Knitters unite at Esther Short Park

A predominantly solitary hobby became social on Saturday, as area knitters participated in “Worldwide Knit in Public Day.”

Donna Gruetzke, of Camas, was among the participants at Esther Short Park, in downtown Vancouver.

She knits socks, shawls, sweaters, scarves, hats and legwarmers for herself, friends and family.

“It’s relaxing,” Gruetzke said. “It can be a challenge when you try new patterns.

“I usually watch TV while knitting, or knit while waiting in a doctors office,” she added.

Gruetzke has also been known to knit while attending car shows with her husband.

In addition to Gruetzke, the knitting event at Esther Short Park attracted Debbie Cardiff, of Vancouver, and her husband, Dave Cardiff.

While Debbie knitted, Dave spent part of the day reading and enjoying the sun.

“I’m a groupie,” he joked.

The Fort Vancouver Knitters Guild does have one male member, Chris Fanning, of Vancouver. His wife Debbie also belongs to the guild.

Ida Bryans, of Washougal, enjoys the relaxation and creativity associated with knitting.

She also benefits from meeting other knitters.

“You build up friendships,” Bryans said. “They inspire you to do better. We share ideas. It’s sometimes like ‘show and tell.’

“If you get stuck, there’s always someone there willing to help you,” she added.

Bryans primarily knits socks — some of which are distributed as Christmas and birthday gifts.

“When you give someone a hand knitted ‘whatever it is,’ people know you took the time to make this, and that’s what’s nice,” she said. “They appreciate it.”

Danielle Landes, of St. Louis, Mo., created World Wide Knit in Public Day in 2005. Judie Stanton, president of the Fort Vancouver Knitters Guild, said this is the third year a knit in public event has been held in Clark County.

The guild, a nonprofit organization, has approximately 70 members. Membership dues are $12 a year.

Stanton said guild members have staffed a table in the homemakers’ area during the Clark County Fair since the 1980’s.

“At our last meeting, we made homemade knitting needles and wrapped balls of yarn to use while teaching fair visitors how to knit,” she said. “After a short lesson, they are invited to take the needles and yarn, along with a short rhyme that reminds them how to make the knit stitch, home with them.”

Guild members are currently making squares for an afghan, to be raffled off with the proceeds going to The Free Clinic of SW Washington.

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