Crafty Group Creates Yarn Art for Gifts, and Joy | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Crafty Group Creates Yarn Art for Gifts, and Joy

With between one and 70 years of experience, local group has 200 years of knitting under its belt

To any passerby, the needle's flick and the hook's soft swing might not look like anything special. But to this group of yarn workers, it's a meditation—a type of metamorphosis that is only understood by picking up needles and giving it a go.

Every Tuesday morning inside Bend coffee shop Spoken Moto, a group of knitters of varying skill get together with their beautifully chosen yarn to work on projects and talk about life over delectable pastries and toasty cups of coffee.

Crafty Group Creates Yarn Art 
for Gifts, and Joy
Becca Murphy
Members of the group from left, along with the years each member has been knitting: Terri Jensen 60, Lynn Wren 60, Jennifer Seelye 27, Jerry Fong 3, Kate Green 8, Ricci Stephenson 70 and Susan Herrmann 58.

This crafty cohort was formed by Jennifer Seelye two years ago. Seelye has been an enthusiastic knitter for 27 years, and this group has become much more than she could have imagined. The rhythm of working on the same stitch transports the artist into a state of mindfulness, creating a cozy, therapeutic environment.

Most of the members come with new projects and patterns each week, but for some, consistency is key to finding relaxation.

"There is one guy who joins us sometimes, and he works on the exact same thing with the exact same fabric; it's relaxing for him and he likes the company," said Ricci Stephenson, a passionate knitter for the past 70 years.

Among everyone in this group is over 200 years of collective knitting experience, individually ranging from one to 70 years within the craft.

"For the most part, I'd say many knitters have been knitting their whole lives because their grandmothers taught them," Stephenson said.

Knitting is time-consuming and requires a lot of focus and patience, but it leads to immeasurable fulfillment.

"You have to have your wits about you, but it's fun because it teaches you new brain pathways the more you challenge yourself," said Kate Green, a knitter of eight years. With a good teacher, new knitters will learn the technique, get into a flow and finish projects in no time.

"These guys are awesome because they are all really good and I am kind of a newbie. They are good teachers," Green said.

Crafty Group Creates Yarn Art 
for Gifts, and Joy
Becca Murphy
Ricci Stephenson and her needles craft a sweater.

Knitting has weaved its way in and out of popularity. Lynn Wren, a crafter for the last 60 years, said, "There have always been people who do textile arts, but now with the slow-living movement, you know, slow food, slow art and fashion that is classy but will last," people are picking up their needles once again.

Spending time learning about enamel jewelry and silver snipping, Seelye says, "With all textile arts, there is a resurgence and a lot of people who knit also do a variety of other arts."

This group is eager to remind people of the benefits and creative possibilities of learning to knit. Not able to afford outdoor gear, DIY projects were Wren's ticket into the outdoors.

"When I was younger, I had a tribe of friends who loved going backpacking, canoeing, hiking, caving and camping, but I couldn't afford to buy the outdoor gear," said Wren. "I made two down sleeping bags, a tent, down coats, rain pants, gaiters and parka shells. It took a while, but I made all my outdoor clothes."

Local stores such as Gear Fix, Rugged Thread and Patagonia are doing their best to upcycle, consign and repair used outdoor gear, but by joining this group, people can learn to make their own.

"Making your own stuff has always been more affordable," Wren said.

Hand-knit goods also make the most heartfelt presents. All members of the group try their best to shop locally. Their favorite places to shop are Wool Town and Fancy Works. The members of this group do not individually sell their creations, but they make lots of gifts and welcome anyone to join them. For anyone interested in learning how to sew, knit or crochet, a great gift could be going to the local art shops, gathering supplies and creating a gift basket.

"It's a support group," Green said.

"This group is about building community in a chaotic world," Stephenson said.

The creative cohort meets regularly on Tuesdays at Spoken Moto from 10 am to noon. For those who can't afford or don't have any of their own supplies, the members of the group are happy to bring extra.

The group also recently added a second meeting time to its schedule: Mondays from 5-7 pm at Market of Choice. 

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