Friday, June 20, 2014

World Wide Knit in Public Day / Week

I'm not quite too late to cover this event. Saturday June 14 was the official World Wide Knit in Public Day, which kicked off this week as World Wide Knit in Public Week. I celebrated by helping to set up and manage the tent and display table for the Smoky Mountain Knitting Guild at the Appalachian Lifestyle Celebration on Main Street in Waynesville last Saturday.

This picture doesn't do justice to the number of interested people who came by with questions or offers to purchase our samples. The samples were decidedly not for sale. Many had been gifts to one another or we simply couldn't consider selling our work! What price for hours of stitching and a garment that we liked to wear ourselves? Our goals were demonstration and education. We had a simple garter stitch scarf on stubby size #13 (US) bamboo needles to hand over to anyone who said they knew how to knit. It was the "community" scarf and will eventually find its way around the entire Guild, then be given as a charity item. (OK. I just jumped up to grab said community scarf and take a picture of it for you. It is apparently out and about in said community. I'm sure it will come back for a photo op...hopefully.) In the picture above, on the left, you can see the giant, blue ball of yarn which will become the rest of the scarf.

We advertised our upcoming adult learn-to-knit (free) classes and welcomed all knitters and crocheters to join us for any of our weekly get-togethers or monthly Guild meetings, with or without joining. It is good to simply begin by building community and connections based on our shared craft. So much can grow from it. Many people have seasonal homes here in the mountains, but we have many seasonal members of the Guild, so we encouraged everyone to stop a moment and talk. Maybe just to encourage them to pick up their needles again. Some had questions about sources of yarn and patterns, or were curious about the patterns for the samples that we hung around the tent edges. Some had just been waiting for an invitation to join a group. We jumped at any chance to give our flyers to crafters, and not-yet-crafters, with scribbled notes of great websites, like, that they should check out. Or we pointed out our email and invited them to send any knitting or crochet questions our way, regardless of their membership in the group.

And in all that talking and sharing...not many of us got more than a couple of rows knitted in 7 hours. At the end of the day, though, I felt it was a grand success. Plus, we have many ideas on how to make it even better next year!

Mom and I took advantage of our lunch hour to walk through the festival. Michael Reno Harrell, one of my favorite storyteller / singers, performed.

I didn't get to listen to him for very long, but we decided that Dad would definitely enjoy hearing him perform. When we got back home, I jumped online to see his full upcoming schedule and discovered that he'll be at the Pickin' on the Square in Franklin, NC in August. We'll load up as many family members as we can in the Suburban and head that way when the time comes.

We found Julie Wilson of the Jehovah Raah Farm demonstrating spinning (lusciously curly and brightly dyed mohair) on a Lendrum wheel.

Mom fell in love with this 100% mohair (70 yards of it!). We didn't purchase it, but we know Julie and there will be time to get some of her wares later.

Julie had also brought some of the animals from the farm, including this might-as-well-be-newborn gorgeous, Angora kid:

This is his mama:

And these two, freshly sheared alpacas in their finest white:

(I just love animals.)

Here's a video of Julie spinning. She was answering some question I asked about tailspun yarn and demonstrating what she was actually doing with the mohair, which was not tailspun. I'm really very ignorant about spinning and barely know the vocabulary enough to stay afloat during a demonstration, but Mom and I are interested in learning. Eventually.

If you want a spinning wheel like the one Julie uses here, you can actually get them direct from her. She is a distributor (I believe that's correct) for the Lendrum spinning wheels. They are actually designed and manufactured in Canada (by Gordon Lendrum). Click here to go directly to her Farm's Lendrum online store. (That link is not the same as the one above it, which gives background on the wheel's maker and its design.)

Among the instructions for demonstrators was a plea for us to dress in "period" or "old-timey" Appalachian clothing. I was born in San Antonio, TX while my father was still active duty Army. But within the first few months of my life, he left active duty and joined the Reserve Army, then we all moved straight back Home. Home being right here in western North Carolina. Mom and Dad were both raised here. Their families have deep roots here. I left after high school to go to college and lived for 10 years (those impressionable years, age 18 to 28) in the middle, flat part of the state. Then, when common sense finally caught up with me, I high-tailed it right back Home to these mountains and my family. After a short stint working in Louisiana a couple of years ago, I decided that will never leave these mountains again, if I can help it. Back to the point of the "old-timey" Appalachian clothing. We don't have any. My mother's people were, and my living grandmother and her husband still are, farmers. It was always denim overalls and button-up shirts rolled to the elbow, worn both by Papaw and Mamaw. Before that, Mamaw handmade the clothing for all the children. But those clothes were worn until they either had too many holes that couldn't be darned or they no longer fit, in which case, they found new homes with new children who needed them. Clothing didn't stick around. If it did, it made its way into a new life as a wash rag, a piece on a crazy quilt, or a dress on a doll.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I got the bright idea to wear denim overalls, and the only pair in the family that would fit this fat-bottom girl was a new-ish pair belonging to my step-grandfather. Did you know that denim overalls are hot as Hades? Even without a full-on sunny day in mid-June to accentuate that fact? The only reason I see for folks to wear them is to avoid the inconvenience of normal pants falling down during a day's work, which was pointed out to me by Cindy Rickey, who personally discovered this great feature since she moved down here and began landscaping and farming. She lost 30 pounds due to the strenuous work and gained new respect for the overall. On the other hand, I think I'll stick to elastic waisted cotton skirts, unless I'm working in something that will eat up my legs (like the fiberglass in those old roofing shingles I worked with all week).

Those shingles kept me from knitting in public during this World Wide Knit in Public week. My aunt and uncle needed a new roof and I don't climb that high. So my job was to pick up the old shingles and load them into truck beds, then unload them at the dump. No one told me about the evil, flesh-eating, human-hating ants that have swarmed over the yard since my aunt and uncle moved away to Sanford (for a job) for the last year. Who knew ants love shingles? Who knew ants hate me? Who knew there was something worse than spiders to enter my nightmares? Spiders don't come in such great numbers...

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