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

January 6th, 2016

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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.

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

December 2nd, 2015

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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…

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habit-lb-trophy-04 habit-lb-trophy-05 habit-lb-trophy-06
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—–
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.


Talk to the Paw by Franklin Habit

November 3rd, 2015

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

“Leelee just loves my knitting,” she said brightly, plucking the ball of yarn from the corner into which it had rolled. “Don’t you, Leelee?”

Leelee was silent.

“She just loves it,” she said again, winding on the twisted clew that had circumnavigated the legs of the armchair, the coffee table, and a medium-sized plaster reproduction of the Venus de Milo. “You love it, don’t you?”

Leelee watched sullenly for a moment, then turned her back and began licking her foot.

Leelee, as you may have guessed, is a cat. Unable to speak for herself, she is frequently given voice by the knitter with whom she resides. Leelee is often said by the knitter to be quite the yarn fanatic. Leelee pores over the knitting magazines that litter the floor and offers mewling critiques of the patterns inside. Leelee does not care for intarsia, drop shoulders, or very bright colors. Leelee is presently infatuated with chenille.

“Did she tell you that?” I asked.

“She doesn’t have to, silly!” said the knitter. “Cats and yarn! Cats and yarn!”

I felt, on Leelee’s behalf, a certain resentment. I understand what it’s like to have everyone assume they know you just by looking at you. As a man, I am generally reckoned to have a deep love of football (no) and a violent aversion to needlework (also no). It’s not quite fair.

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Let’s Be Brutally Honest About Pattern Difficulty Levels by Franklin Habit

October 6th, 2015

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

While the emergence of the global online needlework community has undoubtedly been a boon in many ways, for the designer of patterns it is a mixed bag. The sort of mixed bag in which candy corn and miniature chocolate bars mingle with rusty scissors and angry cats. Reach in at your peril.

Answering questions about one’s patterns can be a frightful drain on one’s time, particularly the eternal and ceaseless query, “How difficult is this pattern? Is this pattern too difficult for the likes of me?”.

Publishers have tried to head off this question in the past with various arrays of stars and adjectives, with little success. Why? They leave too much unspoken. How spacious, exactly, is the distance between two stars and four stars? “Easy” for whom?

I shall attempt to pour calming oil upon these bouncy waters with the following verbose and infallible explanation of the most commonly encountered grading system. Where it enters, confusion vanishes. I have no doubt that universal adoption will be swiftly forthcoming.

When, in consequence, my monument is built in the village square, let it be known that I am more partial to bronze than marble. The latter is too easily damaged by pigeons.

Thank you.

 habit-lb-10-15-01star

 

Utterly mindless. Requires no skills of any kind. In fact, it finished itself before you reached the end of this sentence.

 

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Requires rudimentary skills and at most a minimal attention span. It will take less effort to complete this project than it will to post a shot of it on Instagram.

 

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A challenge of modest proportions. It will take a couple of hours to knock out, yes; but you can watch an “Outlander” marathon while you do it.

 

 

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Difficult enough that the naughty bits of “Outlander” will probably prove too distracting. Consider instead a few episodes of “Gilligan’s Island,” “The Brady Bunch,” or equivalent selections from the oeuvre of Sherwood Schwartz.

 

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Turn off the television. Are you listening to me? I said turn it off. No, you may not wait until you find out if they get off the island. They never get off the island. Well, not until the sequels. Stop arguing with me. Are you going to buckle down and focus, or not? Do I need to send you to your room?

 

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If you have coffee, drink it now.

 

 

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No television. Much coffee. And send the rest of the household to the movies. Failing that, lock yourself in the attic. Better still, lock the rest of the household in the attic.

 

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Are you ambidextrous? Double-jointed? With a keen sense of balance?

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I strongly urge you to reconsider what you are about to do.

 

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Expectant mothers should not ride.

 

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I’m not absolutely certain our insurance covers this.

 

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You’re going to need these.

 

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With smaller needles, cast on x=[2/SEC(¶/3)•[lim x→0 x^3+8x+10]^2]/[lim θ→0 sinθ/θ] stitches. Join to work in the round, being careful not to twist.

 

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I wash my hands of you.

—–
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.


Party Trick by Franklin Habit

September 1st, 2015

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

I have learned from experience that the best way to respond when a stranger at a party asks me, “So, what do you do for a living?” is to start a small fire, then run away while everyone is distracted.

I teach knitting for a living. Most folks are not prepared to hear that an ostensibly grown man spends his days teaching knitting.  It smacks of frivolity. There is always an awkward pause, lasting anywhere from five seconds to an hour, during which we stand blinking until the follow-up question.

“What?”

It all, as Hannibal said from the top of the Alps, goes downhill from here.

Occasionally one of the guests turns hyperenthusiastic and begins spreading word of my vocation through the room. “Listen to this, Maude,” he says. “Listen, this guy–you’ll never believe it–this guy teaches people to knit. To knit!”

“What?” says Maude.

“To knit!”

“What?” says Maude.

He then, without setting down his gin and tonic, mimes “knitting” by wiggling his fists in proximity. It looks less like knitting than snapping the neck of a prairie dog, but never mind. Maude has caught on.

“Isn’t that something!” says Maude. “Hester, listen to this!”

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