Monday, August 03, 2009

Some of these people are serious.

On Saturday I drove to Des Moines and dropped off my entries for the State Fair knitting contest. It was interesting. The drop-off was for all entries in the "Fabric and Threads" category which included, among other things, hand knits and quilts. And there were a lot of quilts. I was there pretty early, and almost all of the entries being dropped at that time were quilts.
  • I walked in and immediately passed two women wheeling out very large suitcases that had been holding their projects. Suitcases. Not carry-ons.
  • Another woman in front of me had the largest Rubbermaid storage container they make (like the 40-50 gallon size) filled with quilts and a couple of crocheted afghans. That's alot of hours.
  • The group of women in line in front of me seemed to know everyone, likely through a guild or something, and I overheard their conversation. "How many did you bring this year?" "Oh, only 7 this year." I think my jaw might have dropped slightly. Seven. Seven quilts? In one year? I looked down at my four small projects and hoped that they wouldn't strike up a conversation and drag me into this conversation because I might start to feel inferior. "Four," I would say. "Knitting. And one is a knit corn dog (wink). Did you quilt a corn dog?" But they didn't ask, so I just stood there and took it all in. (But while waiting I came up with a fabulous idea for a quilt if I ever decide to take up quilting.)

When I finally got to the table, the lady couldn't have been nicer, and raised an eyebrow, but didn't really say a word, as I entered my "Knitting on a Stick" in the category "Other Fashion Accessory."

Some of you may be wondering why I would bother with something so anachrionistic. Well, the first reason, and the most obvious is I am a huge dork, and I like the State Fair. I don't want to, but I can't help myself and I do. I can't help but love the homespun-ness, the people watching, the odd shaped and ginormous vegetables, the full-sized cow sculpted of butter. And the corn dogs, and other foods on a stick.

But here's the other thing. I'm a self-taught knitter. I've never taken a class, and have pretty much figured everything out on my own with a little help here and there from the internets. I'm never quite sure if I'm doing something "correctly" or if my finished object is on par with other knitters. Knitting is a largely solitary activity that takes place, for the most part, behind closed doors. I think this is the appeal of knitting/craft blogging. And while it's pretty easy to impress a circle of baby shower attendees (and your own family), there's still no way to determine if your skills measure up. Not that it is important, but I have been curious. Unlike some people, I don't mind criticism. And if it's constructive, then I'll take it.

And here's the other thing. There was a time when people knit because they needed a sweater or a pair of socks. They quilted because they were cold and needed a blanket and used up all sorts of scraps to make something beautiful. Luckily, we don't have to rely on our crafting abilities to keep us warm (because if I was responsible for socks, we would have very cold feet all winter). As a result knitting has gotten a sort of stodgy and elderly reputation. So people need to see, whenever possible, that knitting can be interesting and modern. It doesn't have to be taken too seriously. That it is not to be relegated to nursing homes. I mean, what's more fun and modern than a knit corn dog? There's certainly been a resurrection of knitting in the past decade and an influx of new knitters in all age groups. On the Internet, that's clear, but I'm not sure that it is in real life among non-knitters.

2009 State Fair Knitting Projects

I harbor no vision that my four measly items are blue ribbon caliber. They are not without their flaws. But, as always, I procrastinated and only got a few things finished from my original plan. But it's a start since the last few years I've only thought about entering. So this is just about the experience. If you go the Iowa State Fair this year, please let me know if you see any of my four little items on display.

And, I think I need to call Christopher Guest and suggest that he make a mockumentary about the world of competitive quilting.

5 comment(s). Tell me what you think!:

AndreaLea said...

A Christopher Guest mockumentary on competitive quilting would be all sorts of awesome.

Good luck at the fair!!

Anonymous said...

Good luck! I too love the Iowa State Fair and am bummed that I wont be able to attend this year. A couple of years back I went for the first time and had my first "deep fried snickers on a stick" so your corn dog entry is nostalgic for me. Maybe next year you should do cheesecake on a stick or porkchop on a stick! :) Jamie

Knittripps said...

I would love to see a Christopher Guest film about competitive quilting.

Good luck with your entries! I've enjoyed entering my knitting in the fair each year. It is fun to get ribbons and the written comments are nice too (although the comments aren't usually too insightful).

amy said...

Love your entries - you should bring home a ribbon for 'knitting on a stick'.
I hope to make it to the fair (I rarely miss it) this year to see the butter cow, eat a corndog and see your entries.
Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I agree (hit button) with your reasons for knitting.....I love the process and yes the math. I will be at the Fair twice and I will have a corn dog, people watch, big veggie look, drink lemonade, listen to a band--and love the whole thing. AND I make my family go though the knitting floor!! Your entries should be covered in BLUE!! Biddy

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