Netflix just posted an eight and a half hour show about competitive sweater knitting. They probably put it up as a joke, but I'm taking it seriously.
Here's what I think.
First off, I don't believe everything should be a sport. Take competitive eating for example. Sure, you can get a bunch of drunks to crowd around a line of folding tables just to watch 6 guys in backwards hats plow through 50+ hot dogs a piece...but does that make it a thing?
Hot dogs should be enjoyed at a leisurely, gluttonous pace. Like maybe 3 or 4 max around a campfire in the summer time. Forcing them down by the dozen while people are screaming at you is all kinds of wrong.
Much like attempting to set a land-speed record for sweater knitting.
Knitting a sweater should take time. How much time? Casual observation would suggest at least 2 to 3 seasons of "Grey's Anatomy" or "The Gilmore Girls."
Knitting (...and I say this from a purely appreciative and spectator perspective) is not something to get all rushed and stressed out about.
...although having said that, I'm now picturing a montage of pre-holiday and birthday moments, witnessing my wife going nuts trying to finish things on planes and in cabs, snapping yarn with her teeth, desperately trying to bind off projects in moving vehicles so they can be wrapped as gifts only moments before we arrive.
So what do I know. Maybe all knitting is competitive. If that's the case then this show is bang on.
Here are the rules:
You have to shear the sheep, spin the wool, knit the sweater, and put it on. It all has to be done by hand. The world record stands at 8 hours, 33 minutes and 31 seconds. A team from Australia set that a few years back.
In this program seven Norwegian women set out to break that record by knitting through the night.
First impression: I think they've got a pretty good chance.
Their team is made up of ringers. I know because my wife once owned a yarn store. Having dropped in on a number of stitch 'n' bitches myself, I can tell when there's a heavy in the room. At a glance it's obvious every woman here is an expert in their craft.
And they've got a solid strategy. The fleece is immediately scooped off the mill floor and hooked directly onto spinning wheels. As soon as the yarn is spun components of the sweater are cast on. Each component is worked on in teams. Classic divide and conquer.
I should mention I'm already confused. No picking, washing, or carding of the fleece is needed. What gives? Either a magical sheep has been selected for this event or Norway keeps their flocks insanely well groomed.
We'll never know.
And then there's the host, Goril.
How can I describe her?
She's like Calvin, from Calvin & Hobbes. If Calvin grew up to be a possibly lesbian Norwegian TV knitting show host.
She's fantastic. If next month they come out with eight hours of "Staring At Ceiling Fans" and Goril is hosting - I'm there.
Anyway, once the intro is done and the fleece is spun...hours 2 to 5 are pretty boring. But I guess it's all about putting in the work. It's well shot and there is a decent soundtrack, but you can skip ahead.
At about six and a half hours in they suffer a complete psychotic breakdown. This is when things start to get entertaining.
The woman named Hege is the first to crack.
Hey...pull it together ladies! The clock is ticking!
The ending turns out to be a real nail biter.
Spoiler Alert: Full results of the event are discussed ahead.
They get the components done but still have to join them up. Only a couple of minutes remain. They've been knitting all through the night and are completely exhausted. Can they do it?
All they have to do is stitch the arms onto the sweater. The seven of them are huddled over a table, working together on the same task. I haven't seen group concentration like this since my wife's last c-section.
What?!!! No!!! They missed it by under 2 minutes?!?
Hege...if only you didn't get the giggles! Magda...you could have picked up the pace! Vigdis...at hour 2 you got kind of distracted while talking about your theology degree...if only you could take those moments back!
Ase Brit...no one's blaming you. You knit like the wind.
Actually, nobody should feel let down. This team really cranked out that sweater.
Maybe 8 hours 33 minutes sheep-to-shoulders is like the 9.5 second barrier in the 100 metre dash. It just can't be done any faster. It's possible we've pushed this thing to the limits of human ability.
So in the end they have to settle for setting a new Norwegian record. Which honestly is kind of lame.
But a guy named Dirk gets a new sweater, and they all drink Champagne at dawn. So good times were had.
I think the lesson learned from all this is that knitting is knitting. It doesn't work as a live-or-die by the clock kind of thing.
Time is the enemy. Knitting is comfort. Comfort you make.
It sucks up time, but by investing yourself in the craft you actually kind of defeat time. You devote hours of your life to the thing, but when you're done you have a unique garment, a gift, a real piece of work. It can outlast so many things. Maybe even hang around longer than you, if you come up with a real hand-me-down.
So why put a stopwatch to it?
But yes, I get it. This is like the Vegas-bender of knitting circles. Norway gave it their best shot. These ladies went for it and almost won.
And the record still stands...