’s preferred method–the knitted cast on. Is it lovely and stretchy? No. Is it simple? Oh my, yes. Do you have to use it? I recommend that you do, as the appearance of the finished edge depends upon it, and it also allows you control how much of a yarn tail you’ve got left when you’ve finished casting on. Keep it to between six and eight inches.

If you have not done a knitted cast on before, please allow me to offer this instructional video.


The Decreases

No joke, please listen, it absolutely matters in this pattern what decreases you use. If you substitute decreases that you prefer, but the designer did not order, we cannot be responsible for what you end up with. It might be fine, it might not be. We dunno. So please use the prescribed decreases.

Some of them will be familiar, like dear old knit two together (k2tog) and purl two together (p2tog).

Others, like lpd–which I hadn’t encountered even with all my rooting around in the nineteenth century–are likely unfamiliar now, but will be old friends by the time we are through.

None of these decreases is particularly difficult to master, so don’t worry.

Here they are.

Slp-slk-k2tbl: Slip as if to purl, slip as if to knit, knit two together through the back.

Lpd: Left purl decrease.

Dbl dec: Double decrease.

The Pattern

Now, about the pattern. In order to make this knit-along as accessible as possible, the pattern will be posted as both line-by-line instructions and as charts.

Neither is a superior way of working the pattern.

The original version of the pattern–which you’ll see at the end of of the knit-along–was written line-by-line, as knitting charts are for the most part a twentieth century innovation.

Use whichever you prefer.

If you use the charts, please note that:

  • Patterning occurs on almost every row.
  • For this reason, you will see that almost all rows after Row 1 are charted.
  • Read and work every row in the chart beginning at the number for the row. If you do not do this, you will not get the correct result.

Without further ado, we now present the overture–our Beginning Edging. (Part Two of the pattern will appear in one week.)

fwf-81-kal-hem

Gather your yarn, needles, and notions, and head on over to the Ravelry group!

Get the pattern HERE(Note: all pattern updates will be delivered via Ravelry)

Join the discussion HERE.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Zitron Infinito (100% extra fine merino, 550 yards [500m] per 100g hank), shown in Colorway 2


 

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: Time Travel with Me

fwf-logo-columnsizeFor an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

I haven’t finished messing around with artfelt–in fact, I can’t wait to show you what I’ve been up to. But I’m going to have to wait, because today another project needs the spotlight.

We’ve been wanting to do a knit-along in this column for ages. We’ve waited, though, until the perfect yarn appeared for the idea we had in mind.

This is the yarn.

fwf-81-zitron-infinito

It’s called Infinito, from Zitron, and it’s a 100% extra fine, fingering weight merino–and it’s a Makers’ Mercantile exclusive.

Infinito is a gradient yarn, and what I love about it is the sllllllllllloooooooooowwwwww nature of the color change. In this colorway (Number 2), the skein begins with a deep purple and shifts, almost imperceptibly, to a handsome lavender as the strand progresses. (Note: The white bit that makes it look like the Bride of Frankenstein isn’t actually knit–it shows you where the color repeat begins. Very useful for multiple-skein projects!)

Because the shift is so gradual, I knew I could use this for lace without any risk of the color obscuring the patterning. And with the generous yardage (550 yards, or 500 meters, in a single 100 gram hank), I suspected I could also do something really impressive with one skein.

I also had a hankering to dip into waters where I love to swim–my collection of knitting manuals from the 19th century.

So that’s going to be our knit-along. We’re going to work, together, through a 19th century pattern. Here is our goal:

feb-kal-2019-websize

It’s a scarf, quite a luxurious one, worked in one piece from beginning to end. It’s about five feet long by about nine inches wide. As you’ll see however, the basic pattern is easily adapted to change both the length and the width. At this size, it requires one skein of Zitron Infinito.

Where did this pattern come from? I’m not going to reveal all just yet, but I’ll tell you this much: it’s a (very) light adaptation by a nineteenth century master of our craft; and as the knit-along progresses, you’ll learn much more about her.

On four successive Fridays in February, I’ll be releasing another piece of the pattern. Along the way, there will be historic information and tips about knitting lace, including a look at how and why this design works.

New lace knitters with an appetite for adventure will find it a fun challenge and skill-builder; veteran lace knitters may be surprised by some of the unusual maneuvers employed in fabric. There will be both charts and written directions, so you may take your pick.

This isn’t a superfine lace, you’ll note. The yarn is a fingering weight, and I used a US size 4 needle to work it. Your needle size may vary, of course, based upon your swatch (ahem). More on swatching to come.

All the while, participants will be able to interact with each other and the supportive Makers’ Mercantile hosts in the KAL forum. The exact location will be announced; in the meantime, watch the Makers’ Mercantile blog and join the shop’s mailing list.

At the end, as a finale, I will publish a facsimile of the original printed pattern, along with notes about how to read it, and how our modern version differs from the designer’s vision.

No registration is required. Supplies of Zitron Infinito are (how ironic) finite, so do go and buy your skein as soon as possible to be sure you get the colorway you like best.

I do hope you’ll join us. To tempt you, here are a few more photographs.

We’ve got plenty of room in the Time Machine. You can add the project to your Ravelry queue right here.

fwf-81-kal-hem

fwf-81-kal-fold

fwf-81-kal-half

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Zitron Infinito (100% extra fine merino, 550 yards [500m] per 100g hank), shown in Colorway 2

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 Edge of Crazy

fwf-logo-columnsizeFor an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

For the first part of this project, click here.

It’s not often that I wish a project were larger. This one has been an exception. Every stage has been more fun than I anticipated–and the result makes me smile.

This is a small piece. I thought it would be a swatch.

I’ve carried it with me during the busiest teaching travel season I’ve ever had. It has been worked on in eleven states; in big cities and in the middle of nowhere; on land, on sea, and in the air; in view of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans; next to one Great Lake, two small lakes, and a medium-sized pond with a frog in it.

It’s seven inches wide and nine inches long.

When last we met, I was working on the decorative embroidery between the patches.

fwf-76-embroideryprogress
In addition to the buttonhole stitch (open and closed) and the feather stitch, I went cuckoo and added French knots with little tails in a few places where it seemed additional frivolity would be welcome.

It was fun.

At no point did this project require me to be serious or restrained. At no point did I have to ask myself whether more embellishment would be too much, or whether I ought to tread within the bounds of good taste. This project is crazy. It says so right there in the name.

When I had finished the lion’s share of the embroidery I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t want to leave the swatch a swatch. I didn’t have the time (or yarn) to do an entire blanket. But I had enough to make it up into a tiny, unserious cushion cover.

Since it was an unserious cushion cover, I kept dicking around with stuff I had been told never to do. For example, a very serious knitter once warned me that in cushion covers, one must always be sure the grain of the front fabric matched the grain of the fabric. In other words, you must always arrange the panels thus:

fwf-76-grains-matched

and never thus:

fwf-76-grains-perpendicular

If one broke this rule, she insisted, one’s cushion would…I don’t know what. Explode? I mean, the horizontal grain (rows) and the vertical grain (columns) of any knitted fabric do stretch at different rates; but why would this be a catastrophe in a cover over a stable (if squishy) center?

Anyway, she’s dead now, and she was mean while she was alive. So I decided to stick my tongue out at her, posthumously, and mix the grains up like a madman with nothing left to lose:

I striped the back panel at random with every color from the front except the purple, because for about a week I couldn’t find it.

I put one-row buttonholes into the upper back panel.

fwf-76-buttonholes

Wait. That sort of looks like a superhero mask, doesn’t it?

fwf-76-garterwoman
Garter Woman! Na na NA nana na NAAAAA!

This was, of course, an excuse to play with more buttons from Skacel buttons; so I lost a pleasant hour wandering among the hundreds on offer and settled on the Fancy Iridescent Glass Buttons because I was feeling both fancy and iridescent.

fwf-76-fourbuttons
Fancy Iridescent Glass Buttons from Skacel Buttons

I sewed the panels together with mattress stitch, and found that the joins were fine–clean, straight, unobtrusive–but altogether too sober. Insufficiently bonkers. So I pulled out my vintage needlework books in search of a mildly bonkers edging.

A pattern collection from 1905 turned up just the very thing, a picot edge, which looks like this:

fwf-76-picotedgecrochet
and is worked like this (I quote the original verbatim–if I can make sense of it, so can you):

Make a chain of the length required, work Sg. C [single crochet] or DC [double crochet] on this, then fasten yarn with a Sg. C in the top of a stitch; chain 3, insert the hook through the top of the first chain stitch, throw yarn over the hook and draw through both loops; fasten with a Sg. C in top of next stitch, or skip one stitch and fasten whichever way makes the picot lie flat.

I wanted to crochet the edging directly to the cushion cover; so rather than make a chain, I worked slip stitches all the way around the seam line between the front and back panels and worked the rest of the edging stitches into that.

fwf-76-crochethook
You may notice that I found the purple HiKoo Sueño Worsted that had gone missing. I used an addi Olive Wood crochet hook in size US D/3.25 mm because it seemed like it would do and it was near the chair I was sitting in.

The result was a very unserious ruffled edge–ruffled because instead of obeying the instructions about making the edge lie flat, I crammed the picots in. Jamming lots and lots of fabric into a smallish space gives you ruffles. Annoying when you don’t want them, delightful when you do.

fwf-ruffle-edge
It’s kinda like the edge of the petticoats on a cancan dancer. O, là-là! La plume da ma crayon! Défense de fumer!

Then on went the buttons, one-two-three-four. In four different colors. Because in crazy patchwork, more is more.

I have heard more than one knitter say that button placement makes him nervous. This is all I do–put the upper band over the lower and insert locking stitch markers through the buttonholes to mark the place each button needs to go. Boom.

fwf-76-buttonholesmarked
Neat little buttons, all in a row. A pretty sight.

fwf-76-buttonson

In case you’re wondering where I got a pillow form of the correct size (7 inches by 9 inches), I didn’t. I cut up an old cotton sheet that was in the rag bag and sewed one, stuffing it neatly with some clean, hand-dyed wool roving that I bought ages ago at a fiber fair, and have never been able to understand why I bought it, because the colors are hideous. No, I am not going to show it to you; and no, I’m not going to tell you who dyed it.

I’m not that crazy.

Now I have this hilarious little pillow…

fwf-76-pillow-01.jpg
fwf-76-pillow-02

fwf-76-pillow-03
…and I don’t know what it’s for, though I am absolutely going to use it as a sample for a new class on knitting and embroidering crazy quilt squares. If I can’t stop the madness, I might as well spread it around.

Epilogue in HiKoo Sueño

This is was my first encounter with HiKoo Sueño Worsted and I can’t say enough good things about it.

It’s so crisp and smooth, and the colors show off brilliantly. There’s been no sign of pilling, even though the balls of yarn and the knitting itself has been dragged around the country.

Even after the cushion cover was finished I didn’t want to stop knitting the stuff, so I whipped up an impromptu cowl for Rosamund without a pattern.

fwf-76-rosamund-hikoosueno-cowl
She likes it. She likes to have clothes on, especially as the weather in Chicago turns nippy. The only thing I think I might do is line it with woven fabric to keep the floats on the inside from catching on her collar. But that’s for another column.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

HiKoo Sueño Worsted (80% Merino Wool, 20% Viscose. 182 yards per 100 gram hank.)
HiKoo Sueño (80% Merino Wool 20% Viscose; 255 Yards per 100g hank.)
Fancy Iridescent Glass Buttons (18mm) by Skacel Buttons
addi Olive Wood Crochet Hook
Clover Small Locking Stitch Markers

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: Still Crazy

fwf-logo-columnsizeFor an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

For the first part of this project, click here.

The more I worked on the knitted crazy quilt square, the more I began to appreciate why crazy quilting had become a craze in the nineteenth century.

There is a freedom of invention in the work you simply don’t find in pieced quilting that commits you to, for example, create identical multiples of a half-square triangle (as I did in the Floralia Blanket). Beyond that, the decorative embroidery along the seams is a holiday of invention.

You don’t have to commit to much of anything when you’re embroidering the seams on a crazy quilt. If you have, say, fifty seams to embroider, you can embroider them fifty different ways. You can combine as many different stitches along a seam as you can fit. You can change your colors as you will. You can use floss, thread, yarn, or ribbon.

The square was looking pretty good with its combination of open and closed buttonhole stitches…

fwf-74-squareprogress
…and even on such a small piece there was still room for more experimentation.

I switched to a color of HiKoo Sueño that I’d ordered, but had rejected out of hand as being probably too stark to look well on the patches: 1111 Cream, which isn’t bone white, but would (I felt sure) appear unpleasantly cold against the intarsia patchwork.

The stitch I chose is an old favorite–and another I learned from my grandmother. It’s common name is feather stitch, and my grandmother said it was her mother’s quick decoration of choice for the collars of little girls’ blouses.

Project - Sketch 1_20

Following buttonhole and closed buttonhole (see the previous installment of this saga) with feather stitch shows us once again how often small changes in how a stitch is made turns it into something with a surprisingly different appearance. Feather stitch is really just a variation on buttonhole. Here’s how you do it.

You’ll want to imagine (or draw in, or trace with basting stitches in contrasting thread) three parallel guidelines, like so:

fwf-75-feather-guidelinesThe stitches will be worked from the top down.

At Point 1, bring the needle up on B (the center line).  Take it down at Point 2, on C (the right line). Immediately bring it up again at B, with–this is important!–the working yarn under the needle tip as shown below.

fwf-75-feather-01.jpg
If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll notice that this is quite similar to the creation of a buttonhole stitch. You create a loop of yarn on the right side of the fabric by coming up at 1 and going down at 2; and by keeping that loop under the needle as you come up at 3, you catch the loop on the working yarn and create the first stitch.

Next, you’ll do pretty much the same thing, but in mirror image.

Go down at Point 1 on A, the left line. Come up at 2 on B, the center line–keeping the loop of working yarn under the needle as you pull through.

Project - Sketch 1_19
Then do the same from C to B. Then the same from A to B. Then C to B. Then A to B. Then C to B. Then A to B. And so forth, until you have the length of stitching you desire. To end a line of feather stitch, take a final small stitch down into B to secure the last loop.

Project - Sketch 1_20

Feather stitch is lots of fun and–as my great-grandmother understood–it gives you a lot of bang for your buck, because it is quick to work and yet looks far more complicated than it actually is.

My big surprise at this stage was finding that the color of HiKoo Sueño I’d considered unsuited for this project actually worked better, in my eyes, than the others.

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I thought it wouldn’t do enough to tone down the unintentional 1980s Colors of Benetton brightness of the patchwork. I have to admit, it shows up beautifully.

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In fact, I may take out all the embroidery and rework it in Color 1111.

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The more of this crazy work I do, the happier I am to be going crazy.

Next time we’ll finish up the embroidery and decide what exactly to do with this piece.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

HiKoo Sueño Worsted (80% Merino Wool, 20% Viscose. 182 yards per 100 gram hank.)
HiKoo Sueño (80% Merino Wool 20% Viscose; 255 Yards per 100g hank.)

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: Gone Sailin’

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My friends, I’ve been at sea leading a knitting cruise; and we have landed in Bermuda after across seas as smooth as glass and blue beyond blue.

But as you can see below, I’ve brought Maker’s Mercantile with me.

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Hamilton, Bermuda. #placesyoucanknit

The color of Zitron Trekking XXL Sport Sock that I’m using, Number 1406, has proven to be an uncannily perfect match to the blue of the water and more than a few of the beautiful buildings here in Hamilton.

I’m working these as plain socks in a solid color on addi FlexiFlips, and I’m going to embroider them with duplicate stitch motifs as a sort of companion/sequel to the Bee Socks–which were also knit in Trekking XXL Sport. Yeah…I love this yarn. It’s the not just the clear colors that get me, it’s the quality. The strength. It lasts. I know I can trust it not to wear out in a month.

 

I’ll be back home soon, and see you next Friday with the latest on the knitted crazy quilt project.