Knap-ins are simply defined as large gatherings of flintknappers. They can be as simple as a group
of 5-10 flintknappers gathered in a garage to knap for a few hours, or they can be as elaborate as an
event where thousands of knappers, vendors, atlatlists, primitive bowyers, and other primitive
craftsmen gather at a state park or large open area for several days. Large knap-ins are usually
held anually in almost every state or region of the United States.
When you arrive at a large knap-in, the first thing you will notice is the sound of other
flintknappers breaking rock (music to my ears!!). You'll see teepees, and vendor tents all over. A
closer look will reveal that under those vendor tents are usually knappers showing, and selling their
products as well as raw materials such as flint, chert, and obsidian. As you walk around you will see
other primitive crafts, smell sage grass incense and other smells of food cooking and tanned
leather. You will see knappers gathered in small groups knapping and talking, while others knap in
two's or even three's under there vender tents in order to tend their wares that they are selling.
There is so much to see, hear, and experience at a knap-in, that just walking around one is a life
Knap-ins are a great place to make new knapping friends and to buy the supplies you need. You'll
find every kind of knapable stone available for sale, all kinds of tools, and many different types of
teaching aides such as books and videos. I usually spend the entire first morning of attending the
Letchworth Knap-in buying rock to replenish my supply. It's helpful to take an inventory of what
you NEED before leaving home, so that you get that first, then there will be plenty of time to buy the
rock and tools you WANT.
There will also be special events at knap-ins such as Oooga Booga, Ten-Speed competitions, and
the auction on the last day. Oooga Booga is..............................well, it's a secret, so you'll have to
attend a cerimony to see what it's all about. The Ten-Speed competition is where a group of
knappers gather in a circle with each one bringing a rather difficult piece of rock (some knappers
bring good rock too) to throw in the middle. Each rock is numbered and each knapper draws a
number to receive a rock. The knappers then have ten minutes to make the best point they can out
of the rock whose number they picked. This is quite a challenge, but is a lot of fun to watch and
participate in. The resulting points, or what the knapper calls a point, are then auctioned off to raise
money to cover the cost of hosting the knap-in. On the last day of the knap-in there is usually an
auction where knappers and vendors donate items that anyone can bid on. These are always
entertaining and a great opportunity to take home some great works of art from talented knappers.
The only downside to a knap-in, is saying goodbye to all your knapping friends and new friends.
I've just glossed over what goes on at knap-ins, so to understand how fun and great they are, you'll
just have to attend one. If you see me at a knap-in, come up and say hello. I'll break rock with just
about anyone, and especially like helping new knappers.