Stitch and Pitch; A New Baseball Tradition
For one night every summer, my two worlds collide.
“Stitch and Pitch“; when knitters flock, en masse, to the ballpark.
You may think of knitting and crochet as a hobby for grandmothers, for nerds. And you’re right! Some of my favorite knitters are grannies, and almost all of them are yarn nerds. But about a decade ago, these centuries-old yarn crafts underwent some serious transformations.
Although you’ll still find acrylic crocheted afghans and houseslippers knit with Phentex, you’ll also find pure cashmere scarves, merino cardigans, and patterns for garments you’d be happy to buy off the rack. In my other life, I design these kinds of knitting patterns, and travel to teach workshops across North America. The popularity has also exploded. Knitters and crocheters, both male and female, are drawn to the tactile creativity of making an object from scratch, and appreciate the often medatative qualities of repetitious handiwork. It’s a huge market; in 2009, yarn-related crafts accounted for over a billion dollars of sales in North America alone, with knitters spending well over $700,000,000.
One thing hasn’t changed, though.
The concept of the “Stitch ‘n Bitch”, a few hours where crafters can gather to chat and work on projects, is just as alive and strong as it was a century ago. Groups meet in coffee shops, in yarn shops, in houses. Groups gather to share in other hobbies and pasttimes, fingers flying while working through a new project.
So perhaps an obvious leap was to create a “Stitch ‘n PITCH”.
The event started a few years back, organized by The National NeedleArts Association, a professional organization for retailers, wholesalers, publishers and designers.
Volunteers organize local events, such as the one at tonight’s Blue Jays game, and hundreds of happy crafters attend to cheer on the local team.
As a baseball fan, who may have never actually seen a Knitter in Real Life, you may have questions. Luckily, I’m happy to guide you through the “Do’s and Don’ts” of encountering a Knitter in the Wild.
DON’T: Assume Only Women Knit
In many cultures, historically the men were the knitters. It’s thought that early fishermen would work on socks or wool garments at night, while the women of the household cooked and tended to children. Men were also the first ‘professional’ knitters, with a 6 year apprenticeship program being necessary before obtaining ‘Master’ status. These days, men who knit often get the bonus of being surrounded by ladies, and “Oh, your gauge is so perfect” could even become a great pickup line.
I’m not aware of any baseball players who knit, but it’s a big thing in the acting world. Knitting can be put down and picked up at a moment’s notice, and helps actors like Russell Crowe not only pass the time, but stay calm, cool and collected.
I’d be more than happy to volunteer to teach our bullpen while they’re killing time in the first few innings.
DO: Ask What He or She is Knitting!
Knitters LOVE to talk about their projects. A lot of time and (often) money can go into even the smallest of projects. After all, a simple scarf may take upwards of 40 hours to complete, and yarn can cost more than $50 for a single project.
DO: Understand that Knitters are Multitaskers!
Many knitters can knit while carrying on a conversation, watching the game, and drinking a beer. In many cases, having something to do with my hands can actually help me maintain focus on what’s going on. So don’t scoff when someone brings knitting to the park; just because someone is knitting, doesn’t mean he or she isn’t paying attention.
DON’T: Fear the Needle
Knitting needles aren’t actually sharp. They aren’t actually dangerous. And they’re not a security risk. That said, I’m happy to lend mine to Jon Rauch next time he gets in an argument. Not that he needs help.
So tonight, if you happen to look to the outfield and see a huge block of knitters, you’ll have a bit more background knowledge to get what we’re all doing there.
And look for me to be participating in a big way tonight! I’m happy to represent both the Capital K Knitters and the Capital F Fans at tonight’s game. Go Jays!