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.

Fridays with Franklin · Uncategorized

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.

Chuck

The New Guy Goes to TNNA

Hello everyone!  My name is Chuck, and I am the new Skacel employee.  For those of you who are wondering – no, I am not Karin’s husband – that position was already taken!  I am, however, the Director of New Product Research and Development.  It is my job to help Skacel determine what yarns and products fiber enthusiasts want to buy and which will sell best for local yarn shops.  This new position combines my two passions – knitting and research.  I have been an avid knitter for almost four years, and I have been working in the research industry for over twelve.  I am very fortunate to be able to say this truly is my dream job!

To make a great first week on the job even better, at the end of last week I got to attend TNNA in Long Beach, California.  TNNA is The National NeedleArts Association, and one of the many things this organization does is put on trade shows for yarn shop owners to see what’s new in the needlearts world.  Everyone in the industry attends – so it was amazing to see and meet so many famous knitters!

I got to meet celebrated designers like Cat Bordhi, Lily Chin, Nicky Epstein, Sandi Prosser and Mary Beth Temple.  I met editors of magazines I love to read – Kara Gott Warner (Creative Knitting), Eunny Jang (Interweave Knits), Renee Lorion (Vogue Knitting), Rick Mondragon (Knitter’s), Carla Scott (Vogue Knitting), Erin Slonaker (YMN) and Penelope Taylor (Knit ‘n Style).  And what an honor to meet the Ravelry folks – thank you Jessica, Casey, Mary-Heather and Sarah for creating and running such an amazing knitting resource and source of inspiration! 

Me (in the tan shirt) and some great knitting ladies – L to R: Lorajean (aka KnittedWit), Deb (aka Stitchy McYarnpants), Mary-Heather (aka RainyDayGoods), Anna, Erin (aka MintyFreshFlavor), Caro (aka SplitYarn), Laura, Kristi, Ysolda, Jessica (aka Frecklegirl), Amanda, me and Deb.

Cliff Haack (aka Vogue), a Skacel sales rep, models a HiKoo Simplicity sweater in the TNNA fashion show.

 Ingrid and Hans Skacel ride the carousel with Rob.

I also loved seeing yarn shop owners that I had met previously when shopping in their stores.  I can’t travel anywhere without checking out a LYS or two!  I also had the pleasure of meeting many of the yarn shop owners from all over the country that supply knitters with great Skacel products.

It’s been a great first few days on the job, and I am really looking forward to shaping the yarns and products that come out in the near future! 

The first person to read this and email me will get their choice of a free addi circular needle!  Just email me at chuck@skacelknitting.com and put welcome in the subject line.    

Knit on!

Chuck

Rob

Happy 100th Issue Knitter’s!

Knitter's Zinio Download

Hello All,

skacel would like to wish Knitter’s Magazine a very “Happy 100th Issue”. As one of the premiere knitting and needle arts related magazines in the industry, Knitter’s provides its readers with a continuous supply of patterns, ideas, new techniques, cutting-edge products, and more.

During the STITCHES East 2010 show, Knitter’s Magazine unveiled their newly redesigned collector’s edition of Knitter’s Magazine (issue #K100).  And along with their new look, Knitter’s also went digital! Partnering with Zinio, a global leader in the digital magazine newsstand market, Knitter’s is now able to bring their magazine directly to digital media such as Mac, PC, and iPad, which is great for those tech-savvy knitters.  And if that wasn’t enough, as a “thank you” to their adoring fans, Knitter’s is offering this first digital collector’s issue at no cost!

skacel is proud to be a part of this milestone issue, with two exciting designs featuring skacel yarns.  First up is the playful Trifecta pullover, designed by Kathy Zimmerman.  To quote Kathy, this design “[hits] the jackpot with a fabric that combines three colors and three stitch patterns.  The wide collar and cotton/wool blend yarn make for comfortable year round dressing”.  Trifecta is worked out of Schulana’s Merino Cotton 90, a wonderful cotton/wool blend.

The second design is an awe inspiring Purple Reign vest, designed by Penny Ollman.  Penny notes that, “regal coloring and shaping define this vest.  The fine gauge and fancy stitch-work make this an investment piece, worthy of any wardrobe style”.  Purple Reign is worked out of Zitron’s LifestyleLifestyle is a solid, yet soft, 100% wool creation and a staple in our collection.

To take advantage of this monstrous issue and all of the patterns available to you, simply download the digital edition of #K100 and the Zinio reader service by clicking here.

Don’t delay … log on, log in, and enjoy this exciting new issue today!

Happy Knitting!