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.)
Editor’s Note: We’re excited to introduce Franklin Habit’s monthly column for our Weekly Stitch Newsletter as a regular feature here on the Lion Brand Notebook. Stay tuned for stories, insights, and laughs.
My grandmother, a mostly sensible woman who nonetheless cultivated a small garden of superstitions, taught me early that to begin a new year with messy closets is to invite three hundred and sixty-five days of calamity. So last week, while 2012 was running out the clock, I was hastily performing the annual ritual of Keep-or-Keep-Not.
An essential part of the ritual is contemplating my meager pile of sweaters and wondering why there aren’t more of them. And why most came from a factory. And why most don’t fit. And why most of them are, to be blunt, tragically ugly. Keep? Hah. Burn.
I am a prolific knitter. I knit ceaselessly. But I almost never knit for myself. So I have to buy sweaters which never fit properly and I look terrible nine months of the year. This needs to stop.
Recently, Jack and I went to the Knit & Crochet Show, a wonderful yarn festival held by The Knitting Guild Association and Crochet Guild of America. I’m always happy when the Knit & Crochet Show is held in Manchester, New Hampshire, because it means that in addition to seeing all of my yarny friends (and experiencing the beauty of converted mill buildings like the one shown in the slideshow below), I get to take a drive out of town to visit the mill that produces our Homespun and Silky Twist yarns.
Over the years, I’ve posted about our visits, and since I often get requests for a look at how this yarn is made, I’m happy to share some photos from our latest visit to New Hampshire and the mill.
Built in 1864, the mill is a facility that’s steeped in New England’s rich textile history, and we’re proud that it makes some of our most popular products. Secret tip: Look out in the coming weeks for an announcement about a brand NEW product from Lion Brand that is also made at this location.
If you want to learn more about Homespun, click here to pick up a copy of our book, The Story of Homespun.
If you’ve ever seen a clever cartoon about a sassy sheep and her knitting, chances are that you’ve met Dolores. The man behind the sheep is writer/illustrator/knitter/teacher/photographer (the man wears many hats!), Franklin Habit.
I first met Franklin in 2011 at Vogue Knitting Live New York, and since then, I’ve had a wonderful time getting to know him and his fantastic work. That’s why I’m so pleased to announce that Franklin will be joining us once a month in The Weekly Stitch, LionBrand.com’s newsletter, with a brand new column!
Excited as I am? Then get in the mood with episode 108 of YarnCraft from earlier this year, in which I got to interview Franklin about why he loves antique patterns, how to shoot better yarn photos, and the classes he teaches. Click here to read the show notes and/or listen using the player below:
Having trouble with the audio-player? Click here instead [MP3].
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 an Ashford spinning wheel and colony of sock yarn that multiplies alarmingly whenever his back is turned.
Brenda Dayne is a knitter and a storyteller who knows the power of stitch memory. She is the host of the wildly popular knitting podcast, Cast On and has been telling stories through her knitting for years.
I first fell in love with her podcast in the summer of 2006. It was my last free summer before leaving for the Jersey Boys tour. I used to be a Stage Manager, but my real passion was knitting. Listening to Brenda talking about following her passion was a big part of my quitting my 22 year career in theatre to pursue knitting full time, and two years later, joining Lion Brand to open the Lion Brand Yarn Studio (our retail store & education center in New York City).
Now I’m sooo excited that Brenda is launching her North American tour at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio on May 3rd. Brenda will be collecting yarncrafter’s memories as part of her art piece called “A Memorable Yarn.” The finished piece will exhibit at the Wool Museum in Wales through the summer of 2012. This is where you all come in.
Early each year, Lion Brand hosts our annual fashion show, showcasing the amazing things that can be done with yarn. For me, it was a special fashion show, not only because I got to co-host the show with our spokesperson, Vanna White, but also because of the unique designs we featured.
This year, we worked with design students and emerging designers from all over the world (from Paris, Tokyo, Helsinki, New York, San Francisco, and more) who created spectacular, one-of-a-kind pieces out of your favorite Lion Brand yarns. They explored the theme, “Yarn Is Art.”
These designers and design students truly showed just how incredible yarn creations can be, and we hope you’re as inspired by their creativity and energy as we are.
Click here to learn more about the designers and their creations.
When former Lion Brand Yarn Studio associate Gina Damico first told us that she was writing a young adult novel called Croak, we thought it was awesome news. But when she told us that she wanted to design an exclusive pattern inspired by the book, we were even more excited!
So what’s Croak about? It’s the story of Lex, a 16 year-old girl who is sent to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of work on his farm will settle her wild ways. But Uncle Mort’s actually a Grim Reaper and he takes Lex under his wing. Join Lex as she explores the world of the reapers, in Gina’s debut novel.
In honor of her novel, Gina’s created an illusion scarf whose pattern you can only see at certain angles. Gina said about her inspiration:
I’ve always been a big fan of illusion knitting – it’s simple, fun, and creates an amazing effect that will impress the socks AND shoes off everyone you show it to. So when thinking about a fun accessory to create in conjunction with the release of Croak, an illusion scarf was the natural choice. Black and red stripes make for a quirky, offbeat look, and since the book is about grim reapers, the colors fit perfectly. As for the design, skulls were a must. They tie in to the plot, they offer a hint of the dark humor within, and as the saying goes, everyone loves a good skull. (I think that’s a saying. Eh, maybe not.) Thanks so much to Lion Brand for the chance to share my designs, and I hope you enjoy both the pattern and Croak!
Click here for the pattern on LionBrand.com!
Croak comes out TODAY and we’re so excited to get our hands on our own copies, so click here to learn more about it on Amazon and get one for yourself!
EDIT (10/18/12): Get the second book in the series, Scorch, now available in bookstores and online!
Last week, David asked me what I was doing on Monday. I was sort of puzzled at the question, since as usual, I would be here in the office, working on things like the YarnCraft podcast, the Weekly Stitch newsletter, and other projects. It turns out that he wanted to know if I would be interested in being on the Martha Stewart Show with Martha herself.
Well, being the daughter of a crafter who calls Martha her guru, I knew that I could not turn down the opportunity! It would be so much fun to follow in the footsteps of my YarnCraft co-host Liz, who was a guest on Martha two years ago, and I could not wait.
When I got to the set, I was whisked away to my own dressing room, which made me feel pretty cool. (I even got a little goodie bag!) I got hair and make-up, rehearsed with the crew, and then it was showtime! It was a really exciting experience to be on live television (thank goodness I didn’t flub anything!), and Martha even admired my necklace! (Click here for the necklace pattern.)
Click here to watch the fashion show (and find links to the other show segments at the end of the video).
It was a fun experience, and let’s just say, Martha, all you have to do is call me, and I’d be happy to be on the show again!
This year we received hundreds of entries into the Halloween Caption Contest. After much consideration and review we are ready to announce the 5 winners! Each winner will receive a $25 credit in their name on LionBrand.com. And the winners are…
Ghouls’ night out!
– Amy H.
The perfect Halloween treats: High in fiber, low in fat!
– Whitney H.
Oh no, it’s Halloween and we haven’t knitted our costumes yet!
– Veronica C.
“Oh Count, you are such a knit-wit!” “Please Witchie, I yarn for you!”
– Debbie V.
No more Halloween candy for me, I’m stuffed.
– Brenda C.