We’re gearing up for the 4th Annual Maine’s Fastest Knitter Race on Wednesday July 29, 2015 at the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland, Maine. Hence, we have speed knitting on the mind.
Can you imagine knitting 80, 90, 100 stitches a minute? With the increase in popularity of knitting races around the world, some knitters are polishing their needles, doing their warm up exercises and keeping training schedules. There are classes popping up with titles like Knitting For Speed and Efficiency or Need For Speed and YouTube and the blogosphere are filled with tutorials on how to use the science of ergonomics to increase your knitting speed.
There has been a good-natured rivalry between the two fastest knitters in the world, Hazel Tindell and Miriam Tegels, for at least 10 years. Hazel Tindell has been knitting for as long as she can remember. As a teen, she knit and sold Fair Isle yokes. In 2002, Tindell qualified to participate in the World’s Fastest Knitter competition. She beat out her three other competitors by stitching 255 stitches in three minutes.
Miriam Tegels always knew she was a quick knitter, and knit all through high school and continually since then. She practices her speed knitting frequently to keep her pace up, and won the record on August 26, 2006. Clocking 118 stitches in one minute, she holds the Guinness World Record for fastest knitter.
The two finally faced off in 2008 at a Minneapolis, Minnesota Knit Out event where Hazel handily beat Miriam, 262 to 243 over three minutes.
There are good reasons to learn more efficient hand positions that ease fatigue and relaxation techniques that get you to unclench your pinkies (you pinky clenchers know who you are!). We should all take an interest in our hand health, but most people knit for relaxation or as a hobby and don’t think about ergonomics or efficiency. When we invite folks to join us at the race, they usually answer with a variation on, “Oh, no. I couldn’t. I’m not fast enough. I could never win. If you had a race for the world’s slowest knitter, I would probably win that.”
So what does all this have to do with you, you ask? Well let me ask you something in return. Is there any other place in your knitting world where you can sit on a stage in front of a cheering, adoring crowd and ply your craft to thunderous applause? I thought not. Fast or slow, win or lose, the knitters on the stage at The Maine’s Fastest Knitter Race know that they are doing something special, something enviable, something admirable. Many of them come back year after year because it is fun to meet other knitter in a public place and collectively raise the profile of knitting for every one. Check out some photos from last year’s event here.
If you live locally or are visiting Rockland, you can come and watch and cheer on your favorites, but arrive early if you want a seat, as there is usually standing room only. If you are ready to compete, drop by 18 School Street or call us at the shop 207-594-6060 to reserve you seat. You can also register online here or even show up by 4 p.m. on race day to join! I promise you that even if you think you are the worlds slowest knitter (and seriously you can’t all be the slowest!) your place is on that stage with us – the swift, the proud, the elite – who know that knitting is a superpower unlike any other. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. On your mark, get set… GO!
This week’s featured yarn is Venezia Sport, by Cascade Yarns. Venezia Sport is a sport-weight blend of 70% Merino Wool, and 30% Silk. It is incredibly soft and simply lovely to wear close to the skin. It has a subtle sheen from the silk content. It’s particularly well-suited to shawls. Here in the shop, we are showing off this yarn in the Piper’s Journey shawl.
This week’s featured yarn is Captiva, from Berroco! Captiva is a worsted-weight blend of Cotton, Polyester and Acrylic. It is an elegant yarn with a bit of shine, and it’s a cool summer-appropriate choice. We’re featuring the “Sophie” sweater in Captiva as a sample at the shop!
I love the soft sheen and slinky hand of Captiva. It is not a round spun yarn, but more like a slightly plump flat ribbon. As it glides through your fingers, it turns its wider or narrower edge toward the surface and forms a slightly nubby fabric that reflects more and less light. And the colors are so rich and deeply saturated they seem to glow. Oh, I do love the finished pieces!
And now the caveats. It does not have the spring, elasticity, or sheer schproinginess (yes, I’m allowed to make up words…and so are you.) of wool. If you have been working with more lofty, scushie yarns, it will take some getting used to, but you’ll eventually find a new rhythm. It is also slippery and, even though I normally love my slick metal needles and knit for speed, I found my self wishing my stitches would stay put a tiny bit more. You might want to use wood or bamboo needles to have more control over the slidey quality.
But it is the lack of elasticity and slidiness that give pieces made with Captiva such an elegant drape without a hint of droop. I can’t wait to make my own Sophie Tee (link to the pattern below) and I’m planning a shrug for the holiday party season. Oh, and some crocheted jewelry, and a wide brimmed hat for the beach, and a skirt, and a clutch purse and…
Here are a few suggested patterns – click on the photos for links to the patterns on Ravelry.com: