By MICHELLE SCHMIDT
But at the moment, it’s not really about what the needles are doing. Hands are in the air gesturing as often as they are working atop a lap. There is usually more than one person talking at a time and laughter punctuates the noisy din of the coffeehouse where the group is gathered.
“It’s an excuse to see friends,” says Michelle Adamson-Brandt of Lewiston. “I get to be with someone other than the people I’m married or have given birth to.”
The others in the crafting group agree: this isn’t a place for productivity, it’s a place to socialize. But that doesn’t mean nothing constructive is happening. Adamson-Brandt puts the final stitches on a purple cap while the others prep yarn, work on a blanket or cross-stitch.
“This makes it so I can visit and talk and not be completely unproductive,” says Jennifer Opdahl of Lewiston, who started the group more than a year ago as an excuse to craft with friends.
Crochet is the craft of choice for those gathered on the cold winter day. They extol the benefits of the single-needle method, which they deem requires less maintenance than its two-needled cousin, knitting.
“The biggest difference I have found is that with crocheting you can set it down anytime,” says Kelly Enger of Lewiston.
“And it’s faster,” says Adamson-Brandt.
“It’s quieter too,” says Opdahl. “There’s no clack-clack-clack.”
She mimics the sound of the two-needles working while others join in, laughing or adding their own version of the sound.
The group is new but the crocheters in the group have been at their craft for years, some longer than others. Adamson-Brandt, nicknamed The Yarn Whisperer by others in the group, sells much of her work on Esty.com or at craft fairs. The rest most often give away their projects as gifts.
“This is actually for Project Warm Up,” says Opdahl, holding up the brown and orange blanket that is taking shape as the morning progresses. The program provides scarves, hats, blankets and other items to local nursing homes, the veterans home or kids who need them. In their short existence, the group has given them a couple grocery bags of finished items.
“So we do good,” says Opdahl. “We try to put some good karma back out there.”
Conversation returns to its natural course: a mutual friend who is now engaged, home organization projects, baking plans for the afternoon. Several minutes are devoted to discussion about “preppers,” those preparing for the downfall of society with survival gear, skills and plans. Then of course, there’s the juicy tidbits that can’t be printed.
“What happens at Stitch & Bitch, stays at Stitch & Bitch,” laughs Tori Hemphill of Lewiston. She’s been quietly working on a cross-stitch piece under the light of a lamp she’s brought from home for the occasion.
Books, how-to websites and groups with the same cheeky moniker have been popping up around the country, primarily targeted toward the younger generation.
“I’ve heard that term for a long time,” says Adamson-Brandt, recalling informal use of the name for quilting bees. “It’s mainstream now.”
Crafting groups — whether of the same name or something a bit tamer — range in size from a few, like this one, to gatherings of 20 or more. Some are exclusively for needlework, others invite attendees to bring whatever crafting project they are working on.
While this group doesn’t offer lessons, tips and ideas weave their way in and out of everything else. They talk about where to buy yarn at local craft, discount and specialty stores and craft fairs.
Adamson-Brandt proudly announces she’s purged seven kitchen bags of yarn from her house.
“People give me yarn,” says Adamson-Brandt. She pauses, counting up the mass of yarn that remains. “Yeah, it’s bad.”
“She’s a yarn hoarder,” Opdahl adds.
“That was nice of you to put a ‘der’ at the end of that,” Enger teases.
.LOCAL GROUPS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Stitch & Bitch — Crafts
9:30 a.m. on the second Saturday of the month
Stonehouse Coffee, 1232 Highland Ave., Clarkston
Palouse Stitch ’n’ Bitch — Crafts
7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month
Daily Grind Espresso, 230 E. Main St., Pullman
The Witty Knitters — Knitting
6 p.m. every other Thursday (meets Feb. 7)
Patrick’s Craft Shop, 840 Sixth St., Clarkston
Good Yarns Group — Knitting and Crochet
1 p.m. Fridays
Neill Public Library, 210 N. Grand Ave., Pullman
Open Knitting — Knitting
1 p.m. Tuesdays, 4 p.m. Wednesdays, 1 p.m. Sundays
The Yarn Underground, 409 S. Washington St., Moscow
Kneedle Knuts — Hand Needlework
3 p.m. on first Tuesdays
Palouse Library, 120 E. Main St., Palouse
Closely Knit — Knitting
1 p.m. Tuesdays
Fireside Room, St. Mary’s Church, 618 E. First St., Moscow