Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Author Archive


Holiday Creeps

December 5th, 2012

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I’ve noticed that in December knit and crochet types divide naturally into two camps:

  1. Those who have finished their gift-making.
  2. Those who have not.

If you’re in Camp One, congratulations. You might want to keep quiet.

If you’re in Camp Two, what are you doing reading this? Have you looked at the calendar?

The calendar is looking at me, because I’m in Camp Two. I am always in Camp Two. I have standing reservation for a Lakeside Cabin with En Suite Bath in Camp Two.

It’s my own fault. Each year, in early summer, I lay out a plan. I decide who is going to get knitted gifts, and what they’re going to get. My plan looks something like this:

Mom: Scarf 
Dad: Hat
 
Tom: Hat

Notice that this is a short list of small projects. I do not propose to knit lace shawls for the mail carrier, the mechanic, and all the bartenders who have flirted with me during the previous fiscal year. Two hats and a scarf, to be completed by Thanksgiving. A novice could pull that off and still have time for matching mittens.

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Thanksgiving By the Numbers

November 14th, 2012

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1. Guest list. Fifteen.
2. Dining room chairs. Eight.
3. Chair deficit. Seven.
4. Number of guests who will not be horribly put out if asked to eat turkey while sitting on milk crates.Two.
5. Chair deficit. Five.
6. Number of guests who will likely not attend due to influenza, based on World Health Organization’s seasonal forecast. One.
7. Number of chairs neighbor across hall is able to lend. Two.
8. Number of chairs upstairs neighbor would like to borrow from me. Four.
9. Number of chairs gained from neighbor across hall after 50/50 split with upstairs neighbor has been negotiated. One.
10. Number of hand-knit scarves upstairs neighbor will be getting from me at Christmas. Zero.

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Forever Your Ghoul

October 11th, 2012

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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.

You might think a nervous type like me, who has palpitations during especially intense action sequences on Curious George, might shy away from the shrieking tomfoolery associated with Halloween. But you would be terribly, terribly wrong.

I can’t help it: it’s hereditary. Three hundred and sixty four days of the year, our little family lived a quiet, unremarkable life of comforting monotony. Then, come dusk on October 31, we turned into a perfectly orchestrated quartet of terror.

Our neighbors put out pumpkins and bowls of candy. We scoffed.

My parents pressed my sister and I into willing service, crafting an entirely homemade carnival of thrills that turned our cookie-cutter ranch house into the set of The Addams Family. We had flashing lights, creepy sound effects, talking scarecrows, hovering ghosts, and giant spiders whose eyes glowed blood-red in the gathering gloom. Of course, we also had candy. But if you wanted a Tootsie Roll from the Habits, you ran the gauntlet or you left empty handed.

We considered the evening a flop if fewer than six kids wet themselves just walking up our driveway.

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Leaf Me Alone

September 4th, 2012

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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.

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Unwillingly to School

August 6th, 2012

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My knitting is sticking to my fingers. As I write this, it’s ninety-four balmy degrees outside the workroom. The plants in the window box are rioting–I abandoned judicious pruning in mid-July–and just below so is a gaggle of inebriated baseball fans, lurching homeward en masse after an afternoon game at nearby Wrigley Field. Sure signs of high summer in my Chicago neighborhood: heat, weeds, and another loss for the Cubs.

A change of season seems impossible. It is hot, it always has been hot, it always will be hot. But through the ceiling comes the first whisper, shortly to become a roar, heralding the approach of autumn. There has been a shopping trip, and the neighbor’s children are trying on back-to-school clothes.

They are not happy.

A muffled voice is protesting a sweater that itches. The pounding of stiff new shoes is shaking the walls. This collar is too tight. These pants are too long. “You’ll grow into them!” says their mother.

She is happy.

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Summer Cramp

July 11th, 2012

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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 “no-more-than-you-can-carry-to-the-desk-in-one-trip.”

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 air!”

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.

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