Knitting has experienced a resurgence of popularity in recent years. Well, let’s say not a resurgence exactly, but an increase in popularity from a new source. The younger generation is showing an interest in what was once thought to be the exclusive domain of little old grannies. I learned to knit in college. My mom taught me a basic knit stitch, the simplest knot you can do, and I sucked at it. I never even finished the second scarf I tried to make; I have no idea what became of the first. I gave up on it as one of the creative arts that would forever elude me, like juggling and opera singing.
I always envied the really cool things people could create with yarn. First of all, there are infinite types of yarn, in a plethora of colors and fibers. Then there are practically limitless creation ideas. You can make dresses, purses, hats, slippers, blankets, mittens, computer bags, neckties, scarves, even jewelry. You can knit, you can purl, you can crochet. There are blogs providing endless tips and patterns. It even has a new place in protesting efforts. “Yarn bombing” has become an increasingly prevalent form of peaceful graffiti. Knitting balaclavas in public places recently meant you supported the releasing of the incarcerated members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot. And as I found out about eight months ago, there are even knitting support groups.
Started in the 1940’s, the “Stitch ‘n Bitch” is a social group for knitters that has branches all across the globe. Meeting times and frequency vary from place to place. The Geneva Stitch ‘n Bitch meets every Wednesday at a Starbucks down by the Rhône river. It consists mostly of women, although there is one man who comes regularly, and occasionally we’ve had a few other men participate as well. The ages of the members range from probably 20 to 60 years old and the nationalities are just as widespread. Some people are extremely skilled, turning out beautifully handcrafted, intricate shawls or jumpers, multitasking five needles and three yarns at once, all while sipping latte and chatting with the group. Others –like me – must count out loud and stare only at our hands in an attempt to perfect a simple scarf.
Everyone is very friendly, supportive, and helpful. If you’re just learning, they’ll take the time to put down their work and show you an easier way. If you want to try an ambitious project, they’ll ask to see your progress and encourage the challenge. We swap patterns, talk about our jobs and our menfolk, share vacation stories and mugs of tea. We get curious passersby staring in at us from the street, intrigued by 15 people sitting in a bustling first world town, flipping through templates on iPads while engaging happily in an old world pursuit.