A knit along9/6/2017
The mystery of how to stay warm, cozy and calm is unraveled
They knit with each other, on their own, online or as a social activity. They knit at traffic lights, while watching the big game, at home, on the road and anywhere in between. Wherever these yarn lovers are, Diane Jespersen, 58, Jen Geigley, 40, and Tamara Sprole, 68, are each crazy about knitting.
The three knit together with Des Moines Metro Knitters, a Meetup.com group consisting of 652 knitters.
“We sit down, and we knit,” says Sprole, who has served as the group’s organizer since 2008.
Jespersen specializes in socks.
“My husband adores homemade socks,” she says. And in case you’ve ever wondered, she adds that “darning” a sock is fixing a worn out knitted sock.
Other knitting terms include “frogging,” which is done if a mistake is made and you must “rip it” or pull out all the stitches back to the point of the error. “Rip it” sounds like “ribbit,” thus the term. And if a knitter stores many items that are in need of repair, it’s called a frog pond.
A cake of yarn is yarn spun in the shape of a tire. Both the top and bottom are flat and a hole is in the middle where yarn can be pulled from.
“Another is tink,” says Sprole. “That’s knit spelled backwards.”
Tinking means to unravel your work one stitch at a time. This is safer than frogging, but it takes longer.
Geigley casted off on her knitting journey in 2008. Shortly thereafter she designed and posted her “GAP-tastic Cowl” online, and it quickly went viral.
“It’s just a very simple cowl that’s very easy for a beginner to do,” Geigley explains.
She didn’t know her design was special until she went to buy some yarn.
“I went to my yarn store and they told me, ‘Have you seen what happened on Ravelry?’ ” she says in reference to the knit and crochet community website. “I didn’t realize it, but there are thousands and thousands of people who have made it now.”
Since then she has designed patterns for Vogue Knitting Magazine and other publications. She is set to release her third book of knitting patterns in the near future, sharing that a pattern is like a recipe except for knitting.
Some of the most commonly knitted items include socks, cowls, scarves, shawls, sweaters, gloves and hats, and these items often have a unique twist.
“Here’s one of my best scarves,” says Sprole, unfurling a finely knitted, green and yellow Green Bay Packer scarf.
The masterpiece embodies the 2015-16 season, with each row representing one point scored in the game. Seven rows of yellow equal a Packer touchdown, whereas three rows of green represent the opponents’ field goal. The colors interchange in the order the scores actually occurred, and a thin white line marks the end of a game.
Knitting isn’t all fun and games. In the past, it has been a matter of national security.
“I just read a thing about World War II,” says Geigley. “They would have women knit code into things, like spies. They would send messages through knitted garments.”
“They also knitted bandages and hats and other things for the servicemen,” says Sprole.
These women also do their part for the community.
“We all do enjoy doing charity things,” Geigley says. “Blank Children’s Hospital will take baby caps to help keep them warm. There are a ton of charities you can do in the winter for homeless people.”
“I work with a central Iowa shelter and knit hats and scarves,” says Sprole. “In fact, I knit something that’s called a stash scarf. It’s made with just leftovers. And that is also my ‘while driving’ project. It’s my stop-light knitting.”
Knitting and driving is illegal, but knitting at traffic lights is considered wise time management.
“The car is stopped,” affirms Sprole sternly.
“Knitting while driving?” Jespersen laughs. “That would be really hard.”
“The light on MLK on Woodland is a long light,” advises Sprole. “Sometimes I’ll get 30 or 40 stitches in. And it’s a long one on Ingersoll, too, on MLK.”
Duly noted. Knit to your heart’s content, Des Moines. ♦