By Peter Funt
The baseball season is in full swing with the game’s beloved sounds filling the air: the crack of the bat, roar of the crowd, clicking of knitting needles, and groans when an error is made, requiring several rows of yarn to be ripped out.
Baseball and knitting: they go together like, well, absolutely nothing that comes to mind. Yet, knitting projects are part of a raging trend, spreading like fuzz balls across the sports world. Fans by the thousands are knitting what are known as Crackerjack scarves as odes to the baseball season.
The idea is to use your team’s colors — orange and black for the World Champion Giants, for example — plus white and gray. For each game you knit a row (more if you’re a Hall-of-Fame-caliber knitter) with colors determined by wins and losses. For a home win, knit an orange row; a home loss, white. On the road, use black for wins and gray for losses.
Each knitter starts out with hopes and dreams of a championship season. But for some, like the Milwaukee Brewers’ knitting faithful, a raft of early losses has already produced odd looking scarves. After losing 18 of their first 25 games the Brewers fired their manager and, presumably, the knitting coach.
The Crackerjack craze was started by a Detroit Tigers fan named Stacey Simpson Duke, who writes the earthchicknits blog. She captured the Tigers’ 2014 season in blue, gold, white and gray yarn and, after writing about the project, watched it explode this season through knitting clubs and yarn shops nationwide.
For those who love patterns in wool as much as some of us enjoy an inside-the-park homer, Stacey posts messages such as: “The Tigers road trip yielded three losses (orange) and two wins (gray). Here’s hoping the home stand yields another nice block of navy!”
The Tigers didn’t make it through the playoffs last year, but Stacey dutifully reported that her finished ’14 scarf, crafted with Stonehedge Fiber Mills Shepherd’s Wool Worsted, using size 6 needles, is 49 inches long. “I am so thrilled,” she blogged, “to have my own wearable document.”
Crackerjack scarves are a form of what buffs call “conceptual knitting.” A popular project, for instance, is the My Year in Temperatures Scarf — each stripe representing the temperature at a particular hour for 365 straight days. (One imagines that this scarf is more popular among knitters in Minneapolis than in, say, San Diego.)
Conceptual knitting projects don’t give specific dates so they are more like trend charts in yarn. Even a lousy baseball season can produce a handsome scarf if the wins and losses occur in a pleasing pattern — sort of the way acres of garbage in the Pacific look rather pretty when photographed from the space station.
I’d suggest that knitters who are already flopping with the Brewers, Athletics and Phillies this season dump Crackerjack in favor of other conceptual projects. A Clinton Popularity Scarf, pegged to Gallup’s daily tracking poll, would be captivating. Californians would enjoy knitting a Daily Drought Scarf, with shades of green and brown representing the changes in their front lawns.
A delightfully fun project is the Kardashian Publicity Scarf, with every clan member assigned a color and a row added for each “ET” mention, two rows for a “People” cover, three rows for a spot in Jimmy Fallon’s monologue — the possibilities are endless.
If I could knit I’d want to make a Good Wife Scarf. I’d add two blue rows every time Alicia’s past/present/future law firm changed its name. There would be two maroon rows for each glass of wine, plus two white rows for each shot of tequila. Four black rows would be knitted every time Michael J. Fox leaves the show, and four yellow rows added when he returns.
As to Crackerjack, I remain puzzled about what baseball fans and knitters have in common. But, clearly, when a game turns dull they each know how to spin a good yarn.
Peter Funt is a writer and speaker. His book, “Cautiously Optimistic,” is available at Amazon.com and CandidCamera.com. © 2015 Peter Funt. Columns distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.