As a traveling salesperson for Lion Brand for over 30 years, I’ve crisscrossed the country meeting knitters and crocheters from all corners of the United States and hearing their stories. In addition to yarncrafters, throughout my travels I’ve sometimes been lucky enough to run into some celebrities. Being that I am a huge sports fan, it is always extra exciting when I run into an athlete. During my travels, I have met the likes of Muhammad Ali and Darryl Strawberry.
My father, like me, traveled for the company for over 40 years and he too ran into his share of famous faces. One of my personal favorites that he had the pleasure of meeting was Deacon Jones of the Fearsome Foursome from Los Angeles Rams. Deacon sadly passed away today and it reminded me of my father, how much he loved traveling for Lion Brand, and of his adventures on the road.
May Deacon rest in peace.
[Pictured: my father George Blumenthal and Deacon Jones.]
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.
Vanna White joined Katie Couric on Katie’s show this week to talk about her love of crochet, working with Lion Brand, and our $1 million donation to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. She even shows Katie how to single crochet!
If you missed the segment, watch it below:
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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.
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.
We all have knit and crochet projects that remind us of a time and a place where we were making that particular project–some happy, some not, but each one is a story that we recall each time we look at that project. If you’re not already familiar with it, Pattern Journal is our monthly newsletter where we share (fiction) tales of the secret lives of patterns.
This month, writer and blogger Selma Moss-Ward joins us to tell the latest story of a pattern. Selma is a freelance writer who combines her love of writing and of knitting in columns, stories, and blog posts. Selma is also an active classical musician, and the caretaker of five wonderful pets. She lives with them and her husband in Rhode Island.
Click here to sign up for this newsletter and receive it on Monday.
In the meantime, Selma shares these photos with us from a recent trip:
My sister lives across the street from this beautiful park in the Echo Park section of LA, and when I visit her I walk with her and her dogs (two dobermans) every morning. We were in a section of the park where there’s a teaching garden/arboretum for children, and I suddenly saw this flower that someone attached to a tree.
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.
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.
A few weeks ago, I was riding the subway on my way home, and I was working on my office, post-holiday gift-exchange project (pictured right with its recipient, Michelle). Hunched over my project, I crocheted the fabric lining into its cable knit shell. As I reached the end of my round, I reached into my bag, and lo—
No toolbox to be found. Which meant no scissors.
Just then, I looked up and I began to notice my fellow passengers. (Often, when I’m crocheting or knitting on the subway, I don’t look up much at all.) Across the subway car from me, was a fellow yarncrafter, knitting a yellow creation on DPNs. My heart fluttered with joy.
“Excuse me,” I hesitated. She didn’t look up at first.
“I’m sorry to interrupt—do you have a pair of scissors? I can’t find mine.”
She looked up, a little surprised. Then she smiled, “I don’t have scissors, but I do have this.” She reached into her bag and passed me a yarn cutter pendant.
“Perfection.” I cut my yarn and wove in the end. My gift project was finished.
Do you have an interesting story of an encounter while knitting or crocheting in public? Ever run into someone making the same project or surprise a non-yarncrafter with your zeal? We’re looking for funny, heartwarming, or just surprising stories to share here on the blog! Fill in the survey below or click here to access it.
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Are you in the San Francisco Bay Area? Come visit Lion Brand this coming weekend at Stitches West–the largest knit & crochet show in America! It’s a yarn expo put on by our friends at XRX, and Lion Brand is proud to be a sponsor of this year’s shows!
There will be classes, a marketplace, fashion shows, events, free lectures and demos, and much more. Want to see some highlights from past shows? Check out these blog posts:
At Lion Brand’s booth, you’ll find select yarns including brand new products AND our exclusive LB Collection–all on sale especially at the show. Plus we’ll have pattern booklets, stickers, and other goodies for FREE. Stop on by!
As a sponsor, we’re also pleased to offer you 50% off market admission with this coupon (click to open it in a new window):
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.)
Earlier this month, our 2012 Vanna’s Choice Contest winner–“Gramma” Nancy Nielsen–and her family flew out to Anaheim, California to meet Vanna White as part of her prize. She showed off her incredible one-of-a-kind baby hat and bootie sets, including the winning elephant set, to Vanna and members of Lion Brand’s staff. She also shared the story of how she got started creating these “Gramminal” sets.
Nancy told me that her daughter, as the wife of a naval officer, was in charge of social happenings among the families of the crews, including celebrating births. Finding that they were having quite a few births a year, she asked her mom to help her come up with a more affordable option for baby gifts, and that’s how Nancy started creating her one-of-a-kind sets otherwise known as “Gramminals.”
Listen to my interview with Nancy here:
(This excerpt is from our next episode of YarnCraft–our podcast, an online radio show. Check out the entire episode on Tuesday, Feb. 5.)
While there, Nancy also drew from 100 envelopes for a chance to win a grand prize of $100,000. Unfortunately, she didn’t win the $100,000, but she did have a great trip with her family, filled with memories and fun!
Want to enter this year’s contest, a story sweepstakes? Click here to learn more! Enter by February 15th.
(Please note that there are NOT yet patterns for Nancy’s projects, but we’re hoping to make some available in the future. In the meantime, click here to check out animal hat patterns on LionBrand.com–in fact, Nancy mentions in the interview that she got started with Lion Brand’s patterns.)