Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

Image frame

Author Archive


Free to Good Home

April 14th, 2016

Pin It

franklin_400x400Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.

Welcome, good people, to the Franklin Habit Home for Neglected Knitting Projects.

You’re in luck. It’s Adoption Week, during which time we waive all fees, background checks, and paperwork. It will be my pleasure to show you around. Petting is not only permitted, it’s encouraged. If you see anything you like, simply speak up and it’s yours.

If you don’t see anything you like, we will stuff something in your bag and force you to take it home. We’re that desperate. No backsies.

You’ll find the home is divided into a series of pleasant, airy pavilions, each devoted to a different sort of neglected project. Let’s begin with Slow Haven, where hours upon hours of patient knitting have brought these sad creatures no closer to completion.

May I interest you in…

One quarter of a blanket cunningly intended to use up the odds and ends of 150 partial balls of sock yarn? Such a charming concept. Not merely a blanket, but a blanket full of memories. All those different yarns jumbled together in one joyous samba parade of wild color. Who could resist?

Reasons for Surrender: Color mix looks less like samba parade than political riot. Grows at the rate of one inch per week, forcing the knitter constantly to contemplate how old she will be when it is finished.

Or perhaps…

A Shetland cobweb lace shawl comprising one repeat of center chart and six untouched balls of eensy weensy yarn. Purchased on impulse at spectacular fiber festival; best friend purchased same kit so that “…we can knit them together.”

Reasons for Surrender: Chart has vanished. Pattern is out of print. Best friend finished hers in six weeks. (No longer speaking to friend.)

lb-habit-04-16-illo
 

Now, if you’ll please follow me over the hill, we’ll take a peek into Twilight Garden, the shady grove wherein we place projects that have outlived their usefulness without leaving their needles.

Have you room in your heart for…

A baby sweater minus one sleeve and the button band? Such a promising beginning. Look at that darling two-color yoke. I’d go so far as to say the work is perfect. A small bag containing the perfect ducky buttons is included.

Reason for Surrender: Baby is now thirty-six years old, and like the sweater has failed to live up to its early promise.

Take a look at…

An unspecified amount of the bottom of a bottom-up sweater.

Reason for Surrender: Instructions state, “Work in stockinette until piece measures fifteen inches from cast-on edge.” Somehow, knitter has never managed to get both this project and her tape measure into the same room.

Or please consider…

In white fingering-weight yarn, a charming congratulations on your wedding baby divorce retirement funeral shawl, lacking only the knitted-on edging.

Reasons for Surrender: The clue is in the name.

We shall now make several wrong turns and come to the Salon des Whoops. This, by far our largest building, is a secured area for projects that were pretty much doomed from the start. We don’t tell them that, though. They’ve already suffered enough.

 Perhaps you might have some use for…

The half-finished body of a wool cardigan in eighteen colors?

Reason for Surrender: Upon returning from extensive tour of Shetland Islands, maker suddenly remembered that she lives in Miami Beach.

Or…

A single sock with an un-grafted toe?

Reason for Surrender: Maker suddenly remembered why she hates knitting socks.

Or…

Pattern, four skeins of top-quality merino/silk, wound into balls, and one circular needle. 

Reason for Surrender: Cast on for pattern is 537 stitches.

Or…

Afghan Block-of-the-Month Club January block, completed; plus half of February block, and two rows of March block, and all the yarns for April through December.

Reason for Surrender: If you have to ask, you must be new here. Excellent. You really should try a block-of-the-month club. Hold still while I stuff this thing in your bag.

—–
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 a Schacht spinning wheel and colony of sock yarn that multiplies alarmingly whenever his back is turned.


How to Be a Superb Student: A Lesson in Two Parts, Part Two

March 10th, 2016

Pin It

franklin_400x400Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.

I left you, last month, on the brink of taking your seat in the classroom. If all has gone well, you are equipped with the correct needles, notions, and yarns. If the teacher has asked for homework, your homework is complete.

Let us begin.

Part Two: In the Classroom

  1. Dress for Comfort. A fiber arts classroom may be anything from a deluxe hotel suite to a livestock barn. I have taught in both. No matter what, I promise you this: the room will be far too hot for half the class and far too cold for the other half.

Dressing in layers is vital. A student in a shirt, sweater, and small shawl or scarf can adjust to a variable microclimate. A student who wears only a bra under her snuggly hand-knitted merino pullover is going to suffer when the radiator starts to glow.

  1. Arrive on Time. On time is slightly early–anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes before class is due to begin. Earlier than 45 minutes isn’t punctual, it’s pushy. The teacher needs time to arrange the classroom (and himself) for what’s to come. If you cannot sit outside (i.e., it’s snowing hard, there’s an angry mob in the street, the yarn shop is entirely surrounded by a moat stocked with alligators) please have mercy–quietly choose a seat and let the teacher prepare.

Do not ever (ever) show up very, very early and attempt to wheedle a free private lesson out of the teacher before class beings. You will not enjoy what happens next.

If you must arrive late, slip in quietly and take the nearest available seat. No explanations necessary.

  1. They’re All Good Seats. If you have a physical condition that requires special accommodation, please let the venue know in advance so they can take the necessary steps.
    If you do not, choose any open chair. You’ll be able to see. You’ll be able to hear. The seats in the back are fifteen feet from the teacher. It’s a crochet class, not a Who concert at Yankee Stadium.
  1. Silence the Phone. Period.
  1. Silence Yourself. Your classmates have paid to learn about cable knitting, not your dinner plans. When the teacher is addressing the class, conversations on your phone or with your table neighbors should–indeed must–be taken out of the room.

If you simply can’t wait another minute to catch up with the bosom friend you haven’t seen since the day fifty years ago when you left her for dead on a blood-soaked battlefield, please consider that perhaps my class on the history of lace knitting is not the ideal place to do it.
(more…)


Franklin Habit’s How to Be a Superb Student: A Lesson in Two Parts

February 9th, 2016

Pin It

franklin_400x400Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.

For the past several years I’ve been one of the most traveled knitting teachers in the northern hemisphere–with the battered baggage and frequent flyer status to prove it.  In a busy month I may be at a shop, guild, retreat, or festival every other weekend. In a very busy month, that may be every weekend. It’s so hard to be me.

(No it isn’t.)

Before this, I was a knitting student. I loved taking classes. I still do, on rare and beautiful occasions when my schedule permits me to sit down and shut up.

In this way I’ve met literally thousands of students–some learning from me, some learning with me. All have gathered into the classroom with a common goal: to have fun, stretch their wings, and expand their horizons.

Most students are lovely, polite, considerate, and prepared. Were they not, I would be writing an entirely different column about information architecture or collectible figurines or the semiotics of Sesame Street.  I lack the stamina to teach classroom after classroom full of boors and cretins.

However.

Needlework classes of any variety–knitting, crochet, sewing, embroidery–can be fraught with tension. They are often expensive and crowded. Miniscule rooms tumble perfect strangers together in close proximity. Challenging topics push mental or physical limits to the breaking point. Temperaments clash. Patience is often in short supply.

And everyone present comes supplied with sharp implements.

In such circumstances, being a prepared and polite student is good for everyone.

It is good for your teacher, because it allows him or her to give the entire class the best possible guided tour of the material.

It is good for your fellow students, because it allows them to concentrate on their own work.

It is good for you, because it helps you get the most for your money; and gives your teacher and classmates no cause to gather after class and smack the whoopsie out of you in the parking lot.

Therefore, in the spirit of everyone having a bodacious time, I humbly present this two-part guide to being the best student you can be.

(more…)


Franklin Habit’s Friendly Three-Point Message to Journalists Who Seek to Write About Knitting and Crochet

January 6th, 2016

Pin It

franklin_400x400Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please let me say how delighted I am that you intend to devote column inches (or equivalent in screen real estate) to something so dear to my heart. It’s a broad and fascinating subject, reaching back centuries and stretching the world around. Much has been said of it, yet so much remains unsaid.

I venture to guess, based upon prior experience with reporters covering this beat, that it was not your first choice among the week’s assignments. You are new, perhaps. An intern, possibly. Or you got caught in the office supply closet with the editor’s girlfriend at the holiday party, and this is your punishment.

Chin up, friend. You could do worse. Your sources are legion. They will eagerly supply fodder sufficient to overflow the boundaries of a book, let alone your limit of 2,000 words. Play nice, and you might get to keep the mittens after the photo shoot.

Field research will take you to guild meetings, knit nights,  and yarn shops, at which you will be offered tea and cookies, frequently; and stronger libation, almost as frequently.

You will not have to jump off a bridge or wear a silly costume. You will not be required to crawl down mine shafts or across battlefields.

However.

Before you turn on your recorder there are a few fundamentals you must understand. They will help you to write a piece full of truth and beauty. A piece that will be passed merrily around the Internet like a plate of homemade macaroons. A piece that will not inspire fifty million plugged-in yarn fanciers to flood your publication with sternly worded messages of complaint.

Ready? Good. Take notes.

(more…)


Franklin Habit Asks, “Why shouldn’t folks who knit and crochet get medals?”

December 2nd, 2015

Pin It

franklin_400x400Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.

December already? You have got to be kidding me.

I’ve been cleaning out. This apartment, as city apartments go, is not a cracker box. I am fortunate. But neither is it a many-wingèd mansion, and that keeps me from turning packrat. There’s no room for excess. Every year around this time I get the urge to pick up the household by one end and shake it like a rug to snap out the debris.

Much of my personal debris is knitted. This was a busy year. I made lots of stuff, most of it for books or articles rather than personal use. I can’t keep it all, nor do I have reason to. Without a baby in the family, what do I want with a series of tiny bonnets? Out they go, and may they comfort heads that need them.

Still, laid end to end across the dining room table, they and the dozens of other finished objects from 2015 make an impressively bulky display. They’re even more impressive piled atop one another to make a sort of finished project mountain.

“Check it out,” I said to a visiting friend. “It’s tall as I am. All I need is a little amigurumi Edmund Hillary planting a flag on top.”

“What’s amigurumi?” she said. (She doesn’t crochet, yet.)

“Never mind,” I said. “Look how much I made!”

“What do you want? A medal?”

And I thought to myself, “Why, yes. Yes, I do. I would like a medal, please.”

Why shouldn’t folks who knit and crochet get medals? This is the season for it. Journalists of every stripe are tripping over each other to be first across the line with end-of-the-year lists of who did what best, or most, or loudest.

Maybe that’s the reason we who play with yarn usually aren’t given medals. We are not, on the whole, a loud bunch. This is not to say we don’t sometimes raise a ruckus when we get congregate. We do. But as individuals, we think nothing of binding off a hundred-hour project of ten thousand or more stitches without fanfare, then quietly beginning another.

I know jigsaw puzzle fanciers who celebrate their achievements with more enthusiasm. And they don’t have to deal with necklines or buttonholes.

I propose that here, now, we have our own awards ceremony.

The event staff have been working on a red carpet of 2,648 granny squares made of Lion Brand Wool Ease, and should be here within the hour.  I am, you will have noticed, in full evening dress; but you may come as you are. Tiaras welcomed.

When you’re quite ready, please make your way to the stage and lay claim to the trophy for any and all of your remarkable achievements. Feel free to add others in the comments section.

And don’t worry about keeping your acceptance speech short. I brought my knitting.

Presenting the Franklin Habit Awards! And the winners are…

habit-lb-trophy-01 habit-lb-trophy-02 habit-lb-trophy-03
habit-lb-trophy-04 habit-lb-trophy-05 habit-lb-trophy-06
habit-lb-trophy-07 habit-lb-trophy-08 habit-lb-trophy-09
habit-lb-trophy-10

—–
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 a Schacht spinning wheel and colony of sock yarn that multiplies alarmingly whenever his back is turned.

css.php