I’ve been gone a long time. Did you miss me? We’ve been working on the Community Blanket and I had so hoped to get it completely done so I could show you pictures of the whole Knitting Marathon process, including a finished product. *sigh*
So here are the highlights…
It was raining on Friday morning and we anxiously watched the radar images on the weather sites. We knew there was a possibility of a clear window between bands of rain. But we also knew we had to start knitting at noon. The rain stopped at around 11am and we headed to the park to begin setting up…only two and a half hours late. Still, we figured if we scrambled, we could still be on time.
That’s when we discovered that no one there knew how to put the walls onto the EZ-up tent. Keystone cops were never more graceful than our intrepid set up crew as we moved large sail-like piece of fabric around and around. Finally, Kristin resorted to drastic measures and read the directions. She’s clever like that, and we finally got the tent up…only three hours late. But we figured all we really needed were chairs and the blanket itself and we could start knitting.
We were placing chairs and hanging banners when the first shift of knitters showed up. They slid into their chairs and started knitting at 12:02pm on Friday, October 12, 2012 for our first ever Community Blanket 24 Hour Knitting Marathon. We kept on working around them, hanging banners, placing and plugging lights and small drawer/table things, pouring coffee, and arranging heaters. And we witnessed what would become the first common theme of the marathon. The first four knitters had never met before and had nothing that they knew of in common except that they had each independently signed up for the first shift. But, in about a minute and a half, they were laughing and trading stories like old friends. In the midst of distributing extra balls of yarn and stashing longer needles into drawers, Kristin and I looked at each other with big sloppy grins on our faces. This thing that had been just a series of ideas was actually happening and it was going to be alright. Well, actually, it was going to be better than alright; it was going to be great!
When the second shift knitters began to show up, we thought they were arriving early to watch for a while. But no! Two hours had flown by and they were on time. Then we saw what would become the second common theme for the whole marathon. The first shift didn’t want to leave. We told them their time was up and thanked them for their work. We pointed out that the next shift had come to take their places. We finally wound up gently and subtly taking the needles out of their hands and nudging them out of their chairs so the second shift could begin.
Time after time, knitters met as strangers and bonded as friends…and didn’t want to leave when their time together was finished. it turned out to be the coldest day of the season, but they came with their jackets and hand knit hats on. They brought extra fingerless mitts to share. They helped each other over the rough patches and kept each other fed. They put the most cold sensitive ones next to the heat sources and wrapped blankets around each others shoulders. They sat knee to knee with the blanket spread across their collective lap and knit and knit and knit. Through the afternoon and evening into the wee hours and towards dawn.
When things began to go wrong, as things always will, there was a solution ready to hand. We had one no-show, and there was a knitter who really didn’t want to leave who knit on through another shift. We had a knitter call to cancel for health reasons and another who wanted to come back in the middle of the night for the adventure of it. We lost electricity just at sunset, and Steve the Wonder Husband came with a generator and an extra can of gas. When the generator ran out of gas and needed to be filled and restarted, it was on the shift that the women in my family were knitting…and if ever there were women who know how to work a generator it’s my mum and my aunts. Even the small adversities were over so quickly that they just added to the richness of the experience and, as they say here in Maine, it makes a better story.
And if the good will and good cheer of the knitters was not enough, we had folks coming with their non-perisbable food items to vote for their favorite charity and we had folks stopping by to bring food and warm drinks for the knitters. Strangers dropped in to ask what we were up to who stayed to chat, and some even sat down for a minute to put in a few stitches. We even had one man who came to say his wife and he were driving by and his wife made him turn around and come to take our picture.
On Saturday morning, I had agreed to give a talk on The History of Knitting at another venue and I was racing to get back to the park in time to blow the final whistle when I ran out of gas. Don’t worry; there was extra gas in the generator can and Kristin came to my rescue while the last shift laughed at me and kept on knitting.
They finally reached their original corners and stopped knitting at 12:15 pm, Saturday October 13, 2012. Over 24 hours from the time we started. And it’s beautiful.
New Hope For Women won the non-profit voting and as we raffle the blanket all the proceeds will go to them to help women in domestic violence situations. Area Interfaith Outreach receive 216 pounds of food for their food pantry. We’ll be selling raffle tickets until the drawing on Saturday, November 24, 2012 so you can have a chance to take this blanket home with you. And we got all the knitting fun.
What an extraordinary experience. We have folks already asking to sign up for shifts on next years blanket because they are thinking that once word gets out about how much fun it was, there won’t be any slots left. And we have a community brought together by this Community Blanket and the simple act of knitting together. We had no idea what we were creating when we got the idea to do something for I Love Yarn Day. But I am firmly with the crew who are eager to sign up for next year. I can’t wait to do it again.