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yarn funnies

  • Well, Since You Asked...

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

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    In my career I have reached the stage at which total strangers not infrequently write to me to ask for advice. My mother, to whom I am and will ever be The Little Boy Who Somehow Got Tomato Soup on the Kitchen Ceiling, finds this hilarious.

    “Not cooking advice, Ma,” I tell her. “Knitting advice.”

    “I know,” says my mother. “But still.”

    Usually the questions are straightforward:

    Q. Should I put lifelines in my lace shawl?

    A. Yes.

    Sometimes the questions raise an eyebrow:

    Q. Do you have any tips on re-sizing a woman’s sweater to fit a guinea pig?

    A. You may omit the waist shaping.

    Sometimes the questions raise two eyebrows:

    Q. Have you ever blended male chest hair into handspun alpaca?

    A. Not on purpose.

    Questions like these are easily answered.

    But then something landed in my inbox that brought me up short:

    Q. I have been knitting for almost twenty years and I have always loved it. But lately I’ve lost the urge. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have a project on the needles, and now suddenly nothing is exciting to me. I just don’t feel like knitting. I went to the yarn store twice last week and didn’t even touch anything. Please help. How can I get my mojo back?

    Whoa.
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  • Hatter, Mad

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

    When winter returns to Chicago, you have two choices: fight or flee. If that sounds overly dramatic to you, you have never spent a winter in Chicago.

    Winter in Chicago is Mother Nature’s way of saying that she hates you, and would like you to die. More than that, she would like to kill you herself. Hypothermia while waiting for a train? Frostbite while walking to the grocery store? Sleet poisoning? The method matters not, so long as you are reduced to a dry, frozen dust by time June slinks back into town.

    For those who cannot flee, warm clothing is the first line of defense. If you’re newly arrived and unsure of what is meant by warm, there’s a rule of thumb. Let’s say you’re shopping for a winter coat and find one that might do. Try it on in front of a mirror. If it looks pretty cute, and makes you feel like you can’t wait for the snow to fall, the coat will not be warm enough for February.

    By February, Chicagoans have ceased to care what they look like when they go outside. Cut, style, color, fit? Not important. If it takes pairing filthy construction boots with a safety orange arctic exploration jumpsuit; then accessorizing those with two knitted hats, an army surplus balaclava and three pairs of gloves to get you to the opera with all your limbs intact, that’s what you put on.

    This is why if you pass me on the street in midwinter and don’t say hello, I will not be offended. You won’t recognize me. You’ll think, “Did that raggedy pile of battered winter clothes just wave?” and keep going.

    I wish I could tell you honestly that after more than decade of survival on the western shore of Lake Michigan I have grown accustomed to this annual renunciation of vanity. But no. The sight of winter ads from British tailors celebrating the elegance of classic overcoats and sleek leather gloves push me to the edge of rage. I live in Chicago, the city whose motto ought to be We Just Can’t Have Nice Things.

    Winter hats are the worst, because as a knitter I should be able to make any sort of winter hat I like. A universe of colors, weights, and fibers awaits my pleasure. I could design my own. In fact, I have done so.

    The immutable fact is–and I here I lay bare my great personal tragedy–that I do not have a “hat face.”

    If you’re not familiar with that term, possession of a “hat face” means you are able to put anything on your head–from a masterpiece by Lily Daché to an empty shopping bag–and carry it off. You know who has a hat face? My sister. You know who doesn’t have a hat face? Me.

    I have tried every standard and most non-standard forms of knitted hat and the results are never anything but unfortunate.

    See for yourself.
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