Now in its fourth year, World Wide Knit in Public Day was more well known and international then ever before. With a record 783 recorded KIPs on the official WWKIP Day website, the day spanned the globe with knitters and crocheters out in force, doing what they do best, knitting and crocheting.
To best capture the diverse events, locations and experiences, this reporter sought out the expertise of those in the trenches: WWKIP Ravelers themselves. The following is what they had to report from their neck of the woods.
BlondieZX hails from Houston, Texas, United States: Under a sunny skylight on a hot Houston afternoon, 81 fiber artists of all ages and backgrounds gathered together for the sake of carrying on the tradition of World Wide Knit in Public Day. Their meeting place was an aging shopping mall, quite crowded on this second Saturday in June, and full of spectators undoubtedly curious as to what all the commotion was about.
Why knit in public? “Why not?” seemed to be the attitude of most of the knitters encountered in air-conditioned comfort on this steamy summer day. Most Ravelers, when asked, revealed that they had 1) no reservations about knitting just about anywhere, 2) had strong preferences as to exactly what types of projects they preferred to work on in public venues, and 3) had varied opinions as to where and when knitting in public is considered acceptable.
In an effort to learn how often these knitters did so in public, in addition to the places they deemed appropriate for knitting, an unscientific poll was taken:
chefmeggle stated that she normally knits with a group of friends at Borders every two weeks, and that she prefers to take small items, like socks. She avoids bringing complicated projects that require considerable concentration. quiltdeb, however, claims to have knit in public on only three other occasions, and doesn’t think it proper to knit in restaurants. On the other hand, garnetgirl said that she has taken her knitting along with her “everywhere,” over the past 15 years, long before knitting became “trendy,” When asked, she replied that she couldn’t think of a place where it might be inappropriate to knit., especially if the work was small and accomplished discreetly.
Other knitters disagreed with this perspective, lanoue81 refusing to knit at weddings or funerals, while MagdaBiroshak doesn’t believe knitting should be taken either to church or to work, although others deemed church to be a perfectly acceptable place to knit, especially if the project was a small one. None of these Ravelers had ever been criticized for knitting in public, although some said they received perplexed looks on occasion. Others considered public knitting to be the perfect icebreaker, seeing as onlookers become curious and will often comment on or ask questions about the knitter’s work. mrsdolittle must get lots of attention, as she travels, not with needles or hook, but with one of her many looms!The general consensus among the Houston Ravelers seemed to be that knitting is the perfect way to pass the time when traveling, waiting in line, in restaurants and yes, even in church. Some also see it as a wonderful way to meet people, and enjoy sharing their happy hobby with curious onlookers. Others see themselves as carrying on an ancient tradition that is valuable and merits attention. Whatever their reasons for knitting in public, it was obvious from the smiles and laughter of the participants that the event was a rousing success.
Editor’s note: The second Houston picture represents this event’s youngest knitter!
Now from Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada, frenchette: The island was buzzing for the last week in anticipation of WWKIP Day. I had posted an article in our local paper that comes out once a month, and that got the interest going. Our small Island in the Georgia Straight has about 800 permanent residents, so word of mouth got out pretty fast after that. On Saturday June 14th, we gathered at 2:30 pm under the plum tree in the center of our Co-op Ringside Market, the weather was chill, but the spirit was warm.
We were 22 strong, which makes it 3.7% of our population, a pretty good turn out. Our age range went from 20s to 80s, most of us friends for more than 30 years, and a couple of visitors from Australia, Caro and Catherine, that just happened to be here with their knitting. Some came for the weekend especially to be with us, like Mary and Maureen. People wanted to know more about WWKIP Day and how I found out about it. That’s when the Ravelry discussion took off. Bethany started to explain how wonderful a community it is, and how we get to share, including this wonderful day. She also mentioned that she always knit by herself and that it was the first time she got to do it with other knitters.
At that point, I decided to keep a pictorial record of all our hands at work. Doris tatted, Helen ran home to get her knitting, Deb was stuck at work across the way and had a great sign under her window (see pictures on Flickr). Shelley showed off her latest cashmere shawl in progress, Serena shared her 68th birthday with us, including a cake that Anne had brought on her bike! Donna joined us during her coffee break, Vicky knitted standing up as she was on duty at the bookstore, Muriel was cold so I wrapped her up in my shawl and Marilyn wants to do it every week! Christa was experimenting with knitting leather, Sabina wanted advice on a sweater she is making right now with wool from Cedar who was knitting in public at the library, we missed her. Jopie joined in for an hour, did I mentioned that it was chilly?, Jean brought all her socks, Louise too, and so did Suzel.
Laura and Jessica casted on right there. Geela who I convinced to join a few months ago, came for the day from Vancouver Island and just sent me a message that pretty much explains it all: “Thanks again for organizing the WWKIP today. It was inspirational and a lot of fun to see all the different projects that people were working on. The yarns are all so beautiful, how could you not be inspired?”.
Thanks to WWKIP Day, we are now going to meet every other Sunday in July and August, under the plum tree at 11am starting July 6th. Wouldn’t be surprised if Ravelry gets another onslaught of requests to join.
ideltoa was in San Juan, Puerto Rico: At the WWKIP at the Museo de las Americas I hosted from 10 am – 4 pm just 1 person showed up (and she was Raveler acv2) So thanks and cheers to her for not letting me all alone at the exhibition hall I was “stucked” (I had to work! but I crocheted all day.) Like always here in Puerto Rico (PR), people stare at you like if you are an alien, pecially when you are making things that normally grandmas will do.
At the other event I held (at Plaza las Americas), just two peole came (none of them Ravelers, but from Facebook). Too bad. I wanted to make other people interested and to ask more. I hope that for next year we will have a better show.
Editor’s note: Picture on left is of the San Juan, Puerto Rico WWKIP event.
kathleenalice, from Manchester, United Kingdom, reports: Wow, yesterday went better than I could’ve hoped. About 30 people dropped by in the end. Many new friends were made and many cakes eaten! We were mostly ladies, but one lovely gent visited us and we even had a knitting bear called Alice.
Among the lovely things on our collective needles were a few socks, a DS cosy, a couple of jumpers, a baby hat, a tube top and a bag. There was a communal scarf which was passed around, with each person doing a few rows in their choice of colour.
We were right by the “posh” shops, so there were one or two fashionistas who looked on in horror (although some of them were wearing truly vile shoes, so we returned the look), but there were just as many people passing us looking very interested, and some who even agreed to knit up a couple of squares for the oxfam charity blanket drive.
The majority of us were Ravelers, and those who weren’t were persuaded to join up. There were one or two impassioned rants about the wonders of the pattern database! Audreym has posted a few pics here.
rainghirl represents Hebden Bridge, United Kingdom: We had quite a small group knitting in public in Hebden Bridge, all from Ravelry. I was hoping that a few might turn up from the local knitting group, but they didn’t. We met outside the Shoulder of Mutton pub in St George’s Square with knitting and some spare needles and yarn incase anyone wanted to join us. Sadly I hadn’t had time to make a sign to advertise what we were doing, but then I wasn’t sure if anyone would turn up!
The people who did turn up were Fluzzlewett, Freyalyn, Sarahbelle, CarolL and her husband Peter who also knits and spins, Spinningmaid, and Halucygenia (I think that’s everyone). We were also joined, briefly, by my partner Neil who just came for a beer and Freyalyn’s husband came and joined us after walking the dogs. We offered to teach Neil to knit, but he politely declined, as did my friend Brian the Electrician who stopped by for a chat and said that last time he tried to knit it was a disaster.
Although we sat knitting in sun and showers for about three hours (as well as a stint inside when the rain got a bit heavy at one point), no one came over to ask what we were doing. A lot of people had a good look. The highlight of the day for spinningmaid was when a guy came into the pub in a Borat swimming costume in fluorescent green! Must have been a stag do. We though she was going to twang his straps, but she resisted. Sarahbelle took the opportunity of being child and partner free to indulge in a Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger beer and lime) on top of several JD and cokes and was feeling a bit tipsy by the end. Luckily we decamped over to the LYS and a few of us made some purchases before it closed and before she could drink anymore.
We had a good time, and it was nice to meet other people locally who knit and spin, especially as I only moved to Hebden Bridge recently from Sheffield. We’re looking to have a few more knitting in public get-togethers around Calderdale over the summer and are currently working out where is good to go!
Report on Hornsea, East Yorkshire, England, from cottonon: June 14th dawned dry and cloudy, but with enough breaks in the cloud to be ‘promising’. I arrived with my husband at Hornsea Museum at around 08.45, soon followed by Rockknit and her husband to set up the gazebo, tables and chairs, display boards and raffle prizes.
Our giant ball of wool and knitting needles positioned on the main street of the town were a real eye-catcher, and even before our appointed start time of 10.30, curious passers-by were asking questions and perusing our display of photographs and knitted items. There was so much being talked about, introductions being made and questions being answered, that not a stitch was knitted by anyone in the first hour!
However, by noon I counted seven knitting and crocheting, and the stream of casual enquirers continued right through the day, such that I, personally, only managed two rows of knitting in the whole day.
Hornsea is a seaside town, and many of those that dropped in were holiday-makers, including a couple from northern Holland.
At least 22 people knitted or crocheted during the day, plus four children who enjoyed a free lesson or did some French Knitting. At its peak, during the early afternoon, we had twelve, including one male knitter bravely making a pink bunny! The local press photographer seemed pleased with that story!
Our raffle offered twenty prizes donated by local businesses including The Vernon Gallery, (an art suppliers in the town that now carries a good range of yarns and equipment), and it raised over £45.00 for museum funds. The museum had allowed us to use its garden and other facilities free of charge. One or two early knitting artefacts had also been brought out of storage for visitors to examine, including a fascinating pattern book from over 100 years ago.
Ravelers were thin on the ground, with just me, Rockknit, and jillmetcalfe. She says: “I’m glad there are some serious knitters in the area. I must update my profile and get some photographs up. Even though my knitting heyday was about 7 years ago now (pre-kids) I dream of the day when I’ll be able to get back into it again. I just don’t seem to get much sitting-down-quietly time these days!” There’s a strong chance that some will be signing up however. Participants ranged from about 8 to 80 but the majority were between 50 and 70 years old.
The weather changed from being most agreeable to downright unpleasant – and back again; at times the sun shone down on us, but during the afternoon the heavens opened and all had to dash indoors for half an hour. An unfortunate man received a severe drenching when the flooded canopy of the gazebo chose to overflow down his back!
All participants enthused as to how much they had enjoyed the day; never having experienced anything like it. The event did exactly what it set out to do. It prised lone knitters away from their hearthrugs and got them talking to other enthusiasts and exchanging hints, tips, patterns and sources of yarn. Many of them pleaded that we hold more events in the future. There is also a strong interest in forming a club so that we can meet up more often than just the middle of June every year.
Here’s a report from Rotterdam, The Netherlands from Ballee: We sat down in a city park “Vroesenpark” near the zoo. It rained a lot, so we were very happy to see the sun coming trough! We were with a little but very nice group, people from our local SnB evenings, like Storm in the Attic and SasKnitsItAgain. But also “foreigners” who traveled by car and train to get in our harbourcity! Sanne and our youngest knitter, FlowersandLemons.
There was a little swap/give-away place and there was food, candies, cakes, drinks and children! And even husbands, to play soccer with the kids and to try on a CobbleStone if it fits. The best part of the day: There was an article in several local newspapers, and that brought ladies to our spot. All 50+, and curious about that knittingwork. They had very nice stories about the early days (how they had to knit socks for their nine brothers and sisters), and asked about our novelties: such as circular needles and spinning. We came on the bike (or our national transport vehicle), hung some fabric banners, and knit our national colours.
rupr is our Prague, Czech Republic correspondent: Celebration in Prague, Czech Republic was wonderful. We met at famous statue of St. Wenceslav Square. I am really happy with this event. I made some promotion on Czech knitting forums and I was not sure how much people come. About 20 people. (Last year we were two. Really big improvement.) See pictures on my Flickr account. Then the event moved to FashionMartina’s shop called Yarn Paradise. We put chairs before her shop and she organized a “public” fashion show. You can see her pictures on her photogallery. It was great and I want to repeat it in 2009.
Tusindfryd tells us about the Hjoerring, Denmark meetup: I just came home from a very fine day. We were two knitters who arranged WWKIP Day at the local historic museum. They have a very nice garden, and the museum had put up a really big tent for us in case of rain. We arranged some workshops: plain knitting for the beginners, entrelac for advanced knitters, and knitting with your fingers for the children.
The local newspaper wrote about the KIPday and our arrangement Wednesday, but we didn’t really know how many people there would show up. We were happily surprised: 51 showed up! Mostly knitters, but also some, who just were looking and talking.
The entrelac workshop were a very big success. I guess about 20 knitters joined in, and they were already talking about what we would arrange next year, and come up with ideas for workshops. I had contacted BC garn (a danish yarn distributor) and they had sponsored yarn and knitting needles for the workshop; maybe others could use that idea.
People were talking with one another and made new friendships. And ideas about making a weekend trip with knitting came up, and some wanted me to make a knitting course in the fall, so WWKIP Day 2008 in Hjoerring, Denmark really lived up my expectations.
Himalaya sends in a report from Doha, Qatar:
We have an active little knitting group here in Doha, Qatar. We meet once a week at each other’s homes, but have never ventured in public together before. Only two of us started out at the WWKIP event, at a coffee shop in the Villagio mall, a faux Italian indoor promenade, complete with trompe l’oeil sky above and a canal with gondolas. Finally, when our third knitter arrived, we achieved critical mass and people actually slowed down to look as they walked by.One group of Kuwaiti women came to chat and touch our knitting projects. With their spotty English and mountainbird’s basic Arabic, the whole Doha knitting scene was explained. The women said Egyptians are very good at this, and we mentioned Palestinians, Syrians, Jordanians, etc., but they said, “Not in the Gulf. Because we are Bedu (Bedouin).” Presumably Gulf Arabs don’t knit because it’s too hot, but they implied it’s not a part of local tradition.
We felt very gratified in having reached out to a small group – one of the women may even call us up for a handspinning lesson later this year! Will aim for higher numbers at next year’s event!
In Capetown, South Africa, firstfallen tells us about her event: The event was quite quiet. Due to a communication error with the venue, people who called were told that it wasn’t happening. Jezze, her mom and I were there for a couple of hours and were joined toward the end by two older non-Ravelers who read about it in the newspaper. When we left they were still chatting and knitting. I don’t know if anyone else joined them, I meant to go back later in the day but couldn’t. I hope to do a bigger event next year. As this was out first time, it was a bit last-minute and chaotic.
Editor’s note: Picture on left is of the Capetown, South Africa WWKIP event.
From redgum from Bega, New South Wales, Australia: Well, the Bega, New South Wales, Australia, event didn’t set the world on fire for attendance but our enthusiasm compensated nicely! We had a small group of about 12 people (our shire comprises around 30,000 people spread over about 150 km of coastline). Only one other knitter there is a Raveler but I hope there’ll be a few more after yesterday.
Liz brought her beautiful shawl, spun from her goats and dyed using argyle apple gum leaves. The local ABC was very supportive both in the lead up and yesterday morning. The program manager came over to the library a few times for updates (a short walk across the road) and also interviewed about half a dozen people for Monday morning’s broadcast. The bad news is I’ll be on a bus to Sydney and won’t hear it.
A few people who popped into the library yesterday wanted to know if this was going to be a regular event at the library; everyone wants to do it again next year so it seemed to generate interest even from people who didn’t come along.
Our event asked for a gold coin donation to buy badly needed knitting books for our local library and I kicked this off by donating a few books from Redgum Soaps. There was a small group came from Towamba, more than an hour drive away, and one visitor from Merimbula, a coastal town about 30 minutes away.
foreverknit from the Melbourne, Victoria, Australia WWKIP day: Yesterday, the Melbourne WWKIP day took place in City Square. It was a cold wintry Melbourne day, perfect for hats and scarfs. All 20 of us were minding our own business, chatting about knitting, sharing yarn, books and tips. There were lucky door prizes including new Live2Knit sock yarn colourway and Australian Country Spinners pattern books. And then the zombies arrived … There was even a knitter among them.
DrStip reporting from Perth, Western Australia, Australia: Unfortunately due to a sudden illness I was unable to attend all of the KIP that occurred in Forrest Place, Perth Central Business District. Beautiful weather accompanied the event where a good 20 or more people attended the knit fest. Among the participants were organizers FurrywithRuffles, KnitConvict, Bibnbub, lupinbunny, mandymaz, mellyn, ruthpt, spiderknit and spirelle. Several other non-Ravelers attended, as well as several Ravelers I didn’t recognize. Much coffee was consumed and many socks, scarves and other items were knit and worn.
Want even more stories? Check out these threads all around Ravelry.
- On the For the Love of Ravelry, WWKIP Day.
- Want to see photos? Visit the WWKIP Day group’s photo thread.
- Ravelers are sharing stories and memories on the WWKIP Day group. Visit this thread to hear more.
- Want to read what the professional press had to say about WWKIP? Check out some articles.
Thanks to all the correspondents who diligently submitted their entries over the weekend. Correspondents include Ballee, BlondieZX, cottonon, DrStip, firstfallen, foreverknit, frenchette, Himalaya, ideltoa, kathleenalice, rainghirl, redgum, rupr, and Tusindfryd.
Originally published June 16, 2008 in This Week In Ravelry (issue #20)