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Author Archives: Franklin Habit

  • Yarns for a Summer Evening

    franklin_400x400Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.

    Yarns for a Summer Evening

    Little Maybelline and I were sitting on the porch swing as the dusk drew in like gently felted wool. I was knitting something; I can’t remember what. Perhaps it was a new penwiper for old Mrs. Pennyfeather across the way; she had lost hers that year in the spring gale and mourned it ostentatiously.

    Maybelline drained the last of her lemonade and said petulantly, “Sing to me, Uncle Franklin.”

    It was a peculiar request, as I had never sung to her before; and in fact I am well known to have the worst voice in three counties. I declined, politely as I could. But Maybelline has never been one to let go of an idea without a fight.

    “Sing to me,” she insisted, the bow in her hair shaking in a threatening fashion. I recalled the grim fate of a rather introverted doll of hers, by the name of Ophelia, who had obstinately refused Maybelline’s repeated summons to a tea party. The heliotrope in that corner of the garden has yet to fully recover.

    Therefore I began to sing.

    * * * *

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    Old Mother Hubbard
    Went to the cupboard
    To fetch some merino in blue.
    But when she got there
    The cupboard was bare
    And so Mother Hubbard screamed,
    “How many times do I have to
    Tell you all to stay out of my stash?”

    Old King Cole
    Was a merry old soul
    And a merry old soul was he.
    He called for his pattern,
    And called for his yarn,
    And called for his hook, size E.

    Three little kittens,
    They lost their mittens,
    And they began to cry.
    And all I could think was
    What possessed me to knit clothes
    For the cats?
    Should I seek professional help?¬

    Sing a song of sixpence,
    A pocket full of yarn,
    And another pocket full of yarn.
    Has anybody seen my knitting bag?

    Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
    How does your sweater grow?
    I asked you please to shut your mouth
    ’Til I get to the end of this row.

    There was an old woman
    Who lived in a shoe.
    She had so much yarn,
    She had to store most of it in the second shoe.
    Good thing shoes come in pairs
    I guess.

    Hey, raddle heddle,
    The cat and the treadle,
    The cow jumped over the loom.
    The little dog said
    I told you we didn’t have
    Space in the living room
    For that thing.

    Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, knitter man,
    Knit me a sweater as fast as you can.
    Cabled and bobbled, like that one in the store,
    I will totally pay you fifty bucks
    Plus the cost of the yarn.

    Baa, baa black sheep,
    Have you any wool?
    Yes sir, yes sir,
    Three bags full.
    One for $7.50 per skein, and
    The other two are on sale
    At twenty percent off
    Because the colors are being discontinued
    So it seems this is your lucky day.

    Hickory, dickory, dock,
    The mouse has knit one sock.
    The other one
    Will never be done.
    Hickory, dickory, @#!$*.

    Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
    Humpty Dumpty was knitting a shawl.
    All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
    Asked him so many questions about it
    That he lost his place in the chart
    Messed up sixteen long rows
    And had to rip out and
    Start over.

    Mary had a little lamb
    Its fleece was white as snow
    And everywhere that Mary went
    The lamb was sure to go.
    She made the lamb into a shrug,
    And wore it to the fair.
    The color looked divine on her,
    But the neckline was wonky.

    To market, to market
    To buy a fat hen.
    Home again, home again,
    With enough yarn for
    Two afghans
    And ten pairs of socks.
    And I forgot
    To get
    The hen.

    —–

    Writer, illustrator, and photographer Franklin Habit is the author of I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book (Soho Publishing, 2016) and It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008) and proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on Internet. His publishing experience in the fiber world includes contributions to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Ply Magazine, Cast On: A Podcast for Knitters, Twist Collective, and Knitty.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, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

    These days, Franklin knits and spins in Chicago, Illinois, sharing a small city apartment with a Schacht spinning wheel, two looms, and colony of sock yarn that multiplies alarmingly whenever his back is turned. Visit him at www.franklinhabit.com 

    - See more at: http://www.lionbrand.com/blog/franklin-habit/#sthash.X5C4UaYn.KlwvR9p6.dpuf

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  • Resolved! by Franklin Habit

    franklin_400x400Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.

    It doesn’t get much better than this.  I sit writing to you from a  country cottage on hill, bathed in what my grandmother always called a “million dollar breeze.” A breath of fresh air so sweet, so soothing, that it couldn’t be bought for any amount of money.

    The generous friends who rescued me from a weekend of swampy heat in my city neighborhood have given me the perfect place to hammer out resolutions for the coming year.

    No, I’m not six months late. I know resolutions are supposed to be a January thing. But January in Chicago never feels like the start of something new. The winter howls along unchecked. It doesn’t care that I’ve flipped a page in the calendar and frankly neither do I. I can barely get out of bed in the morning, let alone muster the energy to reupholster my life.

    Early summer, with the buds and the windows wide open, feels like the season of possibility. This is when I make plans.

    Here’s what I have so far.

    1. I will play with at least one yarn that’s out of my comfort zone. It will not be difficult to find this yarn, because my comfort zone would fit inside a broom closet and still leave room for a couple of armchairs and a credenza. My stash is chock-a-block with quiet, solid, predictable skeins of wool and wool blends. This year–who knows? Texture? Sparkle? Leather? Dog hair? As my mother said of green beans, “You don’t have to like them, you just have to try them.” (I did try them. I still don’t like them.)
    1. I will weave in all the loose ends inside the sweater that I have been wearing for eight months without weaving in all the loose ends.
    1. I will always swatch, instead of just telling people that I always swatch.
    2. I will unravel the half-finished sweater with the fun repeating skull pattern. It seemed like such a good idea seven years ago, when I was trying very hard to be a different sort of person. I will wind up the yarn and pass it along to someone who will use it. I will make peace with the knowledge that I am never, ever going to be a fun repeating skull pattern sort of person.
    1. I will knit outdoors as much as I possibly can before it starts to snow again.
    1. When I am knitting outdoors and hear, repeatedly, “Wow, I’ve always wanted to try that–but I don’t have the time to just sit around,” I will remember that I am an Ambassador for My Craft and smile and say something encouraging. I will remember that throwing punches is not encouraging.
    1. I will finally try entrelac.
    1. I will stop saving the Really Good Yarn in my stash for an imagined Someday that is never going to come. I will use the Really Good Yarn, enjoy working with it, and enjoy the things I make with it. Nobody knows how many productive days they have left. The time for the Really Good Yarn is right now. Summer doesn’t last forever–and neither do we.

    What am I forgetting? What’s on your list?

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    —–

    Writer, illustrator, and photographer Franklin Habit is the author of I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book (Soho Publishing, 2016) and It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008) and proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on Internet. His publishing experience in the fiber world includes contributions to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Ply Magazine, Cast On: A Podcast for Knitters, Twist Collective, and Knitty.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, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

    These days, Franklin knits and spins in Chicago, Illinois, sharing a small city apartment with a Schacht spinning wheel, two looms, and colony of sock yarn that multiplies alarmingly whenever his back is turned. Visit him at www.franklinhabit.com 

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  • Make Two by Franklin Habit

    franklin_400x400Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.

    Every so often, usually during a rare moment when I feel pretty good about myself, a well-meaning relation sends me one of those perennial news items about a lady who has crocheted the same blanket for every baby born in her town since 1957, or another lady who singlehandedly keeps an entire children’s hospital supplied with knitted teddy bears, or that other lady who cranks out 100,000 pairs of mittens annually to warm the chilly hands of the poor.

    These inspiring stories are invariably accompanied by a note saying, “Hey, you could do something like this.”

    Sure, okay. Maybe I could also sail to China on a mulberry leaf, or spin straw into rigatoni.

    I’m not so good at repetitive knitting.

    Or maybe I am. I don’t know, because I pretty much refuse to do it. I have a deep-seated, abiding aversion to knitting the same thing twice. It is only through the cultivation of an iron will that I do not have a wardrobe of full of unwed socks and one-armed sweaters.

    I am not proud of this. I see it as a character flaw to be smoothed away, much like my fear of flying. Both keep me from living life to the fullest.

    To overcome the aerophobia, I’ve found it comforting to interact with people who love airplanes. My father, for example, is a pilot; and keeps an airplane in his backyard where normal people keep a toolshed. When taking off, or bouncing through unstable air, I hang on tight and try to remember his frequent rhapsodies on the wonder of flight and the laws of aerodynamics. I also listen to Frank Sinatra singing “Come Fly With Me,” and pretend I am having a ball up where the air is rarified. Sometimes it helps. Fake it ’til you make it.

    So I thought it might be useful to hear from knitters and crocheters who find joy in repetitious work, even if not to the extent of knitting the same mitten 100,000 times.

    I put the word out and found that People Have Opinions About This. Mind you, people who knit and crochet have opinions about everything; but I was nearly carried into the next state by the flood of comments.

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