Sunday, October 01, 2006

I got a fever, and the only antidote is...more knitting!

Sigh. Last night we went to the State Fair, which is one of my favorite annual activities. We went with my in-laws as part of my nephew's birthday, so we had 3 excited pre-teen boys in tow. We did the classic fun for kids stuff such as the baby animal farm (those baby ducks that slide down the slide are kick arse) but for the bulk of the time we waited around for them to ride such wonderful midway fair as the Drop N'Puke, Pee Pants Coaster, The Whirl and Hurl, and blow my brother-in-law's paycheck playing impossibly difficult fair games. Finally, my father-in-law, John, and myself, being the resident Old Fart Club that we are, ventured away from the asphyxiatingly large crowds and very very loud hip-hop music to explore the alternative lifestyle of the Fair- the classic Blue Ribbon Mall, home to the educational booths and, the coup de grace of the entire friggin event, the Arts and Crafts Competition- most notably, the knitting competition.

The knitting competition is a traditional, no nonsense display of expert craftsmanship. I once dismissed it as stuffy, but, having been a knitter for some time, and watching the trend ebb and flow with people of my age group and some of the younger boomers, I find it refreshing that the Fair judging system still holds quality as the focus. In order to be judged for a place ribbon, one must show straight flawless stitching, knowledge of complicated patterns, and usefulness of the item both now and for the future. So, hipster patterns like sassy cell phone cases and hottie girl tube tops are out. The Best In Show winner this year was a gorgeous lacy lavender afghan with an intricate cable pattern that was drool worthy. I didn't notice a lot of entries this year, as opposed to years past, which has lead me to believe that, after disappointing results over several years, some knitters have given up their competitive spirit, some giving up knitting altogether, and have gone on to other pursuits. To me, it's kind of exciting- a competition that separates the brats from the wise. The real knitters keep showing up and churning out high-quality woolen goods that Vera Wang would kill for. It's great art. And, it's inspired me.

I want to ease back into the competition. I've given myself a long time frame to work, and right now, the focus is on past projects. I don't think it would be wise to stop all that I'm doing right now, only to fall behind in the projects that need attention. I also want to be able to master stitching on an intermediate level (cable stitches, slip stitches, etc.) in order to bring a bit more to the table. I've found a really classy pattern in Knit Simple- a long knitted coat that has a challenging level of difficulty. I'm not ordering any of the yarn now, rather, I will most likely buy, when the time is right, one or two balls of it, and will spend a long time working my gauge (something I've been lazy about previously). And I'm going to try to enjoy both the process and the finished product, and hopefully have something that will raise an eyebrow or two amongst the judges. However, even if I don't win anything tangible, I have a feeling that, if I do this the right way, I'll still feel like I've taken home the grand prize.

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