Sunday, October 26, 2014

Adventures in Knitting with the White Sisters

When we think about knitting, it is easy to conjure up the image of a person quietly sitting with two sticks and some string making something.  You would think that knitting and its existence ends there, but you would be wrong.  There is an entire knitting world out there complete with its very own unique culture.  Susan and I saw this firsthand last night when we went to our first knitting event.

The White sisters have been fans of The Yarn Harlot also known as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee for a few years now.  We follow her blog so we can drool over the amazing knits she creates.  We buy her books because she is an author too.  We also laugh a lot because she is a very funny lady.  And hey, she's Canadian which makes us feel a bit special.  We don't have as many people in our country as our American friends and celebrities are scarce.  Yes, I said it.   In our world she is a knitting celebrity and knitting celebrities are to be sought out just as rock stars are!

For a long time, Susan and I felt sad that Stephanie never came to Edmonton.  We dreamed of how exciting it would be to meet her in person and hear her story.  We were beyond excited when we learned last spring that she would be coming to Edmonton, through our local yarn shop, and doing a weekend of classes.  We weren't interested in making a full weekend of it.  Honestly, we aren't that social and her class on knitting up her "sock recipe" we had already mastered through her book.  We were thrilled that we could buy a ticket just to hear her speak and that we did.

Just like trying to score tickets to a rock concert there was the watchful eye to find out exactly when she was coming.  Then there was a registration process, payment process and even a special trip to the opposite end of the city to pick up tickets and name tags before the event.  Then there was the planning of what to wear.  At a knitting event a person wants to wear some hand knits.  Susan wore her hand knit socks that carefully coordinated to her new blouse.  I on the other hand had a problem.  I only have one pair of knit socks that didn't match anything.  It was too warm to wear a scarf so, no knit fashion for me.  I did bring along my hand knit socks in my knitting bag.  For some reason I felt that I should have them with me just incase someone asked to see them or if I had to prove that I indeed was a knitter even though I wasn't wearing any evidence of it.  I know it is weird.  Really, who would see Susan's socks?  I told her on the way that she better take off her shoes and put her feet up on the back of the chair sitting in front of her.  We laughed this off, but apparently there is a solution to this.  The avid knitters tuck their pants into their knit socks so that the socks can be admired.  Yeah, that was weird too.

The next preparation came in planning what knitting to bring to the event.  People at knitting events don't sit around waiting for the celebrity to arrive on stage.  Why waste time that could be spent knitting?  They bring along their knitting and greet the knitting celebrity doing what we all love... knitting!  Susan made sure that she was at a good part of her sock, a part that didn't have too many decreases and require some concentration.  I rushed to get my mitten knit past the thumb.  I didn't want to have to deal with scissors or darning needles while at the event.  So we packed our knitting, packed our two books for the book signing and I charged up the camera battery and brought the camera along just in case Stephanie would allow a photo to be taken.

We were finally at the event.  We went early to get good seats as they weren't reserved and we apparently weren't important enough to get invited into the VIP section.  LOL  Now when I say we were at the event, we weren't quite there yet.  We were in the building.  A big hotel with many sections and rooms and very poor signage as to where the knitters were.  Hmmm.  No worries, knitters at a knitting event stand out, after all they are draped in their knits.  I have never seen so many shawls and cowls and pants tucked into socks.  We decided on a quick trip to the ladies room and then we would hang around the knitters in the lobby and follow them in.  After all, they looked experienced.  This wasn't their first rodeo.  They had a certain confidence about them.  They would know where to go for sure.  Our plan was in place.  We came out of the ladies room back into the lobby, wait.... where did the knitters go?  They were gone!

The White sisters wandered around for a bit.  Down one hallway... dead end.  Through another passage looking for any kind of sign.  We finally spied one lone knitter on a bench.  As I asked her if she knew where the knitters were, Susan found a tiny 8.5 X 11 paper sign with an arrow pointing us towards the knitters.  We were on our way.  We walked a bit further and were met with a huge professionally printed banner advertising the "Family Practitioners Convention".  Oh I guess the doctors are having an event too.  Yes they were.  We rounded a corner and ended up in the middle of the doctors convention!  They were young.  They were professional.  They were net working.  There were platters of cheese.  I momentarily debated having a piece then remembered that I was a knitter and not a doctor.  The cheese was for the doctors.  Protein to feed their smart brains.  I passed one young doctor who was feasting on what looked like a really great piece of prime rib roast smothered in a rich gravy.  Where were the knitters?  Every once in awhile I would spy one.  There's a person with a knit beret!  Can't be a doctor.  Follow that person, I would say to Susan.  Just as fast as the knitter would appear they would disappear into the crowd.

I finally found a man with a suit jacket on.  He was wearing an identification pin.  Yay, a hotel employee.  He'll know where the knitters are.  As I began asking him if he could point us in the right direction, I had a feeling of panic wash over me.  Maybe he was a doctor?  Did his tag say "Dr."?  Am I asking some doctor if he knows where the knitters are?  Just as my panic crested he smiled and pointed across the room to a tiny doorway.  It was hidden away and surrounded by the doctors and cheese!  There stood a tiny line-up of ladies draped in knit wears, knitting bags in hand,  handing in their tickets.

We were finally in the room.  We got to the seats that were after all the destination of months of planning.  We were only two rows back from the VIPS!  The White sisters were organized, they planned, they came early.  Bit by bit the knitters filed in.  There was chatting and the faint background noise of clicking needles.  One lady explained how she brought two projects, one for the wait and one that she could work on during the speech.  I'm assuming that this project didn't require her to look at what she was knitting.  Yes, these avid knitters would stand and talk and knit and never even look down at what they were knitting.  We took out our knitting and joined in with the crowd.  I wasn't nearly as smooth.  I had to fish out my measuring tape and some stitch markers at one point.  I had knitting "stuff" sitting on the empty seat next to me.  Suddenly we saw her enter the room.  Susan and I gasped a bit.  There she was.  The Yarn Harlot in person!  We were star struck.

Her speech last almost two hours.  She was hilarious.  We laughed lots and it felt good.  But she came with an important message.  We learned how important knitting is to our lives. We don't knit because our lives are pathetic with nothing else to do.  We knit because it is our joy and our passion.   We learned how knitting has been proven to help with anxiety, PTSD and ADHD.  A child who can't sit still in the classroom for story time may be able to if he or she can knit while listening to the story.  She asked us to celebrate our knitting.  To stop down playing what it is to our lives and what it is that we accomplish when we create a knit project.  It felt good to be a part of this community.  I felt very happy to be a knitter.

The evening ended with the White sisters finally getting to meet their knitting mentor! We got to see in person, the beautiful sweater that Stephanie had just finished making and had posted on her blog. We have our books signed as living proof of this meeting and better yet... Stephanie Pearl-McPhee agreed to have her photo taken with us!

It was a great night.  :)



  1. It was such a great night! I was so star-struck meeting her - she really is a rock star of the knitting world.

  2. This must have been such a great night! Knitting is such a pleasure to me too that I can understand how exciting it must have been


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