Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for the 'Humor' Category


It’s A Purl, It’s a Chain, It’s…

January 7th, 2014

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I was sitting in an airport, waiting for the flight to a teaching engagement, winding yarn. Travel with a swift being sadly impractical, I was making do with the back of an empty chair. Without warning, a screeching ninny plunged into view and grabbed at the unwound skein.

“So cute!” she screamed, jangling a fistful of wool in one painted claw. “Are you, like, doing some crochet or something?”

“That was the plan,” I said.

But it was too late. The skein had become a tangle so dense not even light could escape from it.

Working out occasional small snarls is part of knitting. There’s no avoiding it. But really big messes like this? Forget it. I’ve always taken them as a sign that I wasn’t supposed to knit with that yarn, anyway.

When I got to the guild I mentioned what had happened and displayed the ruined skein.

“It was so pretty, too,” I said. “But now it’s dead.”

“No it’s not,” said the Chief Guild Lady. “Somebody get Eileen.”

There was a general chorus of agreement: Eileen must be got.

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Pick a Number

December 11th, 2013

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(It’s going to take a moment to get to the yarn content today. Stick with me.)

It’s football season. I need not have to tell you this if you live in the United States. It is impossible to live in the United States during football season and not know it is football season.

I don’t especially care that it is football season.

My father, a native Pennsylvanian, rooted for the Steelers in a laconic and slapdash way; but we never gathered around the television to cheer. He believed that spectator sports were a waste of a healthy body. If you could run and jump and throw, you didn’t watch other people do it, you did it yourself.

My partner Tom shares my lack of interest. It’s one thing that brought us together. Here in the Midwest it’s difficult to socialize for half the year if you don’t want to watch football. “Come on over! We’re getting together to watch the game!” the neighbors will say. If you admit you’d rather not watch the game, they thereafter regard you as a person of suspicious character, telling their children to come indoors when they see you on the sidewalk.

Tom doesn’t care about football but he does enjoy socializing.  So he often finds himself surrounded by jolly enthusiasts in colorful jerseys. Just this weekend, some of his friends, who had ties to Ohio State University, invited him to hang out at a sports bar during the game with the University of Michigan. Tom is a get-along guy, a real social chameleon.  He happily put on the bright red shirt and the necklace made of buckeyes and settled in for the duration.

The trouble was that, like me, he not only does not care about the sport–he doesn’t understand it. We both know what a “touchdown” is: when the ball has made it to one end of the field and somebody does a funky little dance, his team gets points. Beyond that, we have no idea what’s going on.

I could try to learn the rules, I suppose, but a brain has only so much capacity. I’m afraid that if I commit to memory what “first and ten” means, it will push a piece of vital knowledge out of my other ear and suddenly I’ll forget how to do a Kitchener stitch.

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Ha (3x), yo, k2tog.

November 6th, 2013

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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.

Life in a city apartment means experiencing the joys of child rearing even if you haven’t produced or acquired children of your own. The thundering grade-schoolers who used to live above my workroom have moved out and been replaced by an infant of six months. Said infant has colic. A baby with colic doesn’t make for pleasant listening, but she pales in comparison to the toddler across the courtyard–who is suffering through an extended Riddle Phase. No, suffering is not the right word. She’s having the time of her life. The rest of us are suffering.

Toddler (not her real name) has two volumes, “bellow” and “roar.” So shut your windows, you say to me. It’s autumn in Chicago. The windows are shut. Toddler has the lungs, but alas not the artistry, of a young Beverly Sills.

On any given day she can outclass my white noise machine, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, expensive sound-canceling headphones, and jet aircraft on the final approach to O’Hare.

Between bellowed demands to her nanny for snacks, toys, and trips to the bathroom, she has taken to roaring selections from an apparently inexhaustible supply of riddles and jokes. How one so young can have amassed such a wealth of material surpasses understanding. Perhaps she is Henny Youngman, reincarnated with pigtails. Stranger things have happened, especially on my block.

The nanny has to listen to the riddles and jokes, but she is being paid to listen to the riddles and jokes. I also have to listen. I am not being paid.

Prolonged exposure has caused me to begin dreaming and thinking in riddles and jokes. I mention this as alert readers may discern faint echoes in this month’s ruminations about knitting, yarn, and the creative life.

Now, as I was saying about my knitting…

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9 Easy Halloween Accessories for Adults, Children, and Pets!

October 16th, 2013

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Halloween is 2 weeks away, and there’s still plenty of time to make yourself, a pet, or someone you know, a fun item for a costume or disguise. Today’s pattern round up includes simple designs that are sure to be gratifying projects because they can be completed before it’s time to celebrate. Be sure to check out the “Related Links” at the bottom of the page for more Halloween ideas and inspiration!

Jack O Lantern Dog Sweater
Knit Jack-O-Lantern Dog Sweater in
Hometown USA
Pumpkin Hat & Booties Set
Knit Pumpkin Hat and Booties set in Vanna’s
Choice Baby
King of the Beasts (Lion) Dog Sweater
Knit King of the Beasts (Lion) Dog Sweater in Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, Moonlight Mohair, Homespun and Chenille

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Crafter Stories: Knitting & Crocheting in Transit

October 15th, 2013

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passing time
passing time by ollesvensson, on Flickr

Over the last few months, we’ve been sharing stories from you, our readers, about your experiences knitting and crocheting in public. Today, I want to share a few crafting-in-transit stories that we’ve received:

I almost always crocheted when commuting to work on the Long Island Railroad. One day, the man sitting next to me said, “Wow, I haven’t seen anyone knitting in years!”

I replied, “You still haven’t—I’m crocheting.”
– Hazel in NY

Once I was knitting on the Long Island Rail Road when the conductor took my ticket without saying much. He came back a little while later, however, during a long stretch between stations. This burly guy wanted to show me his crocheting! I kept a straight face and admired his work, which was the kind of lacy doily that used to go on furniture. He must have learned this art at his grandmother’s knee.
– Ellen

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Blue Sweater Blues

October 8th, 2013

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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 got a message from a reader who inquired after the health and well-being of the Man’s Roughneck Sweater I’m making from a pattern in Lion Brand’s 1916 Lion Manual of Worsted Work. It was the topic of a piece I wrote for this very space way back in January.

I appreciate her kind interest. It’s good to know that the nice lady is not only reading, she’s remembering.

But this is also a bit like having somebody ask about your husband, who has run away with the man who came to clean the swimming pool. Or having somebody ask about the starving child you sponsored, who grew up to rob banks. Or having somebody ask about your cat, who died.

From this you may gather that everything with the Man’s Roughneck Sweater is not tickety-boo.

It’s not the fault of the pattern (which has a couple of puzzling ambiguities in it, but no more so than most elderly patterns); nor of the yarn (LB Collection® Organic Wool), which is even more sweetly lofty after being knit up than it was in the ball.

It’s my fault, my fault, my very great fault.

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Lessons Learned From Crafting – A New Animated Series!

September 18th, 2013

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We asked our customers on Facebook what lessons they’ve learned from crafting over the years. I was so inspired by the responses we got that I created an animated series! Share your story and you might get animated!

Subscribe to our Youtube channel here to make sure you don’t miss the next episode!


For Kitty, With Love

September 10th, 2013

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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.

To be a needleworker of the gift-giving sort is to live your life with one eye on the calendar. As I write this it’s late summer,­ but I’m already thinking of December. I have no choice. The holidays inevitably require a bit of gift knitting. If I hope to show up with something other than a ball of yarn and a promise, the planning must begin now.

Let me clarify that I am not a knitter of the everybody-gets-a-matching-hat-and-mittens variety. I admire those folks. They have largesse. They have stamina. They have stout, resilient hearts; because to be a needleworker of the gift-giving sort is also to live your life in a perpetual state of heartache. Or maybe I mean heartburn. Probably I mean both.

One of the hard lessons we learn when we fall in love with needlework is that not everyone has fallen in love with needlework.You finish that first really successful crochet hat, and it’s beautiful and it fits, and it’s so much nicer than anything from the store, and you think of all the people you love who are walking around in store-bought hats.

Your heart, it breaks.

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A-B-C-K-2-P-2

August 6th, 2013

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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 was a good student, but it would be fibbing of the most bald-faced and lamentable variety to tell you I enjoyed school. I hated school, in part because I invariably showed up on the first day wearing the wrong sort of sneakers, and was therefore declared by the girls on the playground to be covered in cooties.

I wasn’t much happier in the classroom. Each new year we were driven into a slightly more impenetrable thicket of the same dreary subjects by teachers who grew annually more gaunt and listless. Even the classes I enjoyed ultimately felt disconnected, irrelevant. I’d master the list of state capitals, or after days of tears successfully divide 283 by 14–only to think, “So what?”

“You’ll need this some day,” the teachers insisted, but that’s insufficient justification for a little kid. It’s tough to take the long view of things when you’re seven years old. It’s tough to see the horizon when you’re four feet tall.

Now I’m considerably older (though not much taller) and I’m wondering why the heck they didn’t just teach us to knit and crochet. If you can get a kid excited about a ball of yarn, you can get her excited about the entire curriculum that’s directly connected to that ball of yarn.

Check it out.

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Crafter Stories: Crocheting at the Cafe

August 5th, 2013

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Crafter Stories: Crocheting at the Cafe | Lion Brand NotebookLast week, we brought you a few stories from our readers about their experiences knitting and crocheting in public. Today, we want to share a longer story from Jessica Leete of Orchard Park, NY.

I often spend my weekend mornings at the local Starbucks for a few hours, enjoying my specialty coffee while working on my most recent crochet project.  Although I love the coffee shop atmosphere, it can often get quite noisy as well, so I usually also bring my laptop and earbuds so I can listen to music or play a TV episode in the background to help drown out the noise.  As a result, I am often zoned into my project, completely oblivious to the sounds and activity around me.    

On a number of occasions, I have looked up from my project to find someone sheepishly standing right in front of me, who has undoubtedly been clearing their throat a few times to get my attention,  while I unaware, had been crocheting away.  

I quickly pull my earbuds out and apologize that I hadn’t heard them.  On most occasions, it is a a woman who simply wants to pass on a compliment regarding what I am ‘knitting’.  I always give a big smile and a ‘thank you’, while politely clarifying that I am actually crocheting, but reassuring them that they are quite similar and easily confused.  I love these small chances to spread a little knowledge on these two crafts and their differences.      

In one instance, I was actually addressed by two guys from the adjacent table.  The one looked at my project and said, “You are crocheting, right?”  Impressed, I replied with “yes” and a smile.  He continued that his grandmother used to crochet all the time when he was young and that he didn’t know crocheting was done any more.  

I definitely had to stifle a laugh.  I told him that crochet is still around and actually becoming quite popular recently.  I loved the opportunity to increase the awareness of my craft.    

My favorite instances though are when kids are around.  They don’t just stare, but they come right up to my chair and stand next to me watching my every yarn over and draw through.  They cannot help themselves—they are just so curious to see something they never have before.  The parents are always embarrassed and try to call the kids away, but I quickly intervene and assure them it isn’t a problem.  I happily answer any questions they have and show them step by step how I complete each stitch.    

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