I’ve got it all down to a T

Phoenix asked us Ravelympics mods for some fodder for a This Week in Ravelry article on the Ravelympics. I went a little overboard, and thought I might as well reprint it here since no editor in their right mind would excerpt more than a sentence or two.

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More than 16,000 projects have been registered for the Ravelympics. Now let’s conservatively estimate that 2/3 of those will be completed. (Given the rate at which FOs have already started arriving, I think that’s very conservative, but I’m sure some of those sweaters will fall by the wayside eventually.) Let’s further conservatively estimate that of the FOs, 2/3 would have been finished, now or eventually, with or without the Ravelympics.

What’s left is still 3500 knitted and crocheted objects that enter the world because of the Ravelympics. Because Kimberli and others gathered, cheered, organized, structured, fretted, and mostly stood back in amazement and watched as Ravelry responded to the challenge.

You know what? 3500 handmade objects is enough to change the world. Actually, one handmade object is enough to change the world. But we’re going to multiply that by (now I’m guessing realistically and not conservatively) 5000 or 10,000.

To me it’s all about pushing yourself personally, and I can see that the vast majority of Ravthletes completely understand that. That’s what they’re responding to. They are taking on something that they didn’t know if they could do — make 20 hats for charity, knit lace, throw away their plastic bags or paper towels for something reusable, make their first sock or their first sweater, finish that pile of projects that have been patiently waiting in the basket for so long they were beginning feel haunted or cursed, or (like me) take up two colors for some stranded colorwork for the very first time. The Ravelympics is the excuse for doing it — and it’s the community where we’re all doing it together. Team spirit, the peripheral vision of one’s fellow competitors, the cheerleaders and friends in the stands — all of it spurs us on to do what we could not muster up the energy or courage to do alone.

I firmly believe — I tell my students every day — that we can do things together that we have no hope of doing individually. We’re smarter, stronger, and more capable in groups. And the Ravelympics is proving me right. What we’re generating together is not only thousands of knitted and crocheted items that each represent a repudiation of consumerist, disposable, mass-marketed culture. It’s the wave of energy that is pushing all of us to our particular next steps — past whatever’s been blocking us.

I know that after only two years since I took up the needles, I’d never be 1/10th of the knitter I am without Ravelry. A sweater? Two-at-a-time socks? Fair Isle, for heaven’s sake? No freakin’ way. It’s because of these people that I’m moving ever forward, conquering unknown territory, gaining confidence. Ravelympics is just like a gigantic version of that, concentrated into 17 days.

I’m a sucker for the Olympic spirit. I’ve been lucky enough to attend two Olympic Games (in LA in ’84 and Atlanta in ’96), and I’ve been collecting Olympic memorabilia for years. (Cobi, the Barcelona mascot, is a personal obsession.) And God help me, I believe in all that inspirational stuff about amateurism and peace and striving for glory and citius, altius, fortius. If it weren’t for events that distilled that great human drive to become more, more than what we are today, into tangible events where people collect that energy and release it at one place and one time, I’m not sure any of us could believe in it for long. Ravelympics does that for me as a knitter — and therefore for the person I wouldn’t have the courage or drive to be if I weren’t now a knitter. It makes me better and braver for 17 days, and therefore it makes me better and braver, full stop.

And that’s all just from the participant’s side, or maybe from the person who can’t help lurking in all the event and team threads. As a person who was lucky enough to offer help in organizing the event when help was needed, I can say that no group of 6000 people was ever more grateful or more loving. And I’m just feeding off of that love and gratitude like a remora.

One of the great joys is presenting the medals. We have several people who put on the mask of BobicusMaximus and officially recognize all finishers at the podium. What a joy to give everyone their moment in the sun! I feel like a kid playing dress-up, pretending to be a king bestowing honor on his subjects. And the graphics designed by octagonfudge, which we’re using on our “bouquets” (the coveted Ravthlete ravatar) and “medals” (the prized event blog badges) just were beyond our wildest dreams. When Kimberli and I saw them, I think we knew then — oh my God, people are going to want these so badly. I love the sort of Socialist Realism look of the illustration of Bobicus — it reminds me of the Olympic logos of the mid twentieth century. I want one for myself so badly, but I have to remind myself — no cheating, no doping — I must finish my event!

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2 Comments on “I’ve got it all down to a T”


  1. Maybe it’s on the long side, but it’s a very nice piece, Donna.

    As I struggle to figure out how to finish this bag, I realize how grateful I am for you and the others who leave encouraging and helpful comments. You all often have greater confidence that I’ll get it than I do, so it makes a difference to know that I have those readers inexplicably cheering me on. I completely get what you’re saying about Ravelry in this regard.

  2. maureen Says:

    I must admit, the Ravelympics were far too overwhelming for me to try. I applaud all of you for being able to keep your eyes off the sports to actually knit something. Sadly, I couldn’t manage to pick up the needles even once during the entire two weeks. You totally rock.


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