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
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
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
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.
Authored by Franklin Habit
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.