I was a bookish kid. Not studious–schoolrooms and chalk dust made me itch–but bookish. The way other kids had teddy bears, I had books. I read them, hugged them, toted them about, hid them under my pillow, and kept them to hand while I took baths. I spent so much time raiding the stacks of our tiny local library that the children's librarian grudgingly agreed to raise my weekly check-out limit from the customary "no-more-than-two" to "no-more-than-you-can-carry-to-the-desk-in-one-trip."
When summer came, every adult in my orbit did his or her best to pry the books away and plant me on a soccer field, a beach, or any other sun-swept, wind-blown stretch of ground far from the nearest shelf. "School is out!" they insisted, firmly shutting the screen door behind me. "Put down that book and go run around in the fresh air!"
Now, in the third decade of my legal majority, the bookish child has become a knittish adult. The way other grown-ups have smart phones, I have knitting. I keep it handy, I fondle it on the sly, I pull it out and play with it at every opportunity.
Then summer comes, and every adult in my orbit does his or her best to pry it away from me–always in the name of improving my seasonal joie de vivre.
"You're not bringing that to the beach, are you?" they ask, as though I were tucking a machine gun, and not a ball of sock yarn, into my bag along with sunblock and the extra towels.
For "beach," you may of course substitute "picnic," "barbecue," "baseball game," "outdoor concert," "tractor pull"–any sort of alfresco "fun" that pops up on the calendar when it's too hot for ice skating. Those who do not partake of yarn believe that the presence of it interferes with a person's ability to savor ants, midges, mosquitoes, humidity, sunburn, dehydration, spilled beer, spoiled potato salad, and other traditional joys of the American summer.
You and I both know that's nonsense. Almost anything that is fun without yarn is more fun with yarn, including summertime. And unless you are the person pitching the bottom of the ninth or pulling the tractor–both of which require at least one free hand–why should you ever have to leave your poor knitting or crochet at home with nothing to do but lie comfortably on the sofa in the air conditioning and watch reruns of The Bachelorette?
This is not to suggest that summer does not present special challenges; but with skill and planning these are easily overcome. To that end, I present the following. You may wish to print it out and keep a copy in your project bag.
See you at the beach.
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.