A wedding in wool

  • By Julie Muhlstein Herald Columnist
  • Sunday, April 24, 2011 12:01am
  • Local News

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s head went missing. And for a time, it looked like Prince William of Wales might turn out to be shorter than his bride.

Fear not, royal wedding enthusiasts.

They’re all in their places — William and Kate, Charles and Camilla, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince

Philip, carrot-topped Prince Harry, even the queen’s corgis — all dressed, coiffed and ready for Friday’s ceremony.

Knitters who work at the Everett Public Library have been toiling as feverishly as the designer putting last-minute touches on Catherine Middleton’s gown must be. The library workers, about a half-dozen of them, have finished the task outlined in a kooky book called, “Knit Your Own Royal Wedding.”

There are lots of dandy books aimed at readers seeking details of the nuptials set for Friday morning at London’s Westminster Abbey. “The Royal Wedding for Dummies” is the latest in a line of “Dummies” books. Anglophiles may prefer the lavish photography in “The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton,” from Life Books.

And what if you simply must have doll-sized knitted figures representing the royal wedding party?

In “Knit Your Own Royal Wedding,” a paperback from Ivy Press, British author and knitting maven Fiona Goble has the answers — instructions, needle sizes, and a miniature backdrop of Westminster Abbey.

“I had royal family paper dolls back in the Charles and Diana days,” said Kim Payne, who works at the Everett library. “I bought the book, but I never thought I’d actually knit it.” Joan Blacker, display coordinator at the Everett library, calls Payne a “champion knitter” and “the brains behind the operation.”

When Payne read about a Midwest newspaper calling for knitters to create the royals, she decided to enlist the library’s knitters. Payne, Kathy Harrower, Chris Cooper, Darlene Tanis, Leslie Minor, Sue Combelic- Ghaley and Linda Stover crafted the figures. They’re on view near the check-out desk in the downtown Everett library, along with a display of books about the British royal family.

Stover, who works at the library’s Evergreen Branch, said the figures will make their way to the south Everett location this summer. Stover has entered her knitting in Evergreen State Fair competitions for 20 years, and plans to enter the dolls into the fair as a group project.

Knitting and embellishing the dolls took about three weeks.

“We have laughed so hard. We figure since our project is complete, the global excitement about the wedding will start to build,” Cooper quipped.

Library worker Jennifer Hughes isn’t a knitter. Still, she enjoyed watching her colleagues fingers’ fly as they knitted their way through lunch hours. Hughes remembered starting her job at the library the week that Princess Diana died in a car crash in 1997.

Payne said the dolls took at least 10 hours each to make. Knitters faced a few challenges before their dolls could be decorated with sequins, faux jewelry and military medals.

“My dog stole the archbishop’s head,” Combelic-Ghaley said. She was able to fetch the head back from Britta, her German shepherd who thought it was a new toy, before attaching the cleric’s miter.

Of the group, Tanis knits the tightest stitches. She had the important job of making Prince William, which led to worries that the king-to-be could end up about as tall as his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. “Luckily, William came out taller than Kate,” Payne said. Art, then, imitates life. Middleton is 5 feet 10 inches tall, while her prince is a lanky 6-foot-3.

Payne had the honor of knitting the bride, adding a $2 tiara she found on eBay.

The women paid attention to every aspect of their dolls. “William is a little bald on top, and Camilla’s ring is really big,” Minor said. They’re also up on details, large and small, of that grand affair later this week across the Atlantic.

With a son William’s age, Cooper said she’s been “a royal watcher for decades.” As they knitted, she said, they talked about all that’s changed since Lady Diana Spencer walked down the aisle 30 years ago. William gets to marry his college girlfriend.

Forget winning the queen’s approval. Kate’s common touch pleases the library knitters.

“We thought it was nice she invited the butcher,” Payne said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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