Knitters' problems may seem like a joke to some; having to finish Christmas gifts on time, making two sleeves the same length, and ripping back to a mistake may not seem like much to a non-knitter, but these problems can all ruin a knitter's experience with his or her craft. Then, there is Tara Stiles.
"I have to make Deepak Chopra a hat, and I'm so behind!"
Stiles, the Reebok designer and founder of of Strala, a unique brand of movement-based yoga, is also a knitter. The Manhattan-based central Illinois native was invited to appear at Vogue Knitting LIVE on Saturday, and while the program guide said "FREE LECTURE," attendees to the event left the so-called lecture with way more than they bargained for.
The Astor Ballroom at the New York Marriott Marquis was packed with knitters wanting to take a physical break from the crowded marketplace, and a mental break from all of the information-fueled classes they were taking. Stiles wasted no time, sitting on the stage and inviting everyone else to either sit on the ground or stay in their chairs if they were more comfortable. Within the first few minutes of the lecture, all bets were off and all stereotypes broken.
As Stiles walked everyone through each pose, which in her style of yoga does not require holding poses for more than a few seconds, she did so using contemporary Top 40 music hits instead of new age music. When she explained what to do, she also explained how to do it, and more importantly, why the people in the room were doing it. Her tone was not the stereotype of peaceful and calming that people imagine yoga instructors to use. Instead, she spoke to the crowd as if she was walking them through their favorite cookie recipe, dotting her talk with her infectious, contagious laugh.
After getting oxygen into the system with simple breathing exercises, students filled the rows of chairs and found spaces in the open aisles to get on the ground and join in the stretches with their entire bodies. Stiles proved to the class that they could stretch anywhere, at any time, in anything from blue jeans to skirts. She also kept reminding the students that if something felt good, they should do it, and if it did not, then they could either skip the stretch or allow less pressure on themselves.
When teaching the warrior pose, Stiles called everyone in the room "knitting warriors," and started talking about her own knitting. A woman in the front row was someone she knew from both knitting and yoga, and they had friendly banter throughout the class. Tara is, according to her own sentiment, not a fantastic knitter. She told the class that she knits hats and then gives them to her friends. When she asked the room, while in mountain pose, if anyone had any tips on how to knit faster, a woman in the fourth row of the Ballroom called out, "Use big yarn!"
At the end of the yoga lesson, after working on breathing, stretching out the wrists and hips, and easing the tension in the neck, the knitters turned back into knitters. As the crowd swarmed around Stiles to thank her, a woman in the class asked if she could cut into the line because she wanted to get a better look at the fuschia and striped hoodie, and she wanted to try and knit it.
Deepak Chopra may have to wait a bit longer for his hat.
(Click on "Subscribe" to have articles from the Chicago Knitting Examiner emailed directly to your inbox.)