I’m probably going to wind up making knitting nemeses or something by posting this, but I just came home from the weirdest Stitch ‘n’ Bitch of my entire life. Dude.

I’d been to this particular group once before. I’d made plans to meet up there this week with turtleknitter (Mary)–we were going back and forth between either meeting up on Thursday or going to the S’n’B tonight (Wednesday) to see the musician they’d booked. Apparently he’d come to play once before and a lot of people liked his show. Having listened to some clips on his MySpace page, I said I was interested in going to see him, so Wednesday it was.

I almost cancelled–I had a bunch of work to do by EOD today (spent a couple of hours finishing it up once I got home from knitting)–but decided no, I should make the effort to go see some live music and meet some new people.

The S’n’B is held in a very large local cafe with lots of different rooms. The concert was in a room all the way in the back. When I arrived, people were sitting around four tables arranged in a circle; on the other side of the room was a stage with folding chairs set up in front. I sat down, started chatting to the people around me, and not long after that it was time for the music to get going. The organizer of this S’n’B asked if we should perhaps either move to the chairs in front of the stage, or move the tables forward so they all faced the stage. Since yarn and coffee was already spread out everywhere, there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm about either idea, and the musician ended up just sitting at a chair at the circle of tables.

He requested that perhaps we could all stop talking and quietly listen while he played, if that would be OK. I have to admit I was kind of put off by this, since I had come to the S’n’B pretty much specifically to socialize, and the postings about the concert hadn’t really made it clear that we weren’t supposed to talk at all. I guess I’m not sure whether the default at a concert should be talking or not talking, but I’ve been to a lot of coffeehouses over the years, worked in one in high school, and I’ve never been to one that demanded absolute silence from the audience. Usually the normal background activities go on during the music–talking, drinking coffee, studying, working–and if the musician is really good, people will shut up and listen.

The woman next to me kept talking to me and showing me her knitting. I admired (she had some great fingerless mitts made from Rowan Scottish Tweed Chunky in a deep purple color, and a newly finished merino hat) and after the first song, we were admonished again by the musician: “please, it would be really helpful if you would not talk while I’m playing, it’s really, really distracting.”

“Well, it’s not like you even wrote that song yourself,” said the woman next to me (he’d just played a cover song).

“Well, this one is one I wrote myself,” he said, and went on playing.

So we sat quietly for a while and listened to the music. Mary came in, and sat down across from me–I sneaked over and gave her the skein of handspun I’d been saving for her:

(posed below alongside my new Sundara yarn:)

Mary had given me a huge chunk of this delicious purple Miss Babs BFL batt at our last spinning meet-up, so I thought it would be nice to give her the squooshy, lofty, pretty Navajo-plied handspun that the batt became. (As it turns out, it was great timing, since it was her birthday on Monday and I didn’t know! Happy birthday, Mary!)

I admired the mittens she was making vewy, vewy quietly and then went back to my seat.

The musician played a cover of “Androgynous,” by the Replacements, which I appreciated, and a fun song about sneakers. He apologized if he had sounded bitchy earlier, and told us he had been to Africa and “it’s amazing how it changes your life.”

After a bit, the musician took a break, and the organizer made an announcement that anyone who felt like talking should go into the other room before the music started up again. “It’s not just distracting for him to play, it’s distracting for us, who want to listen.”

I may be misquoting a little here, but this is the gist of what happened next:

The musician called out to the woman next to me, “You should try working on your attitude!”

She retorted, “Well, you should try working on your singing!”

He started talking about how his singing might be an acquired taste, and maybe you would have to have refined tastes and appreciate music in order to like it.

The organizer said to the woman next to me, “Go fuck yourself!”

And about half of us trooped off into the Talking Zone and the rest of the room arranged themselves adoringly before the musician for the rest of his set.

So, yeah. We got kicked out of the S’n’B for being too loud. And the organizer swore at us. It was really weird. Now I’m kind of afraid to go back! It wasn’t even that I was trying to make a statement about the music, or identify myself as a troublemaker… actually, I thought the guy’s music was nice; he sings and plays the guitar well. It was just that I came to S’n’B for socializing in general, and Mary and I had specifically made plans to meet up there to chat, and neither one of those goals was being met by the concert setup. But now I think I may have been blacklisted.

I also found out afterwards that the organizer is engaged to the musician, which would explain a lot about the interpersonal dynamics there.

It was just a very, very odd experience all around.

Amusingly enough, one of the people who left the room with us was an anthropology student who had come to the meeting because she had to write a paper about a group of people, and she had chosen to come observe a group of knitters in action. She had expected to write a fairly boring paper about a standard Stitch ‘n’ Bitch session–looks like she hit the anthropology jackpot.

On the bright side, I’m now about 4 inches into both sleeves for my Flicca coat. Soon, cuddly sweater coat goodness will be mine! I’ll have to decide soon if I want to close it with buttons or a belt or leather toggles (I’m leaning towards toggles, but I think they’ll be the most trouble to locate). It is pretty gigantic and heavy already (10 skeins in) and I can only imagine how heavy the versions on Ravelry knit in Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky must be–I have both yarns in my stash, and RYC Soft Tweed seems pretty airy and lofty, while Yorkshire Tweed Chunky is much heavier and denser. I did the math and ten yards of RYC Soft Tweed weigh 5.7 grams, while ten yards of Yorkshire Tweed Chunky weigh 9.17 grams!

Edited to add a few corrections to clear things up as per some comments made by the organizer (Mackenzie), since it looks like I did misquote:

  • The person who was talking was talking loudly and yes, her comments were rude. I think that was already clear from the description of what she said, but just in case that wasn’t, there you go. I also missed reporting an additional bitchy/sarcastic exchange between her and the musician, which you can read about in Mackenzie’s comments below
  • I was wrong; it wasn’t the organizer who said “go fuck yourself,” but the person sitting next to her.
  • I accidentally gave the impression that the Africa comment had to do with asking people to be quiet, which it didn’t. I was just summing up the different things he said during the first part of the set. It was unrelated banter between songs and had to do with the content of one of the musician’s songs.
  • Mackenzie wasn’t the one who organized the show; the owners of the cafe did that.