Street Smart Chicago

Knit Together, Right Now: World Wide Knit in Public storms the Cultural Center

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moxie1Today seems to be a day for birthday-suit-wearing bike riders (World Naked Bike Ride) and the undead (Chicago Zombie March) but, also, crafters dedicated to public displays of knitting, as the World Wide Knit In Public-Chicago commences. Thanks to Mother Nature, the knitters have to move their festivities from Millennium Park to the Chicago Cultural Center. “Rain will not stop knitters,” says Natalia Uribe Wilson, an organizer.

Uribe Wilson and friend Sara Ware have been organizing the public “knit in” for three years. If the event had been held as planned, the group would have crossed paths with the above-mentioned zombies. “I was going to dress like a zombie knitter for it, but I decided that they probably wouldn’t descend on the Cultural Center,” Uribe Wilson says.

Despite the rain, this year’s event has a pretty good turnout. Most of the knitters chat and work on their projects at a banquet-sized table that stretches across the north end of the Cultural Center’s café room. “I like doing it outside more because you get more foot traffic, but at some point someone is bound to come by and ask what we are doing,” Uribe Wilson says. As expected, the group garners some deserving attention from others in the room. “Why is everyone knitting?” a passerby asks her friend. “It’s World Wide Knitting Day,” her friend says. “That’s wonderful!”

One of the main purposes of this event is to facilitate discussions just like this around a hobby that is often times a solitary pursuit. “The idea is to be out and seen knitting,” Uribe Wilson says. The international event is also being simultaneously held at two other Chicago-area events-one at Lincoln Square’s Welles Park and another in Crystal Lake. Ware mentions that the Crystal Lake group will “be coming in on the Metra and knitting on the train.”

Over the past three years, the number of participants has grown steadily through online networking. “We’ve taken total advantage of the Internet and have never taken an ad out to promote [the event],” Uribe Wilson says. “The Internet has really revolutionized the way that knitters meet up and do things publicly.” After Uribe Wilson and Ware started promoting the event on Ravelry.com, an online network dedicated to knitting, the group doubled in size. “We had fifty knitters the first time, after Ravelry we had close to 100,” says Uribe Wilson.

The event is also known to draw in participants from throughout the state. Nancy Glick and Anna Oest, from Havana, Illinois, took a three-hour train ride to Chicago simply to knit at the event. “This is the first time that we’ve come, it’s exciting and a good excuse to come to Chicago,” Glick says. (Katie Fanuko)

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