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Lost in Space

April 6th, 2014

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

I figure this as good a time as any to begin this essay, as my knitting is temporarily on hold.

The pattern says to work in stockinette until the piece measures six inches from the cast on edge. I may have hit the target, but I won’t know until I measure it, and I can’t measure it because I can’t find my tape measure.

By “my tape measure,” I mean any one of the thirty or so tape measures with which I share a compact urban living space. How compact? Not New York compact, just Chicago compact–about 1,600 square feet. That means one tape measure for every 53.3333 square feet.

I should not have to look very far for a tape measure.

In fact, my tape measure was right here. I know it was right here because when I sat down to cast on I knew I would soon need to measure six inches of stockinette. So I found (hooray!) (one of) my tape measure(s) and put it right here.

So where is it?

I remember when I was a new knitter and every trip to the yarn store meant spending money on needles and notions. You remember that time in your life? You’d go to the yarn store, see the pattern, pick out the yarn. Then the nice person at the counter would say, “You’re going to need a [stitch holder/row counter/tapestry needle/bag of stitch markers/size E crochet hook/16-inch size four circular]? Do you have a [stitch holder/row counter/tapestry needle/bag of stitch markers/size E crochet hook/16-inch size four circular]?”

You didn’t, so you bought one of those, too.

I remember thinking, “Hey, that’s groovy. Now I have stitch markers. A knitter needs stitch markers, and now I have some. I am all set. Good for me.”

Touching. I really, truly believed that a $1.46 baggie of locking-ring stitch markers was going to last the rest of my life. I really, truly believed that once you had bought a 16-inch size 4 circular, you could cross that off your list the way a bird watcher who has seen one “Yellow-Throated Honeyeater” is forever free to ignore all other Yellow-Throated Honeyeaters.

Hah.

Sure, you have stitch markers. For a little while. Then, you don’t. They were right here. Where did they go? Who knows? Why even ask? Go buy more. You can hunt and hunt and hunt and you’ll be more likely to turn up a Yeti between the couch cushions than to recover a point protector that has decided to run away.

I was thinking about this phenomenon and asked other folks what they’ve lost. Stitch markers, of course, were the top of the list. Next came single double-pointed needles out of sets of four. Then tapestry needles, tape measures, and folding scissors.

My friend Sherilyn wins the prize. First, for mislaying an entire set of blocking wires, including the storage tube. Next, for mislaying the final ball of yarn she needed to complete a toddler sweater. (She did at long last find the yarn, by which time the toddler was no longer a toddler.)

I am too old and cynical to think this will ever change. Having laid out a tidy sum for the notions, I’ve since laid out another tidy sum for a flotilla of bags, cases, boxes, and sleeves to keep them safe. Most of those are scattered, too.

My only hope? The recent discovery of [link to http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/18/science/space/detection-of-waves-in-space-buttresses-landmark-theory-of-big-bang.html ] ripples in the fabric of space [/link] has leant support to the notion of multiple universes. The universe we see, it seems, may be just one of many. Some of those other universes may be completely unlike ours, may even be no more than voids. But some may be quite similar, differing in only small details.

In one of them, I may always know where my tape measure is.

Here’s hoping.

habit-lb-illo-04-14-horiz

—–
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.

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  • Deebee

    Franklin, You are so right. I am in the midst of spring cleaning. I have found about a bazillion 12 inch wooden rulers. I have placed them in various appropriate locations throughout the house. I took a break from spring cleaning and made a swatch. surprise surprise, there wasn’t a single ruler to be found! Where did they hide? Do they grow legs when I’m not looking?

    • Evol Jenius

      Well, they are, after all, rulers. Rulers don’t have to explain anything they do.

  • freres

    Yup. I _know_ I have another umbrella swift -somewhere- in this house… I think I have a cat making off with my some of my DPNs, which he then seems to hand off to the dog who thinks they’re great to crunch up (the yarn and my finger oils must be soooo tasty), since I’ve found bits and pieces of at least one missing needle in the kinds of pieces only the pooch could do. The cat would just leave toothmarks and drool…

  • Denise

    Yes, yes, yes. Sometimes it is way more cost effective to just go to the store to buy more than to find the missing item or ___________ (fill in the blank). I’m convinced black holes are somehow to blame.

  • Pingback: Dealing with the Craftermath | Jane Burns()

  • Swapna E

    We moved recently, and haven’t been allotted a house yet in the new location, which means almost all my craft supplies are in clingfilm-wrapped cartons in someone else’s garage. But I was smart, and packed one tape measure in my toilet bag, and another in the only project I have available. Imagine that! I don’t have an address, but I have access to t.w.o. tape measures. Yay me!

    • Linlal

      Ah, that may work now but wait until you are in a house and those two tape measures have a chance to make a break for it! They’re just playing with you now to get your confidence up. Don’t turn your back on them!!

  • Linlal

    Clearly what is happening is that those other universes overlap with ours sometimes. When you put something down on your sewing table, the table may be in this universe but, before you go back to get it, another universe absorbs your table and someone there picks up your tape measure or stitch markers. The universes move again, your table comes back here and you never see your missing item again.
    Have you ever had something appear on your sewing table that you know you didn’t put there? Same theory in reverse!!
    Doesn’t this make more sense than the possibility that you’ve just lost something?!?
    ;-D

  • Sarah Dalrymple

    Franklin, there is actually a website that puts an accurate measuring stick on your screen. The number of inches it shows depends on the screen. And it even works on mobile devices, and does inches and centimeters. I use it all the time for my crochet projects since I can NEVER find a tape measure (and I was using the big ones from the hardware store, and still lost them!), but my laptop, tablet, phone and even my TV are much harder for me to lose.

    • Sarah Dalrymple

      And I forgot to post the link… sorry! http://iruler.net/#

      • Evol Jenius

        On my computer this ruler is off by 1/8 inch per inch.

        • Ila Treat

          They misjudged the size of my display, so mine was off be the same amount. There’s a way to reset it to the correct size though, fixed the problem.

  • Grace

    Oh thank goodness, it’s not just me! I just thought I was bad at keeping track of/taking care of my stuff! What a relief!

  • Samantha Hinson

    There is a perfectly logical explanation, the same one that explains the disappearances of left socks; faeries. And I’m not talking about Tinkerbell here. I’m talking goblin types similar to the ones that tie knots in your hair in the middle of the night.

    Just sayin’.

  • Sherill

    A life-saver when you can’t find a tape measure is the knowledge that a dollar bill is exactly 6 inches. Of course, then you can’t find a dollar bill.

    • Nikki

      In the same vein, I know that the second knuckle on my right forefinger is 1″, and the width of my hand, less thumb, is 4″. Thumb tip to pinky tip at full stretch is 8″. So far I haven’t managed to misplace my right hand–though it has gone some places it shouldn’t.

  • Esmerelda

    Actually, I’m pretty sure my sofa consumes my crochet supplies. It has eaten at least three hooks, countless stitch markers, one tape measure, god-knows-how-many pairs of small scissors and a half a string of number 6 beads. Once in a while I move it and find some item I’ve been missing forever, but until Superman stops by to pick it up and shake it well, I suspect those things are gone for good… :)

  • nadinecreates.wordpress.com

    So if I spring clean this week do you think I will find ll my lost needles? Oh I hope so since I plan to move and would hate to think what the next people would think about finding them all over the place!

  • NCKNITTERBEAR

    This happens to me with scissors! Every time I saw scissors on sale, I would buy several. This worked for a while — there was always a pair of scissors within arm’s reach. Then the Universe decided I had too many. Now, no matter how many more I buy, I always have to hunt for one. Perhaps a tatto of a 6-inch ruler on the inside of one’s arm?

  • Dee

    Another helpful work-around is to measure your hands. For example, I measure six inches from the first fold between my left hand and wrist to the top of my left ring finger. Not everyone’s cup of tea, perhaps, but it works for me. I’ve lost a lot of things, including my mind on occasion, but never my hands.

  • Leslie Kiehlbauch

    Simple explanation….the Law of Diminishing Returns. Why fight it?

  • Darlene

    Sometimes when I drop something on the floor and look to see nothing there I figure it dropped into another dimension and I just have to wait until it pops back again. Sometimes it takes awhile!

  • jbean1

    I know exactly where all my stitch markers are–they’ve fallen down the inside of my sofa, but I can’t really move the thing to retrieve them because it’s a big old sleeper sofa. If I ever move, I’ll hit the stitch marker bonanza.

  • Craft Monkey

    In Dragon Age 2 (a video game) they have a spirit world called the Fade. In a little piece of supplemental text, they describe one mage’s research project – to prove that socks were a manifestation of the Fade. This mage sat watching his socks for hours upon hours, waiting for them to return to the dimension from which they came – how else could it be explained all the unmated socks in the world? It’s not the dryer monster – it’s because they actually come from another dimension. Clearly, kntting and crocheting notions belong in this same mysterious category.

  • Kathy F

    Got a dollar bill? It’s six inches long (and 2.5″ wide). Need 5.5″? Fold a sheet of letter-size paper in half. This works in the U.S.–not Canada or the U.K.

    • Linlal

      We don’t have one- or two-dollar bills any more in Canada but the new plastic five-dollar bill measures 6″ x 2 3/4″.

  • Evol Jenius

    I’ve always been convinced that there is another family living in our house in a different dimension. Things keep disappearing from where I put them and then turn up in the oddest places. I once witnessed the return of a pair of scissors that I had been looking for for quite a while. They just fell on the floor next to where I was sitting. Where did they fall from? Don’t know. My guess is a traveling black hole. I was walking through another room when I heard something hit the floor. I looked and there were the pliers I’d been looking for. I wonder when and where my forks will show up. :)

  • Denise

    So funny because I have a sofa that eats all sorts of my knitting paraphernalia. It has a sort of sling thing beneath the seats and all this mechanical stuff to make each seat recline. Can I dig my stuff out of there…no! So there it sits and it’s so frustrating because I know it is just below my bum and I can’t get to it. The sofa weighs a ton so that doesn’t help.

  • sandra

    Stitch markers, tape measures, Ha! Amateurs. I once lost an entire completed sleeve. It is in my apartment. I have never found it. I completed the sweater. When (not if) the extra sleeve appears, you will see me wearing an oddly shaped, matching hat.

  • Rae

    Obviously, it is part of an universal conspiracy to thwart the crafty, ’cause I know that I have purchased enough stitch makers, small scissors, knitting/crocheting implements and various measuring tapes over the years to supply the inhabitants of a small nation with everything they need to take up the craft of their choice!

  • Luanne Redmond

    It could be the Borrowers . . .

    Seriously, though, next time this happens, pull out your copy of Stitch n Bitch Nation, turn to page 117, and read my contribution to that august tome. It’s a tip about measuring various portions of your hand. I would venture to say you have not yet mislaid those. You always have a handy (get it, get it?) measuring tool with you.

    Lu

    • Flashmary

      I’ve tried this, and it does work–in a way. Years ago I measured hand width, finger joints, all sorts of body lengths. Smug until I needed to measure something and realized that I had long since forgotten which finger was exactly three inches long, which joint was one inch, and had all the other benchmarks mixed up in my head. If I were going to get a tattoo, a ruler would be a useful one, but with my luck I’d gain weight and throw the danged thing off.

      • Luanne Redmond

        Funny! It would have to be a,serious weight gain, though. One poster mentioned a computer ruler being off by 1/8 inch per inch. Sounds ok to me – it’s been a loooong time since that I needed or even wanted that kind of precision in my knitting. Maybe for omething tiny like baby socks.,,

  • Betty

    Say, if you find any single socks, please, post them on your blog.

  • Inquisitive Raven

    My theory is that they are hiding until you buy a replacement. Then as long as you know where the replacement is, the missing items will turn up. Of course, then both the original and the replacement will go missing at the same time…

  • Ruthann

    we have a ritual at our house, about once a month we turn my loveseat upside and and wow the things we find. need to do it again soon, I only have 6 stitch markers left and need that many for a hat, sooooo guess husband gets to go to work again turning sofa over.

  • Cath

    It is entirely possible that there is a universe full of stitch makers that have travelled there through immensely small black holes (possibly found near the hole that often creeps in near the heel pickup of stitches near socks….).

  • Cath

    That would be ‘markers’….

  • Colleen Sheehy

    The missing stuff is all tucked away in the odd socks that have gone missing over the years from our clothes dryers. Currently being worn by Judge Crater and one Mr Hoffa….They both walk a little funny.

  • Maggi

    I usually find my soft tape measures coiled like sleeping snakes down the back of cupboards, etc. I’m always on the lookout for the golden glint of the end metal tab. I’m currently in the middle of a haberdashery purge – organising similar items into glass jars on shelves so I can immediately find them. the only problem is that, after years of chaos, I never think to look there.

  • Knitwit

    Are you sure you live in 1600 sq ft? That’s not compact by my (midwestern suburban) standards.

  • Barb

    yup, kind of like everytime my husband goes to a yard sale and buys up that box of knitting needles no one wants, and every time I come home with a box of needles no one wants, but crap! still don’t have the right sized needle for my project. Please explain this to me??? How does it work that I have 2 drawers full of needles that are not the right size and I have been knitting for 40 years???!!!!;

  • Anne Mosey

    My house has a wandering black hole that swallows items indescriminately. Sometimes they are returned, most often, not.

  • Lauren Muscarello Mittermann

    Seriously considered a ruler tattoo on my forearm… so I would not lose the ruler. Then I considered the possibility of either skin shrinking… or more likely, expanding…

  • farmkiti

    If you need a 6″ measure, use a dollar bill if you still can’t find your measuring tape! A dollar bill is 6″ long! :-D

  • Sarah Jane Humke

    As a knitter from Ackley, Iowa, I can tell you that scissors are not skulking about the town with new names that they don’t always answer to. Alas, if they have indeed ended-up in our little town at one point, they must’ve hitched rides out to the cornfields around and are cavorting with MY scissors. :-)

  • Filita

    Franklin, Brilliant. When I was a small child. I ‘helped’ my mum by cutting off the metal bits at the end of the tape measure. 30 years on this is the tape measure that can always be found. It’s never been lost. Lots of tape measures come and go but this tape measure is always at hand.

    • Linlal

      Maybe that works the same way as clipping the wing feathers on a goose or a duck so they can’t fly.

  • SR

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who has lost blocking wires in the storage tube. Not even joking on that one, I know I carried them over to my new place when I moved and I used them after the move…I’ve had four people search for them and no one can find them.

  • Dani

    I’m pretty sure that tiny objects like stitch markers and other notions actually have the ability to travel to parallel universes. I don’t know how else to explain why I can search my bag thoroughly three times in a row for something and it’s not there, but I later find the missing object there anyway.

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