Sunday, January 06, 2013

Entanglements, Various

I was in the workroom, trying to fit this year's books into last year's bookshelves, when Harry rolled in and asked whether he could have a yarn cave.

"I beg your pardon?"

"I want a yarn cave," he said. "I was just watching that house hunting show with Dolores and the man didn't like the first seventeen houses because there was no space for a man cave where he could watch television without his wife. I want a yarn cave so I can watch television without Dolores."

"Dolores," I shouted, "stop hogging the television! I am not going to have this argument again."

"I couldn't agree with you more," she shouted back.

"It's not fair," said Harry. "I want to watch the new Learning Channel documentary about Yarn Pixies and she keeps putting on Emanuelle Goes to Maryland Sheep and Wool and telling me I have to leave the room."

"You two are really going to have to work this out yourselves."

"I want a yarn cave!" said Harry.

"We don't have space for a yarn cave. This is a big city. It's crowded. We live in an apartment. And it's a pretty nice apartment, as apartments go. Lots of yarn would be happy to have as much room to roll around as you have."

"Yarn cave! Yarn cave!"

"You know who has lots of room?" I said. "Mrs. Teitelbaum. Maybe you would like to go next door and see if she would let you move in with her and Tinkles."

"Maybe I will," said Harry, stomping off. "Then when I am gone, boy will you be sorry."

Hah. He'll be back. Won't he?

I can't blame Harry for feeling overcrowded. Even though I have a work room, the whole apartment has been a carnival of frenzied fiber activity for the past couple of months. It's good to be busy, but busy + yarn = tangles. By Christmas, after four months of near-constant travel, this place looked like the inside of an old sewing basket that had been shaken by a gorilla.  I conceded that it was time to address the mess when I tripped over a stray strand of merino in the kitchen and it knocked over a lamp in the bedroom.

Happily, a lot of works-in-progress are finished and can be tidied away. There's this, for example.


My first sweater design (in Cascade 220 Sport) for publication–the Men's Color Band Pullover from Vogue Knitting Winter 2012/13, which goes on sale the day after this writing.

I had a ball with it. We (the three guy designers in the story) were challenged to come up with a sweater we'd wear ourselves on a casual day at the office.

I only wish I looked like the model, but the sweater truly is something I'd wear.

It has very little ease, because I (and most men) look terrible in baggy sweaters. It tapers from the chest to the waist, because unshaped sweaters make me (and most men) look like they're wearing feed sacks. And though it has a basis in the traditional male palette of brown/earth/gray, I added purple and lavender houndstooth because life is too damned short wear nothing but brown/earth/gray.

There's this, a hat in so-called Bavarian Twisted Stitch. (Twisted, yes. Bavarian, not necessarily.)


It's a model for one of my new classes, débuting at Vogue Knitting Live! New York in just a little while. (That class is sold out, but a few of my other sessions have seats. Do come and play.)

There's also this.


Why, that's not knitting! That's not knitting at all! 

Nope, it's card weaving. Because I needed one more thing to do with string.

I've felt the urge to weave spring up once or twice, but always ran into roadblocks. A lack of space, for one. Also, the insistence of all my weaving friends and acquaintances that I would have to start with a plain dish towel.

I don't want to weave a plain dish towel. I want to make fabric with patterns. My weaving friends insisted that you cannot start out by weaving patterns, you have to start with a plain dish towel. Apparently this commandment is chiseled onto a stone tablet on a mountain near Taos.

I asked about all those unfortunate children who are forced into weaving patterned carpets. The horrors of their situation aside, if a five-year-old can weave patterns, why can't I?

Because you have to start with a plain dish towel, they said. It is written. Or chiseled, or something.

Then I met this guy when we were both teaching at the same event. He was working with tiny looms. So small they would easily fit on a coffee table. His beginning students were weaving bands covered in patterns.

So I said can you teach me, and John said yeah; and now I have a tiny loom and am making my own patterned bootlaces, which I think is hot.

We've become good buddies (he'll also be at Squam, teaching card weaving) and for the ducks of it we've decided to collaborate on a piece of design: a bag, with a knitted body and a woven strap.

Here's the yarn we're using: Cobasi by Hikoo.


Cobasi is a blend of COtton, BAmboo, and SIlk–get it?) distributed by Skacel. It is, in a word, groovy. The impetus was a desire to offer a really good wool-free sock yarn, and what they've come up with works equally well for knitting and card weaving.

Our challenge is to turn out a project that combines weaving and knitting in a beautiful, practical fashion. We're going to chronicle the development of the bag–for better or worse– right here in this space. More to come.


Marilyn said...

Perhaps Harry could have an iPad Mini? He could watch downloads from anywhere in the apartment.

Anonymous said...

Sweater in first pic is lovely but there may be a bit of a bidding war for the model. I'm just sayin'.

gardensprite said...

Yarn storage? I just happened to have been reading about that here:

Lesleyanne said...

My other half laughed hollowly when I read him the sentence about the bedroom lamp.

Anonymous said...

Great looking bootlaces, Franklin. I haven't done cardweaving for quite a few years but enjoyed it immensely. And Weave-it looms are quite fun as well. I have a project made up of those squares that needs completion, but is languishing in the UFO bag. Take care - Joe-in Wyoming.

Erica said...

There is no such law in weaving! The wonderful thing about it is that you can take a plain dish towel and turn it into a pattern with no trouble at all, as long as you have at least 4 shafts. You can even weave a plain towel and a patterned towel on the same piece, without changing a thing. If I still lived in Chicago you could come visit and I'd have you weaving patterns in an afternoon. You can absolutely start weaving patterns right away. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

Love your bootlaces, and you might want to remind Harry that the "yarn cave" is called the stash closet in most yarny households.

Nuna Knits said...

"I conceded that it was time to address the mess when I tripped over a stray strand of merino in the kitchen and it knocked over a lamp in the bedroom."
Your writing is surpassed only by your sense of humor (or at leas that side of it you share with us, your devoted followers).
PS I'm one half of the Welch Sisters you met in Northampton this past fall.

Garpu said...

Way cool on the laces!

IMO, it's like the garter stitch scarf. Better someone should start with a project they're really jazzed about than one they'll never finish. Hell, I'm a Doctor Who fan since Kindergarten, and I had a hell of a time actually finishing the Doctor Who scarf.

roxie said...

Card weaving is too cool for school!

I made my living as a weaver for 12 years, and never once did I make a plain dishtowel. Most of the "Artsy Weavers' laws" are bullshit. Production weaving is a world apart.

Maybe you could get Harry a smart phone or a laptop that picks up TV signals. Then he could cozy up in the stash and let D. go to hell in her own way/

Rosemary Riveter said...

My first rigid heddle weaving project was a plain weave alpaca scarf, second was a plain weave 3-colour wool plaid, third has been on the loom for 2 years but is a brown/gray houndstooth that would look great with your new design.

Mr Riveter wants to make me an inkle loom so we can join the snazzy bootlaces (&guitar straps) brigade.

Bill said...

Please invite harry to visit me in San Francisco. I'll give him his own man cave...however I don't have television... that might be a problem, but I'll loan him my ipad.

Anonymous said...

You knit the Doctor's scarf? I am in awe. My husband wants one and keeps begging me to knit one, and I keep saying no, because I'd end up strangling him with it long before I finished.

Patience said...

When Himself and I were condo-shopping, the guidance to the realtors was "the piano gets its own room, the yarn gets its own room, we will share a bedroom." One of them finally believed us and then we found the place we liked.

Harry is welcome to come visit and stay in the yarn room. He may get lost in there, though.....

Liz said...

Very nice man's sweater, although from the perspective of a person in her 50s the "man" in it looks more like a boy. No way any men in my life would wear lavender, but I'm working on it.

Jamie Wang said...

Love that sweater (the model is not half-bad either, but that's why he's a model, I guess).

I know my husband (56) would wear it, as would either of my sons (24 and 16), as long as I modified it to be long enough for them (6', 6'4", and 6'6", respectively). They all like a slim fit and finer gauge yarns.

Another winner!

Having no Cascade sport in the house, I think I may need to go shopping...

BTW, do you think you might sell the hat pattern here?

twinsetellen said...

Finally, a pattern my husband might wear at work. No, not the sweater, the boot laces.

I do like the sweater, and I liked the concept in the issue. I would love to see more like it.

Carie @ Space for the Butterflies said...

Now why would anyone want to start weaving with a plain tea towel when you could be making fabulous patterned shoelaces? It's a no-brainer - hurrah for vaguely Grecian patterned laces!

trainlady said...

The sweater is to die for. Well, maybe not die, at least enough to make me stalk a copy of Vogue Knitting. I think my brother is getting a sweater, finally.

If I haven't knit more than a huge swatch for my Tomten from last year, am I allowed to play this year?

Nancy said...

When I was looking into small weaving projects, sources encouraged guitar straps and such. Shoelaces are most excellent!

Louisa said...

The sweater is dreamy - as is the model. Congrats on entering the Vogue universe!

You got bit by the tabletweaving bug! (John Mullarky is a great instructor.) I just love watching one knitter after another succumb to the weaving side. Ha-ha-ha! More yarn. More equipment. Yippee!

blopeep said...

Two of my favorite people collaborating on a piece. Wonderful! And don't forget to have John teach you the "Cardweavers' Secret Signal".

You'll want to be able to flash it when we all meet up at SOAR. And dishtowels can be full of patterns. Just sayin'. :-)

Harma said...

Never ever let anyone tell you you need to start weaving dishtowels. What you weave will be a fabric and what you do with it is your own choice. You can always start with a basic plain weave or a 2/2 twill in different colours.
The only possible reason not to start weaving should be lack of space or time. Although, a loom can be used as a mancave for Harry when you're not weaving.

Seanna Lea said...

I am waiting to hear about my classes from Squam, and I definitely requested card weaving. It is good to know that I'll be in good company!

Pam Sykes (aka Pretty Knitty) said...

Patterned boot laces (and making your own) ARE hot! Go You! And I think I am in love with that have been busy! I am so glad the fruits of your labor are easy to find...must.knit.that.sweater (and make my man wear his yarn cave, of course!).

Anonymous said...


Pls don't tell us Harry has moved in with Mrs.T! Well....maybe a short stay, Tinkles and All, will remind him of the Wonderfulness of living with you and Dolores...never a dull moment. I think the IPad mini for quiet TV watching is a good idea. When is his birthday?

Lee in Iowa

Claudia said...

Poor Harry. By the way, Delores was hilarious on Twitter last night during Downton Abbey!

Yvonne said...

I had much more difficulty cardweaving than I have ever had weaving on a loom. My first weaving project was a little sampler of plain weave, twill & double weave. Once you get the idea of how things are set up on a loom, the sky's the limit! My first dishtowels were rosepath. Maybe Harry's yarn cave could be under a Baby Wolf... ?

Beth V. said...

Your designs look fantastic, as always! And don't listen to the weavers who told you that you must start with a dishcloth. My weaving teacher, Selma Miriam, had us on 4-shaft table looms from day one. And we made scarves, of our own design, in two colors. My scarf is a sampler of various patterns, some from a book & some I "unvented". I haven't made a dishcloth yet!!

Anonymous said...

Well, hello sexy hat! I do hope that pattern will some day be shared with the masses.

Also, hello sexy model.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I might even take up weaving if I could make my own spiffy shoelaces!

Looking forward to the bag project,

Unknown said...

I am coming to play in your tessallations class at VK Live NYC!

Leigh said...

Hmmm. Reminds me that I'd better get my yarn off the dining room table.

You're the third person I know/have met who does card weaving. My grandma, a local person whose studio I toured, and now you. I wish I'd learned from my grandma, but I do have her cards, loom and some fun handbags she made for me when I was a child.They are cute - lovely colors, and about 8 inches wide and 6 inches deep in heavy cotton crochet thread. Her largest piece was regular yarn and about 18" wide and 3 feet long. That's a LOT of card weaving. One of these days I'll get them out and figure it out. Until then, I'm playing with a rigid heddle that I just got. Fun with fiber TWO ways. :)

inklenaomi said...

Inkle, Inkle, Inkle, Inkle, yes you can do card weaving, but don't skip by inkle weaving without so much as a by your leave. My inkle loom travels by plane, fits easily into my carryon luggage, and has yet to be confiscated by overzealous airport security types. It warps up on the tray table in front of me without encroaching on the passengers on either side.
Yes, it's a gateway drug, but if you already cardweave who do you think you are kidding?

karen alho said...

My first ever project was on a table loom. It was not a dish towel. We did long strips (mine turned out to be about five feet) starting with a simple basket weave for about four or five inches and gradually adding more and more complex patterns. Our teacher was extraordinary. At the end she taught us to do laid in tapestry and the last panel is a self designed panel of crocuses.. about eight inches wide and five inches long. Twenty-five years later it is still hanging in my office space!

Judy G. said...

If you're looking for "weaving without borders" you may want to investigate Saori weaving. Just a suggestion...

Patti said...

Weaving is a slippery slope... and a fun one! I started out with a Rigid heddle, and now own 4 looms... I look forward to following the progress of your weaving project.

Susan in Katonah said...

I planned to take your tesselations class at VKL! so I rushed out and bought Origami Tesselations by Eric Gjerde and Shadowfolds by Rutzky and Palmer. So beautiful.

However, I'm now in your Tomten class instead. Whoo hoo!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a headslap moment with your comments on fitting men's sweaters. DUH! No wonder the items I knit for DH always look like he's wearing a gunnysack. (A gunnysack made out of merino and full of manly cables . . . but a gunnysack.) After years of adapting sweaters to fit MYSELF, it should have dawned on me that guy-sweaters could also use personalized adaptations. I thank you. DH thanks you. (Now maybe in another 45 years I can get him to wear something besides dark neutrals.)

--Lynda in Oregon

LauraB said...

Unrelatedly but certainly necessary, you need to look for the Berry books by Dornford Yates. An unformatted link here will explain.

You can read one here free - I believe it has the hilarious bit on bicycling in the countryside that you will know when you get to it and cackle.

You're welcome. Carry on.

PyxeeStyx said...

OMG! You are fantastic. ROFLMFAO! Following and sharing. You need to add a follow by e-mail option.I don't want to miss a post. :)

Suzy S said...

You have no idea of what lies ahead once you start weaving. Don't say you weren't warned. Dish towels are NOT a requirement!

MinnieMay9 said...

As I was scrolling through the post I saw the picture and went "Is that card weaving?" and once I read it was I did a little happy dance. The cat gave me a funny look, so I decided to share that with you.

RobinH said...

Now I'm picturing a teeny little loop with a display of teeny little EZ sweaters hung over it....

RobinH said...

Loom. I meant to say loom!

Jax said...

OOOHHHHH my Franklin!!!! I am so glad to have found you!!!
Giddy up!!!!

Michelle said...

Ohhhh, making your own bootlaces.. now that is a post-apocolyptic skill I must learn. I've never been moved to use a loom but now I am compelled to get one and try.

Wonderful blog! Always enjoyed, and always makes the day better.

Anonymous said...

'Fitting this year's books into last year's shelves' - my eternal problem, summed up so neatly. Many thanks, Franklin!

Earth Muffin Kim said...

Just discovered your blog after reading the 1840 Nightcap pattern/article. I love the way you write almost as much as I love knitting!

Cat said...


This is my first comment here, and I just wanted to say thank you for existing, knitting, and writing. Please keep it up! I also wanted to ask when you might post the pattern for Krampus?

firstfallen said...

Tablet weaving is a rabbit hole. Soon you'll be designing your own patterns and recreating historic pieces!

There's a great designer here:

I mainly weave for SCA (belts, trims etc for Viking and other early period costume) but I've also made a guitar strap and modern belts and things :)

AParra said...

Franklin! I took your very last class at VLK a few days ago. You are amazing:) Keep it up!

Joan said...

Very much hors sujet, but you know that lovely hat in Tosh Vintage that your friend commissioned as a Christmas gift for his wife last year? I do hope you will find the time to turn it into a pattern one day... I do not have a head for hats, but with that beautiful thing on my bonce no-one would notice!

thenappyewe said...

I just want to know how do you think of all of these funny things to say, like: :"this place looked like the inside of an old sewing basket that had been shaken by a gorilla." Awful funny and classic. I will use this line to describe my daugher's room until she grows up and moves out! I love the men's sweater by the way. Beautiful!

gus1280 said...

I just wanted to let you know that a new weaver can definitely create patterns. The first thing I made was a point twill scarf in wool, and it was beautiful. There were a few issues, but I loved it. Give weaving a try. It hasn't replaced knitting for me, but it's a great change of pace.

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İçerik hazirlayan ßy Langona said...

OMG love the jumper but that man is HOT. Can you ship him over to Blighty for me. I knit, he wears knits...could it BE more perfect

honeybee said...


I would REALLY love to buy the Suleiman hat pattern - REALLY!! It's beautiful!

wedang ronde said...

hi franklin, I love the way you post