Monday, April 7, 2008

Another newspaper can't believe people knit

Yesterday, April 6, at 3pm, the Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee came to Atlanta to talk. Below is the article from the local paper.

For some reason, I thought that she was talking on Saturday, so I drove into town, found a parking spot blocks away, and speedwalked to the theater, brushing off some people wanting to get my support for more public transportation (which I support).

The confirmation e-mail I got, but obviously didn't read carefully enough, said that they wouldn't seat anyone once the talk started, so I was really psyched to get to the theatre like 10 minutes before 3pm.

Well, I run inside, see noone at the box office, but blow by it anyway and confront a locked door. So I went to Knitch, which sponsored the event, and asked about it, and the owner said "oh, that's tomorrow."


I browsed a bit, then went home.

Yesterday, I went back to the Hilan Theater, with plenty of time to spare, and this time, there was someone at the box office and the theater was full.

She gave a good talk and I highlighted in purple the parts of the article I liked most.

Article below and pictures at

Knitting is cool? Like a warm sweater
Tongue-in-chic: Crowd at Yarn Harlot event shows pastime popular.
By JILL VEJNOSKAThe Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionPublished on: 04/07/08

They're here. They knit. Get used to it.
Take a half-joking homage to the world's oldest profession. Mix in generous amounts of great-grandma's favorite sedentary pastime. And what do you get? A giddy weekend happening in one of Atlanta's most right here, right now neighborhoods.

"It's like when I saw the Beatles in 1964," Diana Baber of Dallas, Ga., said half-jokingly Sunday afternoon. "Better, actually. This time I didn't have to hitch-hike to get here."

Baber was among hundreds of needle-and-yarn-toting knitters who packed the Hilan Theater in Virginia-Highland for an appearance by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the self-proclaimed "Yarn Harlot" of blogging and book writing fame. All 700 tickets were snapped up within 24 hours several weeks ago, said Kim Nickels of Knitch, the 2-year-old knitting shop on St. Charles Avenue that sponsored the event.

The doors opened two hours early for a "Knit In," where the crowd's nonstop chatter mixed with the clatter of needles laboring over half-finished afghans, scarves and at least one "convertible coat." (Don't ask. It's extremely complicated.)

It was a continuation of what had started when they'd lined up as strangers on the sidewalk and discovered they were all knittin' cousins of a fashion — from the guy wearing the "Man Enough to Knit, Strong Enough to Purl" T-shirt to the mother with a baby and flying needles sharing space atop her chest.

"She's very good at unknitting things right now," Cobb County resident Stephanie Reich said of her 4-month-old daughter, EvieBelle.

Out of the parlor closet
What could be seen as a throwback to a time of quilting bees or hippie communes — "It's our version of Woodstock," Atlanta business owner Karen Jacobson observed wryly of the Yarn Harlot event — was actually a signature moment of new phenomenon. With Atlanta's highly socialized knitting community, as personified by the people who flock to Knitch, at the center of it.

Once a relatively quiet, solitary pursuit done at home, knitting has come out of the parlor closet, as it were.

At Knitch, whose roots lie in an online Meetup group that onetime J. Crew executive Nickels started to "reconnect" with the community she'd lost in the frenzy of modern life, a big kitchen table dominates the center of the store. People are encouraged to drop in and knit for as long as they like, drinking the store's free coffee, chatting with fellow customers and signing up for a wide range of classes and events.

It's good marketing and more, said Marybeth Stalp, a University of Northern Iowa sociology professor who studies "serious leisure" in contemporary society. Savvy store owners like Nickels are using the age-old craft of knitting to salve the very modern phenomenon of stressed-out, overbooked people who can barely make time for themselves, let alone be with others in a social setting.

"The slowing down gives them something they need in a sped-up world," said Stalp, who earned her Ph.D. at the University of Georgia. "By making their knitting more visible in an everyday setting, it's allowing people to value it in themselves and their lives, and in others' lives."

Plus, you get to drink wine — and get your nails done.

Purls and pedicures
At Knitch's inaugural "Purls and Polish" event last Tuesday night, some two dozen women flocked to the store's second floor, where they spent several hours knitting, sipping Merlot and taking turns getting foot massages and pedicures from a team of manicurists from a nearby salon.

Karen Jacobson, a mother of teenagers, chatted with 25-year-old Danielle Carlson, who'd been forced out of her Cabbagetown home by the recent tornado. Maggie Kelly, 30, arranged to meet her mother and younger sister there for several long, calming hours.

"Our culture is so fast, you're supposed to respond in five seconds to every e-mail you get," said Kelly, a CDC employee who's busy planning her upcoming wedding. "When you sit and knit, you're not going to finish in five minutes. And that's a good thing."

Indeed, not even the Yarn Harlot can be rushed. Pearl-McPhee took the stage a few minutes late and launched into a tale of a missed wake-up call and lost luggage (she's cut off from all her yarn!) that quickly had the crowd in — ahem — stitches. The biggest laughs and groans of recognition came when she related some of her experiences with non-knitters.

"They'll say to me, 'Ah sure wish I had time to knit,' " Pearl-McPhee faux-drawled. "And inevitably, the person who says it is doing exactly what you're doing while you're knitting: You're both waiting for a plane, or in the doctor's office or stopped at a red light."

Or, like several hundred people in Virginia-Highland on Sunday, you're spilling off the sidewalk, proudly knitting in front of curious onlookers in restaurants and passing cars.

"It's good for them to see us," said Karen Roman, 47. "Now they know we're not just some little old grannies sitting quietly in front of the fireplace. Now they know we're here."

1 comment:

KnitTech said...

Lucky you. The closest she comes to Idaho is Utah.