Knitting Group

Knit One, Purl Two on a Sunday Afternoon

Stitch DC owner Marie Connolly, standing, shows, from left, Nora Zich, Stephanie Cudby, Sarah O'Connell and Renu Schmoyer the project for the day. The goal of the monthly get-togethers is to knit or crochet a blanket, piece by piece, within a year.
Stitch DC owner Marie Connolly, standing, shows, from left, Nora Zich, Stephanie Cudby, Sarah O'Connell and Renu Schmoyer the project for the day. The goal of the monthly get-togethers is to knit or crochet a blanket, piece by piece, within a year. (By Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)
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Friday, October 17, 2008

What do you think of when you think of a typical knitter? An old lady in a rocking chair by the fire with a shaky hand and an even shakier voice?

Think again. How about a pregnant mother, software engineer, outgoing nurse, shy teen? How about a group of passionate women who won't tell their husbands just how much they spend on yarn? That's more what you'll find each month at a gathering of knitters at Stitch DC, where about 30 women cram into the back of the small store to knit and chat.

Marie Connolly, the store owner, started the meetings in January. She learned to knit as a Girl Scout and from her mom. "It was a geeky thing I did in high school," she said. As an adult, she got tired of driving all around the D.C. area to find wools and silks. So in 2004, she opened Stitch DC on Capitol Hill and now owns another location in Georgetown.

Jennifer Dumas, a Capitol Hill resident and assistant dean at the University of Maryland, often attends the Sunday afternoon knitting circle. "It's social, but you're also learning things," she said. She issued a warning to anyone thinking about picking up a pair of knitting needles: "Don't . . . unless you're prepared to get thoroughly addicted."

The sessions are open to knitters and crocheters of all skill levels. However, most of the women (many of them regulars) have been knitting for years. They spoke of rose trellis, cabling, patterns, their stashes (of yarn) and the cost of their addiction. Newcomers should know how to make a purl stitch and how to read stitch patterns, which are distributed to the group. The goal of the monthly get-togethers is to knit or crochet a blanket, square by square. That should take about a year, Connolly said. Then the knitters will put the squares together.

Though there is no formal instruction, Connolly is around to assist. Plus, the women help one another. "Wow! That's so exciting," said Renu Schmoyer after some assistance from a fellow knitter. "I've never cabled before."

For Deborah Snelgrove, chief creative officer and a senior executive director at George Washington University, the knitting klatch is "a way in Washington, D.C., to socialize beyond the job. It's the first time I have friends not from work."

While everyone seemed to know a lot about knitting, no one appeared obsessed with the perfect stitch. They all clearly just love to knit: on the subway, on a plane, an hour a night after work, a half-hour before, alone, or with the group. It's a way "to forget about issues," said Stephanie Cudby, who comes from Fall Church. "Even when it's difficult, it's fun."

-- Moira E. McLaughlin

Where is it? Stitch DC, 731 Eighth St. SE, Sunday, Nov.9, Dec. 7, 2-4 p.m.

How much does it cost? Free, but Connolly asks that Sunday knitters buy the blanket materials from her.

If you have more than three hours. Head to Ebenezers Coffeehouse, 201 F St. NE, to try "coffee with a cause." (An interdenominational church owns the shop, and all profits go toward community outreach.)


© 2008 The Washington Post Company