January 7, 2010
Dateline Kyzyl-Oi, Kyrgyzstan
Scientists today announced the discovery of the fabled Rana Pilosus, the Hairy Frog of knitterly legend! Hitherto mentioned only in passing on a multitude of knitting blogs ( as in "The yarn looked like frog hair, so I ran away screaming."), this endearing amphibian is no longer a myth, but a reality. In fact, Rana Pilosus cultivation turns out to be a major economic industry in a remote area of Kyrgyzstan.
Dr. Elmer Vrkyng and his graduate student, Bob "Hoppy" Hopper, semi-distinguished amphibian zoologists at the University of Uch-Korgon, made their tremendous discovery while floundering around in marshland north of town. Dr. Vrkyng explained that they had overindulged in fermented mare's milk (not much to do in Uch-Korgon besides drink and flounder) and decided to take a walk and clear their heads. Unfortunately, they wandered into the infamous Gryznyk Swamp and got, um, bogged down.
"Bob fell flat on his face, causing a torrential tidal wave that floomed all over my clean shirt. When the water, mud, and algae subsided, I felt a tickling sensation on my forehead. I reached up and discovered a webbed foot caught in my pith helmet. I tugged frantically on the squishy offending limb and was suddenly face-to-face with a genuine Rana Pilosus! His other leg was curled around my earlobe! I immediately whipped out my camera and took a picture of this monumental discovery."
Dr. Vrkynk and Mr. Hopper subsequently interviewed the nearby townspeople, most of whom were oddly dressed in layers of delicate knitwear. Apparently, the surrounding area, being mostly swamp, was not conducive to raising sheep, yak, or vorpal bunnies. However, the town was overrun with furry frogs, especially during the Annual Festival of Flies, an occasion marked by fly-calling, fly-swatting competitions, fly markets, and highly decorated swatter sales.
Over the millenia, frog herding became the town's major source of income. The only other business in Kyzyl-Oi is a vowel importer, and apparently the import tax on A's and E's is so outrageous that the company only accepts a few shipments of I's and O's every year and thus doesn't offer much hope of employment. Mr. Krygzy, who owns the company, says Vrknuk's Vowels has spent a ton of grybzyfs in search of a new vowel, but have not had much luck so far.
In light of the poor job market, frog herding has become the sustaining business. According to Madame Grizkyrg, who owns the largest frog spread in the area, the Rana Pilosus is an economical crop, as the frogs take good care of their families, are excellent padkeepers, and require only an occasional rinse with conditioning shampoo to keep snarls and split ends under control. And, she adds, the frog industry is unquestionably Green!
Madame Grizkyrg explains. "Our frogs are free-range, happily playing cards and engaging in frog-wrestling tournaments by day, and indulging in karacroake at night. In June, the frog shearers armed with tiny scissors, lure the frogs (with homemade fly snacks) onto supersized pads, where they are carefully shorn of their pelts." She went on to say that the hair is then washed, sorted, and spun by the locals to produce extremely fine yarn, which is then knitted into garments during the severe winter months. As you can see from the picture, a shorn frog is a happy frog!
"One gram of frog hair, spun in our little factory, will produce over 5000 meters of yarn. And the frogs come in a wide range of colors and patterns, including polka dot and herringbone, so we don't have to worry about dyeing it," says Madame Grizkyrg.
She went on to say that the frogs make excellent pets, as they are clean and very intelligent. There are two frog trainers in town who coach the ambhibians in Kyrgyz, the native language, as well as instruct them in the rules of Frog Paddy Bingo, a subject that will not be further discussed in this article. A new niche business has recently emerged, thanks a sizable grant from the TSA. Azrygyr is one of several being trained as drug- and explosive-sniffing frogs.
The TSA will soon be deploying these little guys in both the personal security and baggage-screening areas. Being small, they can easily hop around inside carry-on and checked baggage. When contraband is detected, their hair stands straight up and vibrates silently, quietly alerting the agents. The frogs' foot-long tongues have been genetically modified to carry an electrical current and, on command from the TSA Frog Handlers, will zap offenders, who are then dropped through a trap door directly into a paddy wagon.
Dr. Vrkyng and Mr. Hopper will be staying in the town for three months studying this new genus before publishing their findings in Nature. After they have completed their research, they intend to start an eco-friendly frog-hair yarn exporting business. "Our enterprise should bring a business boom to Kyzyl-Oi," says Dr. Vrkyng.
All of us lace knitters look forward to seeing the product! Right? Don't we?