Monday, March 03, 2008

Scribble Your Way to Clarity

It's Monday, so let's start the week off right with some housekeeping details.

Mop-n-Glo

First, the list of newly-confirmed 1,000 Knitters shoots for March and April wasn't all-inclusive; it included only several dates that had just landed on the calendar. The April 19 shoot at Wool Gathering in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania is still very much on. Poor Jackie was slammed with e-mails asking whether it was cancelled. Nope.

If you're ever curious, the complete list of public shoots (past and present) is available on this page of the project blog.

Second, on a related topic, I swear I'm not deliberately ignoring London; Atlanta; New York City; Washington, DC; Seattle; or Portland, Oregon. Please...how could I? Here's the deal.

When I started 1,000 Knitters, it never occurred to me that the project might involve travel. I assumed I'd work on it slowly, with knitters sitting as they happened to visit Chicago or when I happened to be on the road with my camera for other reasons. So there's no underlying grant support (or small, private fortune) to pay for traveling shoots. They happen if/when I'm contacted by a host who feels the cost of sponsoring me is worth the fun of participation.

I've had requests to visit from bunches of knitters in the cities above, but haven't had any offers to host. As new shoots are confirmed (and now that March and April are settled I'm focusing on a few other offers for the future), you bet I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, I appreciate all the support and the interest more than you can imagine.

Cover Me

Now, about the photograph vs. cartoon portrait question. The publisher's vision for the little mock-up they'll use for publicity–calls for a drawing rather than a photo. That's all. Interweave didn't tell me my actual face would break the printing press. They just asked for a different take on the concept. A cartoon portrait for a book of cartoons. I'm fine with that. They know what they're doing. They've sold more books than I have and they fairly ooze talent.

I never realized until I finding myself in the thick of it what a relief it is to not be in charge of every single thing about the book. I'd learned from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee that an author doesn't have control over many things you would think s/he might, including the title and the cover design. That seemed hideously unfair until I realized that when you're up to your neck in making the content, the last thing you want to deal with is the container.

Scribble Scribble

Speaking of the content, I got a really amusing question via e-mail the other day from somebody who wanted to know how many cartoon ideas I come up with every day. Heh. Heh heh. Heh heh heh.

Here's how I work. I draw every day, which does not equate to necessarily drawing a cartoon every day. I wish...oh, how I wish...that each morning around 8:30 a fully-formed idea would pop into my head, whereupon I would sit down at the drawing board with a cry of "Eureka!" and put it on paper. I would then send it to Interweave, which would respond with shrieks of laughter and the adjective, "perfect."

Also, I wish I had a pony and a second home in the Kentish countryside.

I draw every day, no exceptions, in small sketchbooks. Sometimes at the end of the day all I have are a buncha pages that look like this.

Scribble

We call those "bad days."

But I have to do it because it's like calisthenics. The humorous and graphic faculties are mental muscles. If you exercise them, they grow. If you don't, they atrophy. And the mindless, stream-of-consciousness doodling does with surprising regularity lead to a finished idea. There's even one cartoon in the book that arose six weeks later from a nearly incomprehensible doodle one inch square.

Sometimes the doodles even look a bit like a finished cartoon, though I don't really know what the joke is. Here's an example.

What?

If you have any idea what's happening here, feel free to chime in.

And now I have to go doodle.

86 comments:

=Tamar said...

Is she lecturing about modern intarsia design? The sweater looks slightly like some "southwestern" designs - diagonal designs, battling/ howling/ dancing coyotes, and a worried sheep (hoping its wool won't be used to knit coyotes?) - darned if I know, but it's funny without words. Maybe it doesn't need a caption.

My verification word is mvnxmcs - is that some kind of New-Age Roman numerals?

sheeponmystuff.com said...

I'm with Tamar; it looks like a lecture on intarsia. The sheep seems intimidated or confused; perhaps she thinks she's being told that she has to grow wool in those patterns? "But I only come in one color!"

I am endlessly enamored of the way you draw sheep! :)

Big Alice said...

I imagine it's some demonstration of intarsia gone horribly wrong, but I'm more bitter than witty this morning.

In regards to your wish for a pony: http://litterbox.zawodny.com/i/pony.jpg

Dixie said...

"Knit some happy reindeer here..."

Chris said...

You ought to run a contest for the caption! I thought it looked like she was pointing out the complexities of Scandanavian knitting -- with sheep in the pattern, and the sheep just recognized that it looked like one of her long-lost relatives!! And I, too, love the way you draw sheep!
Peace,
Chris.

Sarah said...

I think theres something in that last picture about a third nipple...

Jessica said...

"And here is where I ran out of yarn. The colorway was, of course, discontinued. It took me 17 years to find the last three balls to complete my opus."

Amber in Albuquerque said...

Oh boy. I don't have a clever caption, but for some horrible reason I was instantly reminded of the scene in the (B) movie "Milk Money" (Melanie Griffith is a hooker with a heart of gold and Ed Harris is 'the guy'...Dolores has probably seen it) where Melanie's character is explaining the female anatomy (using her scantily clothed body as the visual aid) to a classroom full of 10-year old (or so) boys (including Ed's movie kid). Ick. I hadn't thought of that movie since my husband made me watch it.

It also sort of reminds me of Crazy Aunt Purl's 'flaming nipples' posts.

Diane said...

"Note the scotties rampant.

They are from my early Scottish period."

Julie said...

"The historical folk pattern of the mating ritual of the Scandivian Mule Deer was lovingly portrayed for the recipient by his mother in a heavy weight red and white yarn for Christmas 1987."

For the record, great job photographing yourself for Interweave.

Frances said...

the teacher is commenting that this is not a proper holiday sweater as it has only two reindeer and a shocking lack of other holiday motifs, such as tinsel and trees and bells.

Luise said...

However, you're right. It's your book, so you should certainly at the very least approve the title and jacket/cover design. Just wait. Once you're famous, you can call the shots and ask for anything you want in your contract. Think of the fun ahead.

Hedgehog Librarian said...

I know exactly what that is--it's a library science professor pointing out to students the merits of wearing insanely crazy holiday sweaters to work. It's a required workshop for children's librarians.


(I'm a children's librarian who doesn't wear much in the way of intarsia....)

Steph said...

"As shown here, men happily wear these ghastly intarsia / fair isle dancing sheep motif sweaters if only to get their significant Knitters to put out."

I see the lady in your cartoon as the Sue Johanson of knitwear.

That's my theory at least. (Have you not seen the strained smiles on the male sweater models in some knitting magazines? I find they quite often look as if they have to poop.)

Eileen said...

Re: title & author having no choice

Too bad Interweave didn't look up "It Itches" in urban dictionary before deciding on the name.

Well, I 'spose you could find ... um ... interesting meanings in anything.

--gassho--

pacalaga said...

Dunno. All I can think of is something like those "later years" Geico commercials. You know, like, "After high school, Charlie Brown earned spending money as a model for the Our Lady of Euphemism sketch class". Sorry, my mental humor/drawing muscles have atrophied beyond the point of resuscitation.

Anonymous said...

Namaste - I love the comment from the hedgehog librarian! I also work in a children's department at the county library and think she's hit it on the head. Our big dressup is Halloween but maybe I should suggest it for all major holidays. Anyhow, keep up the good work; it really helps me get through the day. Take care - Joe, in Wyoming

Liz in NoWhere PA said...

"One can place design elements anywhere on the taut masculine chest. Use more care when attempting the undulating, geographically unstable feminine landscape. Reindeer do NOT belong at the knee."

Berry Gal said...

love the tag lines....

As you can see the recipient of the sweater has stragically split egg nog... here here and here... Thank goodnes you used superwash...

PICAdrienne said...

Intarsia class is what I thought as well, looking at the cartoon. Well, actually, my first thought is that she had one of the reindeer on a leash, then I noticed it was actually a pointer.

Chelsea said...

Doodle. Hee!

I just like saying it. Or, rather, typing it as the case may be.

Doodle.

bigdee said...

I think it's an astronomy lesson...

"And here, above Orion's Belt, is the constellation known as "Reindeer's Frolic"

Anonymous said...

When I saw the cartoon, the first thing that came to mind was a tour guide (lady with the pointer)making sure the tour group (the sheep) noticed all "points of interest." Admittedly one sheep does not really a tour group make; but perhaps a few more sheep, including a stereotypical tourist-looking one with a camera, would make it more of a "group"... or perhaps it was just a slow day at the History of Wool museum.

Lizabeth said...

I have no idea what the joke is, but something about that drawing is inherently funny. It cracks me right up... do think of the joke and let us in on it.

Velveteen said...

"And this is the man's heart, which will surely burst with pride and gratitude upon receiving such a thoughtful gift!" said the bitter knitter divorcee.

Em said...

What about Toronto? (Here's hoping, anyway...)

I think there's probably a whole series that could go with that drawing, a kind of "lectures" with Ms. X the know-it-all knitter and her bewildered sheep companion... A "where does my fleece go?" series, perhaps?

catmum said...

"Knitters: this design element requires considering whether the model might need a manzierre."

Tanya said...

It sort of reminds me of the lecture hall demonstration scene in Young Frankenstein. I'm really intrigued & curious by the fact that the sweater model seems so happy! For some reason that seems important in this unknown story.

Kelly said...

"It is important to remove the wooly board prior to wearing..."

Anonymous said...

honey, remember that birds & bees lecture?? The deer are um, flirting

Jr goddess
.

KellyD said...

Looks to me like someone from the humane society is presenting one of Michael Vicks sweaters which portrays a dog fight as evidence against him. As big alice said in her comment "intarsia gone horribly wrong"
can you tell I havent been to bed since my shift last night? LOL

Marcia said...

The happiness of the wearer increases in direct proportion to the number of intarsia reindeer present.

Carol said...

"Note how I have cleverly used the intarsia motifs to disguise Bob's third nipple."

You're welcome.

Lola and Ava said...

I'm imagining the teacher/knitter pointing out what might happen to a naughty little sheep's wool should he/she not be compliant when traipsing about in the muck. "See, you too could be turned in to really horrid intarsia that only a grandchild would wear." But I could be biased.

Linda said...

I work for a small book publisher.

Bless you for not feeling obligated/entitled to design absolutely everything - interior, cover, marketing material... yeah, some folks get like that.

--Deb said...

"And here, class, you can see what happens when you mistreat your wool. Things go horribly, horribly wrong...."

Karin said...

It's Mrs Teitelbaum, actually. Dolores is at her feet. Dolores is looking at the sweater and getting ideas about walking on two feet.

Anonymous said...

And this was your Great-Aunt Edith...

trek said...

Two words:

Caption Contest

Doesn't even need a prize.

knitnzu said...

Dogs going for the throat? This sweater might be one of those that is gifted to somebody in 'the organization' who needs to be taken out by 'the dogs'?? The sheep is worried because this guy is so good he isn't one of the 'black' sheep, he's pure and white, but still needs to go, and maybe the sheep wonders if he'll be next? Hmmmm... just browsing through the comments... I thought the were dogs, oh well, now I think the one on the right looks like a goat... old goat? My first thoughts WERE along the lines of Amber's... something about dogs dancing on nipples (must be from watching all that Danish tv...)

Elizabeth said...

And I thought they were dogs, the pointer-stick was a fancy embellishment that looks like a leash, and that the two dogs were fighting.

marianne said...

Sorry Franklin, but I'm a lurker with a question I bet you could answer if anyone could. Yo My Booties. The coolest for the new babies. But they're 50 bucks. Any idea how they made them and what kind of angora they used. I have 2 new grand daughters and want to knit some. And if you don't know, then just a big thank you for your interesting, provocative blog read!

castingaway said...

First thing I thought of was the lady was explaining the story behind the sweater...like the sweater tells the story. Oy! That isn't coming out at all like what I mean. I mean, can't you imagine some lady depicting a scene from a afternoon walk where 2 dogs attack a young man as an intarsia design?

SallyT said...

I'm thinking EZ lecturing on how ez it is to add design to your knitware.

For some reason I had an overwhelming impulse to give you a hug. As you are not here, I'll have to give my husband one instead. He will be pleased.

southern gal said...

Yes every day is what it takes.

see this from Jerry Seinfield
Years ago when Seinfeld was a new television show, Jerry Seinfeld was still a touring comic. At the time, I was hanging around clubs doing open mic nights and trying to learn the ropes. One night I was in the club where Seinfeld was working, and before he went on stage, I saw my chance. I had to ask Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comic. What he told me was something that would benefit me a lifetime...

He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don't feel like it.

He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here's how it works.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. "After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain."

"Don't break the chain," he said again for emphasis.

Cheri said...

I have no idea what the joke is, but I love the picture and find it funny.

Anonymous, too said...

"Class, this Fair Isle sweater illustrates the difference between knitting for men and knitting for women. On a woman's sweater, never, never, NEVER center an animal over each breast!"

s.kate said...

"Nando, be a dear, cue the music back up, and let's all go over these arm movements again... K - N - I - T!"

Knitting Painter Woman said...

I agree with Chris-- you can be like the New Yorker and have a caption contest. (You DO read the New Yorker, don't you?)

quatrefoil said...

"And this bit was made from your auntie Zelda ..."

Shirley said...

#1 ”You should be careful where you place your designs. For example, you might not want animals looking like they are going to attack the wearer's throat. Unless, of course, you are hinting at something.”

#2 ”I told you you wouldn't want to know where your fleece ended up”

Meribeth said...

"Dolores was kind enough to be our model for the Battling Ninja Rams motif."

DEEP END OF THE LOOM said...

I think Delores is the sheep and she thnking, "Poor Schmuck, you shouldn't have agreed to anything just to get a guy's night out".

Or maybe it's the knitter's curse and he'll break up with the knitter girlfriend as soon as show and tell is over.

Ros Ritchie said...

It reminds me of an old battle-axe (can't quite remember her name) who used to appear on UK TV back in the 1980s. The programme was about training your pet dog and her catch-phrase was "SIT!" - imagine the commanding, bone-shakingly terrifying tone of the woman. It made me think of her - she'd try and tame anything that moved and probably plenty of things that didn't, including animals knitted into a pullover.

Ros Ritchie said...

Senility has briefly left me and I've remembered the TV dog-trainer's name - Barbara Woodhouse. A reference probably lost on an American audience unless you had the misfortune of having her grace US TV too.

Ann (yet another) said...

Ah, Barbara Woodhouse. She showed up here on PBS. Actually not a bad obedience instructor, especially for her observation that while the dogs she was called in to train usually were fine, the owners were often loony. And it was "WALKIES" - you can tell a trainer of a certain age around here if they still use that tone for a walk.

As for the cartoon, I thought those were dogs on the sweater as well. Can't think of a caption, though the sheep looks worried and the man looks oddly happy.

AmyS said...

"Now then, Ewenice, if you prefer, you may add the dog motifs after knitting with a nifty little trick called duplicate stitch."

Oh, and "zfuuzht!"

Longhorn Diva said...

Title
"The Day Henry Failed Intarsia 101 and Didn't Care"

Teacher bubble: "COWS jump over the moon, people!! NOT SHEEP!!!"

Susan said...

I know this one!!! It's you (as sketcher, not the sketchee)at knitting camp with Meg Swansen! Isn't it?

Gotta Knit! said...

Well I can only hope some wealthy knitter will fund your way to Atlanta.


Sally Melville said the same thing about her books and publisher.

Cindy in Happy Valley said...

I'm afraid the sheep looks either scandalized or confused.

Maybe trying to figure out what his/her relationship is to this strange garment?

Kathleen said...

Mary Maxim appears to be using the deer motif as a prop to her lecture on knitting kits offered in her mail order catalog.

:)

Lovely work... looking forward to the book!

Jeanie said...

These frolicking creatures on a man's sweater are lovely, but on a busty woman, not so much.
ps I have a pony, named Ja'Mocha, she is the Princess of the Pasture.

kt said...

Personally, I quite like the "bad day" sketches. They have a flavor of Herge o them, methinks.

Do you know Tintin?

Adele said...

"And here's one I prepared earlier..."

Or you could change the man to a child and the pointer stick thing to a dog lead, which would make the joke (mostly) visual.

Loquacious Chase said...

"...and after all that work, if he DARES to say that it itches, or that the neck is too tight or the sleeves are uneven, HIT HIM WITH A REALLY BIG STICK! He'll change his tune."

Fe said...

Teacher: "So,in trying to fall asleep, you only count the sheep AS they jump. Charles was successful in his efforts, as you can tell by his well-rested smile."
Sheep: (thought bubble) "Huh. Give them opposable thumbs and they call themselves Lords of Creation...."

Barca Viola said...

Talk about heights of joy and depths of despair in a short time: The Yarnery is hosting you in my town...but on the same day as the MN Knitters Guild Yarnover...which is on the opposite, opposite side of the Cities...during which I am taking an all day class? Please tell me that they are hosting you at Yarnover? Please?

Gerrie in MN

Tomme said...

HA! MInnetonka, MN, is actually within reasonable driving distance of here, so look out, Franklin, I'm coming to Yarnover! I'm psyched at getting to be a part of the 1,000 Knitters project, and at the prospect of offering you a hug for keeping us all entertained here on The Panopticon.

Senora Fuerte said...

"If you don't like it when he says he doesn't care what you knit... knit him this."

Sahara said...

"You missed a spot?" that little ball of yarn better be careful.;-)

How much would it cost to bring you to NYC? A place, meals, care, in the style you're accustomed to? Let me start raising some money!

tracey in michigan said...

"Please note the careful placement of various animals to hide the "manboobs" a much simpler solution than exercise"

Says the knit design educator to her class...

ps you know the political environment is BAD when Dolores is cleaning the place up.... scary. quite scary.

Betsy said...

Henrietta knew it was time to retire from teaching when she had her husband don her latest creation so she could do "Show and Tell" for the sheep...

swan/dragon said...

I think it's part of the original story board for Day Six of "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days." Maybe it's just me; does anyone else find trying to get a man to wear colorwork to be akin to trying to grow a third earlobe?

NeoYankee said...

"Please note the culturally insensitive use of a Finnish feral sheep motif on what is, ostensibly, an Icelandic pullover. The knitter was forcibly divested of her stash as a result."

FiberQat said...

Sheep: When is she going to finish? He's supposed to take me to Dolores' cocktail fundraiser at the Sheraton.

Your sketched dog reminds me of George Booth's dogs. Love em!

gtwife said...

A Rorshach(sp?) test for a knitter in therapy.

Anonymous said...

An archeology presentation, but instead of mud paintings on the wall, you have knitting motifs....

"And here we see the offerings made to the knitting spirits for a good wool harvest that season...."

famousthecat said...

come to bloomington, in! (although i am seriously considering just making the trek to my homeland, chicago, for the march 18/something-or-other date, too). so, in short, no worries, and amazing project!

KarenJoSeattle said...

Definitely a lecture on the rutting habits of various species of males as delivered at a private girls school in New Zealand. Maybe an example of the traumas in Dolores' formative years that made her what she is today. I'm mean, Miss Brodie never wore Uggs.

Roxie said...

Caption :"With gentle patience and consistency, you too can train your men to cheerfully don, display and wear even the most appalling of your knitting efforts."

Rhiannon said...

Okay, maybe I'm deviant, but how about "She didn't realise he was a closeted submissive until he demonstrated the use for that weird i-cord leash he had her knit for the sweater." I don't know exactly how one would phrase that, but it's the first thought that popped into my head.

Mike Smith said...

...and in a few months we'll have some little OXOs.

Karen Frisa said...

Thanks so much for sharing a page of your sketchbook! I love getting a peek at the artistic process. If I could have a "bad day" like that I'd be ecstatic! :)

Caroline / purplish said...

I love what neoyankee said!

Dougal said...

Quite useful info, thank you for the article.
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