Knitting in Public Day: The Results Show

I feel like an episode of a reality television show, only there wasn’t any voting.

There were, however, knitters. Back up with me to the last week of March, won’t you?

Tuesday evening I picked up Franklin from our local Amtrak station, which is very nice and old fashioned. It’s also home to a really good BBQ place, in case you care to visit. We went downtown though for Mexican food (Tres Compadres was recommended) and had a lovely chat. It was unusual to be able to pull out my knitting at a meal and not have the other person look at me strangely. Granted, I’d brought only my “walking knitting”–garter stitch/log cabin afghan squares that yes, I do knit while walking.

Wednesday dawned early and it was off with a bang. By 10 a.m. I was through a trip to the grocery for fruit and veggie trays, had a coworker agree to pick up the coffee that was coming from a local shop, and was charging about the library. The first knitters (and a breakfast/lunch donut, courtesy of same sympathetic coworker) arrived just before noon.

Knitters trickled in. About half of my kids group arrived as well as a machine knitter who has brought her machine the last couple of years for demonstration. One of the ladies brought fiber and a drop spindle and by one p.m. had a pretty good circle going learning how to spin yarn. I’m a little afraid the kids are going to ask to learn that next fall. A lady from the local women’s magazine dropped by to interview me about having a kid’s group here at the library and encouraging kids to do handcraft. It was a good moment to talk about how knitting helps with self-esteem and self identity. Here’s a chance to let a child choose how and what to make and design and to show that they can create. It’s a very tangible reward to finish a hat or scarf or washcloth, which makes the craft highly appealing.

Raffle prizes also started at 1 p.m. I was very fortunate to be drawing from strong local businesses willing to donate. Overall we had more than 26 gift certificates, books, packages of yarn, etc to give away. I don’t remember who got all of the gift certificates to the yarn stores–one of the mom’s from my Mom Knit Mornings got one and one of the kids got another. To keep things surprising–each winner got an envelope. If they got a yellow post-it note, they got a package (book, yarn, patterns, etc). Otherwise it was whatever gift certificate they’d drawn.

The afternoon sped quickly by and I even had a little time to sit with my kids and correct a purling problem. The kids group had gotten a mention and a BIG picture in the paper the day before, so the Knitter Boy Age 10 was getting a lot of questions about his projects.

At 4 p.m. I made the call for yarn. Had you brought yarn for the swap? Many knitters had and it poured onto two tables. Tina helped me sort and pass out tickets. Then came one more question–how were we giving people access? I pulled off another strip of tickets, took note of first and last numbers, marked the backs and let each knitter who had donated grab one. They then picked in order of their tickets. This of course after they had to wait until 5 p.m., drooling over the selection.

And the yarn went!! I pulled last, having brought 30 skeins of my own that needed to leave the stash. What I pulled was for my kids group. I also received two big boxes of partial skeins in donation to the kids group and promise of more, so I’ll have a refill of my work stash, which is definitely a good and needed thing! At the end of the swap I had two big garbage bags of yarn that will be donated to a RSVP, a local seniors volunteer program. I also, I looked up to see, had a speaker.

Franklin arrived around 5:30 to mingle and meet and greet. We space checked the auditorium and then slowly encouraged the knitters to go downstairs. (I might have done some herding.)

At 6:30 we presented knitted afghans, a community project spearheaded by one of my coworkers, to Place of Grace and the Salvation Army. And then I handed over the floor to Franklin.

He was wonderful. Amusing, engaging, open and honest about being a knitter, particularly a male knitter, and all the challenges that brings us. He reminded us how lucky we are that I take for granted having 4 (technically 5) stores in under a 30 minute drive. Franklin showed off his knitting (a lace shawl he claims is easy), the “angry baby” hood, and a Victorian night cap which has what was then “retro lace” edging.

Afterwards he signed books (a local bookstore sent over an employee with 2 dozen) and we adjourned for dinner with a small group of the knitting faithful. Even Madame Director was able to join us (she’d had to make an appearance elsewhere in the evening).
(Franklin and I)

Overall it was an incredibly successful day, welcoming a large community group and drawing in a lot of interest from passing patrons. And I’d have Franklin back to speak in a heartbeat. The following morning saw us to one of the independent coffee shops and then off to the train. And me back to work to tidy up before heading out to New York.

One note for next year though–in 2010 I want a dedicated all-day minion. Wonder if I can locate a uni or high school student needing volunteer hours.