Objects of Inspiration
A bewildering conglomeration of knitted pieces (many from the needles of Meg and Elizabeth) filled one long wall of the classroom. I spent a lot of time rummaging around and turned up several pieces I'd seen before in photographs or on video. It was like running into old friends.
This is perhaps a fifth of what was on display. And according Amy Detjen, there was more piled up under the tables that I never got to.
For Jean Miles: Elizabeth's original rib warmer.
A watch cap, "art socks," and yet more sweaters.
Elizabeth's famous Aspen Sweater. I tried it on.
One of several Baby Surprise Jackets.
The teaching staff was nonpareil. We had the pleasure of learning from:
Joyce Williams, a gigantic amount of knitting know-how ensconced in a quite tiny person. The sweater she's holding is an example of Armenian Knitting, one of the techniques we covered. Joyce will be forever in my heart as the woman to whom I lost my steek virginity. She sat next to me and coaxed me through the whole process from crocheting to cutting.
Amy Detjen, who in spite of her breathtaking command of yarn and needles remains gratifyingly down-to-earth. I confess to having been very shy around her, which meant I didn't talk to her as much as I would have liked. I was in awe.
And of course, Meg. You remember Pa Ingalls describing Ma Ingalls in the Little House on the Prairie books as "Wise as a serpent, gentle as a dove"? That's Meg. Except she's also funny as hell.
My longstanding schoolboy crush on Judi Dench has now been transferred to Meg. Judi, you're a fantastic actress and we'll always have Paris, but Meg knits.
My Fellow Campers
Knitters, they're good people. This group took knitting seriously, but not themselves. This became evident during one lesson when the whole crowd spontaneously burst forth in song:
Knitting Camp is one week long,And then the lesson resumed as though nothing had happened.
Knitting Camp is one week long,
Going to knit all night,
Going to knit all day.
Spent all our money on the lace-weight yarn,
Oh, doo-dah day.
We sat at long tables and I had the pleasure of sitting across from:
Charlotte and Luz, who were both very nice to the New Boy. They didn't try to short-sheet my bunk or anything.
At each day's show-and-tell session, what might have been an exercise in vanity was instead a parade of top-flight workmanship.
A small sampling:
My girl Martha not merely showing her splendid stuff, but holding the swatch she made to get the fine details just right.
My bud Carol Shirley absolutely working the floor. Sashay, chantay.
Carol Shirley and Maureen in matching Fair Isles.
And the charming Pat, who apparently doesn't find modern life challenging enough as it is, displaying her method of knitting socks on two circulars. Four at a time.
There was lace all over the damn place. It was common as stockinette.
Fellow Chicagolander Cathy.
Nancy, in a cuddly summer shawl and one of my Worldwide Knit in Public Day shirts.
Maureen, who let me hang around her even though I kept drooling all over her work.
Shawn and her awe-inspiring wedding shawl. Is that a symbol of committment or what?
Lace-in-progress. Maureen helps Kate block her elegant Violets By the River shawl, done in Koigu.
I was so impressed by all the lace that I asked the lace knitters to sit for a group portrait, and they graciously agreed.
A beautiful group of women if I ever saw one.
You Knit What?
Of course, not everything the knitters showed was Serious Work.
The ladies who took me into their little group had quite surprise for us, in progress since the end of last year's session. May I present: Meg Swansen's Knitted Camp.
Here's the full site set up on Meg's table. The banner is double knitting. The tent has a steeked front opening, and inside is a two-color sleeping bag (also steeked) that's also a swatch for Meg's Baby Russian Prime sweater.
Ready for a closer look? Hang on tight.
They knit the campfire. And the marshmallows.
I'm not sure which of Barbie's friends this is, but I seem to recall that what she's knitting is the start of an Aran cable.
Another camper, wearing one sock while knitting its mate. Note the (wool) daiquiri and tin of needles in handy proximity.
"Dude...knitting fucking rocks," says Ken.
The perpetrators, L-R: Lynn (kneeling), Kate (behind), Carol Shirley, Maureen, and Martha.
When Meg came in from lunch and found what was waiting for her, she lit up like a Christmas tree. Apparently prior to this she had never handled, much less owned, a Barbie doll.
And then somebody pointed out there were three campers and one sleeping bag. The French have a word for that, don't they?
Say Not Goodbye, But Au Revoir
It was all over far too quickly. We'd only just arrived, and suddenly our teachers were standing up for a much-deserved ovation.
There was time for one last conga.
And before leaving I felt compelled to make my intentions clear on the dry-erase board in the classroom.