Women knit purls of wisdom
By SUSAN WASSEL
Kane County Chronicle
"I really wanted to do something old, something my grandmother would do" said
Jackie Ajazi of Geneva.
"I needed the stress relief," said Patty Turner of Yorkville, whose son was
heading off to college.
"It's kind of corny, but it's really a good way to connect with other women,"
said Debbie Fletcher of Wheaton.
"And it's addicting," said Jacque Waller of DeKalb.
They're talking about knitting, the age-old craft of configuring yarn into
sweaters and afghans, shawls and baby booties using nothing more than two
elongated needles and a pair of reasonably dexterous hands.
"I know this is supposed to relieve stress but it's making me nervous," said
Kelly Shead who, along with about 20 other women, had made their way Tuesday
night to Wool and Company, 23 S. Third St. in Geneva to attend one of the shop's
Once considered the exclusive domain of grandmothers, knitting is by all
accounts the hot new trend with the craft crowd, giving popular pastimes like
scrap-booking, ceramics and pottery a run for their fast money.
According to Wool and Company owner Lesley Edmonson, the renewed interest is
because of people's desire for a more personal touch in a world replete with
mass produced consumer goods.
Another reason for the interest, said Debbie Sabin of Elgin during the
business' "Knitting 101" workshop, "It's about getting out of the house and away
from the kids."
Some say the trend started when actress Julia Roberts and models Amber
Valletta and Stella Tennant -- whose jobs include significant downtime -- were
Monica Lewinsky also was reported knitting during President Clinton's
impeachment hearings. She then went on to design a knitting bag to hold skeins
Big name designers such as Versace and Dolce & Gabbana were quick to jump on
the bandwagon. Their knitwear designs landed in popular fashion magazines, and
at prices well out of reach of the masses. In response, the masses started
knitting their own.
Shops such as Wool and Company also helped fuel the fire by stocking shelves
with never-seen-before luxury grade yarns and in high fashion colors. They also
offered classes -- from novice to pro -- to help rekindle the lost art while
putting your purchase to good use.
Among Wool and Company's workshops are baby booties, "my first sweater," "the
perfect sock," heirloom Christmas stockings, and "flower power" to create
flowers and leaves as pins and decorations.
There are classes for children, too, including a children's knitting camp;
and for boys, a chance to knit a hacky-sack, scarf or bag.
On this particular night, the classes were all women. While they clustered
around tables trying to thread yarn around needles and adjust loop tensions,
they managed to slip in the requisite chit-chat.
"This is very meditative," said Judy Overstreet of St. Charles.
"How many hobbies can you do while watching TV, going to swim meets, or
sitting on the beach?" suggested Waller.
"I just read an article that said knitting is good for your health," said Sue
Roberts of DeKalb."
"Look!" exclaimed instructor Laurie Vieth. "She just made a shoe string -- or
is it a jump rope?"
"I took knitting on my honeymoon," admitted Lisa Batton of St. Charles, who
also teaches at the store.
"I mean there's only so much you can do."
Susan Wassel lives in Geneva with her husband and three children. She owns a
public relations company, MyPRAgency.com. E-mail her at