Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.
Life in a city apartment means experiencing the joys of child rearing even if you haven't produced or acquired children of your own. The thundering grade-schoolers who used to live above my workroom have moved out and been replaced by an infant of six months. Said infant has colic. A baby with colic doesn't make for pleasant listening, but she pales in comparison to the toddler across the courtyard–who is suffering through an extended Riddle Phase. No, suffering is not the right word. She's having the time of her life. The rest of us are suffering.
Toddler (not her real name) has two volumes, "bellow" and "roar." So shut your windows, you say to me. It's autumn in Chicago. The windows are shut. Toddler has the lungs, but alas not the artistry, of a young Beverly Sills.
On any given day she can outclass my white noise machine, Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8, expensive sound-canceling headphones, and jet aircraft on the final approach to O'Hare.
Between bellowed demands to her nanny for snacks, toys, and trips to the bathroom, she has taken to roaring selections from an apparently inexhaustible supply of riddles and jokes. How one so young can have amassed such a wealth of material surpasses understanding. Perhaps she is Henny Youngman, reincarnated with pigtails. Stranger things have happened, especially on my block.
The nanny has to listen to the riddles and jokes, but she is being paid to listen to the riddles and jokes. I also have to listen. I am not being paid.
Prolonged exposure has caused me to begin dreaming and thinking in riddles and jokes. I mention this as alert readers may discern faint echoes in this month's ruminations about knitting, yarn, and the creative life.
Now, as I was saying about my knitting…
How do you know if an elephant has been in your knitting bag?
Look for the footprints in the merino.
Why do elephants have wrinkled knees?
A box without hinges, key, or lid–but inside…
...are all my stitch markers.
I have keys but no locks. I have space but no room. You can enter but can't go outside. What am I?
Not sure, but you sound like my stash cupboard.
What has a neck, but no head or body?
This sweater, which is due in a week.
What is full of holes but can still hold water?
This wet-blocked shawl, which needed to be in the mail to my editor about an hour ago.
What's black and white and red all over?
A traditional Norwegian lusekofte. Duh.
What has two hands, a round face, runs and runs, but stays in place?
Me, knitting garter stitch.
What has eyes but cannot see?
Me, reading a lace chart.
What's black and white and red all over?
This bloody lace chart.
Why couldn't the pirate play cards?
He was reading a lace chart.
What belongs to you, but is used more by others?
My tape measure.
What do you get when you cross a sheep and a wolf?
A wool shortage.
The more you have of me, the less you see. What am I?
Stitch markers! Where are my stitch markers?
What gets wetter and wetter the more it dries?
That @#%*! shawl. Dry, already!
If you cast a white stone into the Red Sea, what would it become?
A very pretentious colorway.
Why does a flamingo stand on one leg?
Go away, I'm counting!
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 an Ashford spinning wheel and colony of sock yarn that multiplies alarmingly whenever his back is turned.