Saturday, June 14, 2008

Veni, Vidi, Knitti

Today is the fourth World Wide Knit In Public Day, so I did what hundreds of thousands of women (and some men) did today--I took myself and my knitting outside and knitted in public with a bunch of other women (and some men).

KIP Day began in 2005, when Danielle Landes, a fiber artist/jeweler/knitter decided that too many people knitted in private. People could go for years not knowing that their next door neighbor knitted socks, or that the woman up the street spun silk. To stop this artistic isolation, she came up with the idea that knitters (and other fiber folk) would get together in previously-announced locations on the second Saturday in June, talk, knit, and share their art and passion. In 2005, there were 20 sites. In 2006, KIP Day had grown to 70 sites, and more people were getting interested in knitting, crochet, and other fiber arts. In 2007, there were more than 200 sites, and local newspapers were starting to notice all these knitters.

In 2008, thanks to word of mouth (both live and electronic), there are 782 "official" KIP Day sites (ones registered with WWKIPD and listed on their website), and probably hundreds of other ad hoc sites where knitters simply are pulling their needles out and proudly knitting in public. While most of the sites are in the United States and Western Europe, there are people knitting on every continent.

Since there weren't any very local sites, I went down to Knit-One- One in Berkeley, to hang out and start a new pair of socks. A cute little fiber studio owned by Sile Convery near the Ashby BART stop, K11 is fronted by a wide sidewalk with street trees, and is next door to Sweet Adeline, a simply scrumptious bakery. Knitting was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m., and by 10:30, 30-40 women (and a few men) were seated in a large circle on the sidewalk, sipping coffee, nibbling goodies from the bakery, talking, laughing, and knitting. Everyone admired each other's yarns and handiwork, ranging from tiny socks for a granddaughter, to a sweater, while several people used giant needles and bulky yarn to garter-stitch a "tag" for one of the trees: a "sweater" for one of it's branches.

I was in a bit of a bind for knitting-- nothing I had was truly portable. I wasn't sure of the space available, so I didn't want to bring my wheel. I couldn't take the Shawl of Many Samples because I didn't have any yarn. I have 3 skeins of yarn for the SMS, but they aren't washed, so they can't be knitted into the shawl yet. I thought I might have enough spun, dyed, and skeined Falklands for another pair of socks, and when I dug into the stash, I found this was the case. I wound the skeins (about 550 yards total) into balls, packed them up with my KnitPicks case, and as I sat there in the sun, did something I dislike intensely and almost never do: I swatched. I usually don't swatch because I can judge pretty accurately what needles are needed for nearly any type of yarn (a skill that develops with experience), but this time I wanted to try a different pattern (basketweave), and I like the color of this Falklands, so I want the socks to go very right. I knitted the swatch, and to reward myself for being so good, treated myself to a vegan dried-fruit oatmeal cookie from Sweet Adeline. Now that's a breakfast! I now have a lovely little basketweave sample, I was correct on the size needle I need to use with this yarn (size #4), so now I'll cast on the actual sock and get to work.