Close-knit group shares hobby

December 29, 2003|EMILY TOADVINE

It's going to be a cozy winter for Boy Scout leaders of Troop 119 and for several of Robin Winkler's nieces. They'll keep warm in hand-knit caps made by members of a knitting group that meets weekly at Eclectic Coffee on Finn Hill Drive.

Although their production, especially for Christmas, is impressive, they stress that no experience is needed to be a member of the group that meets 9-11 a.m. Mondays.

"A lot of people think they can't join us because they don't know how to knit, but we'll teach them how to knit," says Winkler.

Sandy Burton, who made the caps for the Boy Scout leaders, started the hobby last February.

"It was my New Year's resolution," says Burton, who has four sons. "Actually, I learned when my big kids were little, but I only learned one stitch so I could only do scarves."


Burton says anyone who wants to join the group can count on some lessons.

"A lot of people can't learn from a book."

Burton, who says her kitchen table is covered in crafts projects, found that her knitting skills served her well when it came time to think up Christmas gifts this year.

"I like to make gifts. I don't like to just grab something off the shelf at Wal-Mart," she says.

With the Boy Scout troop, she hopes the leaders will wear their hats at the winter camp-out.

"I figure they put up with my boys once a month in camp-outs. I figured the least I could do is warm their bald spots," says Burton, who is mother to Tim, 16, Eric, 15, Jeff, 13, and Travis, 9.

For a niece who is a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Burton made a scarf.

"It's in racing colors," she says.

Winkler, who organized the group, likes to knit because she describes herself as a type A person who can't sit still.

"If I sit on the couch and I'm knitting, that's allowed. This is the best way to relax for me."

Like Burton, she also reaquainted herself with the craft this year.

"I learned from my grandma when I was 8. I only did it a few years and I retaught myself last year," she says, noting that she bought a book, "Learn to Knit" by Debbie Bliss.

Winkler, who is mother to three boys, ages 15, 13 and 10, also relied on her knitting to fill Christmas gift lists. In addition to making toboggans and mittens for her nieces, she also knitted a cap in University of Kentucky blue and white for a gift basket her child's class was putting together. Seeing that hat changed her 10-year-old's mind about knitting.

"They were thinking it was just for girls. They said they would never wear anything made out of this fabric, then my little one said, 'I want the UK hat.'"

For the coming year, Winkler wants to make baby blankets. Another group member, Jill Jefferson, is working on golf club covers.

For Christmas, Winkler's mother-in-law received a hat and scarf out of eyelash yarn, which gives it a fuzzy feel.

Finding this type of yarn to purchase, or any good yarn for knitting, is not easy in Danville, the knitters say.

"There's no wool," Burton says. "Wool is what keeps you warm."

One member, Kim Valade, was knitting a colorful scarf for her teenage daughter with yarn they found at Michael's craft store in Lexington.

"She picked it out because it matches her coat," says Valade, who describes her skill level as "beginner."

Most times, the knitters find suitable material at Hancock's or Stitch Nitch in Lexington.

"We just need to convince someone to open a knitting shop," Winkler says.

Members of the group enjoyed seeing the progress of these Christmas projects, and just getting together to gab over a cup of coffee. Winkler says she was in a similar group when she lived near Syracuse, N.Y.

"It was full of college kids, guys and girls. I wanted to do something here, so I thought of Monica," she says, referring to Monica Miller, who owns the coffee shop and sometimes joins them in knitting.

The coffee place is a perfect place to meet, because they can feed two cravings.

"Knitting is addictive like caffeine. The more you get, the more you need," Burton says.

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