"Knitting is such a solitary act that it's easy to knit alone somewhere and sink into your work without thinking about all the other knitters out there. Neighbors could spend all their lives never knowing that the other knits."
- World Wide Knit in Public website
On June 12th, 2010, with wool and wheels, knitters and spinners from miles around made their way to Iowa City, Iowa's Word Wide Knit in Public Day. Tucking a half-finished sock into a cloth bag, I unglued myself from my knitting chair, headed downtown and joined them.
We met at the edge of our farmer's market where tables displaying hand-knit socks, fleece and drop spindles were set up behind a half-circle of chairs. Some of us knew each other from other fiber gatherings. Some of us were meeting for the first time. After a few introductions, we were all acquainted, and soon, chatting companionably about heels and cuffs, sheep and wool. Our conversations continued as we settled into chairs, picking up the handwork that brought us together. While moving needles back and forth, and miraculously twisting fluff into a fine strand, we exchanged stories and watched our town as it bought baked goods, sampled salsa, and checked out the seasonal produce.
We were watched, too. And soon, we had visitors.
"I have my grandmother's spinning wheel. Do you know anyone who fixes them?" That question was asked several times, and mainly answered by Abbi. Most Saturdays, she sells her hand-dyed and hand-spun yarn at a stall not far from where we sat. Often we talk there, but at World Wide Knit in Public Day (WWKIP), stitching next to her, I learned about her grandparents who were from Ireland's Eye, a tiny island off the coast of Newfoundland, an island that's no longer inhabited.
WWKIP Day is like a knitting party where everyone is invited to attend. In 2005, when the initiative began, founder Danielle Landes thought a public event would get knitters out of their houses and out socializing with other knitters. And she was right.
Over the years, from Sweden to New Zealand, from Latvia to Brazil and many places east and west, north and south on the globe, WWKIP volunteers have scheduled gatherings. This year in Pisa, Italy, participants sat "on the stairs of the Battistero facing the tower" [the Leaning Tower of Pisa] and were advised to bring a cushion with them. Toronto's knitters met at Junction Square and unsuccessfully tried to break the Sock Summit's 2009 Guinness World record for "the most knitters in one place." Knitters were requested to register early--the counting started at 3 pm. Freeport, Grand Bahamas proudly reported their event's attendance with "6 nationalities represented, one man, and a nine year old."
WWKIP is officially over for 2010. Don't worry if you didn’t catch the knitting buggy ride in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, or if you missed hanging out with the motley crew in Iowa City; it's never too early to prepare for next year. Practice knitting in public--take your socks to the park or the library. Mark your calendar now, and reserve the second Saturday to the third Sunday of June 2011. Plan to bake a pan of bars if you are so inclined. A thermos of coffee is always welcomed. Be sure to bring your knitting and your neighbor, your grandmother and her spinning wheel. Connect with your community's knitters, crocheters, spinners, and yarncrafters. Experience solidarity with yarn lovers everywhere. Celebrate World Wide Knit in Public Day!
Note: For more information on locations of scheduled events, or help on designing your own, consult the WWKIP website.
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