We have a winner!
On Saturday, we held the race to declare Maine’s Fastest Knitter and, I gotta tell you, my lovelies, we had the best time. From having only one contestant for such a long time, we got some late entrants and were actually able to field 11 knitters. We split them up into two groups by basic technique, English and Continental, and ran each group through a preliminary heat. Then the winners of those heats advanced to the final race.
The English style group went first. Conditions were poor for the eight English style ladies, and competition was fierce. The ladies were knitting with Cascade Soft Spun, loosely spun, all wool, singles in a worsted weight that was generously donated by Cascade Yarns. They were working with size US 8 Pony Pearls, a metal core, plastic finish needles contributed by Accessories Unlimited. While we appreciate the good will of Cascade and Accessories Unlimited, I want you all to imagine the conditions for our knitters. It was a hot, muggy early August day in coastal Maine and our knit-thletes were racing on a small stage in a large tent (think wedding reception) with only one wall open. Can you say, “Sweaty palms and sticky fingers?” And wool? On plastic needles? But our valiant knitters were undaunted and nary a curse word was spoken as they battled with the materials and against each others. They had all been smiling and laughing before the race,
but as soon as I said “On your mark. Get set. Go,” they got serious and deeply focused.
We had a great crowd of spectators, too. There was standing room only and, even though it was hot and sticky under the tent, folks were packed two and three deep along the walls. And they clapped and cheered and encouraged their favorites.
For four rows of garter stitch they stayed engaged and enthusiastic. And when Allison Montgomery finished her last row, there was a great round of cheering and applause.
Then it was time for the Continental style heat. At first, we only had one Continental knitter. Now, by the rules as we had established them, Ellen Seidman, the only Continental knitter, would have to be declared the winner by default in her category. But no; two intrepid knitters from the crowd stepped up to give Ellen a run for her money. Thanks, Jackie and Korel for making it a race indeed.
With the same sweaty palms and the same sticky fingers, the Continental knitters contended with the same adverse conditions and the same fierce concentration. And Ellen emerged victorious by actual contest instead of by default. And it was a heart breaker. Jackie was only five stitches behind Ellen as they crossed the finish. Jackie had a big fan base in the audience and there were good natured groans, but also cheers for Ellen.
For the final race, Allison, representing English knitters everywhere, faced off against Ellen, fronting for the Continentals.
Now I know you all have opinions about Continental being faster than English and perhaps if we lined up all the knitter in the world and had them race at the same time you might find it so. But not yesterday in Rockland, Maine at the Lobster Festival. Yesterday, it was a glory day for the English knitting world. In the final throw down, Allison Montgomery and her left handed throwing technique knit those four rows like lightening. And the crowd, as they say, went wild. (Well maybe only in my hyperbolic day dream, but I’m an English knitter and it seemed to me that the crowd went wild.)
Allison has been declared Maine’s Fastest Knitter and rode her victory lap, so to speak, in the parade on Saturday morning. (Yup. She knitted all the way along the route…a sweater for herself in Classic Elite’s Firefly)
We really enjoyed meeting all the knitters and were received so kindly by the spectators, we think we’ll do it again next year. We had one contestant who is actually from Connecticut who wants to make a race in her home town and declare Connecticut’s Fastest Knitter. We had a couple visiting from Nova Scotia so we are trying to persuade them to do it in their home town and declare Nova Scotia’s Fastest Knitter. Start training now. Allison will defend her title next August at the Lobster Festival and we may make it an international event with champions from at least two countries.
Maybe the fastest knitter in the world knits 118 stitches in a minute. And maybe we’re no where near that fast with hot wool and plastic needles, sweaty palms and sticky fingers. But over a hundred people came to see us and there will be more next year. It’s great exposure for fiber arts. And we had a wonderful time!