Have you ever had an experience that was so fantastic, so true and honest, that it speaks to you right at your core? That it leaves you feeling high afterward? Maybe the word verklempt applies here. That was me last night, after spending the evening at the Knitting in the Heartland event. It was AMAZING. No other word for it. I can’t believe I even considered not going. It was my first knitting conference and now I know how wondrous it is to be in a big room filled with people who speak your language, who understand what knitting means, that it’s not just an idle hobby. It’s so much more.
I mean, I walked into the hotel and there were people in the lobby just hanging out, knitting. Not one, but several. I got in line with all these other nice women who were friendly and helpful, and they were knitting! Or if they weren’t, I could see the yarn in the project bags they were carrying. I think they said there were 300 attendees. As I waited, a nice knitter sat next to me and we chatted about our knitting and friended each other on Ravelry. Then the magic truly began: Stephanie began her speech.
If you ever have the chance to hear her, GO. She is hysterical, so down-to-earth and casual and then she’ll drop these lines and have the whole room laughing. Plus she’s Canadian so she says things like “arse” and “eh” and it’s not an act, it’s just her and it’s delightful. She had me in tears at one point from laughing so hard. But it was more than just the funny stuff. It was about the “more”: How generous knitters are. How smart and persistent and creative we are. How knitting does wonderful things for our health, particularly our mental and emotional health. It was about self-esteem. She talked about how we need to own our power as knitters, embrace our talent and skill. We need to stop belittling ourselves before we can expect others to stop belittling us.
One of my favorite parts was when she pointed out often we deflect compliments of our knitting by saying “it was easy”, or “I just followed a a pattern”. Yep. I do that. No, she said, just say “Thank you.” Because it wasn’t easy. It took time to learn the skills, to practice to a point to where you can correctly follow the pattern to create that piece of art. To take it further, it takes creativity to match yarns with patterns, to put together color schemes and stripe sequences. It’s NOT easy, but we sometimes think it is because we love doing it so much. Like Stephanie, like so many other women, I am guilty of low self-esteem much of the time. There are a lot of things I don’t do well. It’s hard to be a mom–I mean, it’s great, but you don’t get a lot of validation that you’re doing a good job on a daily basis. It’s hard to be a writer–the writing is great but sharing it and being rejected sucks. So for her to tell me that yes, my knitting is beautiful, that it speaks to my talent and skill, well. I needed to hear that. Maybe we all did, because after the speech, I had women stopping me to tell me how gorgeous my Hitchhiker was (I wore this one. Loved it, except it gave me a rash where it touched my neck. Oops.) and I practiced saying, “Thank you!”
Okay, so the talk (which lasted an hour and a half, including questions) was fantastic, but then she signed books, and I’d brought one with me, of course. When I got up there, I mentioned that she’d tweeted me and told me I should come, and that I was so glad I had, and I could actually see her face light up with recognition! And then she was gracious enough to allow me to take a selfie with her. See? Amazing. Sighhhh. I want to move to Canada and live next door and be her best friend. (Except that’s really hard, apparently, moving to Canada. They don’t let just anybody in.) Heck, I want to BE her.
That would have been enough. That experience made the long drive in heavy traffic and construction worth it. But there was MORE: the market! However, this post is long enough, and that one will be equally long because OMG the market! Yes, I bought stuff. Probably too much. Tune in tomorrow to see what I got!