Tuesday, January 01, 2008

1000 Knitters at Purl Diva

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.

The Purl Diva

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.

0277

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.

Maine Quartet

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.

Dr Mel

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.

Married Knitters

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.

Family o' Knitters

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.

Sashay Chantay

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.

Beach Blanket II

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.

55 comments:

tracey in mi said...

Please. Please. Use this pic of yourself for the inside (about the author)pic on the cover of the book- oh man- I'll pay FULLPRICE;)

Oh and we desperately must see baby abigail in the sweater of cuteness!

Hmmm and nice balls.. of yarn- in the turban- deary;)

Telmah said...

Congrats on the successful shoot! They all look lovely. I sure would want to knit if I lived in Maine in winter... yarn helps I bet.

Tikabelle said...

Just a note to let you know that we, the Knitters of the South Bay, are ready to accept your challenge! Come back soon!

And I second Tracy's plea to use this as your author pic. It's so... je ne sais quoi.

Anonymous said...

I was great to meet you and be a part of your project. I am glad you like the skein (made by me).

Happy 2008!
Melissa
http://flickr.com/photos/lunaspin/

quinn said...

Sorry I missed a fantastic time (from about 3 hours south). And the turban - stunning! In a good way.

I read about Phoebe on Rabbitch's blog yesterday and made a teeny donation. Dr. Mel sounds like Very Good People.

Gorgeous yarn! Can't wait to see what you do with it...

Brenda said...

Hey, I recognize some of those people! If Patti is number 266, I must be number 267. It was great to meet you and I'm glad you agreed to do the shoot. Thanks for taking time out of your family Christmas to meet some knitters of Maine (and beyond).

Meredith said...

Congratulations on what sounds and looks like a fantastic shoot! I squealed with envy when I saw that you got to meet That Laurie.

Any chance 1000 Knitters'll be coming to the DC area?

Fibra Artysta said...

If you ever come to Michigan I will be the first in line! What an awesome project!!!

Anonymous said...

Franklin, thank you so much for the sketch of Dolores and for sending her "heartfelt" sentiment. I truly wish I had been able to meet you and join in the fun. Karen (#11 @ the shoot) said she was very glad to have met such a good soul as you. I will preserve Dolores' message for posterity (frightening, that).
Denise

Marlena said...

Thanks so much for doing the Purl Diva shoot. By worrying about the number of people who might show up, however, you show that you clearly underestimated how little there is to do in winter in Maine. Your visit will sustain us through February, at least. :)

And I am not embarrassed to admit I squealed a little when I saw my picture on your post today.

Alwen said...

(What, is the Michigan meet-up in your comment section?)

I read about Dr. Mel at Rabbitch's. I guess donating is how the generous knitting community is starting the year out right.

Rachel H said...

I'm so pleased to see That Laurie in your collection of 1000 Knitters. And in her pentagon sweater too. You may not have had time to notice it on the day, but just being near That Laurie makes you a smarter knitter. I kid you not.

Need to find a way to get you up to Toronto for a shoot. Plots are being discussed.

Annash said...

Wow. Dolores must be green with envy for not being the one getting to wear The Turban.

Or did she...?

Martha, Knitter 0051 said...

The turban is MOST becoming. I will pay double price for a book in which that is the author picture.

MonicaPDX said...

Dang, yeah - you've got to use the yarn turban pic! More wonderful knitters, and even though I only know her from Stephanie's blog, I jumped for excitement when I saw That Laurie.

300 and counting? Boy, you're almost halfway! Almost. ;)

chezclutter said...

The turban is quite fetching.

knitnzu said...

Oooh, I bet Ellen would let you do a sketch of Dolores in the turban! You really should use that turbaned pic of you somehow. Isn't Ellen a hoot? I like her a lot. So glad you got the mom-son-daughter trio on your post...mom has been substitute teacher for my now 12 year old kiddo. I'm sure they'll especially appreciate the triple shot. It's not that there isn't that much to do in Maine (well, depends on what kinds of things to do you think are interesting), it's just that we're used to driving some distance to do something fun... like meet you, or hang out with Ellen. Here's hoping with everybody linking to Mel, that he gets lots of support... he sure deserves it.

mira said...

How awesome and fun that looks. Amazed at Lilith (you go Lilith!!) and wondering how she got enough sleep, that's a l-o-n-g drive.

Should you ever get a chance to come to CT...there are a couple of really cute cute LYS in the middle-northwestern edge and we could get you a lot of knitters for the project. You could stay with my family but Dolores should probably sleep in the treehouse.

With best wishes for a very happy New Year.

Lilith Parker said...

It was *so* wonderful meeting you! The drive was totally worth it. I wanted to be part of the project but didn't know when/if you'd ever be closer to CT. It was only 460 miles round-trip, anyway... I did longer day trips when I helped my sister move to college and back.

Next time we see each other, you owe me a sock puppet show. ;)

Robin said...

Hi Franklin, coming out of lurkdome here to say I love the "hat"...it's so "Carmen Miranda-ish"! LOVE IT!!

hepkitten said...

Fabulous shoot...and SUCH a great project. Please tell me there will be a chance to buy autographed copies of the ensuing book/show catalogue.

Also, I'd really like to offer some financial support for the project in the form of buying some of the 1000 Knitters swag...but, unfortunately, I'm not, thus far, in the lucky group. Any plans to make stuff appropriate for those of us who aren't 1 of the 1,000?

kt said...

Your tales of the Knitters are just so wonderful. They are mental transportation to a place full of fun and yarn and witty folk.

Please, Franklin, make plans to come to the NW in 2008! I'm leaving the desert and heading for Seattle so that I can live in a place where I can wear my own knits, and I know lots of knitters in that geographical locale who'd gladly brave rain, snow, or mud to sit and knit for you!

anne marie in philly said...

happy 2008 to you! I was wearing your dancing sheep sweatshirt at midnight 12/31 - 1/1/08am.

I second all those regarding the "author in turban" pix!

Anonymous said...

Franklin:
Hello there, you fabulous photo-man, you! What an addition to the knitting world your work is. I can't wait to see the entire collection. As the maker of Purl Diva's yarn-ball-bouffant headdress, let me say that you look smashing in it, darling, simply SMASHING!
-Lisa Daehlin

Toby Wollin said...

Got it. Ellen is REALLY Carmen Miranda reincarnated as a knit shop owner.

FiberQat said...

You look absolutely stunning m'dere. You must have that as your author pic.

It really looks like you and the tribe had a marvelous time. I'm looking forward to when you can come over to the West Coast. The Portland shop with the most space for a shoot is Abundant Yarn & Dyeworks.

Dr Mel reports that so far donations raised are over $3000. Whoa nelly!

Eileen said...

I am *so* in love with the photo of you sir in the yarn turban. As 'nother poster said, it must go on your book cover. -- gassho --

Janet said...

A most interesting blog Franklin. Thanks so much - and you have me running for the dictionary to look up eponymous.

Anonymous said...

How about setting up at the New England Textile's Spa Knit & Spin weekend Feb 22-24 in Freeport Maine? You could set up outside the massage room and get a foot massage in between shots! And I'm sure Dolores would love to join in the fun in the fashion show!!

dhi said...

(I'll just sit and wait patiently for the alternative turban shot...the one with your naked chest jutting out, Marilyn Monroe kissy-lips, and your nipples being tweaked by off-camera hands...)

Awe come on...Rabbitch would have beat me to it if she were around!

Kristen said...

Having seen you in the wig, I think I now understand what part of your psyche Dolores came from. ;)

May 2008 bring you and yours nothing but peace, joy and love!

Anonymous said...

I'm usually a PG-rated kind of commenter, but photo of you made me think of the cliche "balls of steel"...and, er, well, you know where I'm going with this don't you? LOL, not anonymous, Bev in TN

Courtney the Knitting Goddess said...

yarn turban = awesome. Dolores must be sooo envious.

Also, please bring 1000 Knitters to DC. There are a lot of knitters and great knitting shops in the MD/DC/Northern VA area!

Ween said...

I've been out of the loop lately ... have you been so So Cal yet? If not ... any plans to make it out here? I'll entice you with wonderfully warm 70+ degree weather in January!!

Sandra said...

I'm with Rachel H - please come to the Toronto area - we'll treat you right!
And I thought I recognized That Laurie form Steph's guest blogging...

The Chickengoddess said...

You look absolutely fabulous in that hat! Ever think of packing up your camera and shooting some southern knitters? It would be a nice break from the cold. Atlanta would love to have you!

Beth said...

It's been really interesting to look at all of the knitters and the way they are holding the yarn and needles. It's a completely different study rolled into the one you started.

rams said...

That Laurie!

DutchJan said...

Didn't I see you years agoin:
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert?

Roxie said...

If you come to Portland, Or, to Abundant Yarn and dyeworks, I will, in tribute to Dolores, be willing to pose nude with the scarf. Or not - if you'd rather.

Seanna Lea said...

Now I know what to do with those weird balls of yarn that are too hard to find a project for, too beautiful to knit up on their own. Yarn Turban!

knititch said...

what an enviable lot of fun you have and what an enviable big stash you will end up with eventually. so well deserved.

Tracey in mi said...

I heard a rumor about your coming to Threadbear in Michigan... could it be true?:)It's a about an hour and a half... but Threadbear is the motherland/mecca of knitterly Michigan......

Jenni said...

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness. I hear you're coming to Lansing! Oh my goodness. I hope I have the courage to come.

Grace Yaskovic said...

If you ever get in the New York City New Jersey area for a shoot I would move heaven and earth to be their and I HATE to have my photo taken, your shots are so awesome!!! I can't wait for the book

chris. said...

"The next 700 of you: get ready."

Oh, believe me, i'm ready! Now if only you'd come to Seattle....

tara said...

Just wanted to say that I think your shoot is a great idea, and the photos are amazing. Its unlikely I'll be anywhere near you anytime soon (unless we both end up at Rhinebeck next year) but I'd love to sit for you.

girljerry said...

Would you consider driving across Iowa and doing a shoot in Sioux Falls, SD or Omaha?

knittin in the mitten said...

just wanted to say, looking forward to meeting you at thread Bear in Lanisng MI

Steve

Anonymous said...

I love the sheep above the afterthought sweater for your niece! My nieces name is also Abigail. Alas she's no longer small enough to wear something this adorable.

I would love to know where Lilith of Connecticut, Knitter 0277 of 1000 knitters got her long-sleeved t-shirt. It has three knitting sheep and the words "Shut Up And Knit".

Would also love a t-shirt of Delores in the Turban.

That's a fabulous shot of you wearing the turban, you should use it for your author shot if you can get permission.

Are there plans for a coffee table book of the 1000 knitters?

Elizabeth at sheeptosweater@att.net

Eldronius said...

Franklin, that turbin is very becoming on you. You should totally wear that when you are out on the town for a special night.

All these shoots sound so exciting, when are you making it to the DFW area? haha

Prost Neujahr!

danielle said...

I dont know....I think that turban is very YOU!

noricum said...

In the "Main Quartet", upper right hand corner... is that Susan? Hi Susan!!! (If you're not Susan from NC, whoops!)

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