Knitting together

It’s just a matter of knit or purl.

The art of knitting: Lin Maxwell and Diane Pratt-Johnson discuss their projects.

It’s just a matter of knit or purl.

That may well be true for Glenda Hughes, an accomplished knitter who is able to create beautiful patterns with the two stitches.

To others, knitting can be a tangled mess of dropped stitches and knits where purls should be.

Whatever your capabilities, knitters are invited to join the Odd Socks, a convivial group of women that meets most Friday afternoons at the art gallery.

The idea for the group germinated when SAGA Public Art Gallery board member Delores Mori had been watching SAGA staffer Diana Pratt-Johnson’s attempts to knit a sock for several months.

“It came out of her purse so many times, I said, ‘Oh dear God, if you ever finish that sock we’ll hang it on the wall,’” she laughs. “There’s a whole gang who meet at Tim Hortons one night a week and I thought we should have one here.”

Looking at eight women in various stages of their projects, Mori says she is amazed by how the women learn from each other.

Pratt-Johnson is working on a colourful sock and says she is now getting lessons from “knitting guru” Mary Letham.

“She’s very encouraging and I am very slow,” she laughs, pointing out it took her one year to knit a pair of socks.

“This is a woman who can knit in her sleep, she sits and watches TV and just keeps knitting,” confirms Mori.

When asked where she keeps her knitting, Mori responds with an explosive “Ha, ha, ha,” admitting it is an art form in which she does not engage.

Fingers flying, Hughes says the craft is making a comeback.

“It soothes the soul,” she says simply. “Knitting teaches patience…  to make it look nice, you sometimes have to unknit and repair it.”

Adds Jean Brighouse, who is making colourful patterned socks, knitting has supported her through good and bad times.

“I started a little bit at eight,” she says, laughingly noting her father, Tom, used to call her mom, an experienced knitter, a knit-wit. “I’m still knitting ’cause it’s better than Suduko… I love the textures and the patterns and the feeling of the yarn in my fingers.”

A speech therapist four days of the week, Brighouse says Friday is her “day of art.”

An accomplished musician, she has been learning how to play the viola and paint portraits.

Another happy knitter, talented artist Lynn Maxwell started knitting before she was 10.

“I spent the next 50 years in knitting confusion because my mother was left-handed,” she laughs. “I knit sweaters years ago, but lost the knack.”

Becoming reacquainted with her needles, Maxwell says she attends the Odd Socks meeting every Friday for the companionship, inspiration and “Help, in capital letters.”

To Wendy Charlesbois, who is putting the finishing touches on a hat, knitting is relaxing and offers her a creative outlook.

“They’re like-minded women, we’re sort of going back into history where women got together to work with their hands and talk,” she says of her reason for being an Odd Sock. “The conversation is interesting and it’s a great way to end the week.”

An ex-pat Australian, Barbara Grier agrees.

“The company’s fantastic…,” she says noting she has been knitting since she was eight and finds the craft to be therapeutic, productive and creative.

Gudrun Hupfauer reaches into a bag and hauls out long, skinny strips of yarn that will become boas.

“I redesign yarns from sweaters from the thrift store,” she says, noting that each sweater sleeve is converted into a boa. “It’s more than recycling, it’s up-cycling.”

“She oozes talent,” declares Charlebois of the woman who spins, weaves and “explores” with yarns fibres, paper and flower petals.

Breaking off another enthusiastic explanation about her boas, Hupfauer calls the knitting circle a good reason to come to town.

“I come for the cookies,” she laughs, eyeing a small table loaded with tea items and sweet treats. “I forage wherever I can.”

Experienced knitter or confused beginner, all are welcome to attend Odd Socks, Friday afternoons from 1 to 3 p.m.

Take your project and just show up, or call Diana Pratt-Johnson at the gallery at 250-832-1170.


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