If you’re Rhinebeck-bound, we would love to see you at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night–details here.

The Beginning of a Circle

Dear Kay,
Well, I’ve gone and done the unthinkable. I’ve joined a nonvirtual, real-life knitting group.
Helped start one, actually–it’s a group of women who go to my church. It all started a few months ago when a mother of triplets suggested that the women of our church start a listserv. Before you know it, people were setting up walking groups, talking about sex education, and generally feeling all connected and cozy. It was only a matter of time before a knitter, the effervescent Judy (who is the sort of person who makes you want to give her a sweater), pointed out the obvious fact that what this group needed was a knitting circle.
Until Judy and I got together to cook up the details of the knitting group, I didn’t know what kind of knitter Judy is: a ferocious one. It turns out that she, who lives a block away from me, has a stash that resembles a New York City yarn shop. Chenille, boucle, eyelash, superfuzz, chunkywunky, all sorted by color. The ponchos coming out of that woman’s soul! I had no idea. We talked about knitting for four hours.
The first meetup was last Friday. We added at least four new knitters to the fold, and I even had the rare opportunity to teach one of our priests, the Ultra Reverend Anne, how to cast on. It wasn’t exactly a faith-based initiative. But it was clear that Anne had SOME kind of outside help, because she had that row of stitches done faster than I could fetch a piece of coffee cake.
On Sunday morning, as I stood in line waiting for my coffee, one fellow knitter reported the trapezoidalization of her scarf–“It went from eleven stitches to nineteen just like that.” Another told me that she’d already cranked a foot of scarf, ripped it out because it had developed a mysterious buttonhole-like deal in the middle, and redid it. A third told me that she had a moment in traffic where she asked herself, “Do I have time to knit here?”
People I have seen for years suddenly speak a language that I thought was from my own little weird world. I can hardly describe how disorienting, and pleasant, it is.
What I wish is this: that everybody we know online could hang out the way this knitting group did last Friday. That social thing–to talk while knitting, to sit there and not say a word while somebody else lets fly some outrageous tale, to see someone’s face as she tells the sad story–that’s the only thing we can’t quite capture through our computers. OK, that and the ability to pass yarn via email.
That said, there is in the online world of knitting plenty of room for a wacked-out obsessiveness that makes it possible to talk about, um, mattress stitch until we have thoroughly talked about it. I’m not at all sure my new knitting friends could stand it. Yet.
I guess that’s why it’s so remarkable when online friends actually do get together. I see Stephanie’s sew-up party and that houseful of women, up there in Toronto, a thousand miles away, sewing up afghans, and I’m trying to figure out what everybody looks like. (“That’s AARA!”) I see in one of the afghans my crummy log cabin square (See it? Second row, fifth square), and I just laugh and laugh. To think that a virtual world can turn into a loud, splendid afternoon in a newly painted house, well. How great is that?
PS As of this writing, the AnnCam is lying belly up on my desk, lens hideously and permanently extended, croaked out with the dire words SYSTEM ERROR on its screen. To meet the picture requirements set forth in the Mason-Dixon Knitting Rules of Composition, here are some tender memories from your trip to Nashville:
Fully caffeinated, ready to go.
You try and try, but you just can’t get away from the log cabins.
Weirdo collection of buttons stitched to Revolutionary-era paper plates.
Part of the Grundy County Parade of Shacks.




  1. I know just what you mean. I knit in a vacuum until last year when I started working at the Knit Cafe in LA. It’s great to have community, both virtual and real.

  2. Note to self: MUST KNIT A BI-POLAR LOG CABIN. Black/charcoal/depths of despair on one side of each immense block; zippity-do-dah on the other. Somehow your photos of the Tailgate Antiques Show make it seem like a downright curatorial, juried affair. In real life, it’s the Tailspin Antiques Show. A blur of whatthehellizTHAT.
    It’ll be fun seeing what pictures you can pull out of the Ann Archives between now and when you get your camera fixed. Personally I’d like to see more of the Parade of Shacks. You can’t find good shacks just by randomly driving around anymore. They’ve all been gussied up and vinyl-sided and brickfaced. Grundy County has Destination Shacks. I especially like the Grundy County windows that one can just step out of. Why are windows so HIGH nowadays, I wonder? And what excellent, what is the term for it–oh yeah, ROT–what excellent rot on the bottom of those clapboards. The real deal. Please Do Not Disturb The Rot.
    Could you please take more ultra-close-ups of me?
    xoxox Kay

  3. I started a knitting group in Lille with Bulle, in September I think, and we’ve been meeting weekly ever since. It’s the opportunity to share tips, techniques, show each other books, tell each other how fab a piece of work looks, in other words: GREAT STUFF! I aslo took part in two of the Paris-Tricot sessions oragnised by Marie and it’s good to put faces on the names of the blogs you read every day.
    Hope your knitting circle brings you the same satisfaction.

  4. Kay? Did you read that? That’s all I’m sayin’.

  5. Ann, why did you show my house???

  6. ann… knitting “bees” are all the rage….and warm and fuzzy, too….what diversity in yarns, projects, topics, and PEOPLE!… knitters here are going crazy with doggie sweaters for the household pooch of any dimension… and “pon-chettes”, the smaller, trendier version of the more mature poncho… you know, for those CA. sub zero nights….huh?

  7. Hey, Ann, love the Love Shack parade… I just got a mailer from an honest-to-god professional photo house, and it had shacks, but yours is better. So there.
    And talk about knitting groups: last Saturday my LYS (Wool & Company in Geneva, IL) hosted the funnest thing I have been to in years–a YarnOver or YawnOver, depending on who you ask. A slumber party for knitting grownups. I’m not much of a group person, but after a lovely birthday dinner my two sisters took me to this. It was SO MUCH FUN. Started at 9:00 PM, a dozen or so people, lots of good snacks, and lots of knitting and talking about knitting and show-and-tell-your-knitting and shopping for yarn and as far as I could tell no one slept. I made it till about 2:30, and I heard later a few diehards went till dawn. What a concept! What fun! And the sense of community, being with fun, smart people as nutty as I am about this stuff–it was great. I’m thinking I need a regular-ish group.
    Kay, that poncho is v. cute. J told me she MIGHT wear a poncho from the store, but didn’t want a “homemade” one. Lord, that child is stubborn. Where does she get that from, couldn’t be ME…

  8. I’m just still laughing at Kay’s comments. Too funny, and I’m just lovin’ it up here in frigid Vermont. Bad roads up here today, bad roads.

  9. I finally joined the informal Wednesday morning quilt group in my neighborhood (thank God for preschool!) and I’m afraid I corrupted them. I had to finish something (sock, scarf, poncho??) for one of my kids so I brought it to quilting. The hostess for that week immediately pulled out a couple of her gorgeous sweaters to show me and started asking questions about my felted market bag (thanks Polly!). Next thing you know, she’s put down her wallhanging project and pulled out a sock to work on. The following week, one of the other gals brought a fuzzy scarf to work on. I’ve also got my girl scouts (I’m co-leader of a group of 9 7th and 8th grade girls, including my middle daughter) bringing their knitting to me at the hockey rink during games (“I think I did something weird on this row” or “look what I made!”). I think one of the hockey dads is even ready to take up the needles again. It’s a wonderful thing.

  10. Hiya from the square next door! (2nd row, #6)
    Thanks for the links to Stephanie’s sew-up photos. What a kick to see all the squares finding their homes in some *gorgeous* afghans!

  11. Ann, this story is almost enough to make me resume my churchgoing ways. (Although I have trouble picturing any of the women at my church knitting away in cheery wool-induced bonhomie…maybe that is part of the problem?) But I’m happy for you, in a thoroughly jealous, oh-yeah-Ann-is-the-woman-who-gets-to-go-strawberry-picking-too, kind of way.


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