and I had a blast.
I’m perfectly aware that that was last weekend but then I seem to become busier and busier, I really should do something about this, one of these days, you know, when I have some spare time on my hands.
(This is a series of too long posts about that meeting. Feel free to skip.)
Before going to the meeting in Backnang (that’s near Stuttgart, and I didn’t know there was such a place before either), I went hiking in the Alps with my husband and son on Wednesday, and to a writer’s meeting on Thursday complete with shopping for all the school supplies and clothes my son will be needing until the end of the year. Even my to-do-lists were making to-do-lists but, strangely enough, I managed to do everything on time without forgetting anything important. I don’t even think I forgot anything. I might be getting better with this after all.
The raveler meeting was on Saturday and Sunday but I decided to go there on Friday because otherwise I would have had to get up really early on Saturday and teach a workshop after a long train ride. I tried to pack lightly as I always do but failed miserably. Not only did I put two knitting projects, an extra knitting bag for my workshop, books and handouts, I also packed enough clothes for a week. Since I planned on buying yarn and spinning fiber I took the big backpack, the one my husband used when we were traveling Brazil for two months, and it was full. As was my giant purse/knitting bag. Also my muscles were still sore from four hours of hiking in the mountains on Wednesday. When I got on the train a woman was looking at my huge rucksack and said, “That will be a long trip, won’t it?” Um, well, only this weekend.
In my defense I have to say that I also brought a bottle of wine for Friday night’s “pajama party” complete with two wine glasses and a corkscrew. For the whole trip I was unsure if maybe those people with ridiculous trolley suitcases on wheels do indeed have a point but every time I went my merry way, up stairs, down stairs or on and off trains I remembered why I choose to carry all my luggage on my back.
In order to get a cheap ticket I had booked a train that arrived at Stuttgart Friday noon but there wasn’t anything to do for me in Backnang until the evening when I had a date with a couple of twenty or so other knitters for dinner. So I decided to stay in Stuttgart for the afternoon and visit the Lindenmuseum. I had been there before, back in the days when I still studied cultural anthropology. I found that I already new most of the exhibits but it was very interesting to see how I had changed in the meantime. Ten years ago I was mostly interested in West Africa, and America, this time I spent a lot more time in the Asian part of the exhibition. Also my interest in African musical instruments has waned somewhat and instead I studied every piece of fabric, every garment and every tapestry.
There was a part of the exhibition showing Japanese interiors and tea things that I loved, and then I rounded a corner, saw a big Buddha in the corner, and had to stop myself from bowing before him. That wouldn’t have happened to me ten years ago for sure.
Backnang, the place of the meeting (for once I’m trying to stay on topic here because there will be quite a few knitters interested in this and they won’t be interested in hearing about museums I guess) is very picturesque. I can’t show you, though because as always I didn’t take a lot of pictures.
The hotel was splendid, I had a really nice very big and comfy room, and I didn’t even get back pain after sleeping there. That never happens. When I entered the lift that took me up to my room I already met a woman with big bags of spinning fiber. I looked at her saying, “You’re here for the meeting, aren’t you?” “Yes,” she said, “I went to Wolle Traub today.” I looked into her bag, “That’s Ashland fiber, isn’t it?”. And yet, it was, and yet she didn’t find me peculiar for knowing that.
When we knitters booked the hotel we were said to hear that there was no bar or restaurant to gather in so we decided to have a little party in our rooms. Hence the “pajama party”. In the end the very nice hotel staff put some chairs and tables in the yard for us so we could sit there and chat.
After putting away my mound of luggage I explored the city of Backnang, and totally failed to find any of the important sites for the weekend. That’s what happens when you don’t want to look touristy and refuse to take out your map. You wander around, manage only to find big box stores and buy underwear for your son instead of yarn or something interesting. I also felt a bit lost and therefore phoned my husband who, of course, didn’t hear the phone ring and didn’t answer.
That was the last moment I felt alone, or lost, or lonely for the next days. You know, I often feel a bit weird with my knitting and spinning obsession and I do know that it’s not entirely healthy and a bit out of control but it was very, very nice to be in the company of people who were the same. I found my tribe! Almost 300 people in one spot who all carried gigantic bags with several knitting projects, people who wore wool sweaters, shawls, and socks in weather better suited for short sleeves and bare feet. People who, like me, first looked at your knitted item, asking you about the yarn or the pattern or both, then looked at your button with your ravelry username, and then looked into your face. All of a sudden I wasn’t the only one who lost her train of thought in the middle of a conversation because she wanted to figure out where she had seen the pattern for the sweater the woman on the table next to her was wearing. (By the way, there was a dark haired youngish woman at the Kunberger Aura on Saturday evening who wore an orange cropped cardigan with cabled lapels and hood. She had a red t-shirt underneath. Does anyone know her, and what’s the sweater called, please?) [Edit: And thus is the power of the interwebs and of knitterly friends, Frau Schlamuser just told me that it was Arwen’s Cardigan made by Catluzipher. I just knew that I had seen it in Interweave Knits and I was right.]
But back to Friday evening. (I might have to write this in several installments, it’s getting huge.) There were already half a dozen knitters gathered in the hotel lobby when I came down the stairs. One of them was Frau Schlamuser whom I had met a couple of weeks before in Munich. We had decided that it was a bit weird to travel hundreds of kilometers to see each other when we are living next to each other already. There were others that I recognized from their avatars, and/or the user names they had on their buttons. A bit later I had a button of my own and there were quite a few people looking at me saying, “Oh, you’re that creativemother!” knowingly.
We all went to a new restaurant nearby. That restaurant had only just opened, the menu was very short, the waitress was totally new to this, and they all were quite overwhelmed by a group of twenty or more people. We had to wait for our food a long time, it was partially cold, all in all one can only hope that they will get better at this. We did have a lot of fun though:
I’m only showing you some of my pictures because I know that not everyone is comfortable with seeing his or her picture on the internet. So, instead of gathering for our little “party” at nine, as we had planned, we only started that quite a bit later. And when I finally brought my wine and glasses and such, almost no one wanted any more. So after a delightful evening I was stuck with half a bottle of wine left. Oops.
I’m really too lazy to link to everyone I met but it was so nice to see the faces of people I only knew through their forum posts or blogs (and that in my mind’s eye looked like their cats or like a bunch of socks or something because that’s what their avatars look like on ravelry). I also met a lot of people I hadn’t known before. And all of them were nice, and sociable, and fun to talk to.
After all that talking and drinking and eating it got a bit later than I had wanted. I was in full-blown people-and-talking mode but I think I stopped all my story-telling and general talking now and then to see if the people around me looked bored, or wanted to say something too. Most of them weren’t shy themselves so I was cool. All Friday evening (and Sunday) I had to answer the question, “Is that Ishbel?” because I wore my handspun Ishbel that I stil haven’t taken a picture of, and on Saturday I contemplated pinning a note to my shawl saying, “Yes, that’s Wollmeise. Yes, it is a Faroese shawl, the pattern is Irfa’a by Anne Hanson. I’m not sure about the colorway, I think it’s Red Hot Chili.” But then, where else to wear a lace shawl like that but to a knitter’s meeting?
I’ll continue this in part 2.