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Fantastic Knitters and Where to Find Them

As you venture into the wilds of the Kingdom of Fibre Arts, you will encounter many beasts. Knitters of all types descend upon Lake Local Yarn Shop to drink their fill. On the crags of Knit Night are various types, clustering together for warmth. Down in the Vale of Fibre Festival all sorts of creatures are frolicking, perhaps even spinning. But how do you identify these fantastic knitters? For rest assured, they mainly come in only a few varieties.

(I've been to Madrona Fiber Arts* in Tacoma a few times, so I've met all types!)

The Dedicated Dishcloth Diva

The dishcloth diva likes quick, utilitarian projects. She (it's usually a she) specializes in dishcloths as the ultimate in brief practicality, and it doesn't hurt that the appropriate cotton yarn is usually readily-available at a value price. She may splurge on a scarf once or twice, but prefers projects that don't readily require fit or shaping. She will boast that she never swatches. To keep her happy, introduce her to a dishcloth pattern she hasn't seen (perhaps this one: Himalayan Salt by Aimee Alexander). If you're on particularly good terms, you will get dishcloths for Christmas—enjoy!

Senora Spinsalot

She's not knitting for the sake of knitting, but somebody has to use up her yarn, and her life partner's a gardener with no interest in a new hobby. So she's taken up knitting, and mostly does blankets and scarves, the bigger the better, anything to keep that pile under control. At knitting night she's more likely to pull out her roving than her scarf, plus the portable drop spindle she always keeps with her. Be careful! She is always looking for converts to her cult. Don't look her in the eye, say "But there's already so much beautiful yarn in the world," and stand firm.

The Garrulous Gift Giver

She won't knit for herself, not anymore. Before you finish your first cup of coffee, she has completed a knitted knocker. If you drink a second, she will have its pair, plus a preemie hat, boom, done. She'll knit up anything particularly hot right now to sell at craft fairs in order to raise money for charity. Everyone she knows entrusts her with their leftover yarn, whether remnants from completed projects, frogged projects, or bits of stash sitting unused. As a result she secretly runs the world's largest Ebay yarn re-sale operation in secret from her underground lair.

The Sartorial Specialist

You meet him (it's possibly a him), and he's busily making the most gorgeous item—could be a scarf, a sweater, a hat, a waistcoat, a shawl—and it's stunning. There's an intricate cast on, cables, lace detailing, unusual shaping, Japanese seed beads have been incorporated, it's a knockout. When you meet him again, some months later, he's making it again, with different yarn. And again. And again. This is the item he knows how to make. The pattern doesn't call for slipped stitches, or k2tog, or picking up stitches, or buttonholes, so he's never learned how to make them. You can tell him you recently learned the Peruvian/Lithuanian short row method, and he will believe you.

The Tactical Technician

She's more interested in process than finished items. She's primarily a starter—if there's a intriguing new process she hasn't tried, she's game for it. Just don't expect it to hold her interest through an entire garment. She is a determined swatcher who will occasionally swatch Just For Fun because she's curious about whether a certain stitch pattern will occupy more or less ground than a similar but different pattern. She (just barely) knows how to do brioche, entrelac, double-knitting, steeking, twined knitting, modular knitting, and has experimented with every imaginable way to construct socks, whether top-down, toe-up, flat and seamed, or heel-outward. In her sleep, she dreams of inventing a new technique for knitting small circumference projects.

The Felonious Follower

She's intrigued by your current project. What's the pattern name? Who designed it? Is it available for free? Can she get a copy of the pattern? Can she take a picture of the pattern with her phone? Before you know it, she's whipped up her own version of your project, in inferior yarn, and is flaunting it across social media as if she discovered it first. By the time you get around to blocking and weaving in ends, she's been wearing it to functions for three weeks. Keep your next project secret! Mum's the word.

Jack the Ripper

Poor Jack! You've known him for years, but you've never seen a completed garment. Fronts don't fit backs, arms are uneven, Fair Isle patterns go wildly astray, and yet he gamely goes on, selecting inappropriately challenging patterns time after time. "Here's a nice garter stitch scarf," you implore, "look, you knit front and back at the end of the row, it's simple." But Jack has no time for a nice garter stitch scarf. He's ripping his Aran sweater back to the ribbing and trying again. He is the knitting equivalent of having eyes bigger than one's stomach. He's convinced he's a brilliant natural knitter, and all the patterns in the world are badly written. Also an expert mansplainer, he should primarily be left alone. On the plus side, he doesn't spend much on yarn.

The Tenacious Teacher

You've never seen a completed garment from her, either, and you suspect she doesn't actually enjoy knitting nearly as much as she enjoys telling others how to knit. Trying out a German short row? Be prepared for a lengthy exchange on why Japanese short rows are better. Perfecting your i-cord bind-off? Why would you, when you can get a more pleasing effect with a simple rolled hem? Note: often actually a teacher in real life. Like being a professional comedian or political candidate, it's hard to turn off even at social functions. Make use of her! She is the only one of your acquaintances who will fix your dropped stitches for you, provided you pretend you never learned how to do it.

The Marquess of Miniatures

If it's teensy-weensy or itsy-bitsy, it's in her repertoire. She knits flowers—flowers, for God's sake—supposedly for embellishment on a later project ... but there is no later project. Just more flowers. Or individual finger gloves. Or tiny monster stuffies. A pincushion. If it can't be cast-on, knit, bound-off, blocked, and done within forty minutes, she won't touch it. Christmas ornaments, baby booties, salt & pepper shaker cosies, iPhone covers, coasters, or fruit (for no discernible reason) keep her busy. Once she knit a sweater, you see, and six months later when the nightmare was over, she vowed "Never again," and really, can you blame her?

On the Needles

(I will mark with a ! those projects that have advanced, and !! those projects that are new to the blog.)

!!Sweater Sample (from the Sweater Workshop, on the twisted rib section)

!Cabled Viking Hat (On 1st repeat of the cabled section)

!Sophie's Universe crochet project (Round 15)

!GGN Norwegian Ski Sweater (about 12 inches into it, from the bottom)

!Persian Dreams Blanket (row 38 of the second hexagon)

!A Random Blanket (about 1/3 through)

On the backburner:

Vice Versa scarf (double knitting!) starting the fifth row of squares

Feather Duster Lace Shawl (I'm repeating, for the first time, the body section)

A Church Mouse sock (post-heel)!

World's Simplest Mittens (prior to thumb)

A Hitchhiker Scarf (started over a year ago. It's for when I'm needing mobile knitting and every other project is stuck at a complicated point. I will be in the middle forever, I guess)

Simply Ribbed Scarf (again, it's ancient, intended for emergency mobile knitting, and I'm in the middle)


*Madrona Fiber Arts Festival = an annual event held in Tacoma Washington, probably similar to other events like Vogue Knitting or Stitches West (Uncle Stashley has never been, sadly). There are classes (which sell out instantly online), mini-classes (almost instantly), book signings, banquets, demonstrations, lectures, and many, many knitters doing their thing all over the convention centre/hotel. Super fun!

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