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Knitting Guild fulfills a needle

Women build up their ‘stash.’

A “stash” brings to mind a secreted, coveted item in a small quantity – unless you’re talking about a stash of yarn.

To knitters, the term means a collection of yarn leftover from projects, or that was so enticingly beautiful that it had to be bought even without a project in mind.

Ann Lovejoy, a member of the Bainbridge Island Knitting Guild, cajoled the circle of women to admit to the size of their “stash.” In a manner close to confessional, they responded: “10 rubbermaid trash cans full”; “half a room”; “two refrigerator boxes.”

“I keep my stash scattered around the house so my husband doesn’t know how much I have,” one woman admitted. Said another, “My children are the ‘yarn police.’ When I go to the yarn store, they ask me ‘do your children know you’re here?’”

At monthly guild meetings, women of all ages sit in a circle knitting ropey, fuzzy, woolly or iridescent yarns from earth tones to bright, wake-me-up colors. The gentle clicking of needles accompanies announcements and program presentations.

During show-and-tell, finished knits are passed around to admiring comments and questions like, “What size needle did you use on this?”

The guild formed in February of this year from a sign-up list at Churchmouse Yarns and Teas.

“There wasn’t any interest in formal officers – what was important was the ability to get together, share projects and spend time with people who have something in common,” said Mary Harmon, the de facto organizer. “Very few of us came in knowing other people.”

“It’s a nice mix of women,” said Ruth Lentz, knitting multi-colored, striped baby socks and sitting with her daughter Polly, a sixth-grader, one of three mother-daughter pairs on a recent evening. “It’s interesting (to meet) different women I don’t see (in usual daily life).”

Lentz says she learned to knit as a little girl but didn’t pick up the needles again until Polly learned the skill several years ago. Bored at her sister’s swim meet, Polly earned the pity of someone nearby who taught her how to knit.

Polly shows her project in progress, a teal-colored Nordic cuff with a beaded pattern. She can’t quite explain why she likes knitting but, “It’s something to do.”

A director of finance by day, Joan Judge knits as “a way to escape. When I’m stressed it calms me. It’s a way to let go of the day.”

Barbie Fink displays a fluffy, spider-web light, black scarf with colored diamonds that she is knitting for the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities auction.

“(Knitting) changed my life. I used to do math and logic puzzles. Knitting is the creative side and math and logic side (together),” Fink said, who enjoys creating her own stitches and patterns. “I like the inspiration that people bring when they talk about or show what they’re working on... and I like troubleshooting, too.”

The program for the meeting includes news of knitting events, introducing favorite knitting books and charity knitting.

Knitting veteran Cynthia Pierce, who also works at Churchmouse, introduces a charity project “Christmas at Sea,” a program of the nonprofit Seamen’s Church Institute, to knit warm hats and scarves for mariners working on Christmas Day.

Most of Pierce’s work is for different charities through the Churchmouse knitters who are turning out creations for the New Horizons Teen Shelter in Seattle.

Planning for the October meeting to explore “knitting your stash” generates enthusiastic ideas including setting up a table for a stash swap, bringing in successful projects made from stash and helpful ideas of what to make from your stash.

Harmon shows her project, a two-yarn scarf which uses a main color and a “magic ball” of random strands of leftover yarn tied end to end, producing varying colors and textures through the knit. Harmon says sometimes a bit of nice, fuzzy yarn becomes a collar or border of a project.

About the size of her stash, Harmon says, “I don’t even talk about that anymore. I want to learn how to part with it. You’re always dreaming that it’d be great with such and such.”

* * * * *

Good yarns

The Bainbridge Island Knitting Guild meets 7-9 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at Bethany Lutheran Church for knitters of all ages and skill levels. The next meeting is Oct. 21. Transportation is available for seniors. For more information, call Mary Harmon at 842-9672.

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