LEWISTON – Chattering happily, enjoying pizza, wine and brownies, a small group of women came in from a very cold night to both knit and enjoy each other’s company. They call themselves the Lewiston Knit Wits.
The cold and snow had decreased their numbers that night, but some nights as many as 20 women will meet at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month on the second floor of the historic Lewiston Opera Hall, 732 Center St. Upcoming meetings will be held Feb. 26, March 26, April 23 and May 8.
Some of the women were beginners when they joined, but others were longtime knitters who belong to as many as four knitting clubs.
Knit Wits is a social group, open to all, whether they are beginners, experienced knitters, or those who just want to visit and perhaps learn to knit, according to Eva Nicklas, artistic director of the Lewiston Council on the Arts, who knitted as she spoke about the group.
“It costs nothing to join, but we ask people to throw a dollar into the pot for the Odd Fellows who let us use their hall and open the doors for us,” Nicklas said.
The group, in its second year, was formed by Elizabeth Kovacs, president of the Lewiston Council on the Arts board of directors.
The group’s motto is “Commit senseless acts of beauty and random acts of knitting,” according to Nicklas.
Kovacs said she is delighted that knitting has become more fashionable.
Nicklas said one member, who raises alpacas, spins the alpaca yarn and sells it to members for their knitting.
“I gave the yarn to my sister, and she knitted a beautiful sweater for my dad,” Nicklas said.
Kovacs learned to knit as a child, when her mother would sit down all four children, even the boys, and teach them to knit.
She said of her reason to form the group: “It was just an idea to get people who love to knit together. In our culture it’s not so easy to find time to be doing these things.”
Kovacs called knitting relaxing and therapeutic.
“You don’t have to think. It’s almost like a meditation,” Nicklas said.
“When you are in a room, especially with women, you think about the olden days when they used to make quilts or lace. There’s something special that happens with the dynamics of the group,” said Kovacs. “We chat and we talk and we have tea, and it just goes by so fast. It’s just fun.”
She said today there is a real passion out there to wear something hand-knitted.
She said Knit Wits gets local knitters together for about an hour each month to work either on their own projects or sometimes to work on community projects.
“We call them ‘Knitting Acts of Kindness,’ ” said Kovacs.
“We are always talking about projects we can do. We did knit a sweater for the tree in front of the Opera House. In our tree sweater we put pockets with words of encouragement or poems,” Kovacs said.
Jayne Brasser, of Lewiston, said she and other members are knitting squares for a quilt that the Village of Lewiston Recreation Department will donate to teens at Community Missions in Niagara Falls. Brasser said Marianne Gitterman, the Village of Lewiston recreation director, has been donating quilts to teens for the past 10 years.
“Knit shops are still thriving,” said Lorri Daniels, of Lewiston, of the resurging popularity of knitting. “When I went to school, in Canada, everybody knit, because there was nothing else to do.”
Linda Parlato, of Youngstown, said, “When I moved here, I couldn’t believe how popular knitting was. I belong to four groups.”
“It’s fun knitting with people who do things more intricate than you because you pick up a lot,” said Heidi Gatehouse, of Lewiston.
Kovacs said all ages are welcome to attend their group. “If we could get high school kids, we’d love it, she said.
“We really want to encourage the love of knitting,” Kovacs said. “Anyone who would like to knit, come. People will be there to help you. We are just there to help each other.”
It is not necessary to join the Lewiston Council on the Arts to be part of the Knit Wits, but for $20, members can join the council and be on the mailing list to be notified of all upcoming meetings and events. For more information, go to www.artcouncil.org or call 754-0166.