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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Local Social Knitworking

Vista group is bringing back "The Social Knit-work"

Clever Knits, a store in downtown Vista, hosts a popular social knitting night on Tuesdays

Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 6 a.m.

A group of women come together every Tuesday night in Vista to share their love of knitting. They meet at Clever Knits, a store in downtown Vista, which has three "social knitting" sessions a week.

Charlie Neuman / The Union-Tribune

A group of women come together every Tuesday night in Vista to share their love of knitting. They meet at Clever Knits, a store in downtown Vista, which has three "social knitting" sessions a week.

Long before this decade’s social networks of Facebook and MySpace, many women would weave lasting relationships with a couple of knitting needles, yarn and good conversation.

It’s happening again, and a group in Vista is part of a nationwide revival of a movement spearheaded by women who prefer the connections made over cross stitch to those over the Internet.

It’s called social knitting, where women of all ages in the Vista group bond over the centuries-old craft, exchanging projects, patterns or just friendly chat in a shop full of brightly colored yarns and knitting needles.

Tuesday nights at Vista’s Clever Knits isn’t your grandmother’s knitting club, though. Conversations can get a bit naughty, which is why children aren’t allowed. And crocheters are welcome (apparently, they aren’t in some knitting circles).

Clever Knits, which by day sells knitting accessories and tools, opened in a downtown storefront in July 2009. Owner Helena Bristow said it was always her “wild fantasy” to run a store where women could gather and bond over yarn.

She’s been crocheting since she was 4 and picked up knitting in college.

“It’s a really welcoming and open environment,” said Bristow, who has twice dropped out of graduate school programs because, admittedly, she’d rather be knitting. Bristow moonlights as a UCSD employee.

“We have since the beginning wanted to make it really open, and this group of women has made lifelong friendships as a result of the Tuesday night knitting group.”

The Tuesday night group, which meets from 6 to 10 p.m., comprises 20 to 30 women ranging from age 20 to 70, some of whom drive from Poway and Rancho Peñasquitos for good times and a break from their everyday routines — and their significant others.

“It’s good for me, I really enjoy the company ... and it is worth the commute to be with all these people whom I share so much in common with,” said Jimelle Beavers, who lives in Poway. “There are some Tuesdays where my husband will look around and say, “Hey aren’t you going knitting?”

The ladies sit around and work on their projects, chatting about everything from politics to their significant others.

The regulars nickname one another. Melissa Silva-Torcedo is “Malabrigo,” named after the high-end yarn, after people couldn’t remember her name when she started attending.

“They would look at me and say mmmmmm, trying to remember my name,” Silva-Torcedo said.

“And then finally someone said, Mmmmmmalabrigo, which is this awesome yarn,” Bristow interjected. “It’s so delicious.”

“Like me, so it’s a perfect nickname,” Silva-Torcedo fires back, prompting laughter at the table.

Knitting has been around for centuries, but is making a comeback during the 21st century as many women are turning to the pastime as a way to meet friends and enjoy the camaraderie that comes with the shared interest.

Websites and social networking sites such as have helped launch hundreds of knitting groups across the country.

“There has been a resurgence and interest in slowing down,” said Kerry Wills, a New York Daily News reporter who wrote the 2007 book “The Close-Knit Circle: The American Knitter Today.”

“Our lives have become overwhelmed by technology and the demands of work, and knitting, along with other crafts, is enjoying a revival because it gives you an alternative to that pace.”

There’s also a sense of pride in watching the strands of yarns become a creation — sometimes over a period of decades — Bristow said.

“A lot of my friends play video games or go to the movies, but when you’re done with a video game or a movie, what do you have to show for it?” Bristow said. “It’s unlike any craft because your fingers touch every strand of that yarn, which is kind of amazing and special.”

Clever Knits is at 214 S. Indiana Ave., Vista.

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