Sock Summit Celebrates Knitting...Socks

Photo credit: yarnharlot


by Bonnie Alter, London

The Sock Summit 2011 was a purl of an event. Held in Portland, Oregon, it was a "one of a kind conference for hand-knitters that explores the humble art form known as the sock."

Why socks, one might well ask. Well, these thousand or so women have the answer to that one, and it's not simple.

As they say:

"Socks are practical, beautiful, historical, engaging and symbolic. Socks are circular, portable, structural and a perfect tiny canvas for almost any hand knitting technique you'd like to put on them. No matter what you're interested in when it comes to knitting, there's a way that it has to do with socks."

We know that knitting is hip and fashionable now, but it wasn't ever thus. This group of women (mainly) is celebrating the geeky, intellectual streak in knitting and making it a virtue.

According to the Toronto Star, they even held an impromptu flash mob where they went to a square and danced with their favorite skeins of yarn to "I had the Time of My Life" with banners proclaiming "Taking Sock Knitting Almost Too Far."

It's a meeting of the minds, with women knitting through out all the classes. There was the fastest knitter competition, and the Fleece to Foot competition where a team of spinners and weavers start with a sheep, and end up with a shawl, and the first team to do it wins.

This is the winner of a competition to design a sock that could be knit by a team of five at the Fleece to Foot Challenge. Of course there was a Sock Hop, and in 2009 they won a Guinness World Record for The Most Number of People Knitting Simultaneously (937 participants).

Why do they do it? "As sock knitters, we're all a little strange," says one. "Knitting socks makes us happy. That's why we do it and, as such, it can be considered a spiritual exercise."

Explained another: to her they're all about engineering or sock "architecture." "I think of socks as the sports car driving of knitting. Sweaters tend to be done in separate, flat pieces. A sock is like a curvy, mountain road. You can't see around the corners."

It's also a universal tradition that transcends history and politics. "If I sat down in a park in Tehran and knit, I would gather a group of women around me like that."

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