Tonight I went to the Borders at Columbus Circle to hear author Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka the Yarn Harlot, and it was pretty surreal (Stephanie herself was fabulous). I love her books, and daily follow her very funny blog (funny even if you don't knit!). This was the first real "public knitterly" event I've ever attended, and honestly over the course of the day I changed my mind several times about going (I hate crowds). It started at 7 and I got there at 5, bought my book, and got a seat. By 5:45 there were no seats left. BUT, I have to say, I thought there would be many more people there just the same. The mostly-male Borders staff were pretty funny, although they were well aware that they had a bunch of women on their hands who were armed with sharp pointy sticks. We Are Not To Be Trifled With.
It was a whacked out crowd. Predominantly female, but beyond that all bets were off (although I did see a suspicious number of Obama buttons...). See, I think of myself as an obsessive knitter, but tonight I realized that's because no one else I know knits. These folks take it to a whole other level; I swear some of them were speaking in a different language. It was like being at a car show and all the men talking about engine torque; I knew the words that were being used but had never really heard anyone actually speak them in a complete sentence. People were saying things like "look, she's wearing that cable yoked sweater! and there's another one!". I was one of the few people who was not wearing something hand-knit - I was even wearing store-bought socks! They were all knitting FAST - I knew I was a slow knitter, but in the time I took to knit three inches the woman in front of me had started a sock and knit double what I had in my hands (and I had already knit two inches before showing up at the event). I made a comment to the lady next to me about how someone should do a sociological study on the people in the room, and she said "yeah, it kind of feels a little cult-like". It occurred to me that there are those of us who like to knit alone, and those of us that like to knit in groups, and I am very much in the loner category. I think my neighbor would count herself in that category as well.
What really piqued my interest though? I was not just surrounded by knitters, I was surrounded by bloggers. Everyone was talking about their knitting blogs. People were going up to other people and saying things like "Are you Jen? The one that has that blog called such-and-such?" and many "oh my gods" and awkward hugging ensued. Given that the author is a prolific blogger, maybe it should have been expected, but it certainly made it seem like EVERYONE has a blog and maybe I'm not such a freak after all.
There was also a lot of "I never think someone I don't know is reading my blog" comments made by the knitter-bloggers. In fact, someone asked the author herself how she felt about "putting it all out there" and having all these people think we know her. I've actually been thinking about this, because I read lots and lots of blogs. Some are written by people I know, and our blogs have become our primary means of communication for the most part. Most of the blogs I read, though, are written by complete and utter strangers who I feel like I know intimately. For example, whenever I hear someone's going to California I have to suppress the urge to tell them my friend Kevin lives there, because I don't actually HAVE a friend named Kevin. I do, however, read Kevin Smith's blog and books and watch his movies to the point where I feel like I know the guy (it doesn't help that he looks exactly like my friend Anthony from high school).
And so it was really cool to see Stephanie Pearl-McPhee IN PERSON -- and then very strange to realize...this woman is a complete and utter stranger to me. I have never met this woman and yet I KNOW stuff about her. I know the story about her walking 14 km to get toilet paper and Guinness. I know the names of her kids and her best friend and her mother. I own every book she's ever written. And she knows NOTHING about me. I had the same reaction once in junior high when I went with a friend and her grandmother to a restaurant, and as we were leaving we passed by the newscasters from the NBC affiliate. I was like, "wait, I know those people!". Of course I didn't, but they were in my living room every morning and seemed totally familiar to me. I used to think this was just me, but now I'm not so sure.