Diary of an #SAA18 Knitter

Day .5, Tuesday: Took the train to Washington for SAA’s annual meeting and started work on my first Knitted Knocker. I dropped a metal double-pointed needle (DPN) approximately 5 times in the span of an hour and cursed the search for that wayward DPN under my seat approximately 5 jillion times. This is the first time I’m using metal needles with a very soft yarn (Cascade’s Ultra Pima) and I am NOT comfortable with it. It’s waaay too slippy for me. Later, I did zero knitting at the hotel, choosing to pig out on Krispy Kreme donuts (not as yummy as Philadelphia’s Federal Donuts. I seriously don’t get the hype) and watch stuff on Prime instead.

My shoddily-written pattern notes and the bottom-up start for a Knocker.

I didn’t notice any knitters or crocheters during my trip. Perhaps others know the pain of searching for a dropped needle on a train and decided against tempting The Fates.

The service project table benefitting Warm Up America.

Day 1, Wednesday: I discovered my “home” during SAA: the service project table. There was a basket holding assorted balls and skeins of yarn, pairs of knitting needles, some crochet hooks, and measuring tape.

Supplies! The dark purple seed stitched scrap is my first contribution.

It was rather uninviting at first, with the table pressing two, barely accessible chairs against the glass mezzanine railing. Since knitting in public sometimes feels like an act of defiance, I climbed behind the table and got to work. Two more crafters arrived and we lifted the chairs over the table, grabbed two more from somewhere else, and happily claimed the space in the name of yarn craft solidarity.

I was part of a small and cozy group of four  — two knitting, two crocheting. We occasionally looked up from our Warm Up America squares to comment on various things knitting- and food allergy-related. A fellow knitter noted that the squares were not actually square because of the 7″ x 9″ dimension, but *shrugs*

It was nice. Perfect for asocial introverts. The legendary Danna Bell stopped by and was all “I love it!!” at the sight of the motley crew of crafters camped out in front of the service table.

My second not-really-a-square in progress.

Day 2, Thursday: The yarn supply in the basket was replenished by the Yarn Fairy. Bless. May all of our stashes magically refill like that basket did.

Knitting at the service table was calming and meditative, quite the antidote for the constant din and whir of people chattering away. Everyone around me was coming and going, rushing off at a mighty clip or sluggishly dragging themselves along.  But there I was, relaxed and not-quite-still. It was nice. An archivist dropped off what looked like a gallon-sized ziplock bag full of squares. She agreed that it was a great stash buster or, as she put it, a project for her “ends”.

Some of the contributions on day 2.

A security guard came over and jokingly asked if I’d make him a sweater, then told me about his mom back home spinning her own yarn and knitting all of the family’s sweaters. “There was nothing to do in winter.” I can relate to this.

A crocheter eventually sat down and began to work. Silent companionship is very lovely. While knitting away, an SAA Fellow stopped by to say that one of his colleagues was a prolific knitter and had recently moved on to making lace. Nothing but respect for that colleague.

This is a good time to note that I didn’t just go to SAA to knit. I attended sessions, presentations, and meetings (I spotted an embroiderer during the AOTUS chat. It was a beautiful geometric piece and she chose a good time to stab something repeatedly for an hour straight). I blistered my heels walking back and forth between rooms and while trying to find Tower Room 82-something and the Washington suites. The Marriott Wardman Park is a labyrinth and my feet do not miss it.

Day 3, Friday: I added another square to the basket! And so did other people! This is going to be a lovely blanket.

The rainbow not-really-a-square is so pretty.

I didn’t do a lot on Day 3. The previous evening’s events caught up to me and the day, as hard as I tried, just did not start rolling. Others seemed to be in the same predicament, because every time I saw someone with yarn, they were frogging the hell out of their work. Repeatedly.

Day 4, Saturday: This morning saw the addition of a lapghan to the Warm Up America basket. I happily added my contribution and returned the crochet hook I borrowed to complete it.

This was amazing.

I am happy to report that needlecraft was again present and accounted for at SAA. Sitting at the opposite end of my row in Session 604 (No Monuments in Archives) was someone with an embroidery hoop, stitching away on some sweet bright orange cloth.

The service project for Warm Up America was a great opportunity to contribute to a good cause and meet fellow attendees.  I enjoyed sitting at the table, often alone but happy (because I’m an introvert) to represent the crafting contingent. My favorite moment was on Thursday. A few people slowed down their power strolls and West Wing-style walk-and-talks to look at the project sign, but one stopped. This person walked over to the service poster, smiled broadly and noted how appropriate it was. Indeed, knitting at an archivist convention is truly on-brand

I didn’t abandon my Knitted Knocker project. I just delayed it because I hate metal DPNs.

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