September 4th, 2012
When I lived in Boston I held among my acquaintances a heavily starched woman who, in the best New England fashion, lived for eighty-six years without ever once moving her upper lip or her eyebrows. She didn’t need to. Surprise and enthusiasm had been carefully bred out of her in childhood, so the entire universe elicited nothing more than an occasional sigh to indicate that had not yet quite died of boredom.
She was of the party when a clutch of us fled the city for a weekend in the semi-wilderness of Maine. The autumn colors were reaching a particularly loud climax that year, and one of our fellow travelers–newly arrived from a land impossibly far away (Ohio)–punctuated every bend in the road with a scream of approval. Confronted by a view that encompassed orange leaves, blue mountains, gray sky, and red barn, she nearly blew the roof off the car.
“I’m speechless!” she cried, inaccurately. “I don’t even have a word for it. It’s all just so…so…What is the word?”
“Obvious,” said a sleepy, starchy voice in the back seat.
She had a point. Autumn is a perfectly nice season, I grant you. I am second to none when it comes to an appreciation for wood smoke, apple cider, and the Great Pumpkin. But the colors? Hello, September. Hello again, rust. Hello again, gold. And red. And brown. And red-gold, and rusty yellow-brown, and golden yellowbrownish-rustred.
Perhaps it’s having spent all those years in New England listening to the foliage junkies weep pensively into their lobster dinners that makes me wish the season’s palette were a little more expansive. Leaves this, leaves that. Enough already with the leaves. Leaves get all the attention; and let’s be honest–unless you live on a farm in New England, are they even the most striking new colors in your landscape as the days grown short?
They certainly aren’t in Chicago, where we do have trees (more than you might imagine) but the leaves are usually blown to smithereens by a gale before they can put on much of a show. It’s certainly not leaves that tell me fall is here; so why should I feel compelled to pay homage to them when I pick out the yarns for this year’s new sweater?
Therefore, I am going out on a limb (you should pardon the expression) to nominate the following shades as worthy additions to a thoroughly modern line-up of fall colors.
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.