Every Tuesday, about a dozen women gather for Knitting Knight — but grannies knitting baby blankets they are not. These women are MU students, many of whom learned to click their needles together just this year.
“It was hard to get the hang of at first, but after that it was all knitting all the time,” freshman Carly Burdg said. She learned to knit in the fall when sophomores in her hall were teaching those who were interested.
The first Knitting Knight occurred in December, after Laura Lautenschlager noticed many of the residents on her floor were spending their nights knitting. Lautenschlager, a peer adviser in Gillett Hall, suggested they all knit together one night a week in the lounge Gillett and Hudson halls share.
With $50 from the Rollins Group Council, the group bought needles and yarn to make scarves, hats and blankets. They plan to donate their creations to charity next winter.
Lautenschlager didn’t learn to knit until the first Knitting Knight. The black lap blanket she is making shows her struggles and triumphs with the craft: the knots and holes at the bottom have morphed into smooth, close-knit stitches as the piece lengthens.
Any shyness that might have existed among the women a few months ago seems to have dissipated as they’ve offered help and admired each other’s work. The group meets at 8:30 p.m., and as the women trickled in on a recent Tuesday, they picked up where they left off— in more than just knitting.
“We just kind of all come in and grab a spot, and we start conversations we were having last week,” Lautenschlager said.
While needles dive into a variety of colors, knitters ask for each other’s advice on color selection and project choice. Freshman Annie Binder has humbly accepted the role of the prodigy knitter in the group. She ducks her head and protests when a sister knitter says she can whip out a hat in two hours.
Binder learned to knit last fall when a student in the room next door taught her.
“You just can’t stop,” she said. “The thing is, once you get one thing done, you want to do something more challenging the next time.”
Binder has knitted many scarves and hats to donate to charity but gets more adventurous with projects she does on her own. A sweater she made for herself as an experiment ended up with sleeves that were too long and a bodice that was too short, but that hasn’t quenched her thirst for trying something new.
Binder said she is happy to donate most of her work to charity.
“I make a lot, and I don’t really want it all,” she said.
As the women talk and laugh over their projects, it’s clear that for many, Tuesday nights provide a chance to bond.
“We just sit around and chat, and sometimes we find ourselves not even knitting,” Carrie Fleener said.
While most of the participants live in Gillett or Hudson, where fliers are posted advertising meetings, Fleener is a 2002 MU graduate. Fleener met Lautenschlager at church and invited herself along to join the fun.
“I think it’s my favorite thing to do all week,” Fleener said.