Writer’s ‘It Itches’ will leave knitters, readers in stitches

Posted Nov. 17, 2008, at 9:11 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 5:57 a.m.

When I knit, I never laugh. I frown when the yarn tangles. I say, “Hmmm,” crossly under my breath when I encounter pattern directions that “don’t compute” in my brain. Still, I sit contentedly, despite knots in my yarn and snags in directions, knitting whatever it is I’m knitting — mittens at the moment and tiny socks. But I don’t laugh. I am not one to equate knitting with aspects of the humorous. (Maybe I need a cat to lighten things up a bit.)

All that changed almost as soon as I opened the little green book “It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons,” by Franklin Habit. In fact, it was impossible not to laugh right out loud at the 75 cartoons and 10 essays the book contains. Some of the essay titles alone were enough to make me grin, such as “Man vs. Skein,” “The Underpants Knitters of Great Fussing-on-the-Wold” and “Advice from a Poncho.” Believe me, Habit’s writing contains enough laughs to make stitches fall right off the needles.

The book, roughly 6 inches square, is the perfect size for toting in a knitting bag and for handing around at the next Stitch meeting. You know how it is — laugh and the world laughs with you.

But even if you don’t knit, you’ll find yourself grinning at Habit’s cartoons. In fact, they may even inspire you to learn to knit just so you’ll be even more “in the know” and better equipped to understand and enjoy the more subtle aspects of knitting humor — gags that refer to Kaffe Fassett or the Argyle pattern.

One of my favorite cartoons — it’s hard to pick just one — in “It Itches” shows the Nativity scene with one of the Wise Men offering a gift to the New Born Babe, and Mary is saying, “Wow! Cashmere!”

My favorite essay in the book is “Crafty,” in which the writer tries to explain why some people object to calling knitting a craft. Many believers assert that knitting is more akin to art than mere craft.

Franklin Habit of Chicago is a guy who knits and laughs about it — in public. He also is a writer, illustrator and photographer. He writes the blog The Panopticon at the-panopticon.blogspot.com, which features essays, cartoons and the adventures of Dolores the sheep.

Check local bookstores for copies of “It Itches.” This little book belongs in the Christmas stocking of your favorite knitter.

Snippets

— Hooked rug artist Rosemary Levin of Corea has had her work “Maine Blue Lobster” accepted to be part of the American-Japanese Invitational Hooked Rug Exhibition sponsored by the Mikimoto Co.

“I wanted to feature an iconic Maine image,” said Levin. “But I also wanted my design to be playful. I wanted to take the image and give it a twist, so I chose to go with a blue lobster instead of the more traditional red.

The exhibition will feature the work of 28 American hooked-rug artists and 28 Japanese hooked-rug artists. The show will open in Japan on Jan. 5, then travel to other venues in Japan. The exhibition will come to the United States for display in the fall of 2009, first at the Carnegie Center for Art and History in Indiana and then at the Louisville, Ky., Exhibition Center where it will be the centerpiece of the 2009 American Traditional Hookers Association convention before traveling to other galleries in the United States.

Levin began hooking rugs in 1999. Since then she has produced more than 140 works. She is working on a project that will take 17 years to complete, designing and hooking rugs based on the stone bridges of Acadia National Park’s carriage trail system in the order in which they were built. Each year Levin hooks a bridge rug and donates it to the Friends of Acadia for its annual auction.

To learn more e-mail Levin at chaptertwocorea@aol.com.

— Betsy Doherty e-mailed to say that those who want to participate in the HeartScarves project may mail the scarves to her at 12 Reach Road, Brooklin 04616.

— Those interested in reasonably priced hemp yarns should visit www.lanaknits.com/usahome.html. Unique One yarn shop in Camden also is a source for hemp yarn.

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