Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shameless Crafting

In 2007, a Heights resident and avid knitter heard about something. Something was happening. Knitters were coming together. Around the world. They were coming together to knit. In public.
But they weren’t doing it in Houston. Yet.

When Kimberly, known on all-things-knitting website Ravelry as laKnittinKitten, heard about World Wide Knit In Public Day, she was thrilled. She searched the internet for her local gathering but there wasn’t one to be found. Disappointed, she decided that she could organize it and bring this event to Houston herself. 2008 marked the 1st year for WWKIP Day in Houston and a nice crowd assembled at Northwest Mall. However, there was something just-not-so about the mall location and Kimberly decided there was really no better place in Houston for such an event than her own neighborhood, The Heights.

So, why do people need to knit **gasp** in public? World Wide Knit in Public Day was created as a way for knitters to come together and enjoy each other’s company. Because knitting is a solitary act, most people do it in an almost meditative state, sinking deep in to the rhythm of their projects and never think about other knitters. A knitter may live right next door to one of their own and never even realize it.

At the event, knitters shared supplies and donated extras. Over 60 crafters attended and collectively donated a leaf bag's worth of supplies to the youth and children's craft programs at Heights Library

Kimberly adds that knitting used to be social. “In Victorian times, women gathered in groups to knit. It was very proper and something you did as part of [a social circle]. ” She laughed thinking that during those times even the way you held your hands would be observed by the other women in your circle. They had to be “just so.” She says that it was a dying art for a long time, put to rest in large part with "the Wars, when people had to knit. It lost something" and was no longer considered craft, more like chore. Post-War it became the domain of "Grannies." (NOTE: The WWKIPDay website is quick to point out that "without those ‘grannies’ we wouldn’t have the wealth of knitting knowledge that we do.") Knitting started its comeback in the 1980s and is now a part of the new handcrafting revolution you see with groups like The Austin Craft Mafia and Knitta, Please!

The next generation: 10 year old Rayna was making a headband as her sister, Stephanie, 5, learned some basics from their mom. Shantel and her girls drove out from Pearland for the event.

Knitting today is definitely different from the last generation, a group of women from west Houston told me. These days it's fun. It's social. There are even several "stitch groups" that meet in and around The Heights. Whether its at Yarns 2 Ewe, Wednesday nights at Waldo's Coffee House, or impromptu gatherings at the library, knitters are calling their craft "the new Zen" and say it's "calming and meditative." It also "teaches patience" and even helps with anxiety.

Knitters from the west side come to craft in The Heights. Second from left is Catherine Kerth, owner of Mama Llama . She makes beautiful hand dyed yarns- and, of course, knits with them as well.

Lexie came in from Cypress to socialize while knitting her 1st pair of adult socks. Amazing!

It amazes me that people can still do this kind of work with their hands. This is not knitting, however. It'scrochet done from an elaborate pattern and this picture certainly does not do it justice!

This year’s event brought people from all over metro-Houston and Kimberly anticipates greater participation every year as knitting grows in popularity and people come together to do it. When WWKIP Day was founded in 2005, there were about 25 "registered" events world-wide. In 2008 there were over 800! Kimberly adds "These numbers, of course, don't reflect the spontaneous gatherings of knitters that happen on the day."
It was amazing to see the things they were making. I’ve tried knitting. Tried and failed. I do have to say I am not without craft- I do lovely embroidery (and get my patterns from this amazing site: Sublime Stitching). Knitting just wasn’t for me, but seeing an actual pair of socks take shape almost made me reconsider!


  1. Thanks for the shoutout on WWKIP day. Just FYI, the Heights branch has just started a "Needlework & Conversation Society" aka Stitch n Bitch.

    The next meeting of our Needlework Society will take place this Saturday, in the meeting room, at 2:00 pm. Please join us for good conversation, new book previews, snacks, and beverages.

    We will also be having a show and tell, so please bring along a sample of your craft work to share with others.