Knitting can be a very quiet, contemplative activity. It is often said by knitters that, “I do not knit because I am patient, I am patient because I knit.” It is so very rhythmic and calming, the perfect private time activity. One of my favorite things to do on a cold day is to curl up by the fire, listen to an audiobook, sip a cup of tea, and knit away (banking some of that knitter’s patience for my next mistake). But no knitter is an island. There is a whole world of knitters, and like the gathering of the Clans, knitters like to come together and share their accomplishments, knowledge, and love of knitting. There are knitting groups, knitting retreats, knitting events, and impromptu gatherings in knitting shops. There are virtual communities on social media and websites. There are virtual KALs (knit alongs) where participants ask questions, provide answers, and show their stuff. Even curled up by the fire alone with my knitting and cup of tea I can swap out the audiobook for a knitting podcast and poof, I am joined by another knitter.
One of the podcasts that is special to me is the Knitting Pipeline podcast. I first met podcaster and designer Paula Emons-Fuessle, aka Prairie Piper, at her spring Knitting Pipeline Retreat a couple of years ago. My friend Lynn encouraged our knitting group to go and, although I had never listened to her podcast nor was I familiar with her designs at that point, a couple of days away with knitters sounded fabulous and I was all for it. And it was fabulous. So many of the other knitters talked about this and that podcast, it was then that I discovered there were knitters serving up virtual chats at a touch of a mobile device button. When I returned home, I gave a few of them a try but the one that has stayed with me is the Prairie Piper podcast. It is like Paula is sitting in the other chair by the fire and chatting with me as I knit. But it is even better to actually sit and knit with her, so I jumped on an invitation to get together for a knitting day at a bit-of-a-drive-but-within-striking-distance yarn shop.
Paula sent out an invitation on the Prairie Piper Ravelry thread to join her and friends, Bronwyn and Sarah, for field trip to a knitting shop. Bronwyn, also a designer, and Sarah are key members of the retreats team and appear on the podcast periodically. The recently relocated Le Mouton Rouge knit shop was our host for a day of knitting and shopping. Fellow knitter Lynn joined me on our little road trip and we were surprised to see so many parking spots taken when we arrived. Two rooms full of lovely yarns welcomed us, as did a large table circled by others who had gathered for the day; some we remembered from earlier Pipeline retreats and some we were meeting for the first time. We were warmly greeted by Paula, Sarah, Bronwyn, and shop owner Kelly. A lively discussion was going on between a few knitters about whether one should pull yarn from the outside of the cake or from the center and if it was the twist of the yarn that determined “the right way” to pull it (no change in direction for me, I am still in the center pull and pray it does not tangle camp). Other discussions sprang up, some about knitting and some not. The noise level around the table climbed bit by bit, aquaintances and strangers alike were soon chatting and laughing like old friends.
I should mention that our knitting group did a field trip to Le Mouton Rouge less than two weeks ago, this time I was there for the knitting not the shopping. Those darn yarn fumes, I suspected I might succumb once again. This time I was prepared. I brought two wonderfully wild and wacky skeins of yarn that I had no idea what to do with. Thinking that if I could pair them with a tamer yarn, they might have a chance of becoming a project rather than remaining outcasts in my stash bin. I had a focused shopping mission, something to keep my eyes from straying and yielding to love at first sight.
Browsing for yarn is fun, browsing for yarn to match wildly whacky skeins was even more fun when several people joined in to help and to share their opinions. Color is such a personal thing, and we did find some colors that worked for the yarn but did not work for me. Eventually I found something for both wildly whacky skeins that got group approval. I had spied packs of Frabjous Fibers Chershire Cat mini skeins and had an Aha! moment. Finding a pack of Cheshire Cat in Jewels In a Nutshell–with colors found in my wildly whacky Miss Babs Yummy 2-ply Berlin yarn–I thought, why match for just one color when I can match six of them? Another person also had a skein of the wildly whacky Dream in Color Animal Menagerie and she was inspired to find a match for hers as well. I ended up with a russet red and she with deep tangerine orange. The best part is, even if we were to make the same pattern, our projects would look completely different; every knitter puts their personal stamp on a project and color is such a big part of that. Of course, at the time I had no idea what I was going to make other than the vague idea of some sort of shawly thing, but whatever it is, it will be different from anyone else’s.
After all the shopping, I had only manged to knit one row before it was time to leave for lunch. If anyone has ever met Paula, they know what a calm and evenly spoken person she is, there really is no tone of strident command in her voice yet in moments she effortlessly had everyone out of their seats and on their way to the restaurant. Well, everyone but us. Lynn had to finish her row and then we were further delayed when my GPS navigator, an App I call Doris, sent us on a twist and turn scenic route to our destination, the Destihl Brewery. Those two things combined made us the stragglers, but seats were waiting for us at the table.
One thing about sitting at the center of the table is the side-to-side conversations, I felt a bit like a spectator at a tennis match with my head turning from left to right and back again, but it was a great place to participate in all conversations. There were conversations about knitting of course, but there were also discussions about families, books, traveling, and all manner of general interest topics. As well as thoroughly enjoying myself, I left with a little more knowledge of knitting and a long list of interesting books to read.
Some people peeled away when lunch was over and many of us returned to Le Mouton Rouge for more knitting. Shopping completed, I sat at the table and knit and conversed with others. Paula, Bronwyn, and Sarah had to leave us, but a good sized group carried on. Not much later I finished a row, Lynn finished hers, and–saying our good-byes to the remaining knitters and our thanks to Kelly–we set out happily with our purchases in hand, our bellies full, and warm glow of contentment for our road trip home.
Friendships renewed and friendships made, we look forward to our next meeting. Hopefully it will be with the two wonderfully wild and whacky skeins liberated from stash, in and out of project bags, on and off needles, and completed by the time we do.
Having met their mates, the orphaned wildly whacky skeins are destined to escape stash exile to find their happily ever afters. Wildly whacky skein of Miss Babs Yummy 2-ply in Berlin will exit stash and be joined with Frabjulous Fibers Cheshire Cat Mini Skeins in Jewels In a Nutshell, living happily ever after as The Joker and the Thief by Melanie Berg. Wildly whacky skein of Dream in Color Smooshy in Animal Menagerie will depart stash to be joined with Dream in Color Smooshy Poma Grenade, living happily ever after as a Barndom by Stephen West.