I’ve been knitting for almost ten years now, and my skills have developed considerably from the time I started. Like any artist, I’m proud of my accomplishments and try to take advantage of opportunities to showcase my work. Usually this comes in one of two forms, either posting pictures on various social media outlets (primarily Ravelry, Twitter, and Facebook) or dragging the knitted goods around with me and showing them to anyone who looks even remotely interested. This year, I took advantage of another method of showing off my work, I entered several pieces into the county fair.
I come from (and still live in) rural Wisconsin and I can remember while growing up, the county fair was an extremely big deal. It has lost some of its luster now, but still includes a variety of events, including a needle work contest. Every year, I think about entering items into it, but usually not until after the entry deadline has passed.
This year, I managed to be on top of things and got the entry form in on time (and by on time I mean the day before it was due). I decided to enter pieces in five categories (knitters are limited to one item per category). I entered my Invisibility Wrap, my Llama Chullo hat, my Spatterdash fingerless gloves, my Carry-All Tote and my Cubist socks shawl. That seemed to offer a fair cross-section of my knitting abilities.
By the time I dug out the pieces, washed and reblocked the ones that needed it, I was pleased with my entries. I felt there were a couple of pieces that had a chance of winning a ribbon. I dropped off the pieces at the fairgrounds and went back Friday after the judging had been completed.
I was surprised to find that out of five pieces, I had won five ribbons. Yup, every piece had one something. My Llama hat and my Carry-All tote both took firsts, with the Llama hat also winning a Special Merit Award. The socks, Invisibility wrap, and Spatterdash mitts all took seconds.
Entering the pieces in the fair wasn’t about winning ribbons, and with my prizes adding up to a grand total of about $9, it certainly wasn’t about the prize money. However, I would like to think that it wasn’t just about ego, either. For me, a big part of knitting is the tradition. Knitters today are doing basically the same thing that they’ve been doing for generations. We might be doing them for different reasons (because we want to rather than we need to), we might have newer tools, and a wider variety of materials available; but the process is still the same. Generations of knitters have been making socks, mittens, hats, purses, and other things. And generations of knitters have been entering their best work into county fairs and other exhibitions for the feeling of pride that comes from knowing that you have a skill and you are good at the skill.
And, a lot of it is ego.