Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.
It has been my pleasure and privilege over the past several years to be interviewed by a few knitting magazines in America and abroad. The experience is always a little jarring, as for the first three-quarters of my life even those who knew me well were less than interested in my life and opinions. In some ways, it’s easier. When nobody cares to ask you about your creative process, you don’t have to worry about admitting that it mostly involves watching funny dog videos on YouTube and taking naps.
But interviewers, even the clever ones, always ask at least a few common questions that quickly become familiar and are easily answered. What’s it like to be a man who knits?* Who taught you knit? What’s your ideal yarn? What’s on your needles right now? You learn quickly that you’d better ready for those.
Once in a while, though, even a softball question will throw you a curve. For me, that question was, “What music do you listen to while you work?”
My answer was that if the work requires concentration–designing a lace motif, say, as opposed to knitting merrily along a sample–I work in silence. No music, no television, no funny dog videos. Silence.
The writer wasn’t terribly pleased with that response. It upset her data. She told me that every other designer she’d spoken to had obligingly offered the name of a recording artist, or at least a musical genre. Would I please do likewise? Or would I prefer she picked something for me?
So I told her to say I was physically unable to knit a single stitch in the morning until I had listened to the whole of Erich Korngold’s opera Die Tote Stadt while sitting in a bubble bath. She cut me out of the article.
The question stuck with me. I like silence while I’m writing or designing, but sometimes I do listen to music while I knit, sure. Not one sort, though. How could I pick? Knitting is supposed to be a lot of things–meditation, mental exercise, the new yoga–but those all suggest calm and I am most certainly not always calm while I’m knitting.
If I were going to make a mix tape (for the youngsters, that’s like a playlist, but you have to start it by turning a crank) to accompany a new knitter through the rigmarole that attends a typical project, this is what I’d put on it.
Marvin Gaye, “Let’s Get It On”
Steppenwolf, “Born to Be Wild”
The Beach Boys, “Good Vibrations”
Nina Simone, “I Put a Spell On You”
The Beatles, “Help!”
Lena Horne, “Stormy Weather”
Ripping Back Again
The Rolling Stones, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
Britney Spears, “Toxic”
Prince, “When Doves Cry”
Languishing in the Doldrums
Righteous Brothers, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'”
Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”
Judy Collins, “Send in the Clowns”
Back on Track
Simon and Garfunkel, “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”
Katy Perry, “Roar”
Gloria Gaynor, “I Will Survive”
Martha and the Vandellas, “Dancing in the Street”
Harry Connick, Jr., “The Way You Look Tonight”
Dolly Parton, “I Will Always Love You”
U2, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”
*Please stop asking this one. Please. It’s silly. What’s it like to be a woman who has a job and a driver’s license?
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.