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Lost in Space

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

I figure this as good a time as any to begin this essay, as my knitting is temporarily on hold.

The pattern says to work in stockinette until the piece measures six inches from the cast on edge. I may have hit the target, but I won't know until I measure it, and I can't measure it because I can't find my tape measure.

By "my tape measure," I mean any one of the thirty or so tape measures with which I share a compact urban living space. How compact? Not New York compact, just Chicago compact–about 1,600 square feet. That means one tape measure for every 53.3333 square feet.

I should not have to look very far for a tape measure.

In fact, my tape measure was right here. I know it was right here because when I sat down to cast on I knew I would soon need to measure six inches of stockinette. So I found (hooray!) (one of) my tape measure(s) and put it right here.

So where is it?

I remember when I was a new knitter and every trip to the yarn store meant spending money on needles and notions. You remember that time in your life? You'd go to the yarn store, see the pattern, pick out the yarn. Then the nice person at the counter would say, "You're going to need a [stitch holder/row counter/tapestry needle/bag of stitch markers/size E crochet hook/16-inch size four circular]? Do you have a [stitch holder/row counter/tapestry needle/bag of stitch markers/size E crochet hook/16-inch size four circular]?"

You didn't, so you bought one of those, too.

I remember thinking, "Hey, that's groovy. Now I have stitch markers. A knitter needs stitch markers, and now I have some. I am all set. Good for me."

Touching. I really, truly believed that a $1.46 baggie of locking-ring stitch markers was going to last the rest of my life. I really, truly believed that once you had bought a 16-inch size 4 circular, you could cross that off your list the way a bird watcher who has seen one "Yellow-Throated Honeyeater" is forever free to ignore all other Yellow-Throated Honeyeaters.


Sure, you have stitch markers. For a little while. Then, you don't. They were right here. Where did they go? Who knows? Why even ask? Go buy more. You can hunt and hunt and hunt and you'll be more likely to turn up a Yeti between the couch cushions than to recover a point protector that has decided to run away.

I was thinking about this phenomenon and asked other folks what they've lost. Stitch markers, of course, were the top of the list. Next came single double-pointed needles out of sets of four. Then tapestry needles, tape measures, and folding scissors.

My friend Sherilyn wins the prize. First, for mislaying an entire set of blocking wires, including the storage tube. Next, for mislaying the final ball of yarn she needed to complete a toddler sweater. (She did at long last find the yarn, by which time the toddler was no longer a toddler.)

I am too old and cynical to think this will ever change. Having laid out a tidy sum for the notions, I've since laid out another tidy sum for a flotilla of bags, cases, boxes, and sleeves to keep them safe. Most of those are scattered, too.

My only hope? The recent discovery of [link to ] ripples in the fabric of space [/link] has leant support to the notion of multiple universes. The universe we see, it seems, may be just one of many. Some of those other universes may be completely unlike ours, may even be no more than voids. But some may be quite similar, differing in only small details.

In one of them, I may always know where my tape measure is.

Here's hoping.


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 (, 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

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.

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