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  • Cough Cough Cough Wheeze

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

    I am sick. Oh, how sick I am.

    I type this to you feebly, feverishly; lying prone on a bed that I feel sure by now is half-composed of used tissues. When I breathe out, I sound like our vacuum cleaner did after I accidentally ran it over a pile of loose change. When I breathe in, nothing happens. Substances too disgusting to describe are escaping from openings in my body I did not even know were there.

    Yet I write to you, dear reader, because even in extremis I will be faithful to my post.

    (You may feel free to applaud here, if you like. Or weep a gentle weep.)

    I am so sick. How sick am I?

    Too sick to knit.

    That got your attention, didn’t it? Yeah, too sick to knit. It’s been about two days now, and any time I pick up the needles my head swims and my arms ache and down they go again. Don’t even say the word “chart.”

    Crochet is no better, nor embroidery. I’m in that most dreaded state for anyone who loves handwork. I’m awake. I’m aware. I want to knit. But I can’t.

    I’m reminded of those alien abduction stories where the immobilized abductee awakens to the sight of long-fingered, oval-headed Martians going through her bedside tin of mixed nuts and picking out the cashews while all she can do is watch.

    Except in my case the Martians are making progress on the sweater KAL and I’m not.

    You don’t know, do you, how central handwork has become to your existence until it gets taken away?

    At home, projects huddle around me like angry geese honking for attention. When I leave, one of them comes along. The traditional masculine memory chant before leaving the house is includes “spectacles, wallet, and watch.” I, invariably, add “yarn.”

    I doubt that on a normal day I am ever more than arm’s length from a work in progress.

    But this is not a normal day. I am sick. Did you know I’m too sick to knit?

    I remember once before

    Bring your chair a little closer to the bed, won’t you, darling? My voice is giving out. Thank you.

    I remember once before being too sick to knit. I was nine years old, and everyone on our claim had come down with the fever ’n’ ague. Pa walked nine miles through the snow to Sleepy Eye with just a kerosene lamp and a piece of horehound candy to fetch the doctor and we were saved but ever after Mary had this annoying facial tic over her left eyebrow that made her look like she was always flirting with you.

    Or maybe that was the very special episode of  “Little House on the Prairie” I watched on Hulu while I was falling asleep last night. I think this anti-mucus medicine that tastes like a bat’s armpit is messing with my short-term cognition. Does it say anything about that on the bottle? Can you check  the label and see if it says it may cause you to believe you are Laura Ingalls Wilder?

    Since I can’t knit, instead I am making a list of things I will finish knitting if I survive* to knit again. The very top of the list is that blue sweater with the mini-cables that I started two or three years ago that will be great when it’s done; but the directions at the shoulders are just complicated enough that I can’t take it to knit night, yet not interesting enough that I’m willing to power through it without the television on.

    It would be so embarrassing if I died from this** and they were going through my stuff and that’s what they found crowning of my works-in-progress pile: an almost-finished sweater so old the cast-on edge had started to compost. Knowing my friends they’d drape it over the lid of my coffin just to be funny. Ha, ha. Real nice, everybody–making fun of the dead knitter. Probably you’ll chisel on my stone FRANKLIN RIP WITH WIP. Oh ha ha ha. You are so funny.

    Well, the joke’s on you, darlings. I’m leaving my entire stash to the Smithsonian.

    No, that’s fine. You go off to the annual spring sale at the yarn shop while I lie here and hallucinate that I’m sitting in the tall grass among the prairie chickens knitting myself a new sun bonnet to wear to the town spelling bee. You go enjoy yourself. I’ll be fine.



    *Yes, the doctor says this is just that really, really bad bug that’s going around. But hey, doctors have been known to be wrong.

    **Seriously, you just never know.





    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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  • Try this Stitch: Arrowhead Lace

    Arrowhead lace is a beautiful stitch that looks intricate without being too complex or difficult.


    The four-row pattern repeats across 10 stitches, with one extra cast on for symmetry. A single repeat (11 stitches) makes a great headband, or can be incorporated into a larger piece, like a hat or sweater. Two or three repeats (21 or 31 stitches) make for a nice, open scarf. Cast on even more -- 61, 71, 81 -- for a wide shawl or wrap, perfect for summer nights or inside a chilly office.

    While the intricacy of arrowhead lace really shines in a solid yarn, something with subtle variegation could look lovely as well. You may want to avoid something with color changes that are too bold or too frequent, as they may detract from the stitchwork.

    We have a large selection of knit and crochet stitches and motifs, called the Stitch Finder. In it, you'll find all kinds of interesting things. Lace, cables, flowers, trims, you name it. You can make an entire blanket from the blocks you'll find on that page, too. All the patterns listed are reprinted with permission from various books.

    Arrowhead Lace


    Cast on a multiple of ten stitches, plus one (11, 21, 31, 41, and so on).

    Row 1 (WS): Purl

    Row 2 (RS): K1, *[yo, ssk] twice, k1, [k2tog, yo] twice, k1; rep from * to end

    Row 3: Purl

    Row 4: K2, *yo, ssk, yo, sl 2 knitwise-k1-p2sso, yo, k2tog, yo, k3; rep from *, end last rep k2

    Rep rows 1-4.

    The sample pictured is knit with 24/7 Cotton® on US 6 (4.0 mm) needles. However, the Arrowhead stitch pattern would look lovely in any weight. One with good stitch definition like the cotton would be best, so for a slightly heavier knit, Woolspun® would be a nice choice. The sample is 11 stitches wide, which is one lace repeat.

    This pattern is reprinted with permission from  Vogue Knitting Stitchionary: Volume One, Sixth & Spring Books, 2005.

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  • What Are Your Bad Crafting Habits?

    We've all got bad habits when it comes to crafting -- those little things we do that make our crafting lives harder, but that we just can't seem to stop doing.


    Personally, I have "startitis" -- I cast on project after project, no matter how many I've already got going on. As a result, I've got dozens of UFOs hidden around my apartment. Some I'll get to, but there are lots of others that will never be finished! It's something I really ought to work on, because it can be a little overwhelming to know I have all these half-knit pieces staring at me from every corner of the room.

    So, come on, 'fess up -- what are your bad crafting habits?

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