Repo Knitters & Conference Crafting

Photo by Freddycat1 used, with thanks, under CC.

The Open Repositories conference is one of the main conferences of the year for me. It’s also very busy and very crowded. It can get a little stressful trying to cram in seeing everyone I want to see, checking out everything I want to hear about and telling anyone who shows the slightest interest about the  projects I have been working on.

Sarah knitting as I take a break between rounds to eat soup.

A couple of weeks before, I asked on Twitter if there were any knitters attending the conference. I got a great response, and we finally decided on a Wednesday lunchtime meetup at the Kilimanjaro Coffee Shop. In the end, four of us made it, with a couple of rows of knitting being done! We chatted, swapped tips, admired yarn and had a proper break – something that is rare at a full-on conference.(Thanks to Jane for permission oto use the photo.) As well as the people who actually came along, tweeting about knitting at the conference got me into a lot of interesting conversations.  Not just with knitters but with all kinds of crafters who have a day job in the repository world. I chatted in breaks about embroidery, spinning, dressmaking, plushies… it was fantastic  to see this other side of the people I work with 🙂

Which set me thinking…

I find that I tend to suffer a kind of mental shutdown at conferences. There’s too much to take in at once. Because of the get-it-before-it-goes nature of a conference, I stress that the people, the ideas, the buzz will all vanish if I don’t grab it all quickly, now,now, NOW! And then my brain overloads (and I might tweet too much) until even coffee doesn’t help anymore. An hour out for a  proper break on Wednesday lunchtime, knitting and chatting about other things, felt as good as a snooze! I was refreshed, inspired and ready to talk repos far into the night. (Yes, I was the person still enthusiastically talking about the DataFlow project at 10.45pm!)

So, would it help others? Could we have a crafting/making space set aside at conferences? A kind of chill-out zone where making stuff is allowed, where you could go to switch off your aching brain and engage your inner-crafter for half an hour or more? Would people use it? Could we encourage new crafters? Could we encourage creativity in one new area and have this inspire the whole conference? I’d like to try – wondering if anyone would join in? This kind of thing would find a natural home at an un-conference, and that would be cool. But I’d love to try it out at a big, more formal conference because I suspect that’s where we might need it most!

Thanks to the repo Twitter knitters at OR2012 –  Jane Smith Sarah Molloy & Helen Kenna for the knitting and the company 🙂 For anyone who is interested in what I knit, check out my Ravelry profile – or ask to see at the next conference we both attend 😉

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