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Yarn of Mystery

franklin habitWho are you?

You’re in the bin clearly marked LACE WEIGHT. You are as close to being lace weight as I am to being an internationally famous professional wrestler. That is not your bin. Yet there you are.

You should probably be four bins over, in the bin marked WORSTED WEIGHT THAT IS REALLY MORE OF A SPORT WEIGHT.

Except aside from your apparent heft, you’re unlike anything else in that bin.

I’m sure I never bought you.

There is, for one thing, the question of your color. What color is that? It’s difficult to describe. Your label, if you ever had one, is missing, so I don’t know what the person who dyed you had in mind. Perhaps he or she was inspired by a childhood memory of old boogers, smeared across the underside of a battered grade school desk and left to dry for a decade. You do have that sort of greeny-yellowy-brown as your dominant note, with occasional flecks of rust that might have been intentional or might, for all I know, be actual flecks of rust.

What would a person do with a color like this?

What person would knit you into, say, a winter beanie; then parade the streets looking from the ears up like a dried booger?

Perhaps this is what grandmother meant when she told me there was a lid for every pot.

Certainly the dyer must have felt you would be appreciated by that audience in which the love of yarn and the love of boogers dwell in single blessedness.

Also, you are fuzzy. I don’t often collect wildly fuzzy yarn.

No, that’s not the word for you. You’re not fuzzy. Fuzzy is a nice word. Puppies are fuzzy. Fresh peaches are fuzzy. My chest is fuzzy. You’re not fuzzy.

You look, if I may be so bold, like you were spun out of hairy nastiness fished from the Bathtub of Doctor Moreau. There is fuzz, of a sort. But it isn’t a fuzz one wishes to caress or ruffle playfully. It is fuzz one wishes to have removed by a professional who is wearing proper safety equipment.

And yet you don’t appear to have been spun at all, really. You look more like you...accumulated...or grew...in a damp corner...of a cellar...a dark cellar...in an abandoned insane asylum. You may be alive. Should I poke you?

I would rather not.

So what are you doing in the bin marked LACE WEIGHT?

It could be that you hopped over from the bin where yarn goes that friends give me, but is more to their taste than my own. Yarn like the sweater quantity of excellent merino that I can’t bear to part with even though it’s that shade of red that makes me look like something crawled out of the laboratory tank and bit me on the cheek and now I have a spotty rash that may or may not convey superpowers.

But what friend of mine would give you to me?

I haven’t got a bin for yarn given to me by enemies. Or yarn that crawled in through the front door of its own accord. Yarn that may well hate me. Yarn that may want to harm me.

You do look rather...malevolent.

Did you just move?

Maybe I spun you myself. Should you be in the bin marked HANDSPUN? I’m a terrible spinner. There are some yarns in that bin one could only describe as woefully misbegotten. Freaks of twist and ply. I keep them all together so they can wallow in their collective sorrows. That bin is a group home for perfectly good fibers done wrong by a guy who doesn’t know when to leave the spinning wheel alone. Did you come out of that bin?

You can’t have. I feel sure if I’d spun you, I’d have set fire to the bobbin before you were more than a few yards long. And there is so much of you. Why is there so much of you? Was there this much of you a few minutes ago?

Are you growing?

I’m starting to think this is not a good day to sort the stash. There’s nobody else in the house. Probably I should do this when there’s someone else around, someone who can hear me scream. Yeah.

Back in the bin you go. Any bin. This bin.

Did you just say no?

(help me)



Writer, illustrator, and photographer Franklin Habit is the author of I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book (Soho Publishing, 2016) and It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008) and proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on Internet. His publishing experience in the fiber world includes contributions to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Ply Magazine, Cast On: A Podcast for Knitters, Twist Collective, and Knitty.com.

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, Stitches Events, Squam Arts Workshops, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

These days, Franklin knits and spins in Chicago, Illinois, sharing a small city apartment with a Schacht spinning wheel, two looms, and colony of sock yarn that multiplies alarmingly whenever his back is turned. Visit him at www.franklinhabit.com

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  • J.M. Griffin

    This article was awesome. As a novelist, I found it quite enjoyable and your writing superb, so much so, that I'm still laughing. And yes, I have a stash just like that. I think we all do! Thanks for starting my day with laughter!

  • Deborah Hale

    I, too, have been gifted with mystery yarn. Usually it's odd half-skeins of assorted colors that someone put together in a bag to donate to charity. And a friend (I do have some tasteless friends) was in that particular thrift shop and saw the bag and thought, "Oh, Debbie would appreciate this! She LOVES yarn!" So said tasteless friend pays the $1 for the yarn and rushes to my house with it. And because I love my friends, I accept the bag. The horrible part is this: unless there is a distinct "cat pee" aroma to the yarn, I will keep it and use it for things like granny squares. Even if one of them is old-booger colored.

  • Gwyn Aubrey

    We all have that yarn. It's like a Triffid. Or a Pod. Or some other wicked spore. But somewhere, someone is saying, "It's such a vibrant skein!" spreading the contagion.

  • Barbara A Cohen

    Thank you Franklin, you added a smile to my day. I, too, talk "with" my stash. Thank goodness it hasn'the spoken back yet. Again, thanks.

  • Quinn Fforde

    Very funny!

  • Myriam

    Truly scary

  • LittlePumpkin

    ... I can't believe I just read the word "booger" on a Lion Brand site...Now I am depressed.