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The Iceman Groucheth

Franklin Habit returns to share his unique and humorous take on the life of a yarncrafter. 

Things that are sure to happen every January: white sales, credit card bills, and some perky knitter chirping, "Ooooooooooooh, I love these cold, snowy days! Nothing’s better than sitting inside, cozily knitting by the fireplace!"

This always brings forth a chorus of happy agreement from other perky knitters, calling to one another like cuckoos across the Schwarzwald: "Ooooooooooooh! Yes, yes! Snowy! Fireplace! Knitting! Love!"

I think spending a snowy day knitting by the fireplace sounds groovy. Perhaps, in my next life, I’ll get to try it.

A cartoon by Franklin Habit, exclusively for Lion Brand

I’m not sure where these people live. In my imagination, it’s farmhouses on hilltops in Vermont, or perhaps a cabins nestled in the pristine forests of Wisconsin. I also imagine independent incomes, household help, and heated garages–so that any trek into the blistering cold is purely voluntary. The perky winter knitter need only flounce outdoors to skate merrily around the pond; or playfully fling snowballs at her handsome, rugged husband until he playfully carries her back inside and playfully serves her a hot toddy–probably holding the cup to her lips so she can keep on cozily knitting by the fireplace.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, it is snowing sideways and we are out of milk. Much as I would like to sit inside, cozily knitting by the fireplace, I have to go to the grocery store. Five city blocks away. On foot. I could have milk delivered, yes; but that would drive the cost of the gallon up to $35.68 plus tip, and daddy isn't made out of money.

So forgive me, perky knitters, if I am unable to join your cuckoo chorus. I am but a hapless urban peasant who cannot stay inside and knit every time it snows.

The only thing keeping me from drowning myself in a waist-deep puddle of dirty slush is that we’ve kissed February goodbye. March in Chicago still looks like winter and feels like winter and stabs you in the face with an icicle like winter, but technically it’s spring. Around this time I dare to hope maybe I won’t end up like the poor writer in The Shining after all.

I know folks who knit and crochet less when the temperatures start to rise. I knit more. In winter my knitting exudes a certain desperate, survivalist stink. Finish the sweater or freeze to death. This, to me, is not a recipe for relaxation.

In spring, I’m less afraid to fool around with my yarn. The stakes are lower. I don’t need to knit. I just knit. I turn giddy, and frivolous. What shall we make today? Intarsia toaster cover? Toy mongoose? Butterfly hair ornaments? Those last are especially frivolous if, like me, you are bald.

I suppose I could make a flight of them into butterfly chest hair ornaments, in colors that match my new bathing suit. Come summer, they’ll be ready to wear as I lie by the swimming pool, lazily knitting when I’m not lazily napping. I’ll be the talk of the cabanas, is what I’ll be.

Warm thoughts like these keep a man alive, needles clicking, watching for the first bold crocus. Fireplace? Bah. Bring on the spring.

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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 KnittingYarn Market NewsInterweave KnitsInterweave CrochetPieceWorkCast On: A Podcast for KnittersTwist 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.

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