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The Great S-Cape: Martha's Prison Poncho Is a Big Hit

By Carrie Melago
New York Daily News
Friday, March 11, 2005; Page C03

Coming soon to a knitting klatch near you: a pattern for Martha Stewart's ex-con poncho.

The nation's top yarn company will introduce a free "Welcome Home" poncho pattern, satisfying crocheters and knitters who took one look at the domestic diva's prison-release garment and were hooked.

At a meeting with her company's employees Monday, Martha Stewart displays the handmade poncho that was given to her by a fellow inmate. (Mike Segar -- Reuters)

_____Martha Stewart Coverage_____
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Complete Trial Background

"There's so much demand for that pattern," says Debbie Stoller, author of the popular "Stitch 'n Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook."

"Everyone wants to make it."

Soon after Stewart left the federal prison camp in Alderson, W.Va., last Friday and boarded a plane to New York wearing the handmade garment, Lion Brand Yarn fielded hundreds of e-mails and calls -- the most requests it has ever received for a pattern.

"People are saying, 'You read our minds,' " says Alana Rabinowitz, director of consumer marketing for Lion Brand.

The free pattern will be ready soon on the yarn company's Web site (www.lionbrand.com). But for those who need a quicker fix, a knockoff poncho on eBay is going for $152.50.

"There's been so much buzz," says Barbara Hillery, founder of the New York City crochet guild. "Everyone is wondering how to make it."

Right after Stewart had left Alderson, do-it-yourselfers across the country logged onto Internet message boards and began pondering the poncho's design. Chatter over the pattern landed crochet near the top of the Yahoo! Buzz Index this week, with searches on the topic jumping 8 percent the day after Stewart shared the poncho's origins at her New York offices.

It was a going-away present, she told her staff, from a fellow inmate who crochets 12 hours a day with yarn from the prison commissary.

"The night before I left, she handed it to me and said, 'Wear it in good health,' " Stewart recalled.

Staying true to the original design of Stewart's blue-and-tan cape, Lion Brand's first pattern will be crochet. In a few weeks, it will introduce a knit version.

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