Jul 22, 2020
The Other Sports

Tight Knit: A Look Into the Secretive Competitive Knitting Community

By James Cook

While on assignment following Guy Fieri’s trans-American Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives route, I stumbled across the greatest find of my journalistic career to date. As I walked into this small-town eatery, my senses were overcome by the sights and smells. Peeling and fading pictures of Elvis, Marylin Monroe and Jerry Seinfeld covered the walls. The smells of salt and grease hung in the air, and everything was covered in a film inherited from all of the restaurants on the road to Flavortown. 

But underneath these sights and smells, I heard a sound that brought me back to my grandmother's living room. The distinct clacking of knitting needles resonated from a geriatric group huddled in a corner booth. Upon approaching the group and speaking to the members of the table, I was introduced to the underground world of competitive knitting. 

“No last names please,” the team captain, Muriel, explained to the league.

“There are various teams scattered across the country with each team consisting of a number of specialists. We get together and compete to see which team is best.” 

She refused to go into the details about what actually went down at the competitions. 

“Trade secrets,” was all she would say. 

She did reveal that the teams would meet in North-Eastern Michigan, or South-Central Maine, depending on the maple syrup harvest, to compete. “You never want to miss a good syrup fest,” noted Muriel. 

Roger, better known as, “the best cable knitter on this side of the Mississippi,” had some very strong opinions on everything from luncheon meats to proper cloud identification.

“We’re all doomed! Kids these days can’t tell the difference between a slip-slip-knit and a knit-two-together decrease; I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t know a stockinette from a garter stitch. Ridiculous!” 

The rest of the team was ready to share their opinions as well. The team’s yarn spinner, Clara, ranted about the shortcomings of crocheting for no less than 45 minutes, eventually stating that “anyone worth their weight in worsted alpaca yarn knows that needles are better than hooks!” 

Ethel, who spent the entire time working intently on a shawl or baby’s bonnet—I really couldn’t tell the difference—thoughtfully and insightfully added, “I do like knitting.” 

The rest of the time I spent with the Knitting Team was filled with bizarre stories of 90- foot-long scarves, microscopic argyle sweaters, and a successful line of thumbless mittens for dogs. After what could have been hours, I got up to pay the bill. When I turned around, the team had disappeared. 

Though I have searched as hard as I can, I’ve found no trace of the Knitting Team. They had gone into the wilds of American legends; residing in league with Area 51 and the Jersey Devil.