As winter blankets the North, many people will cuddle up with a good book and
spot of tea. For some,
Sudoku fits the bill. Others will cling to knitting and crocheting.
Anyone who enjoys these crafts will agree: Crocheting can be as compulsive as it is calming. Knitting is the silent verb that appears mid-sentence. It is as if they are caring for a new baby -- crafters cling to their stash of needles and yarn and will nurse their latest project anywhere.
Craft Yarn Council of America says more than 20 million men and women are knitting and crocheting in North America. Among them are Brooklyn's knit king, Tony Limuaco; Callie Janoff, the crocheting guru at the Church of Craft; and Oregon's Matie Trewe, who knits the human digestive system along with foods that look yummy.
Knitting vs. Crocheting
Everyone who knits or crochets starts with a single loop, says Callie. Where they go from there is a matter of personal taste and skill.
The difference? For the stretchy things like hats and sweaters, many prefer knitting. For the more stiff items like doily or bags, many prefer crocheting, says Matie.
Crocheting involves linking loops of yarn or thread with one hook to create a foundation chain, on which rows upon rows are added. The finer or thinner the yarn, the smaller the recommended hook.
Knitting is known for its basic two-step, the famed knit and purl. This move can be made alone or in cool combinations, manipulating two or even five needles at a time. The yarn-to-hook size relationship for crocheting also applies to the yarn-to-needle relationship for knitting. However, "you can use fine yarn with large needles for a lacy effect," says Matie.
A tree grows in Brooklyn, along with several grass-roots knitting groups. Tony runs three politically motivated groups: one at
Prospect Perk Cafe; another at a Middle Eastern cafe, Maha, which donates tasty Yemenis dishes for the events; and finally, one at
Freddy's Bar and Backroom. Members meet regularly to vent and raise awareness about the land grab they say is threatening their neighborhood.
Tony Limuaco's Scarves
Source: Limuaco Design
When it comes to yarn, this 42-year-old self-taught knitter likes to experiment. "I began freezing and boiling yarn to see what it does. Yarn has different behavior and takes on different textures when you force water into it. Water makes it expand," Tony says.
Callie Janoff, 34, also of Brooklyn, N.Y., learned to crochet when she was a Brownie and has practiced the craft off and on for more than a quarter of a century. You can find Callie teaching on a rotating schedule in the Manhattan East Village's
. She also tutors and creates at
The Church of Craft (featured here at
), which holds nebulous meetings at various cafes or homes throughout Brooklyn.
It's no wonder that Teresa loves yarn -- she's a cat person. This world traveler of Polish decent is the proprietor of Jaded Waiters Inc., a boutique staffing service in Harlem, N.Y. "One of my favorite places to crochet is on airplanes. That did not change after Sept. 11, but it changed for knitters," she says. For a while, pointed rods were banned from flights, but they have since mostly returned to the safe list, a welcome sight for knitters indeed.
This newcomer to the craft, Katrina Briggs, 26, is a master's degree candidate at Bowie State University in Maryland. She learned how to crochet this fall for sentimental reasons: She inherited a carrying bag, complete with yarn, hooks and an unfinished blanket, from her late great-grandmother Elizabeth Pointer Barron. "In the next year or so, I should be good enough to finish this blanket and give it to my mom," she says.
Matie began combining her two loves -- science and art -- while majoring in biology at the University of Oregon.
On her Web site, she shares patterns she created for the human digestive system, a funky squid hat, the doknit and a few other unmentionables.
Human Digestive System
Resources at a Glance
Knit-out events and crocheting circles are cropping up everywhere. For newbies who want to roll with the yarn ballers, these popular choices can cast you from green to guru:
Learn to Knit is a great starting point, and it's offered by the Craft Yarn Council of America.
Knitty is a favorite site of
Ana Dane, who is knitting a cowl-neck sweater. For ordering inexpensive yarns, she says
Smiley's Yarns has the best bargains.
Knit One, Purl Too is a sporty knit log, not to be confused with
Knit One, Crochet Too. (Knit
crochet!? "It's like the Mets vs. the Yankees. You have to choose one," laughs
Katie Benner, who chose crocheting a couple of months ago.)
This blog chronicles one man's effort to make a kufi. Meanwhile, New Rochelle, N.Y.'s Khabira Abdullah crochets words into hers.
Annie's Favorite Crochet
are popular choices for crocheters.
The Knitting Guild Association offers
Cast On Magazine
free to its members.
has been around for more than 20 years. The fall issue of its joint-venture sister magazine,
Knit.1, features men who knit.
The Big Book of Crochet
has easy, everyday projects, says Mary Chase of Staten Island, N.Y., who just returned to the craft after 10 years.
The Crochet Answer Book
solves "every (crocheting) problem," while
The Knitting Experience
is the "closest thing to a knitting coach."
Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book
make great coffee-table accents for Dolores Bullen of Robbinsville, N.J., who knits with the Allentown Women's Shawl Ministry.
Men Who Knit convened its circle in the city of brotherly love at year-end 2005.
The Knitting Guild Association and the
Crochet Guild of America will hold their Spring Knit and Crochet Show April 20-23 in 2006 in Oakland, Calif., and Summer Knit and Crochet Show July 12-16 in 2006 in King of Prussia, Pa.
hosts its nation-wide Knit-Out & Crochet events from mid-September to mid-October.
Source: Limuaco Design