by Margo, Everett Public Library staff
They’re out there and they are coming to a location near you! Wielding and working their needles, knitting communities worldwide have been gathering annually on the second Saturday in June since 2005. The occasion has been dubbed World Wide Knit in Public Day. Unaware of this phenomena and taken quite by surprise,I shot the photo above while on a trip to Richmond VA.
This happening event has sparked staff at the library: from the hands that brought you the knitted Royal Family, Everett Public Library knitters have been at it again.Their inspiration primarily comes from library books such as Spud and Chloe at the Farm and Knitted Nursery Rhymes. This industrious group of knitters has been stitching away for months on break time and after work hours. Cute characters and creatures are shaping up to make their debut in June at both locations. In addition, to commemorate World Wide Knit in Public Day, the Evergreen Branch will host a gathering “Drop everything and knit”, at 6:00 pm on June 18th.
Not a knitter myself, I thought it might be interesting to learn a bit about the knitters behind the needles. I posed the question to a few staff knitters, “How long have you been knitting and what got you started?” I’ve enjoyed each response and thought you might as well.
Linda told me it was the Vietnam War that got her started. She explained that during the war her mother had generously opened up their home, inviting her friend and family to stay with them while her husband served overseas —- in effect their household size doubled. Linda in turn sought out tranquility and became friends with an elderly neighbor who welcomed her company and taught Linda how to both knit and crochet. This lifetime skill has led to placing her work and winning awards at the Evergreen State Fair. For the past 7 years Linda has volunteered several evenings a month at the Evergreen Branch where she leads a Crochet and Knit group. ‘Spud and Chloe at the farm’, currently on display at the Evergreen Branch, gives tribute to her talent and most recent work.
Kim shares that around the time she finished college and started her first “real” job at the Everett Public Library 25 years ago, she began to knit. Considering knitting to be a fun hobby, but with no experience, Kim began taking classes at Great Yarns just north of 41st on Rucker Avenue. The instructor was pleased with Kim’s lack of knowledge and told Kim “You won’t have to unlearn anything.” I found it interesting to learn that Kim uses the Continental style of knitting which means in knitting language she is a picker not a thrower. In this method one holds the yarn in the left hand compared to the majority who hold the yarn in their right. Since her early years at the library, Kim has always managed to connect with other knitters and is the person behind the collaborative display that will be in the children’s display case at the Main Library.
Nalmes grandmother’s enthusiasm for knitting, not shared by her own mother, got passed down to her. Influenced by her grandmother she learned basic technique; terminology would come later since she was just 9 years old. After a decade or so Nalmes picked knitting back up last year inspired by the many knitting books here at the library. Today she is self-taught. Between how-to-books and YouTube videos she feels confident and believes she can pretty much do anything she puts her knit and crochet needles to. Recently she made a Seahawk scarf as a birthday gift and a newborn sleeper designed to look like the Very Hungry Caterpillar. You can see her contribution to the knit display at the Evergreen Branch Library.
Julie wanted to try something no one else in her family had mastered, so at the resourceful age of 12 she visited her local library and borrowed a children’s picture book on knitting. Through trial and error, mostly error, Julie taught herself. The most challenging project Julie has taken up was the knitting of a fisherman sweater.The process took a months time and involved managing multiple needles, converting a pattern to do ‘in the round’ and an additional four months to knit. If you are up for the challenge Knitting Stitches Visual Encyclopedia is good resource. Subsequently, Julie has successfully taught her mom to knit dishcloths and has helped out many others along the way. She confides the process of knitting is more rewarding than the final product. Currently she has been working on features that will be on display at the Evergreen Branch library as well as dishcloths as a wedding gift for her cousin’s wedding.
Chris says she has been knitting for as long as she remembers, at least 45 years. It was so long ago she cannot recall the learning of it but remembers a mustard-colored yarn, strange as that sounds. She credits her mom who taught Chris at 8 years old how to sew along with her two sisters. Consequently, her mom had to create a schedule so the girls wouldn’t fight over who got to use the sewing machine while making back-to-school clothes. You can see her contribution to the Knitted Nursery on display at the Main Library.
Leslie admits she hasn’t had much time to knit lately. She was about eight when her god mother bought her some blue plastic needles and some furry black and white yarn. She made a scarf and has been knitting ever since. She typically knits more in the winter months than the summer. Leslie is currently working on Christmas stockings for her granddaughters.
Even though I don’t know one needle from another or the difference between crochet and knitting, I must say that the books on this subject seem endless. I browsed over a few that looked inviting. Learn to Knit Love to Knit is by Anna Wilkinson who is a leading designer among a new wave of young knitters. She offers basic illustrations and instructions for the beginner. The book then dedicates the last half to serious skilled knitters with beautiful designs. If you would like to try something along the lines of what library knitters are creating, you might find some ideas in Toys to Knit, by Tracy Chapman or Amigurume: Make Cute Crochet People, by Allison Hoffman.
These are just a small sampling of the many books available on crochet and knitting at the Everett Public Library. Who knows, I may start stitching myself one of these days.