A closely knit group

The Stitch ’n Bitch group meets on the first and third Thursday of the month at Open Eye Cafe to knit and chat.

By Allison Russell

Carrboro Commons Co-Editor

Beware the “Sweater Curse.”

According to the group of women who attend the Carrboro-based knitting group Stitch ’n Bitch, it happens when someone knits an article of clothing for a significant other and gets dumped shortly after.

Members of Stitch n’ Bitch show their socks, scarves, blankets, cardigans, slippers, sweaters and shawls at April Meeting #1 at Open Eye Cafe. The members from left-right are: Laurel Burk, Jessica Thornton, Andrea Turini, Kristin Deinert, Tracey Fine, Rose Hoban, Vanessa Hays and Lesley Starke. (Staff photo by Allison Russell)

“It’s a financial and emotional investment [to knit something for someone],” said Laurel Burk as she wound the yarn around her thin knitting needles. “It has a domestic connotation.”

“Making things for other people is really special,” said Lesley Starke as she smoothed her hand over the child’s sweater she was knitting. “It’s a meditation on that person.”

“You just shouldn’t knit something for your boyfriend until you have a commitment from him,” added Jessica Thornton with a knowing smile.

The Sweater Curse, along with the “Second Sock Syndrome”—what happens when a knitter finishes the first sock but lacks the motivation to finish the pair—are topics of spirited discussion at a Stitch ’n Bitch meeting on a Thursday night at Open Eye Cafe.

Rose Hoban founded the group in January 2007 after she moved to Chapel Hill from Washington.

“I was just sitting around and moping after a breakup, and I thought the group would be a good way to meet people,” said Hoban, who created a Meetup group to spread the word to other interested “stitchers.”

Hoban says she named the group “Stitch ’n Bitch” because knitters and sewers commonly use the phrase.

“My mom called it ‘stitch ’n bitch’ when she and her friends would get together to do needlepoint back in the 70s,” Hoban said.

Hoban, like several of the women in the group, learned how to knit from her mother. Other women, such as Starke, taught themselves how to knit.

“Everything you need to know is on YouTube. No one has an excuse now!” said Starke, with a laugh.

The women of the group range in knitting skills from novice to expert, which makes the group a place to learn as well as to teach.

“One of the reasons I like this group so much is because there are people here that I can ask for help,” said Burk, who is working on her first pair of Argyle socks and waiting to see if the Second Sock Syndrome will set in.

Starke, who creates her own knitting patterns, is currently working on five projects.

“I never have fewer than two going on at once,” Starke said. “I start to feel antsy, so I’ll just break out all my [knitting pattern] books and get the creativity flowing.”

The project she has been working on for more than two years is a scarf that uses Chaos Theory as a code to determine the color pattern.

“It’s kind of like reading DNA,” Starke said, glancing up from the knitting in her lap. “The code determines the color [of the yarn I use for each stitch]. It’s like reading binary code. It’s kind of insane.”

Burk, who is a graduate student in physics at UNC-Chapel Hill, says the group is something she looks forward to after working and studying.

“I do this to stay sane,” Burk said with a grin.

The women say they maintain their sanity by listening to stories, complaints and frustrations from each other’s lives.

“I call the girl I complain about all the time ‘Wifey’,” Thornton said as her fellow knitters chuckled with knowing smiles.

The women talk about anything and everything as they knit, sipping wine and counting stitches.

“If your mother is proper, this probably isn’t the best place for her because we get a little riled up,” said Hoban, who says she has brought her mother to a Stitch ’n Bitch meeting.

A favorite topic of discussion among the group is the latest knitting trends. Many of the women cite knitty.com and Magda Sayeg’s “Knitta, please” blog as two of their favorite knitting websites.

Vanessa Hays, a graduate student in UNC’s School of Information and Library Science, says she enjoys “yarn bombing” on campus and throughout Carrboro.

“It’s like a street art kind of thing,” Hays said. “It’s when you knit something as a cover for something outside, like making a cozy for a tank.”

“It’s simply brilliant!” Hoban added from across the circle.

Hays says she has yarn bombed Weaver Street Market and UNC’s campus. She made the blue and brown tube around a tree in front of Weaver Street as well as the scarf tied around the neck of one of the statues behind Manning Hall.

“I like to do it at night so people will wake up the next day and see something new,” Hays said. “My goal is to do one every day.”

As a result of the close-knit nature of the group, Hoban says people have come and gone in the past.

“Everybody has been really great, but the group is self-selecting. It’s not for some folks,” Hoban said.

“I don’t try to enforce any ethos here,” Hoban said. “It’s just come, knit and hang out.”

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2 Responses

  1. Heather
    Heather at |

    I love going to this SnB MeetUp when I’m in Carrboro. One element that is not highlighted in this piece is that this SnB isn’t about merely discussing the latest knitting trends or complaining about frustrations in our lives. It is also a forum to discuss serious issues and news that affect us as women, or the community, or have global import. This group of women is smart and intellectual, which you can tell from the Chaos Theory reference. When I go, it’s about sharing my knitting obsession, but it’s also about an exchange with amazing women whom I otherwise might never have met.

    1. jock
      jock at |

      Thanks for sharing. Wish I had a guy’s knitting group.

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