Wish You Were Here…
This was the scene at about mid-afternoon, this past Saturday, at the Knitting Out of Africa trunk show.
That morning, preparation for the event went calmly enough, as the sweaters waited patiently for their moment to shine. As for me, in addition to giving my talk and demonstration, I was filling in for a staff member who was out. In hindsight, this arrangement was a little haphazard, as it was difficult to devote my complete focus on setting up for my presentation; the store was quite busy, as a result of the story in Time Out New York (the most fabulous Amanda, pictured below, is the young lady shown knitting, in the article). And, unlike the more concrete demonstrations given by Willena Nanton, of the
New York Crochet Guild (shown in photo) and Dawn Nellis of the Harlem Knitting Circle, mine was a bit abstract, dealing with symbols, graphs and language. Hey, what can I tell you?
I tend to think of demonstrations, in terms of larger crafts–weaving, spinning, pottery. Knitting and crochet techniques–activities performed in close range–are challenging for me to demonstrate to more than three or four people at a time (how can you see what's happening?).
Nevertheless, I did manage to talk about and demonstrate the Intarsia Knitting Technique. I also spoke about replicating the look of mud cloth fabric, by creating charts of Adinkra symbols with transparent graph paper, knitting the motifs into strips and then sewing the strips together.
Willena's demo was in Tapestry Crochet, an easy technique to learn, but which produced this wall hanging of Queen Nefertiti, as well as the spirited sweater she was wearing. Dawn (in pic waving), inspired folks to cross mediums with her presentation of quilting techniques. And Mrs. Pilkington, who unfortunately couldn't attend, did bless us with a listing of some marvelous resources to spark our creativity!
But, of course we were only the backdrop for the real stars of the show–the sweaters themselves; and as stars, they certainly shown, translating the "oohs and ahhs" of their admirers into brisk book sales!
Michelle Bishop–in a stunning, "can't-miss-me-red" faux shearling; her urban art quilts are in a number of corporate and private collections. Audrey Peterson, editor of American Legacy Magazine showed up. What can I say? I'm so sorry I didn't get to meet her, as I love that publication. The Maxine Levinson whose volunteer work at Mount Sinai Hospital makes her a new knitting icon for Womens' History Month (look out for her upcoming interview here). And my dear student, graphic designer Whittline Blanc Jean who got to see, through Ms. Nanton, what the future holds for her in crochet (you only need a few more lessons and some practice, my sister).
All in all, this speedily planned event, was a success! The indomitable Phyllis Howe, deserves a special thanks for organizing this program, on such short notice, and with a cold (I hope you're feeling much better). Thanks to Pearl Chin, whose Knitty City will probably become Avenue Central for hook and needle events in New York. And a big wave to the wonderful folks at Interweave Press, for sending the store the sweaters, and me, the book. Jaime, you rock!
The biggest thanks, goes to my sisters Willena and Dawn, and the members of HKC who opened up the eyes of the Upper West Side, to the true diversity of knitters and crocheters in this city!
Trust me; at the end of the day, as the cliche´ goes, everyone came away with a piece of Mother Africa in their minds, hearts and hands.