Deep breath. 2008. Hold hands and leap!
I was going to begin the new year with a de rigeur post about resolutions or 2007-in-review. But no. I make (and break) resolutions on an hourly basis and there are too many parts of 2007 I don't care to contemplate this morning, even at a distance.
Much more fun to scribble about most recent 1,000 Knitters shoot, which happened December 22 at Purl Diva in Brunswick, Maine.
When Ellen Rodgers, the eponymous diva/owner, wrote to ask me about doing a shoot so close to Christmas I admit I hesitated. I loved the idea of finally working in an eastern location, but I figured that so close to a major holiday she might go to a lot of trouble only to wind up with four or five people in the shop.
However, Ellen's enthusiasm was contagious; and after having so many commenters write, "What? You went yarn shopping in Maine and you didn't go to Purl Diva?" I was feeling damned curious about her. I also wanted to see The Yarn Turban in person.
You may well have seen Ellen's turban either in her cute logo or on her Ravelry avatar, but if not, here she is in full fig.
I need not point out that a knitter who is happy to walk about thus arrayed is a knitter with whom it is impossible to have a dull time.
When I got to the shop an hour early–trailing a supportive entourage of sister, father, and brother-in-law–I was startled to find the place already packed. Ellen and Paul (her incredibly sweet boyfriend) had set up a fantastic shooting space in the shop's office complete with stool, backdrop, and a pair of studio lamps from Paul's own collection (he's an artist).
I set up as quickly as I could and started snapping, and didn't stop for three hours. In the office, I could hear quite a hum coming from the shop but had no idea how many folks were coming in until Paul brought me the startling news that by about five o'clock there were thirty people waiting.
And such people. I must introduce you to Lilith, Knitter 0277, who drove to Maine from Connecticut just to for the occasion.
I really didn't know what to say. I felt like she should have gotten more out of the deal than a two-minute chat and a couple rows of garter stitch. Perhaps I should have taken off my socks and used them to put on a puppet show for her. All she got was a hug.
And they just kept coming, all these warm people who slogged through snow and ice to grow the scarf and light up the project. I saw, as you might imagine, some perfectly gorgeous knitting. These are knitters for whom layers of wool are a necessity.
I love to imagine the day when the prints are finally hung on the wall, and I can stand in the corner and watch knitters and non-knitters stroll past. The non-knitters most likely will be struck by the range of ages and physiognomies. The knitters, on the other hand, I can see peering closely at this portrait or that and saying, "That's by Norah Gaughan, isn't it?" or "How many Clapotis have you counted so far?"
Among the first sitters of the session was somebody I'm proud to know: Dr. Mel, also known as the Saint Francis of Southern Maine.
Mel has at different times patched up both my sister's female beagle (who ate raisins and batteries) and Purl Diva's own Loki (who had a difference of opinion with a pit bull). In my family we consider him not only a fun friend, but also a sort of guardian angel. (The good doctor is presently asking for help in supporting the care of Phoebe, a dog who's been in a dreadful accident. If you don't mind having your heart broken so early in 2008, I urge you to check the story out here.)
We had lots of related knitters. Several mother-daughter pairs, pairs of sisters, a mother and her young son fresh from the ski slopes (hiya, Youssef!), and a husband and wife who stopped in on the way to dinner with the in-laws.
And we had the record broken for most knitters from one family all showing up together: James (son), Suzanne (daughter), and Dianne (mama). I was so happy that once their portraits were made I pulled them all together for a group shot.
All told, we had an astonishing 36 knitters turn out in the space of three hours, and Ellen was number 300.
She let me do this.
And then she gave me a present, which included a freaking gorgeous skein of locally spun-and-dyed yarn, "Beach Blanket II" from Loose Ends Yarn of Brunswick. Check it out.
Incidentally, one of the things I love about Purl Diva and couple of the other shops in Maine (including The Yarn Sellar in York, whose owner, Patti, is Knitter 0266) is that they keep local products on the shelves. There's nothing better than going yarn hunting when you're traveling and picking up something beautiful you'd most likely not find back home.
We capped off the evening with a restorative dinner at a fantabulous Mexican place in Brunswick, and then Paul chauffered me back to Gorham. The complete royal treatment.
Thanks, Ellen. Thanks, Paul. Thanks to all who were there that night,* all who took part in the first year of The 1,000 Knitters Project, and all who've been among the many who supported it at a distance.
The next 700 of you: get ready.
*By the way, Ellen's own delightful account of the evening is in her blog.