Crafters gather for a Knit-Out at courthouse
DONNELL COLLINS / STAFF
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
"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
"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
"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."