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Close-knit group

WORTHINGTON -- P3, M1, k1, M1, p3, k2, sl 2, k1, p2sso, k2, p3, M1, k1, M1, p3, k2, sl 2, k1, p2sso, k2, p3, M1, k1, M1, p3

To the average person, the above may appear to be a secret language or code, but to a knitter, it makes perfect sense. It's the pattern for knitting a row of an afghan: P=purl; k=knit; M1=make one; sl=slip; p2sso=pass 2 slipped stitches over.

Knitting -- the art of forming a fabric by looping a continuous yarn -- has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in recent years as people have rediscovered the joy of making things by hand. Yarn manufacturers have developed a plethora of new products, and shops specializing in yarns have become more commonplace.

In Worthington, once a month, there's a place where the secret language of knitters is spoken and understood. A knitters group meets the first Monday of the month at the Nobles County Library.

"A friend and I had been getting together and knitting on our own," explained Kathy Kusz, the primary organizer of the local knitting group. "It's been about a year now that we've been meeting at the library. It's nice that the library will let us use a room in the basement. It's not a huge group; the most we had was close to 10 once. It varies, people will come, then be gone for a while. There's a core group that's generally there. People float in and out."

The group is open to all levels of knitters, and crocheters are also welcome.

"It's not just for people who are expert knitters. It's been cool to have people come and say, 'I've been trying to figure out how to do this,' and someone will say, 'Here's how you do it.' We're willing to help teach people how to knit also."

Kusz has some experience in the teaching department, having showed two sisters and a sister-in-law how to knit. Although her own mother was a knitter, that's not how Kusz learned.

"My mother is left-handed, and I'm right handed, so I learned from somebody else," she explained. "For years, I was the basic scarf-knitter. Then I actually took a class. The lady wanted to teach us dish cloths, and the four of us in the class said no, we wanted to knit sweaters."

Knitting can be a lifelong hobby, Kusz said, something that can easily be put aside and picked back up again down the road.

"Knitting is like riding a bike. You can learn to do it and come back to it two years later," she said

The monthly meetings are casual, and there's no membership list, although Kusz is willing to send out e-mail reminders about the gatherings. People are just welcome to bring their knitting and enjoy some fellowship with others who share a common interest. Along the way, expertise and project ideas are also shared.

While at the moment all the knitters who attend the monthly meetings are working on individual projects, Kusz would eventually like to instigate some sort of group effort.

"My mom belongs to a group that did infant caps for premature babies," she said. "I saw something about a group in Sioux Falls that met last summer or spring and crocheted T-shirts into bed mats for kids in Haiti. We may try to do something like that in January. I'm the experimenter. I have this huge pile of T-shirts sitting in my hallway."

The T-shirts are cut up to form the "yarn" that can be knitted or crocheted.

"They call it calamari knitting," Kusz described. "You slice them crosswise so you get a loop, then loop them together like a Chinese jump rope and knit or crochet them. I'm going to try to do some of these. I talked to the church group in Sioux Falls, and they have somebody who goes down to Haiti who would take them down."

For Kusz, who is employed as an assistant Nobles County attorney, knitting is an enjoyable pastime and a way of unwinding from her job.

"Knitting is one of those things that can take you out of the stressful place you end up being and give you this little oasis of calm in an otherwise crazy world," Kusz reflected

"It may be one of the reasons for the resurgence," she continued. "It's not just people missing hand-done stuff, but everybody has the desire to create, and people are missing that. And there's this kind of social aspect, having reasons to meet together.

"In a world as crazy as we have, knitting is orderly, repetitive. In a way it can be mind-numbing."

The knitters group will meet from 6 to 8 p.m. today in the downstairs meeting room at the Nobles County Library, 407 12th St., Worthington. Meetings are on the first Monday of the month, except for holidays.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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