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Author Archives: Franklin Habit

  • Franklin Habit's How to Be a Superb Student: A Lesson in Two Parts

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

    For the past several years I’ve been one of the most traveled knitting teachers in the northern hemisphere–with the battered baggage and frequent flyer status to prove it.  In a busy month I may be at a shop, guild, retreat, or festival every other weekend. In a very busy month, that may be every weekend. It’s so hard to be me.

    (No it isn’t.)

    Before this, I was a knitting student. I loved taking classes. I still do, on rare and beautiful occasions when my schedule permits me to sit down and shut up.

    In this way I’ve met literally thousands of students–some learning from me, some learning with me. All have gathered into the classroom with a common goal: to have fun, stretch their wings, and expand their horizons.

    Most students are lovely, polite, considerate, and prepared. Were they not, I would be writing an entirely different column about information architecture or collectible figurines or the semiotics of Sesame Street.  I lack the stamina to teach classroom after classroom full of boors and cretins.

    However.

    Needlework classes of any variety–knitting, crochet, sewing, embroidery–can be fraught with tension. They are often expensive and crowded. Miniscule rooms tumble perfect strangers together in close proximity. Challenging topics push mental or physical limits to the breaking point. Temperaments clash. Patience is often in short supply.

    And everyone present comes supplied with sharp implements.

    In such circumstances, being a prepared and polite student is good for everyone.

    It is good for your teacher, because it allows him or her to give the entire class the best possible guided tour of the material.

    It is good for your fellow students, because it allows them to concentrate on their own work.

    It is good for you, because it helps you get the most for your money; and gives your teacher and classmates no cause to gather after class and smack the whoopsie out of you in the parking lot.

    Therefore, in the spirit of everyone having a bodacious time, I humbly present this two-part guide to being the best student you can be.

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  • Franklin Habit's Friendly Three-Point Message to Journalists Who Seek to Write About Knitting and Crochet

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

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    Please let me say how delighted I am that you intend to devote column inches (or equivalent in screen real estate) to something so dear to my heart. It’s a broad and fascinating subject, reaching back centuries and stretching the world around. Much has been said of it, yet so much remains unsaid.

    I venture to guess, based upon prior experience with reporters covering this beat, that it was not your first choice among the week’s assignments. You are new, perhaps. An intern, possibly. Or you got caught in the office supply closet with the editor’s girlfriend at the holiday party, and this is your punishment.

    Chin up, friend. You could do worse. Your sources are legion. They will eagerly supply fodder sufficient to overflow the boundaries of a book, let alone your limit of 2,000 words. Play nice, and you might get to keep the mittens after the photo shoot.

    Field research will take you to guild meetings, knit nights,  and yarn shops, at which you will be offered tea and cookies, frequently; and stronger libation, almost as frequently.

    You will not have to jump off a bridge or wear a silly costume. You will not be required to crawl down mine shafts or across battlefields.

    However.

    Before you turn on your recorder there are a few fundamentals you must understand. They will help you to write a piece full of truth and beauty. A piece that will be passed merrily around the Internet like a plate of homemade macaroons. A piece that will not inspire fifty million plugged-in yarn fanciers to flood your publication with sternly worded messages of complaint.

    Ready? Good. Take notes.

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  • Franklin Habit Asks, "Why shouldn’t folks who knit and crochet get medals?"

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

    December already? You have got to be kidding me.

    I’ve been cleaning out. This apartment, as city apartments go, is not a cracker box. I am fortunate. But neither is it a many-wingèd mansion, and that keeps me from turning packrat. There’s no room for excess. Every year around this time I get the urge to pick up the household by one end and shake it like a rug to snap out the debris.

    Much of my personal debris is knitted. This was a busy year. I made lots of stuff, most of it for books or articles rather than personal use. I can’t keep it all, nor do I have reason to. Without a baby in the family, what do I want with a series of tiny bonnets? Out they go, and may they comfort heads that need them.

    Still, laid end to end across the dining room table, they and the dozens of other finished objects from 2015 make an impressively bulky display. They’re even more impressive piled atop one another to make a sort of finished project mountain.

    “Check it out,” I said to a visiting friend. “It’s tall as I am. All I need is a little amigurumi Edmund Hillary planting a flag on top.”

    “What’s amigurumi?” she said. (She doesn’t crochet, yet.)

    “Never mind,” I said. “Look how much I made!”

    “What do you want? A medal?”

    And I thought to myself, “Why, yes. Yes, I do. I would like a medal, please.”

    Why shouldn’t folks who knit and crochet get medals? This is the season for it. Journalists of every stripe are tripping over each other to be first across the line with end-of-the-year lists of who did what best, or most, or loudest.

    Maybe that’s the reason we who play with yarn usually aren’t given medals. We are not, on the whole, a loud bunch. This is not to say we don’t sometimes raise a ruckus when we get congregate. We do. But as individuals, we think nothing of binding off a hundred-hour project of ten thousand or more stitches without fanfare, then quietly beginning another.

    I know jigsaw puzzle fanciers who celebrate their achievements with more enthusiasm. And they don’t have to deal with necklines or buttonholes.

    I propose that here, now, we have our own awards ceremony.

    The event staff have been working on a red carpet of 2,648 granny squares made of Lion Brand Wool Ease, and should be here within the hour.  I am, you will have noticed, in full evening dress; but you may come as you are. Tiaras welcomed.

    When you’re quite ready, please make your way to the stage and lay claim to the trophy for any and all of your remarkable achievements. Feel free to add others in the comments section.

    And don’t worry about keeping your acceptance speech short. I brought my knitting.

    Presenting the Franklin Habit Awards! And the winners are...

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    habit-lb-trophy-07 habit-lb-trophy-08 habit-lb-trophy-09
    habit-lb-trophy-10

    —–
    Writer, illustrator, and photographer Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008–now in its third printing) and proprietor of The Panopticon (the-panopticon.blogspot.com), one of the most popular knitting blogs on 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 other publishing experience in the fiber world includes contributions to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Cast On: A Podcast for Knitters, Twist Collective, and a regular column on historic knitting patterns for Knitty.com.

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

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