Knitting serves as a creative outlet

Members of the Concordia Needlework Society create scarves, sweaters and baby blankets

Some Cobbers who study abroad like to take pictures of themselves with Niblet, and initially this is what junior Michaila Gerlach planned to do during her semester in Ireland.

“But then my grandmother passed away and she had given me this doll when I was very little, so I decided to do it with the doll instead,” Gerlach said. “And then I decided that the doll needed to have a proper Irish outfit, so I knit her a sweater.”

Each family in Ireland has a specific cable design associated with them, Gerlach said, so she made the sweater based on the design for her family.

Gerlach has been knitting off and on ever since she learned at age 12, and she now knits as a member of the knitting club on campus — the Concordia Needlework Society. The club was started by Katie Christopherson last year because she thought that Concordia needed a knitting club on campus.

The club meets every other Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the Atrium and is open to all types of needlework — not only knitting, but also crocheting and tatting lace, Christopherson said.

For Christopherson, knitting club is good for solving boredom and relieving stress.

“I like just talking to people about what they’re making,” Christopherson said. “It’s fun.”

For Gerlach, knitting is a productive way to stay busy and it gives her an outlet for energy.

“I also get really fidgety in class and I can’t sit still, so it gives me something to do. … I can [knit] and be fully engaged in a conversation at the same time and be able to concentrate better in class.”

Class is not the only unusual place Gerlach has knit. Gerlach has brought her knitting along with her to many places, including the movies and the dentist.

“I tried to knit while standing up waiting for the bus in Ireland,” Gerlach said. “And then it started to rain, so then I hid my knitting.

One time, when she was boarding a plane in London, she found a sign that said “No Knitting Needles Allowed,” Gerlach said.

“I knit anyway,” she said, grinning. “I didn’t get caught and I don’t think they really cared. I’m like ‘Well’ they were wooden needles and I’m like ‘What am I gonna do with these?’ I had two sleeves hanging off of them, what am I gonna do?”

She finished it into her first sweater — the knitting project she’s most proud of, Gerlach said.

Though this one turned out well, not all projects go as expected. The first time Christopherson made a sweater, she realized halfway through that she was using a bad pattern.

“There was a ridiculous amount of fabric right here in the armpit and it was just floppy and ugly and it was horrible,” Cristopherson said.

But that’s not always a bad thing.

“I tore the whole thing out and taught myself how to design sweaters.” Christopherson said, laughing.

Since then, she has designed all the sweaters that she’s made, Christopherson said, bending to dig in her backpack. She drew out thin brown circular needles with several rows of crème and grey stitches lined up on them. In about ten months it’ll be a sweater.

Gerlach is also currently working on a sweater, in addition to making a baby blanket, while also preparing the yarn for a future project.

“I bought this notebook for classwork,” Gerlach said, holding up a gridded notebook. “And I use it for knitting.”

The red letters “ROSS” were gridded on one page for the baby blanket. She flipped to the next page with a range of colors marked in the squares for her future project: an emotion scarf. Gerlach said the scarf was inspired by the movie “Inside Out” with the colors representing different emotions: joy is yellow, sadness is blue, anger is red, disgust is green and fear is purple.

“So every day I knit a colored stripe depending on which emotion I felt the most strongly that day. … And then by the end of the year I’ll have a picture of how I felt every day,” Gerlach said.

For Gerlach, knitting is an affordable hobby and a way to give meaningful gifts. She can buy enough yarn for the baby blanket she’s knitting for $15 on sale, Gerlach said.

“And it’ll take me a while to do but I’ll have fun doing it and it’ll be … a really nice gift for my cousin. Personal.”

For junior member Audrey Gunn, knitting club is a time to relax.

“When I’m really stressed out by all the homework, which I usually am — to just have an hour or so to just knit and create and chat with other people — it’s really nice,” Gunn said.

Knitting has a way of stitching together more than just a bunch of yarn — it connects people, Gerlach said.

“Knitting in public will make you friends,” Gerlach said, searching among the grey stitching to pick up dropped stitches in the baby blanket.

Gerlach said knitting is the reason she made friends with someone in an airport, as well as a friend she made in Ireland.

“Because we were both into knitting, and yarn, and — those stitches are tinier than I remembered. Ah! What’d I do?” She said, giggling.

For members of the Concordia Needlework Society, having a finished product gives a sense of pride.

“I like once I get to the end product. It’s like ‘Look, I made something!’” Gunn said.

“I really like the fact that I took a bunch of string and I made it into clothing,” Gerlach said. “For myself. And it’s cute and it’s soft and warm.”

This article was submitted by Karis Bearenwald, contributing writer.

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