They come from all walks of life. Young and mature. Mothers and grandmothers. Businesswomen and retirees. But through a shared passion for the craft of knitting, these perfect strangers have found a common thread.


They come from all walks of life. Young and mature. Mothers and grandmothers. Businesswomen and retirees. But through a shared passion for the craft of knitting, these perfect strangers have found a common thread.

At a little after 6 on Monday night, Dawn Coffey and her son stopped by the local Starbucks and pulled up a chair next to a sitting area where a group of women sat drinking coffee and knitting.

Their hands moved deftly, "throwing" brightly colored yarn onto needles, which flashed with each stitch. Coffey carried her supply of crochet needles and thread, but she really wanted someone to teach her how to knit.

She was in exactly the right place. This group of "Knitorious" individuals meets at 6 p.m. on the first and third Monday of each month to "fearlessly knit or crochet in public," according to publicity material. There are no requirements to join the group other than a sincere love of the craft.

Seated in a circle were Amanda Faught, who used pastel yarn to make a wash cloth; Mandi Goodman, knitting a red cable Central Park hoodie; Louise Tovar, experimenting with some "scrap red yarn" to jog her memory of how to knit; Billye Jobe, working on a scarf using large straight needles and a black "eyelash" yarn; and Diane Hamill, who had a basket full of projects in the works, including a purple prayer shawl and a pair of socks.

"I haven't started anything in over a year because I went to college and graduated in December," Coffey said to the group. "Do you all share patterns?"

After getting an affirmative response, Coffey explained what she has in mind for future projects.

"What I want to try to do is make a blanket with a cotton backing, where you have a material on one side. It's like when you put a lining in a purse," she said. "I'm self taught. I've made a few afghans, baby blankets. I made a doll one time. It didn't turn out too well. My grandmother made one of those pillow dolls that you lay out on the end of the bed. I'd like to learn how to make that, but I've never had anybody to teach me."

That's part of the advantage of a group like Knitorious. Not only is it a social group, but one for teaching and learning, as well. After all, many of the members said having help at the beginning would have made things easier.

Sitting nearby, Goodman worked with Tovar to teach her how to "cast on" stitches. Casting on is the process of putting the first row of stitches on the needle.

"You're a crocheter. I'm a 'thrower,'" Goodman said, explaining that there are different ways to knit, including the "English" method, which means to throw the yarn onto the needle with the right hand, and Continental, which involves keeping the tension on the yarn with the left hand.

Tovar said she knitted many years ago in the '60s and just recently wanted to reclaim the craft.

"I'm just trying to remember how. It's just to give me something to do," she said. "I'm going to make dog clothes for my toy poodles."

Goodman started knitting after seeing a television show titled "Knitty Gritty" on the DIY Network. She said she bought a knitting book at Hobby Lobby titled "'I Can Teach Myself to Knit' or something silly like that," she said. "I learned how, but it would have been a lot easier if I'd had someone to watch."

Jobe, who has been knitting practically all her life, has known Hamill for years, but the rest of the group are becoming new friends. Hamill first found Goodman online at the Web site Ravelry.com and contacted her. They decided to start the group to see how much interest there is locally and have had plenty of response.

"We started meeting at the library and Mondays kept falling on holidays, so we moved it to Starbucks one night and liked it," Hamill said. "Hopefully, we'll grow where we can move to every week."

Being in a group is a good way to learn the basics and get good tips on everything from patterns to the best needles and the right type of yarn for a particular project.

As Jobe said, most everyone has more than one project in the works. That way, if the knitter gets bored or frustrated with one, it can be put it away for a while until the person is ready to go back to it.

Individual knitters use a variety of needle types and sizes. Straight needles each have a number on the end. The larger the number, the larger the needle circumference and the bigger the stitch. Circular needles, attached to each other by a curve of plastic cord, are used to "knit in the round" when making hats, a tube or anything that has a heavy shape.

Some needles are metal, others are made of wood, some of ebony and still others of plastic. Hamill has a collection of different types and styles of needles and said some work better with different kinds of yarn, but it's simply a matter of preference.

"It's all about the feel of the yarn," she said. "Knitters are very tactile people and the way the yarn slips on the needle makes a difference. The square ones feel totally different than the round ones, but they all make the same things."

As far as yarn goes, "Everyone keeps a 'stash.' It's the yarn that you bought and didn't know what you were going to do with it and you keep it hidden from your husband," Hamill said, to which Goodman admitted, "I keep mine behind the recliner, under the bed, in the bedroom closet and behind a door."

"The trend is going back to natural fibers, like 100-percent cottons, wools, alpacas and cashmeres, if you can afford it," Hamill said. Jobe shook her head at the irony of it all. "That's all I had to use when I started out knitting," she said.

Jobe learned to knit about 70 years ago, taught by her mother. Her father was a drycleaner and "you knit in wool or you knit in cotton and I just figured whatever I made, my daddy could make it fit."

There's plenty to keep the knitters occupied, and good company always makes the work go faster. Anyone with an interest in knitting is invited to become Knitorious. And Jobe said it doesn't matter what project a person chooses.

"It's not the destination, it's the journey," Jobe said.