Monday, 4 November 2013
On October 19, a Missouri graphic design professor, David Babcock, set the new Guinness World Record for knitting a scarf while running a marathon, completing the Kansas City marathon in 5 hours 48 minutes while knitting an approximately 12-foot long scarf.
I've written a previous post about "the Extreme Knitting Redhead", Susie Hewer, who had set the previous world record for longest scarf in 2008 by knitting a scarf while running the London marathon, with her longest marathon-knitted scarf measuring 6'9". In true knitter fashion, Hewer and Babcock, far from being bitter rivals, are internet friends who have exchanged messages on Ravelry and have begun to discuss running a marathon together. As Babcock told The New York Times, “I told [Hewer] it would be cool if we could be knitting on the same scarf from opposite ends together.... Something like that I think would be a dream.”
Friday, 23 August 2013
If you're ever planning on going to Iceland, you might want to check out designer Stephen West's helpful video montage of all the places one can knit in Reykjavik. Some of these ideas will work much better than others, of course.
Tuesday, 16 April 2013
I keep thinking about what it must have been like yesterday for the Boston marathoners as they crossed the finish line; so proud, happy, and exhausted, having trained months or years for the event, and then at the very apex of their achievement, this horror. Unthinkable. Madness.
On April 14th I posted about "the Extreme Knitting Redhead" Susie Hewer and how she knits during marathons to get publicity for her Alzheimers' research fundraising efforts. The London Marathon will be taking place on April 21 as scheduled, and Hewer, who will be running in it, writes on her blog that she suspects there will be a lot of black armbands worn at the event. This seems like as good as any a way to deal with what happened: to acknowledge the gravity of what happened, and to carry on with the good and worthwhile things we need to do.
The words of (sweatered) children's television host Fred Rogers have been widely circulated on the net: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” And it's useful advice that can help those who weren't directly affected to process what happened. We don't yet know who is responsible for the bombing yesterday, but we know that as soon as the bombs went off hundreds of race volunteers rushed towards the site of the explosion to help the injured, never giving a thought to their own safety even though there could have been — and were — other and unexploded bombs in the area. We know many marathoners left the race to lend a hand, or to donate blood, at a time when they were probably already exhausted. There were runners being treated for dehydration in the first aid tents who ripped out their IVs and left their cots to make room for the injured. We know the authorities had to broadcast a public request that people not to come to the area to help because there were so many responders there already. And I'm sure that there will be a general outpouring of support that will continue for quite some time.
There were perhaps at most few dozen bombers directly involved in orchestrating this insane and cruel act of destruction, but there are millions of people who are grieved and anxious to help those who were injured or bereaved. Horrible things like this happen far too regularly in this world, and it's important for us all to remember as we move forward from them that there's much more good in this world than bad, and to just keep doing our best in our various ways to add to that sum total of good.
Saturday, 13 April 2013
So apparently knitting while walking is a thing. For that matter, it's actually never not been a thing; it's fairly common in the more rural parts of Africa, Asia, and South America. It's rare in Western countries these days, though it used to be a practice in the nineteenth century. The Shetland women in the photo above are knitting and carrying a load of peat on their backs. If you think you should at least be able to do half what they do, About.com offers tips on learning to knit while you're walking and there's even a product called a Go Knit pouch that will aid you in your efforts (and it's also supposed to be a very handy and effective tote for knitting while travelling).
I don't think I'll be trying it myself. While researching this post I read half a dozen blog entries written by knitters who had taken to knitting while walking. All of them reported that they both walked and knitted more slowly when they combined the tasks. It took them something like 25-33% more walking time to go the same distance, and probably a similar extra increment of time to finish their knitting projects. So I don't see it as much of a time saver. And these walker/knitters also joked about bumping into telephone posts and "holding up traffic", which makes me concerned for their safety, and even more for the safety of others around them. Knitting while walking probably works better in a rural setting where there isn't much traffic of any kind — I mean, the Shetland knitters above aren't exactly in danger of getting into the way of the donkey behind them. Preoccupied people walking about in an urban environment can so easily step into the path of a car or cause some other mishap. I get so frustrated as it is by people who go about wired to their iPods and who are consequently clued out to the fact that they're blocking an entryway, that someone is trying to speak to them, or that someone around them might need help, and I should think knitting would be equally self-absorbing. Even pedestrians have a responsibility to be mindful of their surroundings, and pedestrians who are holding two pointed pieces of metal are surely under even greater obligation to be careful. If you decide to knit and walk, please avoid knitting while walking in heavily trafficked areas, or when the ground is icy. Your safety, and the safety of others, is far more important than the production of another pair of cabled socks.
If you're really raring to knit while on the move, you might look to Susie Hewer, "the Extreme Knitting Redhead", for inspiration. Hewer, who will be 56 this June, knits while running marathons to raise money for Alzheimer's research, and has racked up a couple of Guinness World Records in the process. Now that's multi-tasking. Hewer has raised nearly £25,000 during the past seven years, and in 2008 she set a record for knitting the longest scarf while running a marathon (3', if you care to know), and in 2010 she gained the Guinness World Record for stitching the longest crochet chain.
Marathon routes tend to be cordoned off, so that must leave Hewer freer to safely concentrate on her work and her running. And I'm so impressed by her accomplishments that I think I might have to go take a nap.
Thursday, 15 November 2012
I've been living in Toronto, sans automobile, for over twenty years, and I've spent something in the neighbourhood of 10,000 hours on the TTC. Reading on a moving vehicle makes me motion sick, so I knit (or sometimes sew, crochet, cross-stitch, or embroider, etc.) to while away the time spent commuting. This has led to numerous knitting-related incidents.
— I often drop a ball of yarn. People are wonderfully courteous about picking it up for me and handing it back to me before I can retrieve it myself. On one occasion, two young men gallantly dove after the runaway skein… only to bump their heads together with an audible thump. Everyone on the bus cracked up, but with great effort I managed not to laugh, because it seemed impolitic to say the least.
— Sometimes when I drop a ball of yarn I don't notice it right away, but continue striding through a bus station with a ball of yarn unrolling behind me. Someone either points it out or runs after me with the ball, shouting, “Hey! Hey!!!”
— Once as I stepped off a subway car my knitting fell out of my backpack. A man called my attention to it once I was eight feet away. I turned to see the knitting lying on the platform and the ball of yarn lying just inside the subway car door... just as the doors closed on the strand of yarn. I had a panicked vision of my half-finished old-rose-coloured mohair afghan being dragged up and down the Yonge/University line for the rest of the day. All I could do was shriek, "NO! NOOOOOOOOO!" The train took off. The man had the goodness and the presence of mind to pick up the knitting, and the strand of yarn snapped as the train left the station. So my work was saved, but I lost most of a skein of yarn. I went to the lost and found twice in the following week, and it was never turned in. I'm now on the lookout for some mofo in a old-rose-coloured beret.
— I didn't start knitting on the bus immediately after I moved to Toronto at 19, because I was much less confident then. I must have been 23 or so before I finally just started doing it. It took me about a week to get used to being stared at. Everyone stares. I suppose it's natural that motion should attract the eye, and for a regular commuter it's probably the most interesting thing to look at. He or she has seen the scenery a thousand times before, and of course on the subway there's no scenery at all.
— Lots of people strike up conversations with me about knitting. What am I making? How long did it take me to learn to knit? They tell me that they've always wanted to learn to knit themselves, or about their own knitting, or how they used to knit, or how someone they know knits. Once years ago an elderly man said it was so nice to see a young girl knitting and fondly reminisced about how his mother knitted. Sometimes people take a more technical interest and ask me how or why I do this or that. One middle-aged man pointed out that I had bad form — his grandmother had taught him to knit once when he was a little boy, though he hadn't kept up with it. Often people near me start talking to each other about knitting.
— I can always tell when a current project is turning out especially well, because I get lots of compliments on it. It's especially cheering to have these compliments come from the target audience, as it were. At one point I was working on a sweater of my own design for a male friend, and worried it wasn't masculine-looking enough. Then one day a group of huge-panted homeboys told me that it was "real nice", so I figured it couldn't be too girly.
— Whenever I sit next to or across from another knitter, we exchange looks and small, fleeting, complicit smiles. And then we knit on in silence, like compatriots of such longstanding that there is no need for words.
— One day, I happened to be sitting next to a young guy, and his girlfriend was sitting on his other side. They had a make out session, and then suddenly the guy (who had a shaved head and was much-pierced and dressed in black leather) turned to me and very politely and deferentially asked me in the sweetest, softest voice how he could learn to knit, saying he'd always wanted to learn. I made some suggestions about knitting cafés and classes. He turned back to kissing his girlfriend for a bit, then turned to me again and asked how long it would take him to learn to knit, how soon he could expect to be able to make a sweater, etc. I answered these questions, and he turned back to his girlfriend and they made out some more. Then he turned back to me and asked me some questions about what he should do for a first project, and what kind of yarns and needles he should buy for it. I recommended a scarf, worsted yarn, and size 5mm needles, and he turned back to his girlfriend for more smooching. The alternate knitting consultations and make-out sessions continued until they left the train.
— One evening a chef from a downtown restaurant pressed a restaurant matchbook with his name scribbled on it into my hand and asked me to call him, telling me that despite "everyone thinking he was a big macho chef", he really would like to learn how to knit and wanted me to teach him. I was afraid his request was a euphemism for something else and I didn't call him.
— Kids are always the cutest starers and conversationalists. Back in the days when I patronised a laundromat, small children would routinely collect around me to watch me knit and ask questions. One day a little girl who sat next to me on the subway asked me what I was knitting. When I said, "It's a sweater for my niece," her eyes got big and round and she said, with awe, "Are you an auntie?" as though I were some rare and priceless creature. Plainly this was a child who had aunts who adored and doted on her.
— Another little girl asked me what I was knitting. When I said, "A sweater," she said, "Is it a surprise for me?"
— One little girl on a bus I used to take to work used to stare fixedly at me the entire duration of our ride together. I swear, she wouldn't even blink. And she always sat as close to me as she could. If she could sit next to me she’d beam with satisfaction as she climbed into the seat. One day as she did so, her mother, who had sat down across the aisle, said, "Come sit over here by me." The little girl protested, "But I want to sit next to the Knitting Lady!" and the mother good-naturedly said, "Oh, all right," and moved across the aisle herself to sit on the little girl's other side.
— People often refer to me as the Knitting Lady. I'd be sitting in a bus shelter knitting away and one of the people waiting outside would stick her head in and call, "Yoo hoo, Knitting Lady, the bus is coming." One day as I walked along the sidewalk a man I didn't at all recognize passed me, then turned and said, "Hey, you’re the Knitting Lady!" A former co-worker of mine who took the same bus as me told me that after I changed jobs several people on the bus said to him, "Why isn't the Knitting Lady on this bus anymore?"
Don't worry, buddy. I'm sure to be somewhere out there on another bus or train, knitting.