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Franklin Habit

  • Jack and the Yarnstalk: A Slightly Longer Yarn, Concluded

    franklin habitContinued from Jack and the Yarnstalk: A Slightly Longer Yarn

    Jack proudly presented his mother with the stolen sheep. Her delight was, at best, moderate.

    “She’s a nice enough little thing,” said his mother. “But we have no ram, and I have no spinning wheel; so I shall sell her come next market day and she may fetch a fair price.”

    “No, mother!” said Jack. “She is wondrous. You must not think of selling her. Here, I’ll just feed her little bit of hay and you shall see what she can do.”

    The sheep munched and swallowed. Then, turning pink about the face, it deposited from its other end a neat skein of yarn upon the grass.

    “Mercy me,” said Jack’s mother.

    “Baa,” said the sheep.

    Within weeks, the tumbledown shack had become the most popular yarn shop in the valley. Jack’s mother opened the door each morning to an eager crowd clamoring for her wares. These surpassed all others for quality, beauty, and variety. Weavers fell over each other to lay hands on her fine, strong linens. Embroiderers gasped at the sight of her smooth, lustrous silk threads. Those who knit and crocheted filled their baskets with heaps of her wools, miraculously soft and colorful.

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  • Jack and the Yarnstalk: A Slightly Longer Yarn

    franklin habitIn a land far away, in tumbledown shack, lived a poor, sad mother and her young son, Jack.

    Jack’s mother was one of those souls who are born, so it seems, to be miserable. Her husband was long gone–possibly to the next world or possibly to the next village, out of reach in either case. When she took to the plow, her crops failed. When she bought a cow, it ran dry. When she sat down to spin, her wheel fell to pieces.

    To crown all these trials, there was Jack. The boy was the image of his father, which would have been annoying enough. But he had also his father’s wandering wits and want of ambition. When the weather was fine, he was content to lie for hours and watch the clouds float by. When the weather was foul, he was content to watch the same clouds through the holes in the roof of the shack.

    He would not, despite his mother’s entreaties, go out to seek work as the other boys did.

    Inevitably, there came a day when this could not go on.

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  • Yarn of Mystery

    franklin habitWho are you?

    You’re in the bin clearly marked LACE WEIGHT. You are as close to being lace weight as I am to being an internationally famous professional wrestler. That is not your bin. Yet there you are.

    You should probably be four bins over, in the bin marked WORSTED WEIGHT THAT IS REALLY MORE OF A SPORT WEIGHT.

    Except aside from your apparent heft, you’re unlike anything else in that bin.

    I’m sure I never bought you.

    There is, for one thing, the question of your color. What color is that? It’s difficult to describe. Your label, if you ever had one, is missing, so I don’t know what the person who dyed you had in mind. Perhaps he or she was inspired by a childhood memory of old boogers, smeared across the underside of a battered grade school desk and left to dry for a decade. You do have that sort of greeny-yellowy-brown as your dominant note, with occasional flecks of rust that might have been intentional or might, for all I know, be actual flecks of rust.

    What would a person do with a color like this?

    What person would knit you into, say, a winter beanie; then parade the streets looking from the ears up like a dried booger?

    Perhaps this is what grandmother meant when she told me there was a lid for every pot.

    Certainly the dyer must have felt you would be appreciated by that audience in which the love of yarn and the love of boogers dwell in single blessedness.

    Also, you are fuzzy. I don’t often collect wildly fuzzy yarn.

    No, that’s not the word for you. You’re not fuzzy. Fuzzy is a nice word. Puppies are fuzzy. Fresh peaches are fuzzy. My chest is fuzzy. You’re not fuzzy.

    You look, if I may be so bold, like you were spun out of hairy nastiness fished from the Bathtub of Doctor Moreau. There is fuzz, of a sort. But it isn’t a fuzz one wishes to caress or ruffle playfully. It is fuzz one wishes to have removed by a professional who is wearing proper safety equipment.

    And yet you don’t appear to have been spun at all, really. You look more like you...accumulated...or grew...in a damp corner...of a cellar...a dark cellar...in an abandoned insane asylum. You may be alive. Should I poke you?

    I would rather not.

    So what are you doing in the bin marked LACE WEIGHT?

    It could be that you hopped over from the bin where yarn goes that friends give me, but is more to their taste than my own. Yarn like the sweater quantity of excellent merino that I can’t bear to part with even though it’s that shade of red that makes me look like something crawled out of the laboratory tank and bit me on the cheek and now I have a spotty rash that may or may not convey superpowers.

    But what friend of mine would give you to me?

    I haven’t got a bin for yarn given to me by enemies. Or yarn that crawled in through the front door of its own accord. Yarn that may well hate me. Yarn that may want to harm me.

    You do look rather...malevolent.

    Did you just move?

    Maybe I spun you myself. Should you be in the bin marked HANDSPUN? I’m a terrible spinner. There are some yarns in that bin one could only describe as woefully misbegotten. Freaks of twist and ply. I keep them all together so they can wallow in their collective sorrows. That bin is a group home for perfectly good fibers done wrong by a guy who doesn’t know when to leave the spinning wheel alone. Did you come out of that bin?

    You can’t have. I feel sure if I’d spun you, I’d have set fire to the bobbin before you were more than a few yards long. And there is so much of you. Why is there so much of you? Was there this much of you a few minutes ago?

    Are you growing?

    I’m starting to think this is not a good day to sort the stash. There’s nobody else in the house. Probably I should do this when there’s someone else around, someone who can hear me scream. Yeah.

    Back in the bin you go. Any bin. This bin.

    Did you just say no?

    (help me)

    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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