Tuesday, September 16, 2008

She Knits, She Scores!

All rows: *K1, p1; rep from * across.

Was it Morse code or maybe another special message you just read? Yes, no or maybe? Chances are at least one out of three understood the above instructions, statistically speaking.

According to the Craft Yarn Council of America (CYCA) at least, because nearly 36 percent of American women can either knit or crochet.

In addition, the fastest growing age bracket--just happens to be young women between the ages of 25 and 34. The CYCA says since 2002 this particular set has grown by 150 percent to nearly seven million strong.

When asked about their motivations to pick up the hobby, the women interviewed mentioned friends, family, and one book in particular kept coming up: Stitch ‘n Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook, by Debbie Stoller.

Released in 2003, the original handbook has since been translated into three additional languages (Danish, Dutch, and Finnish). Part history lesson, part mission to “take back the knit,” there are now four books in the SNB series.

Maureen Kenyon, 35, says the original handbook still holds a “sweet spot” in her heart and recommends it to friends and new knitters alike, “No doubt, that’s how I learned.”

About five years ago, Jodi Small, 30, purchased a pair of needles with the intent of teaching herself to knit, and quickly learned the importance of a mentor.

“My office manager was a knitter and she told me to bring them in the next morning before work," she said. "She taught me the knit stitch in about 10 minutes!”

Just like that, Small was casting on and inspiring others to do the same, chiefly an old roommate.

“We spent hours sifting through boxes of tangled, mangled discounted yarn in order to make funky scarves for less,” she said.

The scarf obsession is very typical; most knitters have a good scarf story.

“I didn’t know how to purl until last year,” said Amy San Juan, 33, about her first completed project and so it was “scarves--many, many scarves--all done with cheap yarn and only with the knit stitch.”

Besides scarves, preferred projects range from accessories like hats and purses to wearables like raglan jumpers and cardigans.

“There is no seaming and you can try them on as you go,” said Kristen Collins, 28. Not only does she spend time knitting clothes for her young daughter, but she also manages to sell items she makes through her online store for some extra money.

The most popular item she sells are longies—little wool pants which function as cloth diaper covers; when her store is not hibernating she sells up to ten items a month.

When people find out she knits, the reactions can vary. “They say ‘how cute!’” Kenyon said, followed closely by, “‘can you make me something?’”

Small said some people make “old” lady jokes, but sometimes people come back with, “Cool, me too!”
As turned in to my Feature Writing class.


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