Thursday, May 24, 2007

So, I Have This Idea

But First, A Word of Thanks

Your messages about the arrival of Abigail have been icing on the cake, a delight to me and to my entire family. Thank you all so much for taking the time to write words of encouragement and congratulations.

I can't wait to record my impressions of the new arrival after our first opportunity to meet in person, which is scheduled for next week. (Note to Susan and Phil: Auntie Dolores is coming with me. Please tie up the dogs so we don't have a repeat of the Christmas Eve incident.)

Oh–And a Word About the Shawl

I've tried four or five approaches to writing a nice, fat entry about the christening shawl and admit defeat. The fact is, even if I had hours to style a good photograph it would still only look like a pile of string. Since it's on a circular needle, I can't spread it out to show you details.

So, a mere slip of an update. I've nearly finished the main portion of the border, which is worked in the diamonds-and-mesh pattern I showed you last time. Then there will be a narrow strip of buttercups on a stockinette ground. Then, and I can scarcely imagine it, I will work the edging.

At the moment, it feels as though I were born knitting this piece, and that in my next incarnation I will emerge still clutching it.

Now, the Idea

Ages ago a photographer who was acting as my mentor encouraged me to take on a large project, something that:
  • could not be completed in a month;
  • was outside the normal scope of my work; and
  • that pushed one or more of my fear buttons.
I decided to undertake an ambitious portrait series: 1,000 gay men from Chicago. I still think the idea has merit, but the logistics have proved beyond my ability. For every man who has agreed to sit for my camera, there have been ten who:
  • consider themselves model material and feel I should pay them a sitting fee plus royalties,
  • are really looking to live out a sex-with-the-photographer fantasy, or
  • back out at the last minute because, suddenly, they feel fat.
At this rate, I'll drop dead before I have thirty images.

But I'm still fascinated with the idea of capturing concretely something as nebulous and ephemeral as a community. And last week, as I was lying in bed contemplating mortality, the ill-fated portrait project intersected with an essay I've just recorded for Brenda Dayne's podcast, and a new idea emerged.

Why 1,000 gay men? They're not my only community. Why not honor 1,000 knitters?

Announcing: The Thousand Knitters Project

Beginning today, I'm seeking anyone who self-identifies as a knitter to become part of The Thousand Knitters Project. Here are the particulars:
  • Subjects will be photographed anywhere from half- to full-length, displaying a work-in-progress or finished object.
  • There will be no payment for sitting, but subjects will be given either an electronic file or a finished 8"x10" print.
  • Individual sittings will take no longer than 15 minutes.
  • The portraits will be assembled for display in at least an electronic venue (i.e., Web site), and other formats depending on how the project evolves.
  • All subjects will be asked to sign a standard model release, giving me permission to use the images in my work and waiving the right to compensation.
  • Subjects can (and I hope, will) be any and every age, shape, size, race, religion, gender, orientation, nationality. The only thing that matters is that you knit and/or crochet.
  • For the time being, sittings will take place in Chicago, so you'd need to be able to get here. If this takes off, we'll see about shooting in other cities.
  • Yes, if you crochet or spin, you're welcome to join in. But I have to draw the line somewhere, so let's wait see how this goes and then maybe I can get to the quilters and the cross-stitchers and...
Knitters have always given, and still give, so much to the world. But with a very few exceptions they are lost to history. Let's see if, in some small way, we can change that.

Interested? Write to me at portraits at franklinhabit daht cahm with the subject line "1,000." That's it, just "1,000." I'll be using the subject line to pre-sort the messages, so please be sure to use the correct subject. Give me some idea of when you might be available and we'll go from there.

And one more thing: If possible, I'd love to tap into the crowds coming in for Stitches Midwest. If you'll be a vendor at the market, and are willing to discuss the possibility of allowing me space to set up a chair and small backdrop–about as much as you'd need for a book signing–contact me at franklin at franklinhabit daht cahm. In return, I could offer advertising, photography, and possibly some monetary compensation.

*Not a ground-breaking idea; Richard Avedon's American West series is my inspiration.

101 comments:

Suzanne said...

Brilliant stroke of genius!

Anna-Liza said...

What a beautiful idea! I have no reason to come to Chicago, but if life sends me that way, I'll be sure to let you know. Alternatively, if you end up coming to the Denver area for any reason, let me know and I'll round up some knitters for you. (Not that I'm your only reader in this area, but I know a lot of people).

Judith in NYC said...

Come to NY and this big, fat, and fab 'Rican will be honored to pose for you.

phoenix said...

What a great project! I'd pose for you in a heartbeat. Alas, I'm on the mid-atlantic coast so if you find yourself near Rehoboth or Philly and you need a woman of color...

Tomme said...

This will be a wonderful project. If you really want to chronicle knitters for posterity, how about coming up with some photo parameters and letting us e-mail (or snail mail) you photos? You'd still be stepping WAY out of the box because you'd probably receive many more than the 1,000 of your current goal, and you'd still have to arrange and display the photos in some way, so the time factor is still a daunting one. While I would dearly love to come to Chicago to sit for you, as would many others, it's probably not in the cards anytime in the foreseeable future.

Another thought -- knit shops in some of the larger cities might be willing to pay your expenses to come there. The shop could arrange the photo shoot for you, and you also could give a lecture, read an essay, teach a class, do a demo, or something. For a place like String in NYC, for example, it would bring tons of people into the shop (because you know ALL knitters want to meet you!) and you'd have an opportunity to photograph "alien" knitters (i.e., knitters from outside Chicago). Good luck with the project!

ted said...

Brilliant.

Wonderful idea.

ccr in MA said...

What an intriguing idea! I wish Chicago was in my sights, but alas, I'm not currently planning any trips that way (though if the universe bounces me in that direction, I'll alert you).

Meanwhile, if the universe sends you to New England, I'll sign up!

Lexy Girl said...

Awesome, I can't wait for this to take off. Wish I were near Chicago... girl loves to ahve her picture taken.

Bev said...

What a wonderful idea! If you make it to St. Louis, we'll be happy to be a part of your project!

Eve said...

Love the idea, and would love to sit for you. Though personally pictures of me are not my favorite, but this is a good project. Sadly I live in California so I'm out. Good luck though!

gail said...

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to use a new word: faboo. As in, this idea is faboo!

Also thanks for the great mom & baby photos, they were lovely.

5elementknitr said...

What a fantabulous idea! If you ever make it to Denver, there's at least 200 of us within driving distance! (Just ask the Yarn Harlot.)

LindaD said...

Your niece is gorgeous, may she grow up and enjoy all the blessing life gives her, including Uncle Franklin!

All the best!

LindaD

Anonymous said...

We may one day make it through Chicago, probably next summer, but if you are visiting in the mid Atlantic before then, we would also travel. The sooner the better to get the now-five-year-old knitter, if you really want all ages.

I'm loving the Abigail pictures. A newborn is my favorite sort of person (says the former newborn nursery nurse). Congratulations to Sister Sue and family.

rosesmama

Kris said...

What a great idea. I wish I lived in the Chicago area so I could participate. That would be a total blast.

Good luck. Please post as to how things are going. I'd love reading about the progress of this project. And if I'm ever near Chicago...I'll definitely sign up.

Kris
The Knitting Wannabe
http://www.knittingwannabe.typepad.com

Gwen said...

I see the christening shawl as the same type of project as 1,000 portraits. Grand Projects! and beautiful.

amy said...

delurking to say, what a fabulous idea. I wish I was headed west at some point, but travel is pretty limited right now. but if you ever end up in southern New England...

also, Abigail is beautiful. It almost hurts to look at her--I'm wanting another baby so badly.

www.knittingnutter.com said...

Very nice - I'm on the west coast, so if you need to widen your horizons, let me know - be happy to be photographed. I'm sure, though, with the millions of knitters out there, you will not have any trouble finding subjects. Can't want to see the project progress.

Camille said...

Have you considered doing a pan-cultural type of project with other photographers, covering multiple countries?

Yes, that'd make it much bigger than your original idea, but it does give you room for expansion as time goes on

Camille in Oz

Riin said...

What a wonderful idea! Let me know if you come to Ann Arbor.

Jennie said...

Ha, I thought you'd written

"advertising, *pornography*, and possibly some monetary compensation."

"Ooh, this sounds interesting," I thought.

Ah. Must read more carefully.

Trillian42 said...

That is an amazing idea. I look forward to seeing it when you complete it. And if you ever make it to the DC area, I'd love to participate!

Congratulations to you and your family on that beautiful little addition!

Paul said...

What an awesome project! I must think about this, I'd love to be part of it.

Sharon Rose said...

I love the idea of you doing a LYS tour. Delores could do a reading! When you get to Philly you are welcome to stay here. My craft room turns into a guest room, so you could sleep surrounded by shelves of yarn and fulfill your fantasy of waking up in an LYS!

Nancy said...

Of course you started your knitter series at Camp last summer... and the knit-ins. There is the Niece Abigail series... Your shawl may appear but a pile of string...yet such beauty and love are enveloping each twist and turn...

Carina said...

I love this idea. It's so interesting and definitely worth the time and effort to produce such an interesting piece of art. I'll e-mail you--I would love to sit for such an interesting project.

tara said...

Sadly, I live in Ottawa, and I don't think I'll be in Chicago any time soon. But, I think the idea is great, and look forward to seeing the results!

Victoria said...

Great idea! I wish I lived in Chicago. If it expands out from Chicago I would love to be included. No big deal that the its not an original idea...artists...steal...umm mean borrow from one another all the time. :-D

I have needed people to model for me for a series of drawings and paintings I have wanted to do for years but its been put on the side for some of the same reasons you detailed. I am always willing to help another artist out with their vision.

Isn't it funny (not funny ha ha...but funny interesting) how we can group ourselves into sometimes identifying ourselves in one manner, and maybe not forget but sort not allow ourselves to meld all identities....don't know if that makes sense....just something I thought about reading your comment about not just being a part of just one community.

Puerto Rican, yarn addict, 42, transplanted New Yorker, retired miliatry, living out west here. Keep me in mind if you need more!

I will send good vibes for your idea to come to fruition!

Terri said...

Your posts have inspired me to try lace work myself; however, I am not nearly so successful. I love the ideat of the 1,000 knitters! I wish you well in your quest.

Sarah said...

What a nifty idea.

SJ said...

What a fantastic idea! If only you'd had it a few weeks ago when I was in Chicago (with my knitting!).

Gena said...

Beautiful idea! I only wish I was closer to Chicago and could take part!

freecia said...

Congratulations on becoming an Uncle. I also think the knitter idea is fabulous. Did you ever consider taking 1,000 pictures of knitter hands? I'd be interested in seeing that, too. Might you post them gradually (possibly to flickr?) so we can appreciate them in small lots and tag our own favorite knitter people portraits?

If there's ever a trip to California, I would love to sit for you.

Michael said...

If I weren't so far away, I would be more than happy to sit for this. Best of luck with it! (let me know if it ever makes it to Vancouver or the area)

terri said...

Ooof! I just had to sit for an ID badge photo at work today. (I broke my old badge, somehow.) The supply dept. guy didn't seem too excited about my portrait-sitting skills ("You know, you CAN smile for this!") So I'm bowing out now, or you can change it to the 999 Knitter's Project. Trust me, I'm doing you a favor!

signed,
I know this was pretty silly, but I hope you don't mind (but it's the truth about the badge thing)

MonicaPDX said...

So, you have this idea, and I got all choked up. Beautiful! And dammit, I'll probably never hit Chicago again in my lifetime. (Never thought I'd ever get that far east in my life. [g] Doubt I'll make it a second time.) May you get tons of volunteers and a gallery showing!

Angela said...

That is such a fab idea Franklin. Unfortunately, I live in NY with no plans to go to Chicago anytime soon.

Lee Ann said...

Welllll...If you're coming to Rhinebeck, I'll totally pose for you.

Otherwise, I'm afraid not...Chicago is wicked fah away... :-(

lin said...

I wish I lived closer. Drat.

Ann (yet another) said...

Sadly I will not be going anywhere near Chicago in this lifetime, but perhaps we can slip you airplane tickets to MD S&W next year and you can photograph a zillion knitters in one fell swoop. 8-) One other interesting idea I have seen is to photograph knitters hands knitting. There are so many different styles.

Good luck on the shawl edging, I bet you finish before I do. 8-)

Tell Dolores to behave or you'll go borrow a border collie. She'll probably be down at the Snort and Tipple wetting Abigail's head anyway.

Jenny said...

Great idea. I'm game. Just sent you an e-mail

Jeanne said...

I live in Ohio. It's not that far. I could actually make it to Chicago for my ten minutes of knitterly fame (as long as it doesn't require traveling over the infamous Skyway Bridge). I love the idea posed to have yarn shops hosting photo shoots to pay your expenses. We have a fantastic LYS nearby and it is run by two gay men who I'm sure would be glad to be included (covers both of your missives).

Laura said...

I think this is a great idea. Many of us are hesitant for some reason to show our faces on our blogs. It will be neat to see so many people being photographed because of who they are rather than something they did. Plus, imagine the book tour.

By the way, I can't wait to see the pictures you take of your niece.

Warrior Knitter said...

Wicked Brilliant!

Man, I wish I lived in/near Chicago.

I hope you have scads of fun.

gemma said...

if you decide to visit some other country for photos, there are lots of knitters in Australia (and heaps of beaches)! :)
good luck with the project.

dragon knitter said...

and i WAS going to be in chicago in 2 weeks for the blues fest, until my FIL got ill. DAMN, DAMN, DAMN! omaha's not that far away?

Elizabeth said...

I daresay you'll have 1000 volunteers before you get back from Maine.

mary said...

Sounds like a beautiful project. If you ever get back out to LA, I'd love to sit for you.
Mary http://dimsumknitting.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Crochet counts as knitting???? I'm shocked. Next you'll be counting tatting.

Kate said...

Damn, I'd love to participate in this. I could bring the first sweater I ever knitted and you could photograph me scarecrow-stanced, dolefully comparing the left side's bat-wing sleeve with the right's fitted sleeve (jiggered if I can figure out how that happened...). However, I don't fit the location requirement - Wagga is quite a ways from Chicago. Good luck with this assignment and good luck with the shawl. I have a scarf that feels the same.

Christine Olea said...

This is one of the coolest ideas I've heard in a long time. I think you're right about knitter's being lost (mostly) to obscurity and that's a damn shame cause we are some of the most interesting people.
Don't live in Chicago, but I'd pose if I did.

Michelle said...

What a great idea. If you are ever in Southern California for this, I would love to do this for you.

lizbon said...

Brilliant idea, and you can probably (of you want to) develop it into a book. And really, Franklin, you write so damned freaking well that why not develop it into a book? Unless, of course, you hate that idea.

I am too far from Chicago to participate personally, but if you should happen to need a NYC correspondent/sous photographer, let me know. Have Nikon will hit the pavement (my feet, not the camera) (heaven forfend).

lizbon said...

PS. I just realized that was silly of me - of course you don't want a sous-photographer. It is your project, and your photos are the whole point of the endeavor. I just got excited about the concept and was wishing there was some way to assist. How about a cheering section instead? Go Franklin go!

moiraeknits said...

Franklin, this is an awesome idea. If you're ever in Seattle and still need subjects, I'd like to participate, but in the mean time? Best of luck! I really think this will turn out remarkably. :D

Dutch Jan said...

What a great idea!!!! So sorry I live in Holland and not in Chicago, but wehn you come to Holland I defintelely would pose and I am sure a lot of Dutch knitters would do the same

Dutch Jan said...

And I have been trying to send post about the baby but I didn't came through.
My topic for uncle's is: spoil the baby as much as you can! Take always chocolatebars and other sweets with you, in discusions with the parents about the child always choose the site of the child because that's what uncles are for!!! And knit her when she is 4 years old a beautiful PINK princess dress!!!

Janet said...

What a great idea. How about setting up your "studio" at O'Hare for knitters passing through the airport? I usually travel via Chicago enroute to Seattle.

Terri Lynn said...

That is a terrific idea. I'm actually the only knitter I know. The idea of seeing 1,000 other real people (you know what I mean, people who actually do knit and aren't just using needles as a prop) who have this in common is amazing to me. The baby is beautiful, beautiful.

sarah said...

It's a shame that your first idea failed for those particular reasons. I'd feel honoured if asked to be part of a work of art. The knitters portraits is a similarly fabulous project. Unfortunately I'm in the UK, so can't participate in this version. Tomme's suggestion that you find some way of accepting our own photos of us is equally interesting but different. a way of capturing? presenting? the diversity of knitters. Perhaps a gallery would take it.

Guro said...

Wow! Great project. I really like your idea. If you have trouble finding 1000 knitters, though I doubt it, you're always welcom to come to Norway and snap a few shots here.

Good luck with the finishing of the christening shawl. And congratulations on the arrival of Abigail.

Lola said...

This is a Brillant Idea! Go for it! Perhaps you can even expand it to a traveling gallery show . . .

DAWN said...

I love love love your idea and wish I could participate, but alas, I live in Tennessee. Good luck with it, though. It will be a success, I know.

Lady Wyvern said...

Count Sara and I in, we sent you an email

kirsten said...

Love it! I suppose Delores will feel she should be amongst the first? Don't think she knits, but I also don't think it matters (at least to her). Great idea, can't wait to see the end results!!

Grumpy said...

in my next incarnation I will emerge still clutching it(knitting). Oooh, Franklin, I love this concept! I am an embrio yoga teacher just learning the philosophy. Reincarnation will be so much less scary if I can take my knitting with me!

CarolineF said...

That is a fantastic idea. I wish I lived near Chicago. If you head east to Stitches East please make a big fuss about it and you can get a bunch of us then.

Kat said...

If you need a girl, in her 20s, who lives in Chicago and has quite the mohawk (who happens to be rams' daughter, by the way), I'd love to help you with your project! I'm not sure how to get ahold of you but feel free to e-mail me at kat.ramsey@hotmail.com

-Kat

April said...

I'm not going to send an email - but I'll throw this out there - If you are EVER in Tulsa, OK - I have three knitters that would sit for you - Myself and two sons.

Lilith Parker said...

Two things:

- Come to Rhinebeck in October.

- Does a 90-minute layover at O'Hare include enough time for a sitting? ;)

denny Mcmillan said...

I think I should bring up a road trip conversation at SnB, I get the Toronto gals in gear. The harlot has to show me her beloved bean, and I need to see my O'keefes. Love me some Georgia. We may need a yarn crawl though. When When When....

Maxly said...

ARgh, A day late and a dollar short..

I spent 10 hours at O'Hare yesterday after my flight cancelled. If I hadn't gotten out on the last flight I would have been there until Saturday, sock in progress with me.

Next time. This is a very cool idea.

KnitNana said...

I love love love the idea!
Wish I could get there. (I'm in the mid-atlantic too...and we have a really great knit group should you decide to "travel."
(sigh)
Can't wait to see the results!!!
(((hugs)))

Laurel said...

Well who wouldn't want to be a part of that? Let me know if you decide to road-trip this project to San Francisco and I'll round up a few of the more interesting specimens from the local knitting herd. We'll bring the snacks and martini fixin's. Olives or onions?

Deanna said...

I can't wait to see the finished exhibit.
You might try getting to the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair in Crystal Lake, July 20-22. It seems like a good fit and you would get a head start before Stitches.

Yarngineer said...

I used to be a photography student, so I understand your frustration. If you ever decide to come to Stitches East, please post that on your blog and I will volunteer for 1,000.

Vaedri said...

What a lovely idea. If I were a wee bit closer I might have joined in. I'm sure you'll get to your 1000 without me, though - best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Knitter.

Shawls, mostly.

Lives near Chicago, can meet you.

I'd love to be included.

Diane (dgelder631@wideopenwest.com)

Jacquie said...

If you go to San Francisco, Salt Lake City is on the way so please stop off to see me there

StarSpry said...

What a wonderful idea! Too bad I don't live near Chicago anymore :(

Kristine said...

Chicago is farther than I can get to, but if you end up in Vermont, I'd love to participate! And I'm even a knitter who is growing another knitter (I hope) so I might be a two-fer. :)

Mary Lynn said...

I totally forgot about the Christmas trip . . . thanks for the reminder. I hope this trip goes better!

I too am a woman of color . . . of course, my color is sort of pink with freckles and old age splotchy things.

And while I would love to come to Chicago, I do not see it anytime in the near future. But, if you ever make to Cleveland and are interested in photographing a not so photogenic, pinkish, freckled, splotchy person, let me know.

Seriously, the not so photogenic part is totally serious. After the last vacation, I systematically deleted all photos with me in them. I have themost photogenic family and then there is "moi."

Gina Black said...

I'd love to participate. I'm in SoCal. That's quite a walk from Chicago.

But if you decide you want to take a picture off a video cam or something like that maybe it would work out!

cavalaxis said...

I'd love to participate as well, but I'm only a beginning knitter. I'm much more of a spinner. But the knitting, it will not vanquish me!

Ventura, CA

lynette said...

i love your idea!!!! just wonderful!

~Kristie said...

What a amazing idea. I would be honored to be a participant, but unfortunately I live in southern California, and I currently have no trips planned to visit Chicago in the near future. Damnit.

Rhonda the Stitchingnut said...

I love the idea of this, but I'm not anywhere near Chicago. But if you're ever in Boston, put me on your list. Arranging this thru popular Yarn Stores might be a great idea and you'll meet & photograph plenty of knitters there. I hang out at Seed Stitch Fine Yarn in Salem, MA ;-)

Susan said...

Well, if not-Chicago's okay, I'll be grist to your project-mill. (Actually, my youngest lives in Andersonville and we're coming to visit in June. Maybe we could work something out there?)

-rams

FiberQat said...

I don't think you'll have a problem getting knitters to work for you. The hard part will be fending off the over-enthusiastic. I'm unable to travel to Chicago but if you're in Portland OR you'll find plenty of locations for knitterly shots. The roses are spectacular this year.

Anonymous said...

I understand that purpose of the journy to Maine is to become acquainted with one of our newest residents, however, could you be in the general vicintiy without stopping by Halcyon Yarn? And wouldn't that be a grand place for some photos? Say the word (and perhaps mention it to the folks at Halcyon)and you will have many volunteers!

Seanna Lea said...

I love projects like this. Projects so big and encompassing that even a passing stranger just feels this overwhelming sense of largeness and closeness in the finished works.

There were a couple of projects on a much smaller scale at the MOMA when I visited in March, that called forth those reactions that were completely visceral despite my distance from the subjects.

Of course, I live in the Boston area, so not an option for me.

Anonymous said...

Traveling around the country taking pictures of knitters and investigating yarn stores would be tax-deductible as a work expense, wouldn't it?
We'd love to see you in Boston and make some new memories!
And why would 1000 gay men push your fear button??? Sue F.

Andrea Rusin said...

I forgot! We need to see a picture of the youngest Democrat in her sweater soon, too!!

Nancy said...

I think this is a great project. How does one become a part of it?

danielle said...

I hate being the focus of a camera but I think this is a wonderful idea! and if I was wonderously rich I would come - and sit for the photo no matter how much I would hate it and also revisit Chicago - which is on my dream list....

Ina said...

Great idea! Any chance of making it to Rhinebeck this year - or anywhere near NYC?

elan said...

Come to Toronto, visit the great knit shops & Canadian knitters will flock there for photos. I can't manage Chicago atm but Toronto I could do!

maureen said...

I live in a very beautiful section of southern Rhode Island - drop dead beautiful beaches and glorious white sand! My friends and I knit by the sea all summer long! If you get wanderlust we would love to share the ocean, knitting and drinks with you... and since one of my children share your Cambridge alma mater with you, I would love to have you stay with my husband and me for a glorious stitch -in!
Sounds like an exciting project - good luck - I'll be watching your progress and keeping my fingers crossed for you until you cross the victory line!

gale (she shoots sheep shots) said...

FAB FAB IDEA! Love projects like this, 1000 is the perfect number to make it big enough. (also love Avedon's west). Wishing you the best with it!

Nancy said...

Nieces are the best things in the world!

And since I come to Chicago fairly often to visit my nieces, I'd love to be part of the project. Come to think of it, my oldest niece is also a knitter (we're still working on the other two). So if you'd like to include some kids. . .

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