Cough Cough Cough Wheeze

Home/HumorCough Cough Cough Wheeze

Cough Cough Cough Wheeze

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Franklin HabitWriter, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.

I am sick. Oh, how sick I am.

I type this to you feebly, feverishly; lying prone on a bed that I feel sure by now is half-composed of used tissues. When I breathe out, I sound like our vacuum cleaner did after I accidentally ran it over a pile of loose change. When I breathe in, nothing happens. Substances too disgusting to describe are escaping from openings in my body I did not even know were there.

Yet I write to you, dear reader, because even in extremis I will be faithful to my post.

(You may feel free to applaud here, if you like. Or weep a gentle weep.)

I am so sick. How sick am I?

Too sick to knit.

That got your attention, didn’t it? Yeah, too sick to knit. It’s been about two days now, and any time I pick up the needles my head swims and my arms ache and down they go again. Don’t even say the word “chart.”

Crochet is no better, nor embroidery. I’m in that most dreaded state for anyone who loves handwork. I’m awake. I’m aware. I want to knit. But I can’t.

I’m reminded of those alien abduction stories where the immobilized abductee awakens to the sight of long-fingered, oval-headed Martians going through her bedside tin of mixed nuts and picking out the cashews while all she can do is watch.

Except in my case the Martians are making progress on the sweater KAL and I’m not.

You don’t know, do you, how central handwork has become to your existence until it gets taken away?

At home, projects huddle around me like angry geese honking for attention. When I leave, one of them comes along. The traditional masculine memory chant before leaving the house is includes “spectacles, wallet, and watch.” I, invariably, add “yarn.”

I doubt that on a normal day I am ever more than arm’s length from a work in progress.

But this is not a normal day. I am sick. Did you know I’m too sick to knit?

I remember once before

Bring your chair a little closer to the bed, won’t you, darling? My voice is giving out. Thank you.

I remember once before being too sick to knit. I was nine years old, and everyone on our claim had come down with the fever ’n’ ague. Pa walked nine miles through the snow to Sleepy Eye with just a kerosene lamp and a piece of horehound candy to fetch the doctor and we were saved but ever after Mary had this annoying facial tic over her left eyebrow that made her look like she was always flirting with you.

Or maybe that was the very special episode of  “Little House on the Prairie” I watched on Hulu while I was falling asleep last night. I think this anti-mucus medicine that tastes like a bat’s armpit is messing with my short-term cognition. Does it say anything about that on the bottle? Can you check  the label and see if it says it may cause you to believe you are Laura Ingalls Wilder?

Since I can’t knit, instead I am making a list of things I will finish knitting if I survive* to knit again. The very top of the list is that blue sweater with the mini-cables that I started two or three years ago that will be great when it’s done; but the directions at the shoulders are just complicated enough that I can’t take it to knit night, yet not interesting enough that I’m willing to power through it without the television on.

It would be so embarrassing if I died from this** and they were going through my stuff and that’s what they found crowning of my works-in-progress pile: an almost-finished sweater so old the cast-on edge had started to compost. Knowing my friends they’d drape it over the lid of my coffin just to be funny. Ha, ha. Real nice, everybody–making fun of the dead knitter. Probably you’ll chisel on my stone FRANKLIN RIP WITH WIP. Oh ha ha ha. You are so funny.

Well, the joke’s on you, darlings. I’m leaving my entire stash to the Smithsonian.

No, that’s fine. You go off to the annual spring sale at the yarn shop while I lie here and hallucinate that I’m sitting in the tall grass among the prairie chickens knitting myself a new sun bonnet to wear to the town spelling bee. You go enjoy yourself. I’ll be fine.



*Yes, the doctor says this is just that really, really bad bug that’s going around. But hey, doctors have been known to be wrong.

**Seriously, you just never know.

Knit Doctor


Writer, illustrator, and photographer Franklin Habit is the author of I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book (Soho Publishing, 2016) and It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008) and proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on Internet. His publishing experience in the fiber world includes contributions to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Ply Magazine, Cast On: A Podcast for Knitters, Twist Collective, and

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, Stitches Events, Squam Arts Workshops, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

These days, Franklin knits and spins in Chicago, Illinois, sharing a small city apartment with a Schacht spinning wheel, two looms, and colony of sock yarn that multiplies alarmingly whenever his back is turned. Visit him at

Share this post


  • 😀 you made my day!
    Get well soon!

  • Get well, Franklin. I know exactly what you’re going through. Had the same “can’t knit” bug in AZ a couple of weeks ago. I survived, but I urge you to continue the zinc and Vitamin C (with some probiotic added for good measure) until you are on the other side of the cold for about a month. Mine came back, but not as ferociously.

  • How perfectly you describe it. Yow. Feel better soon!

  • While your knitting mojo may have taken a holiday, your imagination and humor remained as powerful as ever.

  • Thank you so much for your steadfast devotion to us including an illustration too!!!! I think you need to teach Delores to make you chicken soup … or at least a good vegetable. Many people have had a rough time this winter. I am so happy you are feeling better and I’m so very sorry that you were incredibly sick. Hopefully you are back to knitting and creating, which every soul needs. You are well loved and if you need a month off.. we will miss you, but we’d much rather have you around a long time!

  • I had it, too – the nasty bug, the desire to knit, but the inability to do so. As my Dr told me, this will take longer than you think to get over, so just give your body the time it needs to rest and recover. Fighting it will just prolong the agony. Eventually, the ability to knit will return, albeit for brief periods at first, but it WILL return. And you will finish all those WIPs, including the blue sweater!

  • I love your writing, even when you are sick. Especially when you are sick. So much fun to read! Get well soon, and get back to those WsIP.

  • The medicine makes you even funnier, though! Feel better!

  • sending you warm, very gentle hugs. be well!

  • Poor dear. I had this last month and still have a cough. Hang in there.

  • I think I got that, too, but my excuse for not knitting is that I was changing jobs and moving to a new city. I have now cast on for a new bath mat.

  • OH yes even the great and mighty can get felled by a cold. Just rest lots of fluids andjust think next time you work on said blue sweater, you will be thinking of how you ‘felt’ this week and you will finish.
    Be healthy, be well, Peace.

  • I had two other people (who also reside in this house) that asked quite pointedly (and with swear words) “What’s so funny?” I couldn’t tell them. Neither of them knit. But OH, do I understand, having chronic illnesses that sometimes crop their nasty heads up as I wave a hand over my WIPs, trying to decide what to work on this evening, and suddenly I am so weary that I can’t even pick up the project. My hand goes back in my lap, which feels empty because there’s nothing being knitted (or crocheted) resting there.

    I recommend tea. Preferably Earl Grey, hot, while watching Netflix. Get well soon, Franklin. I know you will not die** because you still have your sense of humor.

    **But if you do, we know what NOT to put on your tombstone.

  • Several years ago, I had to be hospitalized for an extremely severe condition that couldn’t be easily diagnosed. I couldn’t even walk to the telephone to call for help, but had to drag myself across the floor and pull the telephone down to me. The paramedics arrived in due time and loaded me onto a gurney. But as they were hauling me out the door, I stopped them and said, “Wait a minute. I need my needlework!” They looked at me oddly, but loaded my needlework bag onto the gurney with me, and off we went. I completed the project in the bag, and had to call my needlework shop to ask the owner to bring me something more to work on, which she did. I completed that project too, as I was in the hospital for two weeks. Final diagnosis was severe depletion of electrolytes, etiology unknown. I have often thought this would make a great cartoon subject.

  • Oh Franklin, I’m feeling the same way. This is just too awful, the nasty yucky stuff coming out of my body, I’ll never feel clean again. I’m not only too sick to crochet, I’m too sick to think about it. Tea with honey, veggie soup and orange juice. Hope you’re feeling better soon.

  • Hope you get well soon, Franklin.

  • As I am still recovering from a similar bug (and crocheting for more than a few minutes, I fully sympathize.

  • thank you for keeping us inspired in sickness and in health. With all the good wishes and vibes coming your way, you should back on the KAL in no time!

  • Leave A Comment

    You must be <a href="">logged in</a> to post a comment.