Monday, February 20, 2006

Strange Times in Portland, Maine

Lobsters dancing on the docks*, knitters and spinners clogging the Doubletree Hotel...

I made it up to Spa for one day, Saturday, and it was heavenly. Next year I'll stay. Claudia was supposed to come with me, but she ditched me for "relatives visiting from Sweden." That's okay, I'm not bitter or anything. Notice she didn't mention anything about visiting relatives in her blog? Just sayin'... ;)

At lunch with Sharon, Carole, Chris and Cate, we were discussing why all knitters and spinners seem to get along fairly effortlessly. Other crafting groups (quilters were mentioned) apparently do not have this ease of friendship. And on my solitary 2 hour drive home late Saturday night, jamming in the dark to the best folk/techno/punk mix CD Claudia's never, ever going to hear, I had plenty of time to mull over what I'd learned about my fellow knitters to try to answer that question.

1) We like our food. I realized I couldn't remember the last time I'd eaten a meal in a restaurant with a woman who drank a pint of beer, cleaned her plate, then ordered dessert. I eat like a starving wolverine and usually feel like a freak when I dine out with my friends, so this was extremely refreshing. I still ate the fastest, but at least I wasn't alone in cleaning my plate.

2) We like our booze. Mostly in moderation, of course.

3) We are sharers. We love our hobbies so much that we want to share them with anyone interested. Here, have some wool, try my wheel. Even those with brand-new wheels let others spin on them. (Caution: this rule has not been tested with food. Proceed carefully. Do not get your fingers too close to my plate.)

4) We like expensive, beautiful things. In the car back to the hotel after lunch, someone mentioned orchids and it turned out several of us in the car kept them. I would not be surprised if there were several serious handbag/shoe collectors or perfume junkies in our midst.

5) We are collectors, be it socks, spinning wheels, sock yarn, whatever. Some of us might be hoarders, too, but that's just collecting as an extreme sport.

6) We like other women. You know how some women don't like other women? They don't have any female friends and only hang out with guys? We're not like that. We love to hang with our girlfriends.

7) Our respect for creativity makes us, for the most part, accepting of other people's differences. You have red, green and orange plaid hair? Awesome, how'd you do that? (granted, I could just think this because I live in a blue state).

Many of these items point to our involvement with our senses: the tactile appeal of fiber, the flavors of food and wine, the visual stimulation of flowers and color. Some also point to our nuturing instincts. But why don't quilters share these characteristics?

Here's my theory: quilting is more geometric and has more rigid confines than knitting, so perhaps it appeals to a more engineering-oriented, analytical type.

I think those who are attracted to hobbies with a tactile element tend to bond more quickly, too, because we're always touching each other's stuff. Sweaters, wool, yarn, shawls: our first instinct is to touch. (Some smell, next, but I'm not sure that's a universal.) I went to a woodworking demonstration recently and I noticed a similar accepting friendliness in the woodworking community, and of course woodworking is largely tactile and they touch each other's stuff all the time, too. You know, in the manliest possible way.

So that, in a nutshell, is what I learned in my day at Spa. Well, plus I tried out about six different wheels, learned about vendors I'd never heard of, met new friends, saw old friends, pawed through fiber, learned a little about antique wheels, finally got to hear Stephanie talk, witnessed the birth of a new spinner, got about four new knitting ideas, petted a newborn baby bunny... it just goes on and on, all in one day! Action-packed and then some. There was so much that I'm sure I'm forgetting things.

I highly recommend it. Unless you don't like to be touched, 'cause I'm telling you, even the most ordinary hand-knit sweater will get petted at Spa.

*obscure Carly Simon lyric, not an actual news flash.

P. S. just kidding, Claudia! Although I am sorry you couldn't be there and hope the Swedish relatives were almost as fun.


Jackie said...

Very funny (the Claudia parts :) and very poignant.

My theory on the quilters is that it is a much more solitary craft. Most quilters I have been acquainted with spent most of their days alone with their sewing machines (for various reasons). Nor does sewing even come close to having the portability of knitting.

Whether it is the chicken or the egg, I don't know.

Pumpkinmama said...

Damn - how is it I missed you? I was there too - spinning up a storm all day. Glad you had fun too - it was a blast.

claudia said...


That is a cry, embodying sadness, self-pity and jealousy.

Not that I'm bitter. Or anything.

Carole said...

Great job summing up the day. It was fabulous and I had a blast at lunch!

mamacate said...

What you said! And Pumpkinmama, we missed you too. Next time we'll kidnap you.

It was lovely, and I'm right there with you on the dessert (and the scarfing of the food). My coworker is constantly (and IRRITATINGLY) commenting on my eating behavior, and I love that *I* (truly, of ALL people) was the one who hesitated about dessert.

melanie said...

Dude. I really wish I could have gone to this. SIGH.

So, are you able to return to Odette or have you been spoiled by spinning on all them fancy wheels?

Laurie said...

Excellent summary, and interesting perspective. Makes sense, too. I'm always amazed that women across so many different backgrounds and age groups get along so well. And all because of fiber.

maryse said...

i think joe and i stayed at that doubletree when we went to portland last october.

Bookish Wendy said...

I wish you could have stayed over night!

It was wonderful spending time with you...

Beth S. said...

Wow... what an awesome event this must have been! I really enjoyed your grand unified theory, too. :-)

With regard to food: I had Monday off from work, and made the mistake of turning on the tv to see what was going on in the world. I was unlucky enough to hit the Today Show, where something happened that really pissed me off. They were in Torino, and Lidia from Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen was there in the piazza, preparing some utterly delectable steak dish. Everyone crowded around except for Katie Couric, who made this big freaking deal about how she "never, ever eats on television." And I just saw red. Thanks so much, Katie, for reinforcing the idea that there's something wrong with women who actually, you know, eat. Sigh.

mf said...

Sounds like you had an awesome time!! jealousy..., Sick kiddos ;o(((

How'd you like the different wheels?

Kate said...

Glad to hear you made it home okay and was sorry to have only seen you for a short time! There is always next year.

judy said...

Great description of SPA. Fun, wasn't it?

Jay said...

Mm... that's a very interesting theory and one that has been thrown around for quite some time, though never in such a comprehensive and fully-thought-out way.
While I love interacting with other quilters and knitters and crafters in general (isn't that obvious?) I do not know anyone that dabbles in creative craft in the real world... so perhaps I am an anomaly?

lala and gleen said...

Hmmm...i've never really thought about it like that....but it definitely makes sense. Keep on knitting!!!
If your ever in Nova Scotia, Canada you should check out the Gaspereau Fibre Shop - a delightful treasure of fibres, knitters, artisans and a barn yard of beeeautiful animals!!!

cheers, Lala