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Swedish Days event has knitters in stitches

Crafters gather for a Knit-Out at courthouse

Gretl Kramer of Elgin and Phyllis Deerinck of St. Charles celebrate their victory in the two-headed knitting contest Wednesday afternoon at Geneva’s Swedish Days Festival.

GENEVA — You could hear the clicking of needles on the Kane County Courthouse lawn during Wednesday's first ever Knit-Out — when it wasn't being drowned out by laughter and chatter as old friends caught up and new friends discovered each other over yarn and conversation.

"One of the blessings of knitting is that I can talk to anyone who's a knitter because we already have something in common," noted Joyce Schultz of Geneva.

The first Swedish Days knitting event grew out of the good times that organizer Leslie Edmondson, owner of Wool & Company yarn shop in Geneva, had at similar events in New York City.

"I just thought it would be fun to have a knit-out during Swedish Days because knitting is so universal," she said.

While most of the 50 or so knitters and crocheters were content to sit under a sprawling oak tree and work on their latest projects, several also entered the contests and novelty activities devised by Edmondson and her co-workers. A series of one-on-one speed knitting contests ended with Chicagoan Peggy Rauhut winning the overall "fastest knitter" title.

"I never set out to be a fast knitter," said the professional knitting teacher, who also sells her work through a Naperville boutique. "It's just that I've been doing it for about 150 years. Knitting is a great way to relax — it's cheaper than psychotherapy, and you have something to show for your time when you're done."

The thrill of tangible achievement also drives 11-year-old Claire Blankenship to keep knitting. The St. Charles resident passed up the Swedish Days carnival Wednesday to sit and knit with her sister, 12-year-old Annie, and several dozen women of her parents' and grandparents' generations.

"I like knitting better than carnival rides," Claire asserted. "I'm almost done with my afghan. When it's finished, I'll put it on the foot of my bed and display it. You can't do that with a ride."

The one time knitters didn't find their craft relaxing Wednesday was when they tried "two-headed knitting," a contest Edmondson thought up that challenged two knitters to work one pair of needles between them. The Blankenship sisters took on Gretl‚Kramer of Elgin and Phyllis Deerinck of St. Charles in a match, but lost after they dropped a stitch and had to backtrack to pick it up.

The event brought back fond memories for Elburn resident Vera Littlejohn.

"I used to hold knit-ins when I owned a knitting store (in Syracuse, N.Y.), so when I heard about this, I decided it was the one event at Swedish Days that I had to be at," she said. "A wise person once said you have to tithe for your soul — spend at least two hours a day on something you love. I can't think of a better way to do that than this."

6/23/05The Courier News
news and update

We are constantly adding new classes to our schedule, make sure that you register here to get your advance notice of additions and changes.

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