Sunday, June 17, 2012

Never Say Never Again

My extreme dislove of baseball–both the sport and the act of going to see it played–is something I wrote about at length the last time I was persuaded to trot along with other knitters to see the White Sox to do their thang.

I won't sing that song again. I will take a moment to reiterate that while the American public insists it is my duty as a male citizen to love baseball, I insist it is my right as an adult citizen to not give a flying fig about it. I'm fully on board with the flag, motherhood, and apple pie; but even Ken Burns couldn't get me to regard our soi-disant national pastime with anything other than a jaundiced eye.

And yet.

And yet when I got a call from the owner of our own, dear Loopy Yarns to please put together a promotional table on the day of Chicago's Stitch 'n' Pitch event, how could I say no? Baseball has not been good to me, but knitting has. There would be 150 knitters at the park–but also a few thousand people who might be among the lapsed or the latent. How often do you get a platform like that upon which to evangelize?

Would I do it? Sure I would. For knitting, I would do it.

Happily I had an accomplice and companion for the day–my friend Abigail. I first met her when she lured me up to LaCrosse, Wisconsin, to address the town's annual fiber gathering. You don't spend a wild weekend with somebody in LaCrosse and not form a bond.

Abigail is the sort of person who will drive you to the South Side, roll your dress form across five acres of parking and up a ramp while people cat-call, and never complain even though all she gets out of the deal is free nachos and beer. She will even push the dress form down the ramp and back across the parking lot, drive you home, and continue speaking to you.

Abigail is, to borrow a slangy bit of praise from P.G. Wodehouse, a complete brick.

So we set up a table and talked to people. I brought samples of my stuff and posted a directory of Chicagoland yarn shops and guilds, as well as information about the upcoming Big Deal Yarn Events (Stitches Midwest, Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair, Yarn Con, Vogue Knitting Live! Chicago) of which we have an abundance.

At Stitch 'n' Pitch Chicago, 2012

The knitters and crocheters were all lovely, and so were most of the shop owners. (Note to the sole exception: I was advertising your shop. Free. Happily. With great spirit. On my first and only day off in weeks. And I spent my own money doing it. If you want top billing, design input, and no nasty hairy dark ethnic men mucking up your lily white women's event, you go ahead and run the table next year. Really. It's all yours, honey.)

Mostly, because they were the majority, Abigail and I talked to people who were not knitters, or crocheters, or needleworkers of any stripe. About thirty minutes into the game we realized we kept hearing the same things over and over. So to beguile the time and stave off madness, I drew up a bingo card. (If you click it, it'll get bigger.)

Stitch 'n' Pitch Chicago Bingo

By the top of the fifth inning, the drunks were starting to lurch perilously close to the lace and we decided to break camp. We had achieved bingo forty-seven times.

But I think we got a few more people into the tent.

It was worth it.


Renee Anne said...

I, too, have an immense dislike for "America's Passtime."

Okay, that's not quite correct: I have a dislike of watching baseball; I have no problem playing baseball.

With that said, I don't know if even knitting could coerce me to go to any sort of baseball event where I was not playing.

I commend you for going.

Alyson said...

Bingo is genius! Did you quote prices to anyone asking for you to make something? because that could have been like double bingo as they picked their jaws up off of the floor

KelleBelle said...

We need this at hockey games, but what hockey words work for knitting & crochet? Pucks & nupps? Stitches & stitches? (those in the work and those to bodily injuries). Goals & holes? (lace knitting).

ali said...

Franklin, Bless you for bringing the word about knitting to the ball park. As one who knits and also works for a ball team, I can assure you that you are a mensch and adorable for your efforts.

Sally said...

Aw. Franklin. Say it ain't so! Okay so maybe it's just life in STL Cardinal Nation, but listening to baseball while knitting is just life at its best. Being at the game with some not-too-taxing knitting also =s Life-Is-Good. I think it's just baseball in Chicago. Sorry.

Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts said...

I guess I'm the odd lady out here cos I love baseball but I'm a Yankees fan. And yet, I've never been to a Stitch n Pitch.

Whenever I KIP, I feel like I could still win using your bingo cards. Sorry you think my knitting is boring, I'm having a great time!

Katie K said...

Why you don't like it beats me. I'll take it over football any day.

Kat Knits said...

Oh lord, I've heard several of those while knitting in public... Although, I had a person ask me to teach her how to knit after I mentioned in casual conversation that I knit.

Anonymous said...

I am totally stealing "our soi-disant national pastime

Kristen said...

I'm for hire if you want me to rough up the "sole exception." Some people! Bravo to you for taking on this thankless task.

Leslie said...

Did you tell the shop owner to bite your hairy, ethnic, male ass? The nerve of some people, huh? Who was it that said 'any ink is good ink'? Have you ever gotten a blog comment that was all questions??

Anonymous said...

I think you should post the name of the "sole exception" so everyone could boo hiss at him/her and perhaps not frequent the shop so frequently.

- Virginia (from college :) )

Luneray said...

The bingo card was great! Here's my contribution to the second bingo card: "You know you can buy socks..."

Jamie Wang said...

I have been a fan of yours for years, and follower of your blog less time (mostly because I tend to be slow to the "hot" stuff). totally had me (for life, no less) when you quoted PG Wodehouse.

My best friend and I read EVERY one of his books in high school, and she decided to get a Kindle (even though she reads constantly, as do I) JUST because his books are free on it.

I am, once again, a fan for life.

EmEm said...

You are a saint for your time at an event that you hate. I am sorry you had to deal with ungrateful and rude people (both the "sole exception" and anyone who cannot see the beauty in a knitters creativity). I agree that the BINGO game was great.

EmEm said...

P.S. Carlton "Pudge" Fisk was an 11 time All-Star catcher for the Red Sox and then the White Sox's, but I doubt he knew how to knit.

Melinda said...

Blessings upon you oh knitting evangelist! Crowns in heaven are waiting for you!!! (or wherever the hell we end up...won't it be interesting?) Knit on!

Anna said...

I too, dislike baseball (although playing it in the backyard with my grandfather when I was a kid was fun when I managed to hit the ball over the roof multiple times). In recent memory, when I said to fellow committee members, while scheduling a meeting and arguing about times that wouldn't conflict with a Canucks game, that "It's just a hockey game," I was looked at as if I'd just run through a church service stark naked. I'd much rather be a knitting group, arguing about books.

Joan said...

As an expat it always amuses me how attached the English husband and two kids have become to the yearly pilgrimage to the ballpark. Probably because we would go en masse with cousins, aunts and uncles. The show is in the bleachers, Franklin!

toni in florida said...

I wish I could have been there, not for the baseball either. Alas, I live in Florida and that's that. Thank you for your support and excellent PR for our favorite fiber crafts, sir. (And Abigail, too!) And to the asshat store owner (not to imply they sell asshats in the store), grow the frak up!

Betsy said...

Jamie W.---you had to tell me that, didn't you??? Guess there's a Kindle in my one time I owned three quarters of all the books...being spreading ahem, the word and am now down to a few with worn out bindings and falling pages...

I love baseball...and listening to radio (thank you MLB Audio) and knitting is most excellent!

Prima donna shop owners...are to be avoided like the plague...this includes spending $$$ at their shops...

Anonymous said...

Love the bingo card!
Pity you don't like baseball. It's the perfect sport to watch while knitting. My husband wasn't a fan either until he married me.

Syd said...

I am impressed...could not do a baseball game even if the beer and fries were free....might it they offered free cashmere.

Anonymous said...

I love the bingo card. I snorted out my coffee when I read it!

Karen in MN

ps -- see you this weekend at Fiber and Folk?

Anonymous said...

Wow, Franklin, we knew you were the man, but now you have all the more street cred. If you wanted it.

Dragonstar said...

Very, very noble of you, not to mention self-sacrificing. I LOVE your bingo card!!!

Anonymous said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE your bingo card!!!

Red said...

As another poster said, the show is in the bleachers! This post made me think of the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast from NPR. Two of the casters are not baseball fans but enjoyed going to a game, because there is *beer* there. And when it was Gay Day at the game, it was like a big party.

And on a related note, I'm so sorry that "Homophobia, Assorted" was a square on the bingo card.

Kate Richbourg said...

This lilly white gal likes her yarn shops populated with hairy ethnic men.

Toni said...

I laughed when I saw your reference to Rosie Greer - my niece's husband had no idea who that was when I mentioned him awhile back.

Peppermint Mocha Mama said...

You are nothing if not a good sport.

Seanna Lea said...

Buzzword bingo is great for big meetings too, though way less knitter focus!

geogrrl said...

A knitter in my group in Baton Rouge remembers Rosie Greer mowing their lawn when he was a young teen. She said he was enormous even then.

If you did the same thing at a hockey event, you could mention (or will have mentioned) Jacques Plante. I like this exerpt from one of his biographies:

"Years later, when his hockey career had taken him away from his impoverished beginnings, many teammates as well as members of the press were taken aback by Plante's habit of knitting his own undershirts, socks, toques, and scarves. But he would always speak with pride of his ability to knit a pair of socks in a day and a toque in a mere three and a half hours. Throughout his life, Plante used knitting as a form of relaxation, oblivious to the reaction of those around him; this was his way to unwind after being the target of onrushing pucks. However, typical of the man, there was also a practical side to his needlework.

"I can't get what I want in the stores," Plante explained of his choice in undergarments, "so I knit [them]. I use four-ply wool. They must not be too warm. I use larger needles because small ones produce a thicker weaving and the holes are too small."

Lizz said...

When is Yarn Con? The website has last years information up. Or is this some secret club that only Midwesterns know about, and you consciously don't tell us East-Coasters? ...East Coasters makes me sound like I live under a coffee cup...

Pam Sykes (aka Pretty Knitty) said...

I spent approximately 12 summers crocheting and knitting at the ball field, while watching my son play baseball. I also spent about 14 springs, summers and winters doing the same in the bleachers, in the gym, and while following cross country races, while both of my kids played the various sports of the is the only one I learned to love. I suspect it's because the other moms at the baseball games (and sisters and grandmas, and even my daughter) showed some interest, and some of them even eventually let me teach them a thing or two. They labelled me a knitting evangelist, and warned the new moms that they would soon be sucked in to the madness if they sat too close. Those were my glory days!

Oh, and I love the BINGO card...I wish I had thought of that about 16 years ago!

Leigh said...

You're a saint for even going to one of those BORING events. Can't stand the sport. That said, I knit while listening to golf (husband's choice, not mine) so really, I have no high ground.

BINGO - hilarious. Disturbing.

Katie T. said...

Hi, Franklin!

Long-time lurker, 2nd-time commenter!

Good for you for being such a good sport about working the table at the Stitch n Pitch! I think sitting at the table with you would've been MUCH more fun that watching the game. (Baseball? Meh! If I'm going to watch a sport it'll be rugby!) And I love the Bingo card, though the "homophobia" square is both depressing and not surprising.

Also, count me as one who would love to know which shop is owned by such a horrible and stupid person. I don't have much of a knitting budget, so I try to be mindful of where I spend my money. And I'd rather not spend it at a shop owned by a narrow-minded idiot. I realize that you've said as much about the shop as you're willing to in such a public forum, but I may have to ask if I ever meet you in person. :-)

Canadian gal said...

Ah, geez, Franklin. Homophobia, assorted or ill-assorted; that's just crappy.
If there were knitting tables run by you and Abigail at every baseball game, I'd be a fan of baseball for sure.

Anonymous, too said...

When I was a young lad, the Sox gave free tickets to kids who had perfect attendance and/or got straight A's. I got lots of those tickets. The only way my dad could convince me to go to the games was to slip me some beer when the vendor wasn't looking.

And that sole exception --

a.) deserves to have her stock infested with clothes moths and silverfish; and

b.) was jealous you were wearing the only fur approved by PETA.

Diane said...

Not a fan of baseball, either, but will admit that work-paid-for attendance at a game offered up some premium knitting time.

As far as that sole exception, definitely, she gets to man the booth next year!

kathy b said...

Oh make me laugh and I'm grateful really. BINGO is hysterical > You need to make and sell a tshirt with all the boxes filled in. I'll buy

Eileen said...

I LOVE baseball. My husband hates it (but memorizes names & such to keep baseball lovers he interacts with in the working day happy). Oddish.

The Bingo card is genius. I really think you should make up a set of them and sell them at fiber events. Copyright them...I'd buy one!

And you should have sent Dolores after the nasty little shop owner...or is she banned from the ballpark? (Dolores, I mean...though I'd much rather meet her than the little darling you described to us.)

Anonymous said...

Whaddya mean, Apologetic crocheter?!

Anonymous said...

I admire you. I totally, totally do. And I hope that the unappreciative yarn shop owner person gets moths in her yarn....

Pamela said...

LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT! I am taking this to our next Sit N Knit. At Great Lakes, our group did a scavenger hunt. At Mid-Ohio, we can do Bingo.

I know we'll have to change some (most) of the blocks, but it is doable! Thanks for a great idea.

PS. Be glad you have Stitch N Pitch. No one in SW Ohio (Reds, Dragons, etc.) has it.

Alwen said...


We have a bingo card for lace group demos - it has squares like "My grama/great aunt/mother used to tat" and "I would never have the patience".


Diane E. said...

The "highlight" of the last baseball game I attended was the hot dog vendor - Charlie Frank (yes that was his name). When he got down to the last few weenies in his hot dog box he wore around his neck, he'd shout "Doggie O, Ho Ho" then break out into his song "I have three little dogs who have lost their way, baa, baa, BAAA!" Until he was sold out. Then he'd go back inside, load up his weiner box again and repeat the above. It was a long night...

Emily and Laura said...

The bingo card is SO perfect! I have heard every single one (except those directed to males or homophobic comments since I'm a straight female) at some time or other. I just quoted a guy a starting price of $280 for a pair of hand-knit socks last weekend, in fact. He nearly choked. It was fun. :)

I do have one question, though -- when, oh when, is the Iceland Sky shawl pattern going to be released? I ADORE that pattern; I have been waiting anxiously for you to release it since I even found a source of Lopi Einband yarn here in the US! Please update us on this gorgeous pattern, of fabulous hairy male ethnic knitter extraordinaire?

PleaseLouise said...

The Bingo card is just priceless! Thanks for making me laugh today!

LindaV said...

I'm cracking up at all but the "assorted homophobia." Sigh. At least you are able to find humor in it. Rock on, Franklin!

We used to play "A-hole Bingo" in law school. The cards had student's names. When someone made a particularly inane or brown-nosey comment in class you put an X over their square. When you won, you had to raise your hand and work the word "bingo" into your comment. Being as there was no shortage of A-holes in such a place, it made for some very interesting class discussions.

SallyT said...

Franklin, you make my day.

Meg C said...

Franklin, you're a comic genius. Bingo seems to be a leitmotif for you. Remember the French travellers who were prodding suspiciously at their airport food? You observed them for us, and wrote you were surprised they hadn't mentioned liver failure. When they did, you wrote something like "They just said it! I feel like shouting 'Bingo'!"

I'm with you on baseball. God Help Me.

Jen Vancalcar of Holiday Yarns tells very stories about the time when she had a storefront, as well as her on-line business. She got mall-walkers coming in (the shop was in a strip mall). Mostly older women, they would keep her busy with their stories of a mother, grandmother, or aunt who knitted. When she would ask if they knitted, also,they would say "oh no!", as if the idea were too bizarre for words. Very funny.

Courage! Please keep the blog coming. You have no idea how much I rely on it.

LeighBLou said...

Wasn't it Bette Davis who said, "What a bitch!"? You should have scratched her info off all the flyers after that if she was going to bitch about free promotion.

Also, "Homophobia, assorted" made me laugh, but it's sad that it's still so prevalent it warranted its own bingo square.

Ann-Marie said...

I hate baseball, but I'd go knit in the stands because the game is so boring (to me). I love hockey, and I'd never knit in the stands or even watching at home because I get far too excited and I'd spend too much time ripping it all out later.

Bless you and your patience, and I do hope that Madam LilywhiteKnits is properly identified and made to understand the error of her ways. Stupidity should be painful to the practitioner, not just the people around them.

Kimberly said...

You are a doll for doing all of that and the BINGO card was hilarious. I'm going to make one for the next time my group goes to WWKIP.

As for the one exception to the nice shop owners - for the love of the wool, man, don't let her near it!

Kristen Rettig said...

I would just LOVE to run into your booth when I am dragged to a ball game. Always with my knitting, we could have shared!

Benita said...

I showed your Bingo game to my husband, and he said the next comic book convention we do, we are going to make a similar one - scary, a lot of the squares would be the same as yours. Although instead of "My grandmother does that" it'll be "My son draw, too!" Sigh... Happy playing!!!

Laura McNeal said...

This is exactly what book festivals are like for writers. Except for the dress form. Maybe I will take one of those with me next time along with your bingo card? Love what you write and what you knit (and also, to be totally honest, baseball). That's what makes you great: that even people who don't agree with everything you say fall in love with you.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm...going to a baseball game on the 4th...certainly the food is an is the hairy male of Middle Eastern extraction that invited me

Canadian gal said...

Franklin, I wish you would post more often. Or at least put those posts together into a book or something.
What has Dolores been up to lately? Surely she hasn't gone all sweet and cuddly on you?

RoianaB said...

Dear Franklin, your a true knitting hero for taking your time to promote in a venue not to your liking - love ya for it. Also, sorry you had to put up with the sourpuss shop owner - I swear there is one in every city, it certainly wasn't because of you.

Hoping to eventually catch one of your classes, until I do, I will just keep stalking you here ;)

Lisa said...

"Homophobia, Assorted."

Gracious. How dreary.

Anonymous said...

I, too, was left out of the great enthusiasm until a friend mentioned that baseball was the only sport not based on war...which allowed me to be indifferent and not actively unamerican/dislike the hot, smelly, sweaty sing-a-longs held in stadiums. And now, you even speak baseball [top of the fifth inning?!? wow.] Bingo is great fun -- and impressive. NOBODY asked where the bathrooms were????

Marge Loch-Wouters said...

Yes, Abigail IS a brick! We miss her terribly here in La Crosse but she's a big-city womean so we are happy she is in your neck of the woods!

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Agen Ibcbet said...

Why you don't like it beats me. I'll take it over football any day.

Anonymous said...

I am a huge baseball fan but I do understand those that do not like baseball!

I have had the opportunity to sit with Rosie Grier while he was knitting a beautiful piece of lace. Those huge hands just flew!! Unfortunately, it was before I started knitting & crocheting but at least I appreciated what he was doing.

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angel Williams said...

Beautiful pictures. Credit to the author for publishing them all in one place.


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