Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Glenwood Stitch 'n' Bitch, and the Tale of Bernard

As I mentioned in my last post, I host a Stitch 'n' Bitch every Thursday from 7-9 pm at The Glenwood Bar, 6962 N. Glenwood Avenue, in Chicago. What's a Stitch 'n' Bitch, you may ask. Well, in more Puritanical times they were called Knitting Circles or Sewing Circles. I find that Stitch 'n' Bitch suits my personality better! Whatever you want to call it (I will always default to Stitch 'n' Bitch), it is an event where crafters -- usually knitters and crocheters, but crafters of any stripe are welcome at mine -- get together and work on their current projects.

I have been to Stitch 'n' Bitches in people's homes, in yarn stores, and in cafes. People host them in churches and park districts and schools. I've heard that stitchers with office jobs organize lunchtime Stitch 'n' Bitches in their break rooms. Mine is in a bar.

I approached the owner of The Glenwood, the lovely and talented Renee Labrana, about starting a Stitch 'n' Bitch at the bar because I was crocheting there quite frequently anyway, and people would come up to me and say, "I crochet too," or, "I knit," or, "Oh, my grandma taught me to do that when I was a kid! I wish I remembered how!" Renee agreed with her customary enthusiasm, and we started the group the very next week.

I have had knitters and crocheters new and old join me for needlework and cocktails at the Glenwood. I've also started to teach a few friends how to crochet. It's amazing to see their faces light up when they accomplish their first stitch, their first chain, their first scarf.

My friend Bernard Holcomb, a very talented young tenor whom I dressed for last month's "Tales of Hoffmann" at the Lyric, saw me crocheting during a rehearsal and expressed an interest in learning. He wanted to make a scarf. On opening night, I brought him some inexpensive, light-colored sport weight acrylic yarn (inexpensive in case he hated crocheting, so it wouldn't be a huge investment for him; light-colored so he could more easily see how his stitches looked) and a hook. We started with an I-sized hook but moved up to a K because Bernard has large hands. I was astonished by Bernard's natural crocheting prowess! I had him chain stitch for a while, and when his stitches came easily and proved to be even, I taught him how to do the turning stitch and single crochet into the chain to create the first row. He went back and forth in single crochet several times on his own, and it all looked good!

Eight days later, I taught him to double crochet. When he'd gotten the hang of it, I taught him my favorite simple scarf pattern:


2 Skeins Bulky (5) yarn

K-sized Hook

Finishing Needle


Chain 21

Row 1: (Dc, ch2, dc) in 6th ch from hook (beg ch counts as dc), *sk next 2 ch, (dc, ch 2, dc) in next ch; rep from * across to last 3 ch, sk next 2 ch, dc in last ch -- 12 dc at end of row.

Row 2: Ch 3 (counts as dc here and throughout), turn, (dc, ch2, dc) in each ch-2 sp across to last dc, sk last dc, dc in top of turning ch. Rep row 2 until desired length. Fasten off. Weave in ends.

Yes, eight days after making his first chain stitch, Bernard started his first scarf with his practice yarn. That was on a Sunday. On Friday, we went yarn shopping to buy supplies for a REAL scarf. I started his first one for him (stitching into the base chain is difficult at first!!), and when I checked his work after a few rows, I discovered that it was not evident to the casual observer where my stitches stopped and his began. He also stitches almost as fast as I do. Over the month-long run of the opera, my darling Mr. Holcomb crocheted THREE REAL SCARVES!! I'm so proud of him!

Well, that's all for now! I hope to see you at the Glenwood Stitch 'n' Bitch on Thursday evenings! Peace, love and yarn!

Star Pupil Bernard Holcomb and Me!!

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