Fridays with Franklin - The Adventure of the Warm Puppy, Part Four
The Adventure of the Warm Puppy: Part Four
For an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.
For the the first part of this adventure, click here.
Rosamund is still waiting patiently for her new sweater.
A View of the Bridge
When last we left our steek, it looked like this.
Before we go further, let’s take a closer look at the place where all the action is going to happen: the bridge.
The bridge is the fabric we created specifically so that we could cut it open. Our version–used in making the leg openings for Rosamund’s sweater–requires an odd number and a minimum of five. This swatch steek has seven stitches, worked in reverse stockinette.
That center stitch is where we cut. The pairs of stitches on either side are where we secure the fabric before cutting, so that cutting does not lead to unraveling.
To this point we’ve been looking at the steek from the right side of the fabric...
...but now we’re going to flip it over so that the wrong side is uppermost. This shows us the little Vs of the reverse stockinette, which makes it easier find our way around.
It's useful to have guideline for both the securing and the cutting; so once the knitting is finished, I sew a running stitch right up the center column with a piece of scrap yarn. I can, quite literally, cut along the dotted line.
Securing the Bridge: Part I
We will secure our bridge using my favorite method: the crocheted steek. I didn’t invent it, I just love it. There are several variations; this one is not the "correct" one–it's the one I use, and therefore the one I feel comfortable demonstrating.
If you don’t think of yourself as one who crochets, even if you have never used a hook to do more than pick up dropped stitches, don’t stop reading just because I used the C word. This is about the simplest crochet there is. You can do it.
We need, of course, a crochet hook. While knitting Rosamund’s sweaters I fell so in love with my addi® Olive Wood circular needle that I decided I should try out the Olive Wood crochet hooks, as well. The construction is top-notch, and the handles aren't just comfortable; they're little works of art.
The size hook I choose is usually equal to or slightly smaller in diameter than the needle used to knit the fabrics. If you’re using a slippery fiber, choose the smaller size.
Recall that we wish to secure the pairs of stitch columns immediately on either side of the center stitch. To be specific, we wish to crochet together the legs at the center of each pair, here colored red.
We’ll begin by inserting the hook under the legs at the base of the right-hand column, then pulling through a loop of our crochet yarn.
(I could have used the sweater yarn, but the purple Simpliworsted is easier to see in this demonstration.)
Then, bring the working yarn over the hook once more to make a loop, and pull this loop through the stitch legs and through the first loop on the hook.
*We move up to the next pair of legs, and put the hook through both.
Yarn over the hook again, and pull this new loop through the stitch legs and through the loop on the hook.
Repeat from * until you have secured all the legs in the pair of columns.
When you’ve finished, snip the working yarn leaving a six-inch tail and pull the yarn through the final loop to secure it.
The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that in the above photos, I actually moved out from the center one stitch too far when working my chain. I could pretend that never happens to me, but I promised when this column began that I would show you stuff that goes wrong.
So what did I do? I pulled the crochet out and did it over. Both the bridge and I survived the operation unharmed.
My point? It’s no big deal.
Steeks are no big deal.
Securing the Bridge: Part II
When side one is complete, turn the work upside-down (so the last of your chain crochet stitches is now nearest you) and work side two exactly the same way.
When you’re finished, this is what you get. (I’ve trimmed the yarn tails here to get them out of the way.)
Get the Scissors
Then we cut along the dotted line. Use small, sharp scissors (embroidery scissors are my favorite). Take your time. If you’re cutting something circular, put a piece of paper or cardboard or a slim book inside the tube to make sure you cut only the bridge.
Voilà, a beautifully shaped and utterly stable opening in our knitting.
Was that so hard?
The edges of what used to be the bridge fold to the wrong side, and can be gently sewn down using whip stitch. I prefer to do this using the yarn used to knit the fabric.
And here we have the view from the right side.
The edges of the opening are now ready for whatever you wish to do next. One of the reasons I left the reserved stitches on a scrap of yarn is that nine times out of ten, I will finish the opening with a picked-up edging or by picking up stitches for a sleeve. Those reserved stitches are waiting for me to do either. It saves a bit of time and trouble.
And so my experimental sweater for Rosamund is complete.
My finishing touches–to mitigate the over-large leg holes and the unintended off-the-shoulder neckline–were additional ribbing at the legs and collar. I think the turtleneck rather suits her, don’t you?
She loves the sweater. I had to chase her around to get it off her, even though she knew that as a reward for modeling nicely we would play in the sprinkler.
This test piece has shown me what to do and not to do for her next sweater. I learned a lot about knitting to fit a dog, and I had a blast doing it. There will be a lot more Rosamund sweaters in “Fridays with Franklin,” because it seems to me they could be fun way to test new techniques and design new fabrics.
Plus, as Charles M. Schulz famously wrote, happiness is a warm puppy.
Ready for a new adventure? I'll meet you back here in two weeks.
If you’d like help in choosing colors for your project, a member of staff will be delighted to assist you. They’re awfully good at that sort of thing.
Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue
Simpliworsted by Hikoo® (55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon; 140 yds per 100g skein). Colors: 611, Earth and Sky (swatch) and 033 (Red Hat Purple).
Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His new book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book has was brought out by Soho Publishing in May, 2016 and is in its second printing.
He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, Squam Arts Workshops, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.
Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue 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 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 lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, three looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.