There were so many people at the Ann Arbor Public Library on Sunday that latecomers (or those who simply wanted to sneak in a side trip to Zingerman’s, like my friend Jen and I) watched Stephanie on TV in the fourth floor conference room. On TV. The view was pretty good from what I referred to as the cheap seats, but I still turned to Jen and said “I think I’ve crossed some sort of line when I drive a couple hundred miles to watch knitting on TV.” Heh. Between the hundred or so knitters and spinners in the conference room and two hundred downstairs at the talk itself, I think a Stephanie Pearl-McPhee book signing now officially qualifies as its own traveling fiber festival, albeit one at which Stephanie is the only vendor.
I was shocked that Steph knew who I was: I guess it’s all the stalking of that sweater that shall not be named. That, and the discovery of our mutual dislike of batwing sleeves. She called me a celebrity; I should have pointed out that even on my best days I can’t get people to stand in line to talk to me, but I just laughed instead. I set aside my Midwestern reticence (the same politness that doesn’t allow me to call someone after 9 p.m., ever) to ask for a photo, which also qualifies as a Retro Rib progress picture (I’m in the middle, the only one not holding a Pearl-McPhee sock) – it’s all foot, all the time now. Jen is holding Stephanie’s other traveling sock, because you can’t take a picture without knitting in your hand if you’re with Stephanie. I’m sure both of Stephanie’s socks are done now – if I didn’t know better, I would say she and Mrs. Weasley shared the “it just knits itself” gene.
But it occurred to me – that’s the beauty of something wacky like driving a few hundred miles to watch a knitting talk on TV. All of the knitting I saw didn’t just “knit itself” – it was made by hand. Someone wanted to make it, picked up needles and yarn, and went to work. Those crazy beautiful lace shawls, the multitudes of socks, the felted bags didn’t just pop out of a shopping bag; they were made by someone who cared about making them. I don’t love yarn or patterns indiscriminately, but just thinking about how much work went into all of those finished objects makes me love all kinds of knitters just a little more. Even if they’re in love with entrelac, or batwing sleeves.