Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for the 'Humor' Category


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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Crafter Stories: Knitting and Crocheting in Public

July 29th, 2013

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Crafter Stories: Knitting and Crocheting in Public | Lion Brand Notebook

A little while ago, we asked you—our blog readers—to share your stories with us about knitting/crocheting in public. From making new friends to delighting strangers, you shared your experiences.

Here are just a few of the submissions we received:

I knit on the “L” in Chicago pretty regularly and it’s not unusual to get a comment or question from a stranger. But one time in particular I really broke the ice when my ball of yarn fell out of my bag and rolled all the way down to the other end of the car. Everyone burst into laughter because it was so unexpected and from then on the whole mood of the car changed. Everyone was talking to me, and to each other, and there were a lot more smiles the rest of the way home.
- Christine Renee, Chicago, IL

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Having a Ball, Wish You Were Here

July 11th, 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.

It’s July. My grand friends have gone to France, my less grand friends have gone to Michigan, my flat broke friends (the majority) have walked over to the lake for the afternoon. There is a general desire to get out of here, get lost, leave it all behind.

All of it except yarn.

The friends who went to France packed passports and hiking gear. The friends who went to Michigan packed swimsuits and mosquito repellent. The friends over at the lake took snacks and water bottles.

They all packed yarn.

That is, to me, perhaps the surest sign that a person has crossed the line between fancier and fanatic—when it suddenly takes longer to decide which needlework projects to pack than which shoes to pack.

The longer the trip, the more complicated the packing becomes. You find yourself asking questions like:

How close are these current projects to finished? If you’re within an hour or so of completing a piece, you can’t bring it along as your sole project if the trip is going to last more than an hour. You’ll need backup.

Can I work on this while chatting? Vacations often involve proximity to other people who will insist on engaging you in conversation whether you like it or not.

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Knitting for Father’s Day: A Cautionary Epic in Twenty-Two Tweets

June 5th, 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.

@knitztoomuch Want to knit Dad’s gift for Father’s Day this year. Don’t have tons of time. He likes the usual dad stuff. Suggestions? #knitfordad

@knitztoomuch Sounds like cardigans are the crowd favorite, with hats and mittens a close second. Hmmm. #knitfordad #patternsearch

@knitztoomuch Pondering whether I can finish an entire cardigan with intarsia duck motifs in time remaining before Father’s Day. #knitfordad #quack

@knitztoomuch Cast on half required stitches for left front last night during Bachelorette rerun so am committed to finish entire cardigan. #knitfordad

@knitztoomuch Cannot believe it, am finished with both fronts in 2 weeks. Ducks so cute! Should have complete cardi just in time. #knitfordad #whew

@knitztoomuch Dad casually mentioned over phone that he hates ducks. Has waited 42 years to tell me this. Ripping. #knitfordad #noquack

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Play Nice!

May 8th, 2013

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Writer/illustrator/knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column on the life of a yarn crafter.

I was at a yarn shop a few weeks ago, troubleshooting a thumb gusset in the company of those who understand the importance of good thumb gussets, when the topic of steeks came up.

A steek, in case you haven’t run across the term before, is an opening cut into a piece of hand-knit fabric. There are many ways to create one, but they all end by taking scissors to your knitting. Snip! It gives some knitters the shakes to even contemplate this. It shouldn’t, but it does.

That’s not what I want to write about today.

I mentioned to the group that I’ve launched a class in which the students cut steeks, then sew zippers into the openings. Zipper installation is another thing that gives some knitters the shakes. It shouldn’t, but it does.

That’s also not what I want to write about today.

“I’d take that class,” said one of the junior knitters at the table. There was a murmur of agreement from the other junior knitters. The most junior shook her head. “I’d like to,” she said. “But I’m not good with a sewing machine.”

“You don’t need a sewing machine,” I said. “In my class we use crochet to secure the edges.”

“Forget it,” said the least junior knitter. “I don’t crochet.”

“It’s only basic crochet,” I said. “Even if you haven’t done it before, you can pick this up in sixty seconds.”

“No,” she said, under a slightly curled lip. “I don’t touch crochet hooks. Ever.”

Several of the others–junior and senior–echoed her. No hooks. No hooks ever. Well, maybe to pick up dropped stitches. Never to crochet.

“I don’t crochet,” she said. “I’m a knitter!”

That’s what I want to write about today.

Play Nice! An essay by Franklin Habit for Lion Brand

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I Heard the Trowel Call My Name

April 5th, 2013

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Writer/illustrator/knitter Franklin Habit welcomes spring with a humorous take on two of his favorite hobbies in this month’s column.

A month since I last wrote, and a world of difference outside. The change has only come in the past day or so, and it’s precarious change, but it looks as though we may yet have our spring here in Chicago. This morning, in one of the flowerbeds under my charge, I saw this.

I Heard the Trowel Call My Name | Franklin Habit for Lion Brand

That’s my first sight in six months of one common orange daylily (Hemerocallis).

My reaction to it was the reaction of the hero in one of those awful wartime romance movies where he thinks that his fiancée bit the dust when the bombs hit the old mill and afterwards he pulled from the rubble the bracelet she always wore that said My Heart Is Forever Yours but it turned out that no she flew clear into the next county and landed on a haystack and was physically fine but lost her memory and so spent the rest of the war working as a milkmaid and thinking her name is Phyllis when really it’s Midge but just as he’s returning home and wondering whether his heart will go on she gets smacked upside the head with a milk pail and her memory comes back and she screams MIDGE! MY NAME IS MIDGE! and runs all the way home across the county line and he sees her coming and drops to his knees in rapture while crying a single, noble tear that stops precisely halfway down his cheek.

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The Iceman Groucheth

March 7th, 2013

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Franklin Habit returns to share his unique and humorous take on the life of a yarncrafter. 

Things that are sure to happen every January: white sales, credit card bills, and some perky knitter chirping, “Ooooooooooooh, I love these cold, snowy days! Nothing’s better than sitting inside, cozily knitting by the fireplace!”

This always brings forth a chorus of happy agreement from other perky knitters, calling to one another like cuckoos across the Schwarzwald: “Ooooooooooooh! Yes, yes! Snowy! Fireplace! Knitting! Love!”

I think spending a snowy day knitting by the fireplace sounds groovy. Perhaps, in my next life, I’ll get to try it.

A cartoon by Franklin Habit, exclusively for Lion Brand

I’m not sure where these people live. In my imagination, it’s farmhouses on hilltops in Vermont, or perhaps a cabins nestled in the pristine forests of Wisconsin. I also imagine independent incomes, household help, and heated garages–so that any trek into the blistering cold is purely voluntary. The perky winter knitter need only flounce outdoors to skate merrily around the pond; or playfully fling snowballs at her handsome, rugged husband until he playfully carries her back inside and playfully serves her a hot toddy–probably holding the cup to her lips so she can keep on cozily knitting by the fireplace.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, it is snowing sideways and we are out of milk. Much as I would like to sit inside, cozily knitting by the fireplace, I have to go to the grocery store. Five city blocks away. On foot. I could have milk delivered, yes; but that would drive the cost of the gallon up to $35.68 plus tip, and daddy isn’t made out of money.

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Inheritance

February 7th, 2013

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Editor’s Note: It’s that time of month! Knit-wit Franklin Habit joins us for his regular column.

At odd moments throughout her otherwise pleasant life, my mother has been confronted by the sight of me, her only son, with my pants on backwards; with my fingers stuck together by glue; trapped in the bathroom by an aggressive cat; frantically hunting for a pair of glasses I was holding in one hand; and standing sheepishly under a dripping splotch of tomato soup that had spoiled the pristine white of a newly-painted kitchen ceiling.

Every time, she has turned to my father and issued the same official statement: “He gets this from your side.”

My father, the diplomat, has never countered with examples of what I get from her side; but the list is long and certainly includes my propensity for flying into fits of rage when thwarted by inanimate objects—including my knitting. If you could break yarn by hurling it against a wall, this room would be neck-deep in shattered bits of sweater.

Happily, that isn’t the greater part of my inheritance.

If creativity, like male pattern baldness, runs in families, it was inevitable that I’d wind up creative. (And bald.)

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