The second-ever Sock Summit was held in my home town of Portland, Oregon, last week, and it was the most joyful gathering of knitters I've ever seen. From flash mobs to fleeces, the convention center was overflowing with creativity and stuff. A huge marketplace showcased a world of gorgeous hand-dyed yarns from the tiniest dye company to Blue Moon Fiber Arts itself. I was introduced to MacKintosh Yarns and Black Trillium for the first time, got samples of gorgeous buttons from Lantern Moon, and made notes about several new yarns, including my favorite of the weekend—a linen-esque recycled denim from Kollage. A highlight of the summit was the final morning, when darling lambs were herded into the convention center and sheared onsite for the start of the Fleece to Foot team spinning and knitting race.
I was attending the Sock Summit for fun, but also as the excited author of a very new book, My Grandmother’s Knitting. The book features family stories, and even baby pictures, from 17 top designers. The book honors the people who made us the crafters we are today.
Looking around at the 6,000 summiteers, I figured that amounted to at least 6,000 inspiring teachers and mentors. I managed to capture the names of about a hundred of them, by asking 100 knitters to hold up signs.
It was kind of an odd request, and I’m shy, so I recruited my friend to approach those hundred people. Stevanie (of Pico AccuardiDyeworks) worked the room with a big stack of white paper and a fat black Sharpie. The assignment: Write down who taught you to knit or who inspired you. Then smile big for the camera.
So many people joined in, from the famous to the amazingly anonymous, it was impossible to get all their names. But I have recorded “on flim” the names of those who came before them, who inspired and nudged and supported them. Or in many cases, I have a smiling photo of someone who taught themselves to knit (there were lots of signs that said “Me!”)
Just a few proud knitters seen below include Clara Parkes, Emily from Portland’s Twisted yarn shop, Gryphon (of The Sanguine Gryphon), Shannon Okey of Cooperative Press with her sweet purple hair, Benjamin Levisay, designers Marnie MacLean and Star Athena, and bon vivant Franklin Habit. A highlight for me was taking Joan McGowan-Michael’s photograph with a sign honoring “her dear mom” Angelina, whose story and photograph are featured in My Grandmother’s Knitting. As I took Joan’s picture I could feel her love for her late mom. You can see her in the center of the mosaic.
All that is missing is you.
We’d love to get 1,000 knitters posting their photos on Flickr and Facebook by the time the book hits stores on September 1.
Please get out some paper and a Magic Marker and take your photo and the photos of your friends. We’d love to see your face and the name of that special person, and we’d love to know if you blog about it, Tweet it, or Facebook it. There were 6,000 knitters at the Sock Summit. There must be at least ten times that number who have a special person to honor, right? Show us!
See the project on Flickr.
And on Facebook.