Friday, January 27, 2006

A Whole World Connected by Yarn

I didn't write about it, because I don't really celebrate it, but a couple of days ago was my birthday. C, being the solid gold boyfriend that he is, gave me the perfect gift (more about it in the near future) and a breakfast of my favorite banana pancakes. I refuse to consider the possibility that anybody in this or any other universe makes banana pancakes as good as his.

I also got a most unexpected gift via the post. James of Fibre Alive sent me a scarf. And such a scarf. As you can see, Boswell was every bit as overcome as I.

This is the first thing anybody has ever knit for me, ever.

But Wait, There's More

The first time the extreme connectedness of the knitblogging community really struck me was just after Marie Irshad's podcast interview with Yvonne Davies. I always enjoy Marie's KnitCast, but I particularly enjoyed listening to Yvonne speaking about running the "Relax and Knit" area at the UK's Knitting and Stitching Show. So I went over to Yvonne's blog to tell her so, and after leaving my comment noticed my blog was already in her blogroll.

Startling, to say the least.

So, what does this have to do with my scarf from James?

Well, if you know James's work you know he has a most unusual way with colo(u)r, and this scarf is no exception. He wrote in his note to me that he remembered I once said that most of my clothes are black (me and Carmel Snow, we have that in common), and that maybe this would brighten me up a bit.

And then he told me that the gold mohair was spun by Ted Myatt, and the green Koigu given to him by Kathy Merrick. That would be Ted Myatt, aka Knitterguy, with whom I am privileged to correspond regularly; and Kathy Merrick, part of the crew I met at Rhinebeck and one of my favorite people on the entire planet.

So I, in Chicago, got a birthday scarf from a New Zealand knitter I've never seen in person, that incorporates yarn from two other knitters I know, only one of whom I've actually met, who live in Canada and Virginia.

After I realized this, it took a good two hours before my eyes uncrossed.

Little Shop of Knitters

Reader Bess asked if I'd mind putting Marge on a shirt, and I don't mind, so I did.

Also, if you want the 2005 Elf Ornament, time's running out. As promised, I'm pulling him from circulation on the 31st of January.

I'm definitely interested in working on a calendar and on stationery. My chief issue right now is that, frankly, I think the prices at Café Press for those items are completely ridiculous. Even if I were to forego any commission on my part, they'd still be expensive. So I'm looking into alternatives.

Etiquette Follow-Up

I had a ball reading everybody's comments about the post on etiquette. In addition to learning that Marilyn was apparently the model for Eloise, I was deeply amused by Mama Lu's description of her very proper grandmother. In fact, I love the comment so much I'm going to quote it so that everybody will be sure to see it:

Franklin, you should have been related to my grandmother (of course you're much too young, she was born in 1875). She said "gel" (with a hard g) for girl and "lahndry" for laundry and could never forgive my mother for the fact that her grandchildren had no manners and talked like Americans (we were Canadian, but no matter).

She never used the telephone for any social purpose; it was for doctors and tradesmen (notes and invitations were sent by post, which was delivered twice a day). And she always dressed for dinner, even during the war, when it consisted of boiled eggs (if you had chickens) or cheese on toast.

I was in awe on the three occasions that I met her, I was told she could be quite funny. She complained that the V2 raids at the end of the war always came when she was in her bath, and she quoted Cardinal Wolsey in Henry VIII: "Had I but served my God with half the zeal I served my king, he would not in mine age have left me naked to mine enemies."
My kind of woman.

The reason manners were so much on my mind yesterday was that in the evening, I had to photograph a work event at which the presenter was none other than Peter Post, great-grandson of Emily.

I got to sit next to him at dinner. We talked about asparagus as finger food, and our collections of etiquette books. He signed my copy of Manners for Men. The great-grandson of an immigrant Pennsylvania coal miner and the great-grandson of the WASP matron nonpareil had dinner together. Now that's democracy in action.

You know, in spite of everything, I do love this country.


Anonymous said...

Yay! I like Marge! But could you put her on the Ringer T? And the "Don't mess with a woman who knits"? I promise to order them, really :)

Anonymous said...

That is one gorgeous scarf. Happy belated birthday!


the fiddlin' fool said...

Sounds like string theory may actually exist in the form of yarn!

Anonymous said...

So Yonkel...this was a big birthday, nu? You can now drink alcoholic beveraged legally!

If I'd known, I would have baked you a cake.

Anonymous said...

Happy Belated Birthday, Franklin! I hope you had a wonderful day. And I love the international flavour of your scarf. Perfect.

Unknown said...

. . . I do love this country as well. James is wonderful. He's always really great at replying to the comments I leave on his blog. The scarf gift is beautiful, the orange/gold just pops! Happy Birthday, sounds like it was a good one.

Anonymous said...

Oi ! I must have misinformed James. Can't take credit for spinning (or dyeing) that gorgeous golden- coloured silk/mohair blend in the scarf. (And it is gorgeous; even your amazing photos don't capture just how gorgeous that yarn is.)

The yarn is from

and is called "kid silk". I think it was a one-off dyejob, so what you have is even more unique.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Franklin!

I just love synchronicity. I was just at Jame's FibreAlive blog and was reading about that extraordinary scarf. "Whoever receives this is one lucky guy!" I'm thinking and then I go to your blog (as I do everyday, more regular than I read the news, incidentally) and find out it was for you! How COOL is that!?!

Seriously, though. This gorgeous scarf is the first and only hand-knitted article you've *ever* received?!?!!! Oh, my. I do believe that you have set yourself up for receipt of many knitted items now and on your next birthday. One hopes, eh?

James provides a brief description of the content and make of your scarf on his blog for those of us who can only admire it from afar. Hop on over to FibreAlive for a gander!

Lucky Franklin. :)

~drew emborsky~ said...

Happy Birthday dude! Love the scarf!

Laura said...

Franklin, you don't know me from Adam, or, er, rather Eve. I only recently discovered your blog. I think it was through a post by the Yarn Harlot.

Anyway, I have an online shop where I sell mostly cross stitch patterns, but some knitting patterns (and very occasionally yarn). You can find my URL to my shop on my blog, or I can email it to you.

If you're interested in talking about selling your calendar on my site, please contact me at panopticon at laurasbooks dot com (Yes, that's right. A special email just for messages from you.).

Either way, I'll continue to read your blog. I'm having tons of fun here. I love your drawings!

By the way, happy birthday. :-D That scarf is *awesome*.

Anonymous said...

I am one of the fortunate souls to have purchased an elf ornament - it IS quite spectacular.

I would also buy a calendar of the "knitter guys"; not only are they cute, but they knit better than I do. I could gaze at them for inspiration.....

You are one lucky dude to have not only a scarf but homemade banana pancakes for your birthday!

The world is a better place with you and Joe and Marilyn blogging along in it!

Anne Marie G. (a Pennsylvanian, but not a coal miner)

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday!
I, too, wonder what the stitch is. The scarf is gorgeous, and the design makes the most of the golden mohair.

Ann said...

Happy Birthday to a very special person. It is amazing the "community" of knitters in the online world that in some odd six degrees of separation seem very connected at times.

There are days when we might feel like checking in and reading the blogs of other knitters and just lurking, and there are times when a comment seems appropriate.

You have quite a following...and it is well deserved!


Anonymous said...

Hi Franklin--

thank you so much for putting Marge on the shirt--i just placed my order! PSYCHED!!! i was also on james' site and saw your beautiful scarf--he is an amazing knitter--his whole sense of colour, texture and creative flair--very very cool--very very beautiful--and i think those colours will be quite fetching with your colouring--is that a honeycomb stich on the scarf? the world is certainly a small place--with all the connections to you, your knitter friends and the wool--Happy Belated Birthday--thanks again for Marge--i can't wait to wear it--

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday!

Do you want to share the recipe for banana pancakes?

Anonymous said...


maybe we should do a semi-nudie calendar of men who knit...

give me 8 months to loose weight, work out, and get a spray tan.

and you'd better better brush up on your air brushing!

Amy said...

Happy Belated Birthday! It's always wonderful to find such a talented, artistic soul (with a great sense of humor too!) who shares my birthweek. I celebrated mine this past Wednesday.

Cheers! (oooh, and those pancakes sound delish!!)

Kate said...

Happy Birthday, Franklin!

Out of interest in spreading the S&B anti-copyright campaign, I clicked on the link to the campaign's website. Did you know that Blogger has deleted the site that you had linked? Isn't it lovely how fear of litigation makes companies self-censor?

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! I thought that scarf looked familiar.

I have really, really enjoyed reading your blog the past few days (You have Brenda Dayne - or more specifically, your essay on her podcast - to thank for my finding it).

Next time you're in Maine, you should come by and say hello.

Linda said...

Belated happy birthday, Franklin! Thank you for informing and entertaining me for the past several months that I've been reading your blog. I "met" you at the Yarn Harlot appearance and heard the person sitting next to me gush about your blog, so I had to check it out. Now I'm hooked. You're a fabulous artist and an articulate writer with a point of view that I can relate to.

I've been coveting a "Venus de Milo" t-shirt ever since you first created the artwork, but I'd like to order it in t-shirt that fits me decently, like the Ringer t-shirt. Are you thinking of making it available in that style? I think it would look stunning in the green.


Anonymous said...

Franklin, I'm delighted that you liked the story about my grandmother, honoured that you quoted it, and grateful that you fixed a typo (which is a bit embarrassing, since I'm an editor by profession).

Here's another (slight) connection to the scarf that James made for you: Kathryn Thomas, the Fleece Artist, is based in Mineville, Nova Scotia, about 15 minutes from where I live.

A belated, but very hipy papy bthuthdth thuthda bthuthdy from this corner of the knitting world.

Rosane said...

Hi Franklin,

Happy Belated Birthday!

This is my first comment to you, although I have been reading your blog for a while. You are such a talented man! I thouroughly enjoy your drawings, your writing, and your wit.

Rosane, in NY.

Anonymous said...

Now that I'm able to see a decent photo of it (aka, not sneaking peeks at the office while I should be working), That Is One Seriously Gorgeous Scarf!

Liz said...

Awwww! Happy Birthday! Hippo birdie two ewes, hippo birdie two ewes, hippo birdie deer ewe, hippo birdie two ewes!

There. Insert music as desired.

And thank you for sharing so much fun with the rest of us, Franklin.

Anonymous said...

Yet another connection to the yarn story -- I was so rattled that I'd given James incorrect info about the kidsilk that I neglected to write this part -- is that the Koigu dyestudio is about a 40-minute drive from me.

Anonymous said...

I love your cartoons; you should list more on CafePress in the posterformat.

Also, I wanted to let you know that I am HUGELY enjoying the Norah Vincent book. Many thanks for mentioning it again, since I could NOT find the reference or remember the name even though I did remember that it was coming out in January.

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with your current post - I was reading back posts (DH is working, baby is asleep, I'm bored). I came across the Christmas music one - I currently live in Tucson, and for some reason am so convinced that I live in a podunk town, I'm completely amazed when someone else mentions it. (I realized what a "podunk town" really is when I visited my husband's hometown in Montana, but I digress.)
Anyway, I love your writing, I covet that worldly scarf of yours (happy birthday!), and I respectfully request that you add some of your sheepy drawings to the cafe press site. They're so adorable, I can hardly stand it. Also adorable was your story about Mary singing Coventry Carol (one of my favs) to Jesus in the manger, but I can't figure out how to get that on a t-shirt.

Cheryl:) said...

Happy Birthday Franklin!! Even though it is belated the wishes are sincere. Thank you for bringing me happiness and joy since I've been reading your blog. And thank your mom too!!

Maus said...

that scarf is gorgeous! The yellow so vibrant and warm in color, very nice. you have a very lucky birthday and many more :)

geogrrl said...

Kate is right... you can't reach the SnB boycott from the original link.

You can, however, go to this link:

and this:

City Wiccan said...

OH, so now it all makes sense. I saw that scarf on James' website and he said something about it being a gift. I wrote him a message about how much I love the colour combination. Geez, it's a small world.

Anonymous said...

Well, damn, happy birthday, sugar! Had I but known, I would have sent you something. Sneaky devil, getting older without telling anyone...

maniacalmultitasker said...

Love your blog!

Anonymous said...

Franklin, dear, oddly enough, you're one of my favorite people on this lovely planet.
Thank you, mister, for the kind words.

M-H said...

And I got to see the yarns in question and the scarf in utero (as it were) when I visited James on New Year's Day. You're a lucky man.

Anonymous said...

My grandmother once had a temporary housekeeper who, as she cleared the dishes at the end of the meal asked 'Do you stack, or are you gentry?'

dpaste said...

A very sweet post. Happy belated birthday.

Anonymous said...

Good gosh! Happy belated birthday, Franklin! I'm glad it was good and started out with C's banana pancakes. Maybe he should enter a cookout. :-)

That scarf is phenomenal, in execution and color! Was it knit lengthwise?

The best is discovering the thread
that truly binds us all! I wonder if Emily did any needlework.

Anonymous said...

No disrespect to Mama Lu et al, but anyone THIS side of the pond knows that the phrase "Do you stack or are you gentry?" comes from around 1954 in London when Nancy Mitford, the eldest daughter of the 2nd Baron Redesdale, started writing satirical and witty critiques about the habits of Upper and non-Upper Class folk... those who had servants would not have needed, or have known how, to "Stack" plates...

"Somerset Moan"

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