Fridays with Franklin

fwf-logo-v1The Adventure of the Warp with Two Brains: Part Three

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

For the first part of this adventure, and to find out who the heck Mary and Sylvia are, click here .

 

Of the two scarves, Sylvia’s was the tougher nut to crack. Her taste is miles from mine. Though I love the way she puts herself together, the individual pieces themselves usually leave me, at best, puzzled.

“What is this?” I’ll say, picking up one of what appears to be (maybe?) a collection of vintage teething rings from her dresser.

She, fluffing her hair in the adjacent bathroom, peeks out and says, “Oh, yeah! Aren’t those great? I found them at a plumbing supply place that was going out of business.”

“Are they…for plumbing?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t ask. I’m going to pile them on like a bunch of bangle bracelets.”

So she does, and I silently swear she has really gone too far this time. Then I spend the rest of the evening listening to people scream compliments at her amazingly cool choice of bracelets.

It makes you feel stuffy and hidebound for not thinking to trim your spring hat with a U-bend and a couple of old faucets.

Something for Sylvia

My challenge was to weave something on the Trekking warp that would play well in the sartorial Halloween fun-house that is my friend Sylvia’s wardrobe.

Sylvia Fowler, of course, is the kookiest dresser of all the women in The Women,

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

but not because her clothes are wildly eccentric. They’re not. But they do take risks that set her apart as someone who likes to be noticed. Insists upon being noticed.

In a world full of tall hats, Sylvia’s are the tallest.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

Also the fluffiest, the flounciest, the fruitiest.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

When I imagined Sylvia’s scarf, I figured it had to somehow call attention to itself through texture. But how, exactly?

Testing the Ground

When I sampled for the color-and-weave portion of Sylvia (if you don’t know what color-and-weave is, do see the last installment) something happened that almost never happens.

I liked the first thing I tried.

My starting point, of course, was the “two red, two buff” warp that formed the basis of Mary’s houndstooth. I knew by changing the order of the colors in the weft, I could get a bunch of different fabrics.

Thinking to start simple, I wove a few inches with nothing but buff.

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That was it. You know it when you see it, and I saw it. The little dotty stripes reminded me of one of my favorite Sylvia costumes–the pinstriped dress she wears to the fashion show.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

This fabric, I realized, could serve as a simple foil for some really eye-catching textural effect–much as the relative restraint of Sylvia’s dress allows her to go completely cuckoo with that flouncy headgear and still appear elegant.

Flouncing

What kind of textural effect?

There was a technique I had been wanting to try out, which I’d seen written up in any number of books and Web sites, for a loop pile weave.

There are quite a few ways of getting loop pile. This method was supposed to be easy and relatively quick, but not suitable for fabrics liable to be tugged and pulled a great deal.

I sent Sylvia a text.

ME: DO YOU TUG AND PULL AT YOUR CLOTHES A LOT?

SYL: WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

I decided that was a “no.”

Simple Loop Pile Weave

So here’s what you do.

Step 1. Throw a pick with your pile color (in my case, red). Keep it nice and loose, and do not beat it or change the shed.

Step 2. Get yourself a knitting needle, a wooden dowel, a long pencil–something of a cylindrical nature, in other words. The bigger around it is, the bigger your loops will be, and it needs to be a longer than your weaving is wide. I used an eight-inch US 11 (8 mm) addi® FlipStix™ double-pointed needle, which proved ideal.

Reach between the first two raised strands of the warp with your fingers and pull up a loop of your weft pick. Place this loop over the knitting needle (or whatever).

Repeat this step, making a loop for every pair of raised warp threads in the shed. It’ll look something like this.

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Step 3. Without removing the knitting needle (or whatever), beat. You won’t be able to beat completely, of course; just do what you can.

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Step 4. Gently remove the knitting needle (or whatever) and beat again, firmly.

Step 5. Change shed and throw a plain pick (in this scarf, that’s another pick of red).  Beat firmly. Because this type of loop pile isn’t perfectly stable, this plain pick between all looped picks is vital. Without it, your fabric will just sort of fall apart.

Repeat from Step 1 if you want to make another row of loops.

Well…

Off I went, working two inches of color-and-weave (using the buff only, but carrying the unused red yarn up the right selvedge all the while).

Then, four picks in red: a looped pick, a plain pick, another looped pick, another plain pick.

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That was my repeat, ending the scarf with two inches of color-and-weave.

The fabric certainly didn’t look like anything I’d made before.

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It was so different, I didn’t know if I liked it or not. I honestly could not tell.

So I sent a picture of it to Sylvia in a text message.

ME: WOULD YOU WEAR THIS?

SYL: YES. LOVE IT. WHEN CAN I PICK UP.

ME: IT’S STILL ON THE LOOM.

SYL: GET YOUR [REDACTED] IN GEAR. I KNOW WHAT I WANT TO PAIR IT WITH. BY NEXT THURSDAY WOULD BE NICE. KISSES.

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Or…is it?

Because in two weeks, we have to talk about the finishing.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Zitron Trekking (75% New Wool, 25% Nylon; 3.5 oz/100g per 459 yds/420m). Colors: 210 (Buff) and 240 (Red).

Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom (15 inch) with optional 12-dent reed, by Schacht Spindle Company

11-inch Slim Closed-Bottom Boat Shuttle by Schacht Spindle Company

addi® FlipStix™ 8-inch double-pointed knitting needle, size US 11 (8mm)

The Women (1939). For information on sources, visit the official IMDB page.

About Franklin Habit

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His newest work, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book has just been published 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, Squam Arts Workshops, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet. On an average day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep.

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 Knitty.com, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, two looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Fridays with Franklin

fwf-logo-v1The Adventure of the Warp with Two Brains: Part Two

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

For the first part of this adventure, and to find out who the heck Mary and Sylvia are, click here.

 

Lots of weave structures could be used to produce two different scarves on one warp, but I wanted to play with an effect called color-and-weave.

Simply put, color-and-weave means a pattern that emerges because of a combination of light and dark threads alternating in a particular order in the warp and in the weft. Make sense? No? Don’t worry. We’ll go deeper into that in a bit.

Something for Mary

One of the most famous varieties of color-and-weave happens to be a fabric I’ve always wanted to make, and a fabric eminently suited (no pun intended) for our first recipient, Mary.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

We noted last time that Mary’s style is simple and tailored, frequently influenced by menswear. A classic menswear fabric might make the perfect scarf for her; and in her first scene, one appears. Not on Mary, but on her daughter–the uncreatively named Little Mary.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

Little Mary was played by Virginia Weidler, who had an absolutely inexplicable career as a child actress in the 1930s and 40s. She is the only person in the cast who turns in a more wooden performance than Norma Shearer, which perhaps makes her presence somewhat more explicable.

Little Mary’s riding coat is made of houndstooth…

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

…more specifically, of the small variation of houndstooth that is sometimes called puppytooth.

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How to Make Houndstooth: Choosing Colors

When I first tip-toed into weaving, I got very fizzy and bubbly when I found out a legendary pattern like this was, in fact, simple enough to be readily made by a beginner. Here’s how it works.

First, we pick colors. I chose Zitron Trekking in color 240 (Red) and color 210 (Buff) for two reasons.

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Reason One: I really wanted the pattern to pop, which meant I needed my colors to have high value contrast. One needed to be very dark in value, the other very light. To see if the difference was strong enough, I looked at the yarns using the black-and-white setting on my camera. For a bold look, they need to appear distinctly different. The greater the difference, the more legible the pattern.

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Yup. That’ll work.

Reason Two: That luscious red reminded me of reds as they showed up in glorious Technicolor, and even though The Women is in black and white (except for the famous fashion show sequence), the entire plot is set in motion by a shade of nail polish called Jungle Red.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

How to Make Houndstooth: The Warp

To get a balanced weave* with a fingering weight yarn like Trekking, I needed to outfit my Schacht Cricket rigid heddle loom with a 12-dent reed; it allows the strands of the warp to sit closer together than the 8-dent reed that comes with the loom when you buy it.

The warp plan itself? Ridiculously simple: two red strands, two buff strands. Repeat. That’s it.

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Mind you, for two scarves on one warp, my warp had to be very long. And this time, I did my advance calculations like a good boy to figure out how long.

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The length I needed just barely fit into the longest room available to me. Any longer, and I wouldn’t have been able to use the direct warping method – which would have been fine, but that’s another column.

I did a lot of walking that morning.

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It’s probably a good thing I don’t have cats.

How to Make Houndstooth: The Weft

Once your warp is in place, you weave the colors in the same order they appear in the warp: two picks (passes) with the red, two picks with the buff.  Repeat.

The structure of my fabric is plain weave–the warp goes over one thread, under the next–which on my Cricket loom means simply moving the heddle up and down, up and down.

It seems like there ought to be more to it, but there isn’t. *Over and back with the red, over and back with the buff. Repeat from *.

When changing colors at the right selvedge, I kept things neat by always picking up the new color under the old color–rather like carrying yarns up the side of a piece of striped knitting. In the photograph below of an early sample for the scarves (yes, I sampled!) the buff (which is in use) is catching the red (which is not).

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A small detail, but in weaving as in all things, little details can make a big difference.

For this project, I graduated to a pair of Schacht 11-inch slim open-bottom boat shuttles, which worked beautifully with the Cricket. You could absolutely do this weaving with the same stick shuttles I used here, but boat shuttles are smoother and faster. Note that they carry the yarn on bobbins–so if you decide to use them you’ll also need a bobbin winder.

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And look! Look!

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You know those moments in your life when you’re excited to try something new, but you really worry it won’t work, and then it does work? And you can’t believe you did it? This was one of those moments.

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How Long Is Long Enough?

Since I needed to get two scarves out of this warp, for the first time I couldn’t blithely weave to the end and then call it quits. I had to make sure Mary’s scarf was long enough, but not too long.

There are many methods for doing that, but the one I chose was simply to place a stitch marker (I like the safety pin or locking ring types–they’re readily available from good yarn shops) in the right-hand selvedge every six inches. At any time, to figure out how much you’ve woven you count your markers.

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Coming Up…

In two weeks, we’ll look at the weaving of Sylvia’s scarf.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

She doesn’t like waiting, but she’ll just have to deal with it.

*A balanced weave has the same number of threads per inch in the warp and in the weft.

 

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Zitron Trekking (75% New Wool, 25% Nylon; 3.5 oz/100g per 459 yds/420m). Colors: 210 (Buff) and 240 (Red).

Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom (15 inch) with optional 12-dent reed, by Schacht Spindle Company

11-inch Slim Open-Bottom Boat Shuttle by Schacht Spindle Company

The Women (1939). For information on sources, visit the official IMDB page. Yes, there was a remake in 2008, but please don’t ever bring that up in front of me again.

About Franklin Habit

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His next book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book will be published by Soho Publishing in June 2016.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet. On an average day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep.

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 Knitty.com, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

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, Squam Arts Workshops, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, two looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Fridays with Franklin

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The Adventure of the Warp with Two Brains: Part One

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

 

Today, we start a new adventure!

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In weaving!

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If you hadn’t missed the staff meeting you would have known that.

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We’re going to use a rigid heddle loom. If you’ve not yet encountered a rigid heddle loom, click back to The Adventure of the Scarf that Ate the World for a simple, brief description of how they work.

A biggish rigid heddle like my fifteen-inch Schacht Cricket doesn’t limit you to scarves; but I have scarves in mind because it’s spring, and for so many of us who do a lot of handwork, the return of spring means one thing: planning our winter holiday gift-giving. I’m thinking scarves. Lots of scarves. Scarves all around.

Scarves make fantastic gifts, so long as your friends have necks. A knitted scarf is a beautiful, bouncy, cuddly thing. It can also take a long time to finish, even if it’s perfectly plain. For a guy like me, who will never set a speed record, promising more than one person a knitted holiday scarf inevitably leads to an ugly moment in which I hurl delirious invective at the little chocolate elf who pops out of the Advent calendar on December 20.

That is no way to treat chocolate.

Warp Once, Weave Twice–Or More

When speed is of essence, weaving is almost always* going to beat the daylights out of knitting. If I’m to turn out multiple scarves, speed is key.

It’s true that before you can weave you first must warp–we talked about that here. But when you want to weave multiple similar somethings–dish towels, placemats, or (ding ding ding) scarves­–more often than not you’ll warp only once.

All you do is wind on enough length to accommodate your multiples, or at least as many as your loom can handle. Then weave the first item, leave a bit of space, weave the second item, leave a bit of space…and onward in this manner until you come to the end of the warp.

Brilliant.

And while you might think multiple projects on one warp would mean a series of identical projects­–nope. Depending upon what sort of warp and weft you choose, you’ll find a variety of options for making each different from the next.

This is extremely useful if you have friends with highly different tastes, and I do.

The Yarn

I’m going to need two scarves off this warp, and here’s the yarn I plan to use.

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This is Zitron Trekking XXL, and I chose it for a few different reasons:

  • It’s strong enough to use as a warp–meaning it can withstand firm tension and abrasion without falling to pieces.

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  • I’ve used it for socks and I really like those socks.
  • It’s machine-washable. Neither friend is going to hand-wash anything. Believe me, I’ve tried to teach them. They won’t budge.
  •  It’s finer weight (fingering) than the yarns I’ve woven with previously, and I’m excited to try a fabric that will be light and decorative.
  • The high wool content means the appearance and hand are pretty close to that of pure wool, which suits the scarves I have in mind.
  • I love these two colorways. Though they read as primarily solid, each has tweedy flecks of the other in it, plus flecks of other happy colors sprinkled around as well.

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The Friends

Now, about the recipients.  In the interest of protecting their privacy, I’ve been asked not to give you their actual names and likenesses. But like so (and I mean SO) many of my friends, they closely resemble in many ways characters from George Cukor’s immortal film The Women, released in 1939.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

It has an enormous, glittering cast of 130–all women. Even the animals in the film are female. No men appear, though they’re almost the only thing talked about. Do not attempt to apply the Bechdel Test to this film; your lab will blow up.

The screenplay was written by two women (Anita Loos and Jane Murfin) after a play by another woman (Claire Boothe Luce), yet manages to be breathtakingly sexist.

That said, it is a hoot. A scream. A gooey masterful camp fruitcake of sobby soggy romantic drama, knock-down slapstick, acid wit, and style. I have watched it so many times that even when the sound is off, I know exactly what is being said. Don’t believe it? TRY ME.

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We are primarily interested in the costumes, which were by the legendary Adrian–not a woman, but a genius at telegraphing a woman’s inner life through hats, gloves, and dresses. Also, making her look taller. (Norma Shearer was five foot one.)

Friend One: Mary

Now, in terms of style, Friend One is a perfect match to the heroine, Mrs. Stephen (Mary) Haynes.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

Mary was played by Norma Shearer, who began in silent films and continued to reign in the sound era as the Queen of MGM, grabbing plummy, starring roles from Juliet Capulet to Marie Antoinette and never once letting a near-complete lack of acting talent stand in her way.**

Mary’s style reflects her personality. She’s honest (one of the few truly honest characters out of the 130), loyal, strong, and prefers the quiet, simple, horsey life in her Connecticut country house to the enervating social whirl of Park Avenue.

Unsurprisingly, her clothes tend to the tailored.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

They’re not mousy or frumpy–she’s very chic, even in a cardigan–

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

but they have simple lines, quiet details, and classic fabrics. Even her dressing gown, though it has chiffon bell sleeves, has echoes of a men’s camp shirt.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

Mary is disgustingly rich, yes; but her clothes tell you that if you take away the horses and the country estate and the Park Avenue apartment and the maid and the cook and the impulse trips to Bermuda she’s just the same as you or I, picking up light bulbs from Target.

Friend One–from now on, we’ll call her Mary–needs a scarf that goes with a wardrobe like that, and I think I know just the thing. A timeless fabric, no fussy trims, rugged enough for the country but amenable to the occasional city foray.

Friend Two: Sylvia

Friend Two is closer in style to Mary’s cousin, Mrs. Howard (Sylvia) Fowler, played by the legendary Rosalind Russell.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

Happily, Friend Two’s resemblance to Sylvia ends with her sense of style, because Sylvia is horrible. HORRIBLE. Gossip is the air the Sylvia breathes. It’s also in pretty much every breath she exhales. She’s a liar, a coward, and a bully.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

She’ll abandon a friend, even her own cousin, at the first sign of trouble–even if she did her best to fan the flames.

The only thing you can admire about Sylvia is that she knits.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

Sylvia’s dress sense is as theatrical as you can get without buying your clothes from the Cirque du Soleil garage sale. I think Adrian meant to reveal her as a woman consumed with appearances and dying for attention.

Her wardrobe isn’t terribly avant garde, except perhaps for this three-eyed homage to Elsa Schiaparelli,

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

but it’s impossible to ignore. Most of the pieces she wears play with scale (making things bigger or taller) or texture (making things fuller or fluffier).

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

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The Women © 1939 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

Friend Two also loves to wear things that push boundaries and get noticed. She joyfully uses her body as the framework for an art project that’s created new every morning. Her closetseses (that’s not a typo–she has too many to express with “closets”) are her paintbox, and she paints with a surrealist’s brush.

This is going to be the greater challenge, because my own taste is closer to Mary’s. My wardrobe looks like it was last rejuvenated in 1922. I like sock garters. I have been known to put on a necktie just for fun. I think creative black tie is fine…for other people.

But I want to try, and I’m going to do them both on one warp. A gift for a friend should make that friend’s heart beat faster, even if it has the same effect on your stomach.

If you’ll please stop by in two weeks, I’ll be excited to show you what happens next.

*Exceptions would be forms of weaving requiring intense, frequent manipulation of the warp or weft threads; but that’s another adventure for another day. Maybe.

**Shearer did marry the studio boss, Irving Thalberg. It might have helped her a tiny bit. Just throwin’ it out there. That does not make me a Sylvia! Shut up.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Zitron Trekking (75% New Wool, 25% Nylon; 3.5 oz/100g per 459 yds/420m). Colors: 210 (Buff) and 240 (Red).

Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom (15 inch) by Schacht Spindle Company

The Women (1939). For information on sources, visit the official IMDB page . Yes, there was a remake in 2008, but please don’t ever bring that up in front of me again.

About Franklin Habit

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His next book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book will be published by Soho Publishing in June 2016.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet. On an average day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep.

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 Knitty.com, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

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, Squam Arts Workshops, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, two looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Spotted on Ravelry – Three Color Cowl (Crochet!)

Greetings!

Today we have something awesome for all the crochet fans. The Three Color Cowl by Samantha Stopple will keep you entertained and wondering how you finished so quickly! It’s offered in two sizes, making this the perfect project for a stash-buster OR a great excuse to purchase new yarn.

“Use three colors at the same time and you only need to weave in the ends at the beginning and the end!”

Small Cowl
DK Weight Yarn: 127 yards for each color
H/5.0mm Hook
Finished Size: approx. 29” around and 9” wide

Large Cowl – Pictured
Worsted Weight Yarn: 160 yards for each color
Hikoo® Kenzie
Colors: #1007, #1013, #1004
I/5.5 mm Hook
Finished Size: approx. 60” around and 6.5” wide

Samantha works at the Yarn Barn of Kansas which offers Hikoo® Kenzie in every color. Have fun creating your own color schemes!

This pattern is available for $6.00 USD buy it now on Ravelry!

Fridays with Franklin

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Adventure in an Old Book, Part Three

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

 

When I finished the collar I realized I was not quite finished with Elvina Corbould’s “Wheat-ear Pattern” from The Lady’s Knitting-Book, Second Series. You know how it goes. You think you’ve got hold of an idea, but really it has got hold of you.

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Up In Your Face with Knitted Lace

I am absolutely fascinated by the basic structure of knitted lace fabric and can talk about it for hours, which is one reason people stay away from me at parties.

It’s so simple, yet so infinitely variable. Look closely. You have solid bits

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and you have holes.

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The holes are most often yarn overs, and a yarn over is more than a design element; it’s also an increase. Yarn over, and your stitch count grows by one.

Unless the eyelets in a lace pattern are being used to shape the knitting, each yarn over is balanced by a corresponding decrease somewhere in the neighborhood.

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If this were not so, things could get out of hand very quickly.

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As we saw in part one of this adventure, decreases placed well away from their yarn overs can make fun stuff happen within the motif.  In the case of the Wheat-ear Pattern, that means rippled rows and scalloped edges.

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It follows that if we move the decreases to other parts of the fabric, there will be corresponding changes. And from those changes we can learn more about how lace fabric works, and possibly even derive new lace motifs.

This excites me.

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Dream of Wheat

Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to start with the original pattern

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and leave the yarn overs exactly where they are, but remove all the decreases.

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Then we’re going to put the decreases back again–but in different places. And we’ll see what, if anything, happens.

So that we can focus entirely on changes that come from the chart, we’ll be using the same yarn (Hikoo® Simplicity) and the same needles (addi® Click Interchangeables, size US 4/3.5 mm) as in the past two installments.

This is a wonderful way to learn how to design your own motifs. It also makes a terrific party game, if you’re at the sort of party where you’re home all by yourself because nobody wants to be in the room with you when you’re talking about knitted lace.

Variation One

Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed that the lace pattern for Frumentum had diverged from Corbould’s original.

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I removed line 9 of the chart, which had no patterning, to maximize the amount of swerve going on in the fabric.

I also replaced Corbould’s left-leaning single decrease–

Slip 1 stitch as if to purl. Knit the following stitch. Pass the slipped stitch over it.

with a modern left-leaning decrease, the slip-slip-knit (ssk). Slip-slip-knit is our gift from the legendary Barbara Walker, who developed it as a more perfect mirror image of the right-leaning knit two together (k2tog) single decrease.

I most often use the variation of slip-slip-knit developed by two other knitting legends, mother-daughter yarn titans Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg Swansen:

Slip 1 stitch as if to knit. Slip the next stitch as if to purl. Return both stitches to the left needle and knit them together through the back.

These changes are small, and don’t result in a pattern much different from the original. If you weren’t looking for differences you probably wouldn’t notice any.

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Variation Two

Now we’re going to shift the decreases in rounds 1–7 so that they’re closer to the yarn overs, but still not adjacent. And for the ducks of it, we’re going to replace the single decreases in the middle of rounds 9-15 with a single line of double decreases right down the center.

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Here’s my favorite double decrease. It gives a symmetrical, upright cluster of three stitches rather than the right-leaning bundle you get with knit three together (k3tog). In fine or slippery yarns, it’s also easier to work without dropping stitches.

One at a time, slip 2 stitches from the left to the right needle as if to knit. Knit the next stitch. Slip the first 2 stitches (separately or together) over the knitted stitch.

The result is a fabric in which biased areas now alternate with unbiased–an interesting textural effect.

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And the edge is still scalloped, but not quite so deeply.

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Variation Three

Can we get rid of the scallop entirely? I think we can. All we need to do is eliminate all early and delayed decreases, like this.

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Now every decrease occurs immediately before or after a corresponding yarn over. The result:

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Huh. Well, it doesn’t knock my socks off; but it’s certainly different. It might be cool to fill in those blank stretches between the upright motifs with smaller, perhaps floral, motifs.

Variation Four

And if we want to try that, why not give ourselves as many stitches as possible between the upright motifs. How could we do that? Like this.

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Now each pair of yarn overs is balanced with a double decrease between.

This gives us something very similar to the previous swatch, though the stitches up the center of each motif now stand up (being bundles of three). That might be a nice textural touch (especially in heavier yarns) or you might hate it.

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The lovely thing about designing your own lace variations is that you decide what works or doesn’t.

Variation Five

Let’s get really wild. We’re going almost back to the original chart, but we’re going to make one sneaky change. See it?

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Note the row numbers. Until now, the uncharted even rows have all been worked in plain old purl.

Now we’ve eliminated those plain rows completely. We’re going to work only the patterned rows–a technique known to knitters of Shetland lace as “close working.”

To do this, you must work every row in the chart beginning where you see the number–so odd rows are read and worked right to left, and even rows are read and worked left to right.

Also, to keep the fabric in stockinette, we need wrong-side purl versions of our left- and right-leaning decreases. Therefore…

For k2tog, use purl two together (p2tog).

For ssk, do this:

One at a time, slip 2 stitches as if to knit from the left needle to the right needle. Return these 2 stitches to the left needle and then, after making sure the working yarn is on the near side of your work, purl the two slipped stitches through the back.

It sounds a bit awkward, and it is at first; but with some practice it becomes quite simple.

We’ve seen that early and delayed decreases cause bias in the fabric. We’ve seen that the closer they are to one another, the more pronounced the bias. Now, working them on every row, we should being seeing that effect amped up to max volume.

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Wowee!

I got so into knitting this version that it would have been well on its way to a finished scarf if I hadn’t forced myself to bind it off and block it so you could see it today.

I could, and probably will, go on…but our next adventure is already under way. In fact, it’s right here on the work table at my elbow, screaming for attention.

See you in two weeks.

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Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Hikoo Simplicity (55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon, 117 yards per 50 gram hank). Colors: 001 White, 024 Bluebell, 036 Silver Hair, 049 Grass Slipper.

addi® Clicks interchangeable needles, size US 4/3.5mm.

About Franklin Habit

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His next book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book will be published by Soho Publishing in June 2016.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet. On an average day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep.

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 Knitty.com, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

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, Squam Arts Workshops, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, two looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Spotted On Ravelry – Center Peace Cowl

Dear Spring,

We’re ready for you!!

In anticipation of warmer, breezy weather, we are casting on this Center Peace Cowl designed by Sue from Galzanne Knits. Using two colors of Hikoo® Rylie, this soft and beautiful cowl is just want we want around our neck.

“This piece was designed for a very special friend who truly is a center peace in my life. The Hikoo® Rylie was the perfect yarn with its wonderful colors and amazing drape.” ~ Sue

We are so ready for more pleasant weather that we’ve started putting together a ‘Spring in Blues and White’ Pinterest board! The photos we’ve found so far seem like the perfect inspiration to get this cowl on needles.

Get your copy of this pattern for just $5.00 on Ravelry and help us usher in Springtime!

Fridays with Franklin

fwf-logo-v1Adventure in an Old Book, Part Two

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

 

This was my idea: to make Elvina Corbould’s “Wheat-ear Pattern,” published in 1878 in The Lady’s Knitting-Book, Second Series, into a knitted collar. Many of you had the same idea. When Part One of this excursion hit the streets, in came a trickle of messages all saying, “Land sakes, what a lovely collar that would make!”

I felt encouraged, as we could not possibly all be wrong.

I imagined something like this,

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and selected two colors of Hikoo Simplicity inspired by watery locales.

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Singularly appropriate for a wavy, ripply fabric. The bulk of the knitting would be vivid blue, shot with occasional rounds of dark grey to show off the undulations.

As I (literally) took off on a teaching trip, I cast on with the first ball of Fijian Waters. A few inches and 37,000 feet later,

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I was bored to tears.

It wasn’t bad. Just dull. Predictable. Similar to a dozen lacy collars I’d seen before.  A few rounds in a different color wasn’t going to change that.

This is adventure? Stripes? Meh. Back to the drawing board.

What about working the collar in bold blocks of color, rather like squares on a chess board–but bigger?

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That could work.

 

The I-Word

Bold, solid blocks of different colors in a single piece of knitting are most often created with a technique known as intarsia.

If you just shivered, I understand. Intarsia awakens strong feelings in the bosom of the knitter. In the latter part of the twentieth century it was employed, notoriously, to create some of the most misbegotten sweaters the world has ever known.

But we must remember that this is not intarsia’s fault. Like any other technique, it can be used for good or ill. The choice is yours.

I haven’t the time or space for a comprehensive discussion, but here is a nutshell account.

In an intarsia fabric, every discrete area of color requires its own supply of yarn. This drawing shows us a hypothetical piece in green and orange.

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We are looking at the right side. We begin by knitting across from right to left with the orange yarn. When we reach the point at which a change to green is called for, we twist the old (orange) and new (green) yarns together once to interlock the sections.

This interlocking is repeated every time one color gives way to the next, on both sides of the work. Skip the interlocking and you will end up with a fluttering miasma of unattached scraps of fabric, which makes for a very odd, drafty sweater.

Only one color is ever active at any given time. Unused colors just hang out, waiting for their turn. This is why elaborate intarsia works-in-progress often grow to resemble mating season in a dark stash closet.

There is more to intarsia than this but, frankly, not a whole lot more.

Intarsia creates a single-layered fabric with no floats (strands of unused color), ideal for lace. It was clearly the way to go for the collar, but there was an issue. I wanted to work in the round. Intarsia has traditionally been worked flat–even when used to make argyle socks, often considered the apotheosis of the method.

Here is why.

This drawing is an aerial view of an attempt at circular intarsia, just starting out.

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We begin at START HERE and merrily knit our way around, interlocking at the color changes as we go. All is well.

But then we come to Round Two,

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and immediately hit a brick wall. We are back at START HERE and need the green yarn. Instead of being where it ought, however, the green is now sitting at the far end of the orange section, utterly ignoring our fevered entreaties to Come Here at Once. If you have cats or teenagers, you know this feeling.

I could have surmounted the problem by working the collar as a flat strip and sewing it closed with a seam. This is, in fact, how argyle socks are traditionally finished. I immediately rejected this idea on the grounds that I did not feel like doing that.

There is a convoluted, long-standing method for working circular intarsia that I also rejected; because I tried it once and hated it so, so much that after six rounds I grew convinced of the pointlessness of human existence and ate an entire chocolate cheesecake in the bathtub while listening to a worn out mix tape of The Smiths given to me by the college boyfriend who broke my heart.

Paging Dr. Anne

This might have meant a radical reconfiguration of the design were it not for a fairly recent innovation in intarsia, conceived by intarsia master Anne Berk.

Anne feels about intarsia the way I feel about shadow knitting–that it’s a good egg, really, and just needs some love and understanding. She tackled the thorny issue of working this stuff in the round without recourse to cheesecake, and compiled the results in this book, Annetarsia Knits: A New Link to Intarsia.

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Her solution is so simple, yet so marvelously effective, that when I read it I grew absolutely furious that I hadn’t thought it up myself. That’s probably for the best, as nobody would want to buy a book called Franklintarsia.

In particular Anne’s way of dealing with the beginning of the rounds, which present special problems, is so perfect it makes me giddy. I couldn’t remember exactly what she does and didn’t have my book handy when the collar began, so I bunted.

My result is below. Anne’s is above. Hers wins, obviously. What with it being perfect and all.

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And so the collar was worked in fits and starts on four airplanes and a ship, yet popped off the needle almost before I knew what was happening. So pleasant.

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I was half tempted to leave it unblocked, to preserve the rippling…

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…but gave it a good soak to settle it down, and laid it out to dry. I pulled the points out to make sure they were all even…

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…but didn’t need to pin them.

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I am quite pleased.

The Recipe: Frumentum

This collar began with the Wheat-ear pattern, so I’m calling it “Frumentum,” the Latin for “grain.” If you’d like to make one, here’s what to do.

Materials

Two balls each of two colors Hikoo Simplicity. I used Seattle Sky (C1) and Fijian Waters (C2).

A circular needle size US 4/3.5mm, or the size you need to achieve a gauge you like. Maximum cable length will be 24 inches, but shorter will likely be more comfortable. I used my beloved Addi Short Lace Clicks with a 16-inch cable.

A copy of Annetarsia Knits, or instruction in the method through one of Anne’s classes. I can’t present it to you here, alas, but both Anne and her book are readily available everywhere these days.

1 stitch marker

Instructions

Wind all four skeins of Simplicity into balls; you’ll have them all in play at one time once the intarsia begins.

With C1, cast on 136 sts using the method of your choice. Join to work in the round, taking care not to twist. Place marker to indicate beginning of round.

*Knit 1 round, purl 1 round

Repeat from * 1x.

Work the first intarsia passage as follows:

With C1, work 2 repeats of Round 1 of the revised Wheat-ear chart (see below) across the first 34 sts. Join the first ball of C2 and work 2 repeats of Round 1 on the next 34 sts. Follow this with a 2 more repeats in C1, joining the second ball of that color; and then begin 2 more repeats of C2, ditto. You should now be at the beginning of the round, with all four balls of yarn attached to the work.

Work the entire Wheat-ear Pattern chart through Round 16, interlocking sections and rounds using Anne Berk’s circular intarsia method. When the chart is complete, break the working yarns, leaving 8-inch tails.

Work a second full repeat of the chart, alternating the colors of the sections (grey atop blue, and vice versa). When complete, break working yarns.

Work a third repeat of the chart through Round 8 only, once again alternating the colors of the sections.

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Work the upper selvedge entirely in C1 as follows, breaking the other working yarns as you reach them:

*Knit 1 round, purl 1 round

Repeat from * 1x.

Bind off in purl.

Break working yarn and weave in ends. Soak and gently block on flat surface, shaping top and bottom points into even scallops. Allow to dry completely before wearing.

For the Next Adventure…

No, wait. Wait. I don’t think I’m quite finished with this yet. See you in two weeks.

 

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Hikoo Simplicity (55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon, 117 yards per 50 gram hank). Colors: Fijian Waters (Blue) and Seattle Sky (Grey).

addi® Click Interchangeable needles, size US 4/3.5mm.

Annetarsia Knits: A New Link to Intarsia by Anne Berk (Double Vision Press, 2014).

 

About Franklin Habit

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His next book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book will be published by Soho Publishing in June 2016.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet. On an average day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep.

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 Knitty.com, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

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, Squam Arts Workshops, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, two looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Fridays with Franklin

fwf-logo-v1Adventure in an Old Book, Part One

When I have the luxury of knitting without a deadline, one of my favorite things to do is knit swatches.

I admit that I have odd ideas about what constitutes a good time. Most knitters I have met say they would prefer to give a cat a bikini wax rather than knit a swatch. I, however, have learned most of what I know about yarn by turning out hundreds and hundreds of itty bitty scraps of fabric.

Sometimes I knit swatches for mundane reasons: to check gauge, test drape, or plan a design. Other times, as in this adventure, I knit them just to see what happens. I get a kick out of that. And in the long run, it’s productive. Just as most of my best ideas for cartoons bubble up after hours of aimless doodling, so my best knitting designs follow miles and miles of stitching with no special goal in mind.

I have a particular goofy passion for working from nineteenth century patterns. I won’t go into all the reasons why here; but chief among them is the mystery. It’s not uncommon for pattern books from the 1840s through the 1890s to offer you either only a rudimentary or misleading illustration of what you’re making, or–most often–no illustration at all. You get a rather bald title–“For a Gent’s Patterned Glove, with Fingers” and that’s it.

To work from these is to participate in the original mystery knit-alongs.

I’d been wanting to play with The Lady’s Knitting-Book (1878) for some time. The author, credited on the title page only as E.M.C., has been revealed as Elvina M. Corbould. She was quite prolific. For this adventure, we’ll dip into the second series of The Lady’s Knitting-Book, which ran to at least four volumes; she also produced (or at least put her initials upon) multiple works on crochet, netting, and needlework.

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One of the things I like about Elvina’s knitting books is that she is liberal in her dispensation of stitch motifs. I wasn’t in the mood to knit a Whole Thing, just little bits. If one of those little bits were to give me a bigger idea, I could see about turning it into a project.

I ran down the alphabetical table of contents

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and chose three, based entirely on how interesting their names were.

First up was “Talisman Pattern,” because how on earth can you not be curious about something that calls itself that?

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It revealed itself to be a variation of basket weave. Hmm. Well, okay.

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A perfectly nice variation, but not something I felt like doing more of. Not now, anyway.

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But here is the chart, in case you would like to try it. (Note: Corbould includes a garter stitch border for all her motifs; I put them on my swatches, but have omitted them in this article.)

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Next I took a crack at “Lorne Pattern.”

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This was intriguing because it was short–just three rows–and appeared to be lacy, as the instruction to “wool forward” (meaning yarn over, an instruction still to be found in some British publications) was frequent.

The result was extremely interesting: a fully reversible fabric displaying the characteristics of lace and those of ribbing.

Definitely worth another look. Here, if you would like to try it yourself, is the chart.

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And then “Wheat-ear Pattern,” the most elaborate (or at least the longest) of the three.

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Now this was interesting.

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I like lace generally, but I particularly enjoy lace motifs that mess around with early and delayed decreases. What does that mean? It means that the openings in the lace–created with yarn overs–are separated by one or more stitches from the decreases that compensate for them. As here:

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Used repeatedly and systematically, these do fun things to the grain of the fabric. It can cause the rows to ripple in curves, as here:

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It can also, when taken to an extreme, cause a scalloped selvage:

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This was a motif to explore further. After a few repeats I found I wanted to knit a bunch more, which is always a good sign.

Of the three I tried, this was the only one of Elvina’s patterns to include errors. I’ve corrected them for the chart.

skacel-col-11-wheatear-fixed

Now, what to do with it? I have an idea. See you in two weeks.

 

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Hikoo® Simplicity (55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon, 117 yards per 50 gram hank). Colors: 013 Violette (Talisman), 026 Pale Yellow (Lorne), 036 Silver Hair (Wheat Ear).

Pages from The Lady’s Knitting-Book, Second Series by Elvina M. Corbould. Available in digital form here from the University of Southampton, as part of the Richard Rutt Collection.

 

About Franklin Habit

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His next book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book will be published by Soho Publishing in June 2016.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet. On an average day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep.

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 Knitty.com, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

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, Squam Arts Workshops, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, two looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.