Stranger in a Strange Land: Part 1

Last week I completely immersed myself in knitting: knitting techniques, knitting culture, knitting products & materials, knitting practice. For four solid days I lived, breathed, spoke, and ate nothing but knitting. (Okay, so I didn’t actually eat my knitting… but there was non-stop knitting, even during the banquets.)

I attended Stitches Midwest. Six months ago, when searching for intensive knitting workshops I came across Stitches Expos:

“Based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, XRX, Inc. has been devoted to the knitting industry for the past 30 years. The company is best known as the home of Knitter’s Magazine, a quarterly publication featuring popular designers and the latest knitwear fashions, techniques and supplies. Knitter’s is read religiously by 90,000 needle artists across North America. The STITCHES Events division of XRX produces annual knitting expos — STITCHES East, West, South and Midwest — as well as instructional retreats attended by knitting enthusiasts from all over the world. XRX Books publishes a wide variety of pattern and reference books for knitters and weavers.” – from the Stitches Expo Facebook page

I took seven 3-hour long courses. I went to presentations about measurements and clothing cut. I spoke with other knitters, looked at their work, talked about materials and techniques. I was overwhelmed by the marketplace filled with tools, implements, odds and ends, and yarns of every variety imaginable (my prize find was a linen & stainless steel blend). I watched knitting fashion shows. I read knitting books. I knitted and knitted some more. And when I wasn’t knitting, I was talking to or sitting next to someone who was and what we talked about was knitting (or sometimes the hurricane).

My first night back in my own bed I had a dream, a really bizarre dream, that I was vomiting yarn. It just kept coming. Like I was in one of Peregrine Honig’s Pukers paintings having overindulged in colorful fibers that just kept streaming out of my core.

I’ve been immersed in my work before. Leading up to my solo show in April I thought of little else. But in retrospect I did think of other things. I did other things. When I went to eat dinner I didn’t sit at a table filled with people holding my work in their laps. When I spoke with people we would talk a bit about my work and then move on to other topics. But when I walked into Stitches Midwest, I walked into 10,000 Hours. Nearly every time I spoke with someone, it was a part of 10,000 Hours, even if they didn’t realize it. I was in the belly of the beast. Surprisingly, it didn’t scare me in the slightest. (Even if I had to do a little subconscious purging afterwards.)

(Part 2 coming soon.)

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