Yarn pulls women together ‘worldwide’

Stina SiegGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kara K. Pearson Post Independent

CARBONDALE – The cold outside was biting, but, from inside the shop, you wouldn’t have suspected it. Surrounded by colorful hanks of yarn were five women, all knitting. They were laughing and chatting, drowning out the sound of their clicking needles. It looked as though they were having a great time. No, scratch that. They certainly were.

The gals are part of a knitting group, held every Friday at the Yarn Garden. During a recent session, owner Elizabeth Yates, described why she loves fiber.”There’s something very satisfying about the tactile. The yarn feels good,” she said, “and you get something.”Wearing a hand-made, rainbow poncho, she held up a knitted, turquoise bunny for the rest of the women to see. It was still missing a face, but the oblong creature was floppy and cute. A knitter for the last four years, store owner for less than two, Yates was originally a quilter. Everything changed, however, when she was seduced by beautiful yarn at a trade show.”My mother told me I had to learn to knit, so we could use all that cool yarn for stuff,” she laughed.

In a time when knitting isn’t passed down as it used to be, it seemed that everyone in the circle was brought to it in a unique way.Peg Malloy, 64, was introduced as a child by a Norwegian friend. Now a potter, she’s come back to fiber with “vigor.” Sitting nearby, Emilie Sommerville, 69, said she knit on-and-off through her twenties, but didn’t really get into the art until her children were born. When asked about her favorite thing to make, she answered “socks,” in a hushed tone – and then laughed.”I see myself in a long line of women who’ve done this,” said Yates’ mother, Ruth Hollowell, 69. She stitched the face on her daughter’s rabbit and described how, when she was a little girl, her grandmother taught her the ropes. Of course, she promptly forgot back then, but, recently with the help of her daughter, has returned, full-force.”It’s pretty compelling, once you get into it,” she said, displaying the half-finished face.

For Lisa McKenzie, 46, member of the Sopris Spinners and Knitters guild, the craft is more than personal, it’s social.”It gives you a connection to women all over the world,” she said, halfway through a hat.Though she learned when she was little, she didn’t become a big knitter until she was in her twenties, serving in the Peace Corps in Swaziland. There, she brought her work everywhere. The effect was instant. Swazi women were curious, asking about her project or sharing their own. Even now, living back in the states, McKenzie sees that there’s just something about knitting that creates community.Sommerville agreed. “I think that’s one of the draws for us is the circle of women,” she said, showing the little vest for her grandson.

“You get excited. You learn together,” added Malloy. From the nods around the room, it was clear their words rang true. And then everyone went back to their work, as they swapped their stories, problems and insights well into the afternoon.Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111ssieg@postindependent.comPost Independent Glenwood Springs CO Colorado

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