Ha (3x), yo, k2tog.

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Ha (3x), yo, k2tog.

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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 The thundering grade-schoolers who used to live above my workroom have moved out and been replaced by an infant of six months.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…

How do you know if an elephant has been in your knitting bag?
Look for the footprints in the merino.

Why do elephants have wrinkled knees?
Improper blocking.

A box without hinges, key, or lid–but inside…
…are all my stitch markers.

I have keys but no locks. I have space but no room. You can enter but can’t go outside. What am I?
Not sure, but you sound like my stash cupboard.

What has a neck, but no head or body?
This sweater, which is due in a week.

What is full of holes but can still hold water?
This wet-blocked shawl, which needed to be in the mail to my editor about an hour ago.

What’s black and white and red all over?
A traditional Norwegian lusekofte. Duh.

What has two hands, a round face, runs and runs, but stays in place?
Me, knitting garter stitch.

What has eyes but cannot see?
Me, reading a lace chart.

What’s black and white and red all over?
This bloody lace chart.

Why couldn’t the pirate play cards?
He was reading a lace chart.

What belongs to you, but is used more by others?
My tape measure.

What do you get when you cross a sheep and a wolf?
A wool shortage.

The more you have of me, the less you see. What am I?
Stitch markers! Where are my stitch markers?

What gets wetter and wetter the more it dries?
That @#%*! shawl. Dry, already!

If you cast a white stone into the Red Sea, what would it become?
A very pretentious colorway.

Why does a flamingo stand on one leg?
Second-sock syndrome.

Knock, knock!
Go away, I’m counting!


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 KnittingYarn Market NewsInterweave KnitsInterweave CrochetPieceWorkCast On: A Podcast for KnittersTwist 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.

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  • Our neighbors children are loud and have driven me to the point of insanity. The screeching begins daily at 7:00 am. This past weekend a person of obvious brilliance gave one of them a plastic horn that sounded much like an out of tune tuba crossed with the horn of an eighteen wheeler. I’m waiting for them to leave the horn outside unattended…

  • From April until November I cannot enjoy a fresh breeze that an open window or patio door can provide because of just what you detailed.

  • Screaming, thumping, stomping tantrums one exasperated, screaming mom. I share walls with these otherwise lovely people. It’s the 4 yo that turns into Damien.

  • OMG I am LOL!!! This is too true, especially your riddles.

  • So clever, creative, and prolific! Thank you, Franklin, for sharing your life’s ups and downs with our universe. You consistently inspire my passions. Here’s hoping knowing change is a constant, your neighborhood’s super annoying toddler either grows out of her awful behavior, or moves asap!

  • I love you. That is all.

  • You just reminded me why I live in a house where my closest neighbor is nearly a mile away

  • Still laughing about flamingos with second sock-syndrome -:).

  • I suggest you send Delores with a few of her friends from the Lucky Horseshoe to dance the kid to sleep. Conga lines occur to me! (My condolences!)

  • Therapeutic hypnosis works wonders for those noises (kids, trains, chainsaws etc) that you cannot ignore.

  • So … here’s what my reaction was to our former neighbours youngest daughter who screamed at the top of her lungs OFTEN … I stood in the window of my office and screamed. My husband came out of the garage, where he’d been working with hand tools while listening to the radio, wondering what had happened to me … yes, I was that loud. I never heard the kid again … and a couple months later … the house went up for sale. Not sure if the sale of the house had anything to do with my actions, but the timing was pretty spot on!

  • The steps I took: Spoke to them, banged with broom, spoke to co-op board, called cops, yelled through ceiling, bought a megaphone, cursed through ceiling, bought $300 Bose speakers and put near ceiling, blasted “tonight I’m f’in you” non-stop, they called cops, they finally got evicted for not paying rent. Another kid moved in. I sold my apartment.

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