Crafty Friends are Close Knit
Though some think of it as a craft for grandmas, knitting and crocheting are popular creative outlets for college students.
USF.edu News Writer
TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 18, 2010) – At the Einstein Bagels inside the Marshall Student Center every Friday at noon, members of the Close Knit club meet with skeins of colorful yarn, multiple sizes of knitting needles and crocheting hooks to enjoy each other’s company.
While they chat about their busy class schedules and irritating bosses, they can feel the stress melt away as their needles and hooks click together, transforming yarn into sweaters and scarves, baby dresses and cute hats.
Recently, the club held its first yarn swap. Members and curious students were invited to bring leftover and unused yarn to be sorted and redistributed depending on the crafter’s taste. Three boxes were used to sort the fluffy rolls into “Evil,” “Yay” and “Yarngasmic”- cheap, scratchy yarn, middle of the line but usable yarn and more expensive, organic and long-lasting yarns.
The average age of the group was 22, surprising to many who still think of the craft as one better suited for your grandmother as she peers over her magnifying glass spectacles and chastises you for having the TV on too loud.
But the members of this group, and the curiosity seekers flocking around the mounds of brightly colored crafts laid out for display, are young and clearly enjoying creating wearable projects made with nothing more than spun acrylic or wool and plastic or metal sticks.
President of Close Knit, Breanne Hager, is aware of the social stigma attached to knitting and crocheting. She doesn’t know why it exists but is often asked why she favors a hobby that should be left to old people.
“It’s weird because you see a sweater come out in the fall at a store and you’re like ‘Oh, I like that!’ and someone probably knitted it,” Hager said.
As a fan of cooler weather and sweaters, she can identify the need for the know-how. But other people are less willing to show off their skills.
“Some people don’t like to admit that they knit,” Hager said. “A girl came to a meeting once and was surprised that the club existed. She said she usually hid her crocheting because she didn’t want people to think she was weird.”
Hager mingled with members of the club when a new girl walked up, quiet-natured but eager to learn to knit. Rose Bishop’s grandmother taught her to knit when she was very young but she hadn’t quite caught on to crocheting.
“How did you find out about us?” Hager asked her.
“I think I joined officially on blackboard last spring but didn’t have time for meetings,” Bishop said. “This semester is really good for me. I forgot to bring yarn to swap though.”
“That’s ok,” Hager said. “We’ll have freebie yarn.”
Member Jessica Jensen sat down with Bishop on the couch just inside the entrance to the student center. She pulled out her crocheting needles and handed Bishop a pair before demonstrating how to make a tied-off loop with the yarn. Then they moved onto the stitching, Bishop echoing Jensen’s finger movements as she pulled the yarn through the hook.
“It takes practice,” Jensen told Bishop. “Hold the stitches straight and pull the hook through.”
Bishop didn’t think knitting was uncool at all.
“Mostly every younger person I know thinks knitting is a really cool hobby,” Bishop said. ”Craftiness is becoming more and more popular every day. You kind of have to laugh at anyone who thinks knitting is so awful that they'd make fun of you for it. I think that's just a sign of skill-envy.”
Seated in an armchair near Bishop and Jensen, another student was knitting her way through a colorful ball of yarn on her lap. Jamie Weber learned to knit from an instructional book her aunt gave her and had become pretty good at it, but got frustrated and gave up when she moved on to more difficult patterns.
She misses the feel of the yarn and the needles in her hands and the peacefulness of the needle movements as she works her way through stitches.
I really like to do stuff with my hands,” Weber said. “It is really stress-relieving.”
Bishop gives out some of her creations as gifts to others.
“My favorite part about knitting and crocheting is finishing a project and knowing that I created something,” Bishop said. “It gives you more respect for handmade things and all things in general. I feel less wasteful now than before, because I consider the work that goes into making everything. Also, knitting gives me something productive to do when being forced by my roommates to watch horrible reality TV.”
The Close Knit Club meets Fridays at noon at the MSC Einsteins.
Daylina Miller covers student activities and trends. She can be reached at 813-500-8754.