The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday on the new sport (?) of competitive speed knitting. Not really that new, apparently, since there are already world record holders and a challenger. Here’s a link to a story about the 2004 winner:

The world record is 255 stitches in 3 minutes. Hazel Tindall of the Shetland Islands is the current record-holder, succeeding a woman from Yorkshire. The challenger is a Dutch woman who seems from the Journal‘s reporting to have a mad desire to break the record. The Brits were gently skeptical of the possibility of a non-Brit being able to get the title, though Tindall did call her with some kindly tips on talcum powder.

My casual check of my knitting speed (knitting normally while watching my computer clock) revealed that I can’t get across one 79-stitch row of the bathmat in 3 minutes. I should have done it on Hopkins, which is just stockinette, and slides across the needles better, being wool. Then, oh then, I could have been a contender!

Not really. I am not a fast knitter, and have no desire to be. But the experiment showed me that 255 stitches in three minutes is really fast. Tindall claims that this kind of speed is normal in the Shetlands, where of course they do use a knitting belt. For a professional knitter, speed would clearly be an economic advantage. For us amateurs, it would probably threaten the meditative nature of the process. And how many books does Tindall get read while she knits?