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…

…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.

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.

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.

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


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

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 ( or his Facebook page.