A brush with fame

Three weeks ago, the renowned knitblogger Franklin came to the Philadelphia area to take pictures for his 1000 Knitters photography project. His shooting location: Wool Gathering, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Kennett Square is the Mushroom Capitol of the World, just down the road from the Brandywine River Museum (more Wyeths than you can shake a stick at), home to a Revolutionary War sites, and only about half an hour from my house. So of course I had to go.

Five people from my local knitting group (plus the mother of one of them) arranged to meet at the shop at 11:30. I got there first and found a very interesting performance in progress. The tiny store was packed with people (Franklin and his setup, though not huge, did take up a good chunk of the inside space next to the storefront window), and the sidewalk outside was covered with knitters, chatting away and knitting on various projects.

After I put my name down on the list, I looked around inside the store for a bit, hoping to find something that would work well for Sylvia’s sweater (I didn’t). Fortunately, just next door was a terrific cafe where my friends and I (and Jan and Sylvia, who’d tagged along for the outing) grabbed lunch while we waiting for our numbers to be called. Good thing the cafe was there, too, because we had to wait about an hour and a half. Franklin was snapping away as quickly as he could, but there were a lot of people there (several of whom, as I overheard, had traveled from a few states away, even!).

When number 78 was called, I handed Franklin the model-release form, shook his hand, picked up the scarf, and took my place on the stool in front of the white backdrop. When I looked at the scarf, I was surprised to find that the stitches were all “backward” (i.e., the right “legs” were behind the needle rather than in front of it). My far-more-knowledgeable-than-me knitting friends explained to me later that the previous knitter had used a different knitting style; me, all I know is plain ol’ vanilla knitting and purling, so I didn’t really know what to do with those stitches. So I just knit into the left legsā€”and found out later that I should have knit into the right legs. (Fortunately, my friend Debbie, who was number 79, said she had no trouble working with the stitches I’d left for her.)

So what was it like to sit in front of Franklin’s camera for three or four minutes? I’m fairly self-conscious in front of a lens and don’t feel particularly photogenic. But he did a great job of putting me at ease, and what impressed me the most was his ability to conduct a coherent, engaging conversation with me while I sat there. He posted in his blog later that he’d photographed 131 people that day (wow), and although I certainly didn’t see all of them I did get to see him interact with several people. And in all of those interactions, he was grateful (we are, after all, providing him with free material for this project, which he hopes to turn into a book), gracious, and actually interested in what knitters had to say and the stories they told him.

It was a very warm day (one of those too-warm days that hit before the air conditioning is turned on), and he was working at a pretty steady clip. But I was really impressed with his interest in the knitters as people, not just as photographic subjects. And the fact that he was able to talk with each one of them is pretty amazing.

So if Franklin and his photography project make a stop in or near your hometown, I very much recommend spending a few minutes in front of his camera. Aside from the opportunity to meets lots of knitters and participate in an interesting project, you also get a chance to meet a nice person. And you know, that sort of opportunity doesn’t come around every day.

2 Responses to “A brush with fame”

  1. Chrison 12 May 2008 at 10:05 am

    Congrats on being part of the project! I was amazed at how Franklin managed to remain calm and friendly – I would be a frenzied mess.

  2. Sonyaon 12 May 2008 at 2:05 pm

    That is so cool! I hope he makes it to Indiana or Kentucky.