I Joined the Race This Year!

OnStage_Selfie

Quick selfie before the race began!

Last year, I attended Maine’s Fastest Knitter Race for the first time, as the official Over the Rainbow Yarn photographer. Today, I put my knitting skills to the test, and joined the race! (I took some photographs too.) Unsurprisingly, I did not win, but participating was a blast.

The English knitters took the stage first, including myself. I watched the crowd grow quite large while Mim explained the rules, the difference between English and Continental knitting, and why everyone in the world ought to be a proud knitter. She invited any knitters hiding in the audience to join the stage. The prizes were so tempting, and admittedly the pressure from the crowd was strong enough to draw several quiet knitters who may have thought they could get away with just watching out of the crowd and onto the stage.

Mim_Audience_PreRace

Mim did a great job as the MC.

I surveyed my competition, and tried to think calm thoughts. I knew I’d knit best without my hands shaking with anxiety. And long, straight needles are already hard enough for me to handle. In fact, I’d wager that I’ve spent about 10 minutes knitting with straight needles in my entire life, and possibly never with such long ones. They feel wobbly and awkward in my hands compared to circular needles, which are short and easy for me to hold. It’s all in good fun, and I never planned on being too intense about it, but when I started thinking of the chance at winning a knitting cruise next year, my heart began to beat a little faster. Wouldn’t it be lovely?

Usually I’m a good knitter. My stitches are neat and even. Not too tight. Not too loose. My technique is smooth, rhythmic, and comfortable. Today at the race, I was a bad knitter. I assume that everyone was, to be fair. I dropped several stitches, and watched them unravel as I plowed on, splitting a few as well. Every stitch was a wibbly-wobbly mess. Every time I turned, it was an ordeal for me to figure out how to re-orient those big, long needles to begin my next row. Nonetheless, it was such FUN. I was wearing #23 and heard several strangers in the audience hooting and cheering for me, number 23! I was half way through with row 4 of 4, but Susan was the proud, deserving winner of my round. Go Susan!

Continental_Knitters_WEB

The six Continental knitters had just begun.

Next up, the Continental knitters took the stage. Unlike last year, we were fairly evenly split between English and Continental knitters – surprising, since most Americans knit English-style. Though maybe not surprising, since Continental-style is typically faster. It’s a contentious subject, though. I think it’s faster for most people, but in fact the fastest knitter in the world, Hazel Tindall of Scotland, knits English-style! Both Andrea and Anne (a lucky name, clearly), previous winners of Maine’s Fastest Knitter Race, participated in this round. There was a good-natured ferocity in the air. In the end, Andrea won the Continental round.

Prizes_Awarded_WEB

Andrea (left) and Susan (right) received their amazing yarny prizes. Andrea also won passage aboard the J & E Riggin for next year’s “Eat, Knit & Dye” knitting cruise!

In the final round, Andrea and Susan faced off. They both knit like the wind, and Susan gave Andrea a good run for her money, but Andrea took home the crown for the third year in a row. Congratulations, Andrea! You’re officially Maine’s Fastest Knitter, until next time.

The final times were as follows: Susan won the English-style round by knitting 4 rows(200 stitches) in 5 minutes, 16 seconds. Andrea won the Continental-style round by knitting 4 rows(200 stitches) in 4 minutes, 2 seconds. And Andrea won the final face-off round in 3 minutes, 46 seconds. Woot woot!

Written by Lauren Chesis

Lauren Chesis

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