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Creative Corner

More than ever, yarn hobbyists are hooking up in real and virtual worlds

A few years ago, it seemed knitters everywhere were working on the same scarf pattern, with endless waves emerging from needles wielded by hipsters, new mothers, young men and women of a certain age.

Was there a memo?

Sort of.

The word spread partly through Ravelry.com and KnittingDaily.com, which together draw nearly 2 million knitters and crocheters in the digital equivalent of a ladies’ sewing circle.

“There’s this phenomenon that happens when a pattern just suddenly grabs everybody,” said Kathleen Cubey, an editor at Loveland-based Interweave, the world’s largest print and digital resource for professional artists and crafters.

“That year, it was the Clapotis, a scarf that’s super-easy, and everyone was making it at meet-ups and talking about it online. Then there was a sweater called the Central Park Hoodie, and everyone started making that.”

Knitting patterns gone viral! How long before a needlework image joins LOL cats, Annoying Orange and Rebecca Black to become a popular Internet meme?

What once ranked, at least in popular imagination, with reading novels and daydreaming as among the most solitary of human activities is out in public, literally and virtually.

“Knitting has always been social,” said Marsha Asheim, who co-owns A Knitted Peace, the Littleton yarn specialty shop, with Jane Dickinson.

“You can knit by yourself, but people have always knitted with other people at the coffee shop, or a church basement, or wherever. Social knitting groups — that’s about friendships, enjoying people’s company, support and that kind of thing.”

More than 200 people showed up last August for the Colorado Rockies’ Stitch n’ Pitch, which offered discounted tickets to knitters and other needlework fans, along with a bloc of upper-level reserved seats where they all could sit together.

That was a one-off event, but thousands of yarn and craft stores host regular, drop-in knitting and needlework meet-ups, a tactic that boosts business and creates, um, close-knit communities. The Lamb Shoppe, a yarn specialty store in Congress Park, Littleton’s A Knitted Peace, hipster hangout Fancy Tiger, Bergen Park’s YarnWest and other yarn stores host meet-ups once or more a week.

And customers don’t need to wait for Craft Night. Most stores have comfy chairs and tables for drop-in knitters.

Go into the Lamb Shoppe at almost any hour, and you’re likely to see customers relaxing in the two easy chairs, or at one of the tables, knitting and chatting. Walk into A Knitted Peace, and you’ll hear, over the clicking needles, people trading techniques on tricky problems, like turning the heel in a knitted sock.

“We encourage people to hang out any time,” said Glenda Baker, who works at the Lamb Shoppe. “We’re a kind of community all the time, not just during Pajama Jam once a month. We have a few people who come only to Pajama Jam, and we have regulars during the week who won’t go to Pajama Jam because it can be a little chaotic. We have people who just meet with their friends here, not in a formal way, and we have groups that meet on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.”

When closing time comes, and knitters and needlework fans go back home, many of them promptly log onto virtual communities, including the phenomenally popular Ravelry.com and KnittingDaily.com.

“We’ve seen this rise, especially in social knitting online,” said Interweave publicist Jaime Guthals. “There are millions of knitters who don’t have a local yarn shop and don’t know where to find other knitters.”

They have no problem finding kindred spirits online. Ravelry is the Facebook of knitters and crocheters, with more than a million members throughout the world who share project photos and chat, and download free and not-free patterns. Interweave’s KnittingDaily is a close second, with nearly 800,000 members.

“We love Ravelry; we’ve got a YarnWest Ravelry page,” said YarnWest owner Laura Watt. “We go online all the time. If I don’t have a pattern in the shop, then we walk right over to the computer and get it off Ravelry.”

Denver knitter Katy Osterwald keeps a foot in both real and virtual communities. She is a regular at Fancy Tiger’s Tuesday night meet-up, and a member of Ravelry.com.

“It’s awesome, because you’re guaranteed to have an answer to whatever question you’re asking,” she said during a knitting break at a recent Open Crafts Night at Fancy Tiger.

The meet-up takes place each Tuesday at the shop’s broad, communal table. Though so far it’s mostly yarn crafts, the evenings also attract artists working with clay or beads. And that, say organizers, is part of the appeal.

Jennifer Mosquera, who runs the Art Salon just west of Denver’s City Park, hopes that her monthly Hairdryers and Highballs studio painting meet-ups will expand into other media.

“We get everyone from novices to people who dabbled in art years ago and want to get back into it,” she said.

“I think the most profound way people influence one another is by doing different things. We don’t all have to paint alike. In a studio, you might be getting caught up, being judgmental about your piece because you think it doesn’t look the way you want it to. But another person may see the beauty that’s there. Everyone struggles with that, and working with others allows you to see your work through someone else’s eyes.”

-Claire Martin

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Art- and knit-wits united

Here’s a sample of meet-ups. got a favorite of your own? give details in the comments on denverpost.com/athome.

A Knitted Peace, 5654 S. Prince St., Littleton. Monday meet-up, 3 to 5 p.m. Mondays. First Tuesday meet-up, 6 to 8 p.m., first Tuesday of the month. Friday meet-up, 5 to 8 p.m. Fridays.

Art Salon, 2219 E. 21st Ave., Denver. Hairdryers and Highballs studio art class, 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. third Thursday of each month; $40 includes all materials

Fancy Tiger, 59 Broadway, Denver. Open Craft Night, 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays. ManMade: A Gentlemen’s Craft Society, 6 to 9 p.m. third Monday of the month. Open Spin Night, 6 to 8 p.m., first Thursday of the month

Fresh City Lifeat the Denver Library, 10 W. 14th Ave. Parkway, Denver. Madam Defarge’s Knitting Salon, 5 to 7:30 p.m. every Monday

Knitflix (knit-friendly movies), 5:30 p.m., third Tuesday of each month

Recycled Lamb, 2081 Youngfield St., Lakewood. Knitting Community, noon Thursdays. Spin-in, 5 to 8 p.m. second Friday of the month. Knit Knite, 4:30 to 8 third Friday of the month

YarnWest, 1153 Bergen Parkway (King Soopers Shopping Center) Bergen Park. Afternoon Knitters, 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesdays. Morning Knitters, 10 a.m. to noon Thursdays. Knit Clique meet-up, 10 a.m. to noon Fridays

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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6 Comments

  1. For yarnies on the west side, there’s the Knit Knack, at 7505 Grandview in Arvada. No formal groups that I know of, but there are 3 large tables, and you can always find folks yarning away on weekends and evenings. Staff is friendly and helpful.

  2. Please support your local yarn shops by actually buying yarn!
    As wonderful as knitting is, it is so sad that many yarn shops in the Denver area have closed. It is difficult to know what the knitters will want to buy. You order the nicer yarns that cost more than Big Box store yarns. The distributers don’t want the yarn shops to sell the yarn at a discount. If you can’t pay cash and use credit, the interest adds up and the yarn can just be sitting there, costing more. You try to offer classes and prep for them, knit samples, and nobody signs up. I suppose it is like most businesses.

  3. Community Knit-In! @ Aurora Public Library
    The Community Knit-In for the Children’s Hospital! Bring your project, your friends, and settle in for a comfortable afternoon of fun and laughter. This is a great time to work on gifts for loved ones, or, if you choose, we will donate your items to the Children’s Hospital Colorado. Below are the meeting dates for Aurora Public Library’s Community Knit-In
    April 22nd 2–4
    No May Meeting
    June 24th 2–4
    July 22nd 2–4
    Not a Knitter then bring your crocheting
    Aurora Central Library, 14949 E. Alameda Pkwy.
    Call 303.739.6600 for more information or visit http://www.auroralibrary.org under Library Programs

  4. Pints & Purls @ Grimm Brothers TapRoom – 623 Denver Avenue, Loveland. Every Sunday during open hours – 1pm to 5pm. All skill levels welcome. We also have crocheters, weavers, and spinners, too!

  5. Yay crafty peeps! Fabric Bliss is the newest addition to the Do It Yourself world, just outside of Downtown Denver in the Santa Fe Art District. We host Girls Gone Mild two Thursday’s each month from 6-9PM; the sewing studio and knitting lounge is open to any sort of crafting (sewing machines are FREE to use that night!). We also sell fabric, yarn, crochet/knitting/tatting/embroidery/sewing supplies AND teach tons of classes. For Girls Gone Wild dates, check our website at http://www.FabricBlissDenver.com.

  6. I have no natural sewing ability. I can’t knit. I can’t even macrame (at least not since junior high).

    I want to learn these things. Are there any instructional courses that would be okay with an 11-month-old kiddo tagging along?

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