Wednesday evenings are casual knitting nights at Eliza’s Buttons and Yarn. Huddled around a small table at the back of this lovely shop, any number of women gather on a semi-regular basis, projects in hand.
Elizabeth Fallone is there to help solve problems with a pattern, techniques that ease a dropped stitch, or just plain encouragement.
She’s also full of tips. For instance, anyone who has ever tried to pull out a knitted item made of mohair or angora knows it’s not going to happen. Any fuzzy yarn, actually doesn’t release stitches well and it usually ends up in a jumbled pulled ball of wool that ends up in the g-can. But, says Elizabeth, just tuck the project in the freezer and fuzzy yarn pulls out perfectly.
So, is that what pulls us together for 120 precious minutes on Wednesday nights? I think it’s the camaderie of sitting with women of all ages who are enjoying the texture of yarn and the challenge of a pattern. We’re there to cheer at the finish line, too.
I wonder how many of us don’t reach the finish line on projects…I know I have a sweater on the go for Kid Two that isn’t likely ever going to make it onto her body. I made the prototype for Kid Three and then thought I’d lengthen it and change it a big for Kid Two and…well…there it sits.
Turns out I’m not alone. Even though the Wednesday night group is valiantly producing incredible projects, tucked away at home are little, secret, UFO’s. Un Finished Objects.
Elizabeth opened Eliza’s Buttons and Yarn two years ago in what was a mostly empty plaza at Little and Bayview streets. The plaza has more stores in it now and I believe it’s due to traffic and interest generated by this little yarn shop. Elizabeth also develops her own patterns and last year commissioned three different yarn dyes to commemorate the city of Barrie. It’s a happening place.
Judith admitted she’s got a few unfinished projects at her house. She started a sweater and dress in a complex fairisle pattern for a friend’s daughter’s baby. She eventually completed the dress and gave it to another child, since the baby was now over two years old. She’s still working on the sweater…now and then.
Ayla was defeated by a sweater pattern and set it aside. For 15 years. Then mice got into the yarn and she threw the whole thing out. “I’m glad to come here with a teacher I can ask,” she says.
Tori’s UFO is likely older than six years. It’s a beautiful lace shawl, very complex. When she started the it, she pulled her yarn from the inside of the skein, and eventually it turned into a jumbled mess. “It sits in my knitting basket and every so often I look at it,” she says, regretting the investment of time and money. It’s the unravelling that holds her back.
Diane quietly clicks away, creating a blue top down sweater. But she, too, has a UFO. “I don’t like carrying colours over and I was working on a sweater–light blue with white snowflakes with designs in them,” she remembers. It got smaller and smaller as I worked up the front of the sweater. It’s in my closet and every so often, I move it around. One of these days…” Diane’s UFO is 22 years old.
Suzie says her delayed project is something she didn’t want to do in the first place. It was for her girlfriend’s baby. “I didn’t care for the guy she was married to and I had a hard time keeping up momentum,” she says. The project called for 324 knitted squares for a blanket for the baby. “The guy left and I finished it and gave it to the baby for its second birthday.”
Stacey’s story is almost tragic. She was working on a poncho from gift yarn from her mother. She loved the boucle yarn but not the pattern. She finally got it done and her mother offered to press it for her. However, the iron was too hot and melted the newly finished poncho into strips. “She bought me more yarn; it just sits there,” she sighs.
Jane knows herself well. “My attention is easily diverted. I did an afghan of 25 squares, all different. I love it because each square is different so the challenge is there. I have 3 fully finished, 3 partially finished. That was four years ago.” Jane focusses on socks most of the time and actually teaches socks at Elizabeth’s Monday class.
Marian completed one sock for her son when he was 6. “When I started it, it was brown, beige and rust and I carried the yarn and the intention for the second sock through 5 moves. My son is 40 now.”
That led to a discussion about SSS, Second Sock Syndrome, which is apparently quite common. The excitement and challenge of the first pattern wears off with the first sock and the poor second sock never sees the light of day.
When Jeannine’s brother wanted to sell the beautiful Mr and Mrs Claus sets that she knit, she was keen. They are very detailed and she now has a huge bag of red and white yarn. “I just can’t get to it anymore at all,” she says. But she’s enthusiastically working on a blue top-down sweater. [There’s a course on top down sweaters]
Betty Lou is perhaps Eliza’s greatest fan, excited to have a yarn shop with the personality and warmth that Fallone puts out. Betty Lou has been knitting since she was six, and in her house has an entire cedar-lined closet, shelved, with yarn and projects. She loves yarn, the feel, the colour. UFO’s for Betty Lou are a fact of life. “Once I’ve figured out all the mathematical parts of a pattern, I get bored and want the next challenge. I’m a starting person,” she says. “I started a beautiful rowan pattern for my husband and got the front pretty much done. This was almost four years ago. Then I found two mistakes in the pattern and I lost faith in the pattern itself,” she says.
And Elizabeth herself? Her oldest UFO is a white angora sweater that just needs the cuffs. It’s needed the cuffs for 12 years. “It’s boring; I don’t want to knit the same thing twice,” says Elizabeth.
She says there are two types of knitters… Process knitters who are excited about the math and the learning of the rhythm of a pattern; and the production knitters who are excited by the achievement of numbers.