Are you prepared for a photo montage of all the great people and yarny things I bought at Stitches Midwest? Well...about that... You see, I took my camera, my nice camera in fact, but I only took two pictures on it. The rest were caught with my camera phone that just happened to be in my back pocket. I meant to take pictures of all the great people I met and I was having so much fun talking to them, that I just forgot (even though that happened last year and I vowed that this year would be different)!
What I realized was that I was having such a good time with people of like-mindedness that I didn't think about taking a picture with them. I had real conversations, not just silly small talk. I learned about the knitted objects they were wearing, or how far they came to get to the retreat. Sure, I wish I would have taken more pictures but when it comes down to it, I realized that the memories of the people I met couldn't have been captured in a photograph.
My trip to Stitches Midwest was great. I reconnected with some of my best friends. It sounds a little silly to call them some of my best friends because some of these friends I've only seen once or twice in real life. We talk every day on Google Hangout about our daily lives. A bad night of sleep and our desperate search for coffee. The new pattern that came out that we just have to cast on. Our kid does something embarrassing in front of the neighbors. We talk about it all. The mundane things and the really hard things that make us wish we were closer to lend a literal shoulder to cry on. We have become closer than I would have ever imagined I could with people who live so far away.
I met a lot of "new" people too. I say "new" because they are people I see on the podcast threads and who comment on my Instagram posts. I know them by their Ravatars but have never met them in real life. Some of them felt like they knew me because they listen to the podcast (and they do know quite a lot), but I don't think they knew how excited I was to get to know them. It was great to put real life faces with online profiles. They introduced me to their kids and gave me tips on what products I would like in the booth down the row.
I also talked with some really great vendors with really great yarn, fiber, bags, buttons, etc. It was great to talk to the people behind the products, to know that their hands created what I was taking home. I loved hearing about what inspired them or how long it took to create a project. It was good to laugh with them and get their opinions on their wares.
But I never would have met any of these people had it not been for knitting (#becauseofknitting). Not only do we all live across the country, but if I were to ever see them in my local grocery store, I would likely consider them one of the cool kids. And really, what would you do, make small talk over the price of bananas?
Yarn gives you an "in" with people. If they are knitting you know you can strike up a conversation about the yarn or the pattern or what they like to knit. You know that just the mention of their knitting project will likely cause a smile to break across their face and as an introvert, I need all the help I can get when meeting new people.
The point is, if ever you were hoping to meet new people, knitters are a good place to start. Hoping to push yourself to socially? Attend a market or retreat. You can always ask people what they have bought or are hoping to buy to break the ice.
You can also look for ice breaker activities. Stitches Midwest had a Stitch Marker Swap where participants wore a big button proclaiming themselves and as two swappers came upon each other they would swap stitch markers. It was a great way to meet lots of different people.
Our knitting community is large and welcoming. Don't be afraid to go out and try a retreat or knitting market. Even just commenting on people's posts in a thread on Ravelry can spark a relationship. You can meet so many people that can change your world.