Fridays with Franklin

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.

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Fridays with Franklin

Fridays with Franklin

fwf-logo-v1Adventure in the Bathroom, Part One

For an introduction to this ongoing series, click here.

In my long and rather checkered career I have often encountered yarns that made me gasp, yarns that made me sigh, yarns that made me recoil in fright and bewilderment. Now I’ve found a yarn that makes me giggle.

A couple months ago I got a call from a buddy at Skacel.

“Whatcha up to?” he said.

“Watching NOVA,” I said. “They’re talking about mummies.”

“Ah. Well, I don’t want to interrupt the party, but are you interested in trying a new yarn? One hundred percent microfiber. Absorbent, durable. Fluffy. Soft. You can machine wash it, you can bleach it. Pretty wild.”

“I’m not sure,” I said. “Wild isn’t my thing, remember? You were there when I passed out from doing double treble crochet.”

“You don’t have to go crazy. Just give it a shot. It’s called Rub-a-Dub.”

“Rub-a-Dub?”

“Are you giggling?”

“…No.”

“Yes you are. I can hear you.”

“That’s the television.”

“There’s no giggling on NOVA.”

“Seriously–Rub-a-Dub?”

“I’m putting it in the mail,” he said. “When you’ve pulled yourself together maybe you do something cute with it.”

“Rub-a-Dub-Dub!” I giggled. “Knit a sub in your tub!”

He hung up.

Meet the Yarn

Here’s what I got. Big, bouncy white bundles that look more like cartoons of  skeins of yarn than actual skeins of yarn.

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It’s squishy. When you wind it, it makes a ball as big as your face.

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As the name (giggle) suggests, it was made with applications for the bath (and other soggy venues) in mind. There are two free patterns (a bath mitt and a washcloth) inside the band.

The bath mitt pattern reminded me of a fellow I used to see in the locker room at the Harvard Club in Boston from time to time. He was more active than the mummies on NOVA, but equally a relic of a bygone era. I found the trappings of his Jazz Age masculinity fascinating. He used pomade on his hair, Bay Rum on his face, and a bath strap on his–well, on the rest of him.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a bath strap, it looks something like this.

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You hold the handles and drag the strap back and forth across those hard-to-reach places. Store-bought bath straps are often made from something like sisal, which gently exfoliates your skin in rather the same way that the pagans gently exfoliated St. Bartholomew (look it up).

I fancied I could use Rub-a-Dub to make up my own bath strap.

Knitting or Crochet?

My first thought was to knit it. Knitting is my comfort zone. I’ve knit washcloths.

But a bath strap is used differently than a washcloth. You don’t bunch it up and rub it around, you grab the ends and pull it tight. To work properly, it must withstand tugging and pulling without stretching out of shape.

Crochet stretches; however, when yarn and gauge are equivalent, crochet stretches less than knitting. As I fancied practicing my crochet skills, that settled the question.

Research and Development

This is my incredibly thoughtful preliminary sketch.

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Laugh, if you will; but I sketch out even quite simple projects. Sketching is a first go at giving an airy nothing some physical form. It forces me to consider proportions, edges, boundaries, structures. As I draw what I want to make, I think about how I’d like to make it. Can it be done in one piece? If so, where best to begin? Where will I end? Can I get there from here?

I figured the finished length by extending a tape measure behind my back until it was just about right for effective scrubbing. I left the width an open question until I’d finished swatching.

Rub-a-Dub is fluffy as a freshly blow-dried cat, so I selected a bunch of crochet hooks from the fatter end of my collection

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and got down to it.

The whole swatch is in double crochet, because it’s the stitch I’ve worked the most so I could remember how to do it without looking it up.

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The smallest hook (9 mm) gave me a fabric that was acceptable, but tough to work–the yarn wasn’t sliding readily through the loops. The largest hooks (12 and 15 mm) gave me a fabric that was too open–sloppy and loose.

In between was the 10 mm, which cranked out a good fabric. It also, being made of metal, slipped pleasantly through the yarn.

Just for the ducks of it, I did try out a smaller (6 mm) hook to see what would happen.

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It wasn’t a success. The hook had trouble grabbing and holding the strand; working a single row took ages. And the smaller stitches were so compressed that the fabric turned hard and unpleasantly lumpy. Clearly, Rub-a-Dub (giggle) is a yarn that needs room to breathe.

The Pattern

If the following pattern for a crocheted bath strap doesn’t seem like much of a pattern, that’s because I’m not much of a crocheter. I love crochet, I’m just not too good at it yet.

On the other hand, the strap employs all four maneuvers I can do without referring to Maggie Righetti’s Crocheting in Plain English. When you look at it that way, it’s kind of a tour-de-force.

So…

Fetch yourself a skein of Rub-a-Dub and a US Size N (10 mm) crochet hook. You may need to use a hook that’s smaller or larger. Gauge isn’t vital, but you don’t want the strap to be stiff as cardboard or loose as fishnet.

Ch 20, with sl st join into ring.

Sl st into 9 chains to form first handle.

Ch 3 (counts as first dbl crochet from now on), dbl crochet into remaining 10 chains.

*  Ch 3, turn work, dbl crochet into back loop only of next 10.  (11 stitches total) Note: Working only into the back loops on every row creates a slightly corrugated fabric, which feels nice against the skin.

Rep from * until strap is 25 inches long (or desired length) not including handle.

Ch 9. With sl st, join chain to opposite corner of strap.

Turn work, sl st into all chains to complete second handle.

Cut working yarn and weave in ends.

Scrub-a-dub-dub.

8

The End?

The only thing left to do was a practical test, so I headed for the shower. I was delighted. Soap, hot water, vigorous friction, and the yarn didn’t snap or shed or otherwise misbehave. Hanging in the shower, it dried almost completely within an hour or so.

However, the bath strap had used only about half the ball, leaving me with a quantity of unused Rub-a-Dub (giggle) still sitting around.

That would not do.

And that’s when…the idea hit me.

The next part of this adventure will appear in two weeks.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Hikoo Rub-a-Dub: 100% Microfiber; 108 yd/200 g per ball

Premium Crochet Hooks by Addi

Crocheting in Plain English by Maggie Righetti (St. Martin’s Griffin, 1988)

About Franklin Habit

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008) and proprietor of The Panopticon (the-panopticon.blogspot.com), 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.

Uncategorized

Proud to announce: Addi Swing Hooks!

If you enjoy crochet, this is your lucky day! skacel and addi are extremely proud to announce their newest line of crochet hooks, the addi Swing.  Developed with comfort in mind, the handle is constructed of two plastics: one colorful and soft, and the other, white and firm.  The two balance each other perfectly for just the right amount of flexibility.  The handle warms quickly to the temperature of your skin and is precisely contoured to rest comfortably in your hand, thus eliminating pressure points. In fact, the Swing hook feels so good, those who don’t crochet, will want to learn.  To top it off (literally), is the classic addi Turbo hook that slides easily in and out of stitches.   All the hooks are color coded by size, and the metric size is boldly printed on the handle.  No “readers” needed for this one!

Hooks are available from a 2mm (A hook) to a 6mm (J hook) and sold individually!  Visit your local yarn store and pick some up today!

Karin

Skacel: an international family

The thing I like most about Skacel is that we are a family run and family oriented company.  Not only do we have three generations of Skacels working here, but all of our employees and most of our vendors, have become part of our extended family.  

It is true that our vendors are across an ocean in Europe, but over the years we have developed close bonds.  I visit Germany once a year to connect with our family-owned vendors over there, and once a year most of them visit us.  Frequently when they visit, they stay in our home.  This gives us a very comfortable atmosphere to discuss business, family, hobbies, and whatever we desire.

This past Independence Day we were fortunate enough to have Thomas Selter (5th generation owner and President of addi) come stay with us and celebrate.  Thomas was such a sport that he actually dressed as Uncle Sam, which prompted us to name him and his partner, Claudia Malcus, King and Queen of Independence Day. 

       

Not all was fun-and-games for when we discussed the addi Lace Clicks we got into a little wrestling match.  Although it does look like I am in a death grip, fear not, I won! 

We have gotten one step closer to getting the production of the Lace Clicks into full swing!  Our estimated arrival date of these needles should be end of summer or early fall.  Don’t get the impression that I wrestle my vendors a lot.  It’s only on occasion.

Rob

“Serious Hardware!”

The following story was sent to me by Penelope Taylor, the editor of Knit ‘n Style magazine.  One of Penelope’s freelance writers, Kathy Blumenstock (of Washington Post fame), was running some errands when she found herself in the middle of the following conversation…

I’m in Home Depot where I need to find paint, and a teen boy is asking the sales person, “where can I find Addi Turbo’s?…My grandmother needs two of them”.  Apparently he assumed something with “Turbo” in it would of course be found in the aisles of a hardware store.  When the sales person was saying, “I’ve never heard of those”, I butted in and said, “they’re KNITTING needles, circular knitting needles,” and I told him of two stores a few towns over where he could find them, or to go online.  He looked dubious and relieved too.  And once again I championed my fave needles (I have forced/encouraged more people to get these, I should be on commission, or at least carry a full set around to demo!).

While reading this story, I could just imagine the look on each person’s face.  I’m sure it was a priceless moment for Kathy.  Each of us here in the office got a good chuckle out of her story and we wanted to share it with you, in hopes it would brighten your day!

Happy Knitting,

Rob

Rob

Meet “Addi Turbo”

What’s more adorable than a fluffy, snarfley, snoring puppy? Nothing!

Last year, we introduced a new member to our family. She’s a 2 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. While choosing this furry ball of love was easy, picking a name was not. We tossed around ideas, and then I thought to myself…what would someone like me *love* to name their pet? And just like that, I had an epiphany. Thus, ‘Addi Turbo’ was born. Well, not really born…more like ‘christened’.

Now, Addi is not fast, nor is she nickel plated, snag-free, hand-made, or especially quiet for that matter. But, she does come with a guarantee…a guarantee that she will put a smile on our faces no matter what.

Addi is a very busy girl. She attends daycare a few days a week, gets to go to work with mommy on occasion, likes to play in the snow, and even helps clean out the cat’s box when we’re not looking (yes, yucky). And yes, in case you’re wondering…she already has one hand-knit sweater in her wardrobe (we are planning more wooly wears for her in the near future).

By now you’re probably asking, “Rob, where are you going with this blog entry?”. Well, I have no idea really. I’m guessing it’s a veiled attempt to once again gush over my baby girl. I mean, can you blame a proud papa?

So in closing friends, I will leave you with this rumination…be wary of kissing your dog if you have a litter box. Oh, and always knit with Addi needles!

Cheerio,

Rob

Rob

I love free stuff! “Free car wash with 10 gallon fill-up”. I’ll take it. “One free tire when you buy three”. I’m buying six. “Buy 3 hot dogs, get the 4th free”. I’m eating four for lunch. It’s a fact. Free “stuff” makes us all feel warm and fuzzy inside, not to mention the satisfaction of saving a couple bucks (something that we could all go for right now).

So, when I heard that skacel was running a contest to get a free limited edition addi t-shirt, I almost slipped a stitch. I mean, these shirts are going to be the hottest ticket this fall, so the possibility of getting one for free makes me wonder why more people aren’t jumping at the chance.

Just how does one go about obtaining such a highly sought-after shirt? It’s simple. Just prove to skacel that you’re an addi addict by submitting a picture of yourself and your addi stash (in your natural knitting environment). Yes, it’s that simple! Do you knit on the bus ride to work? Well, have someone take a picture and ride it to a free shirt! Do you knit during math class? Take a picture, and you could add a new shirt to your wardrobe.

To make things even more unreal, each picture submitted will qualify to be entered in an upcoming addi addicted series of advertisements being published in knitting magazines around the country. That is correct; you could be in a nationally published addi advertisement for everyone to see!!!! It’s a win, win, win situation.

Here are a few of the first addi addicts to come out:

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addipic

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Think you can do better? Well, what are you doing still sitting there? Grab your addi Turbos®, take a picture, and prove you’re addicted to addi!