Knit one, purl two ... in Marion

MARION — The steady click of knitting needles, the hum of voices, soft laughter. If you’re there at the right time, these are the unlikely sounds you might hear in the Marion Public Library.

They are generated by the busy hands and lively conversation of a group of artisans, all members of the Marion Knitting Club, who gather in the library meeting room every Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m.

“The idea came from Shelley Scott, the librarian,” said Ann Davenport Speer, founder of the club. “Shelley knew I was a knitter and encouraged me to start a local group.”

The club provides a meeting place for those who love knitting; they work on projects, spin yarn, exchange ideas and socialize.

Now in its fourth year, the club has about eighteen members from Marion, McBain, Harrison and surrounding communities. Their skill levels range from novice to master knitter.

Knitters have a common bond. They know the pleasure of transforming beautifully colored yarns like mohair, soft angora or cashmere, stitch by stitch, into beautiful and useful items ranging from mittens and scarves to luxurious throws, children’s clothing or one-of-a-kind gifts.

Mary Downing and Diana Quitián-Downing are mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and both attend. Mary is working on baby blankets, and Diana, originally from Colombia, is learning to knit and becoming proficient at a new skill.

“I’ve been making socks and mittens for family and friends for over 15 years,” said accomplished knitter Jill Vanderwoude. “I also make prayer shawls. I give them to anyone who is sick or in need of a bit of warmth and comfort.”

“I knit hats and blankets and make purses to order,” said Lori Pritchard who has been knitting for 35 years.

Helga Kehrer knits a various items for veterans and contributes much of her work to church projects.

Betty Morgan and Paul Morgan are a mother-son team; both are skillful knitters. Paul knits sweaters, kitchen towels, afghans and coats for his dog. “Knitting is a big part of my life,” he said. “When I’m sitting, I’m knitting. My latest project is learning how to knit socks.”

The club often undertakes group projects for the benefit of the community. Currently they are working on an afghan. Members decide on the pattern and colors; everyone contributes materials and they all help with the knitting. The completed coverlet will be donated to a local charitable group.

Two members, Speer and Jane Booth, wanted a foolproof way to get the yarn they wanted, so they decided to make their own, from scratch by raising the animals that produce fiber.

Speer raises sheep. She has about a dozen sheep in a spinner’s flock, so called because it comprises several breeds, each selected to produce a different type of wool.

The sheep are sheared once a year and the fleece is spun into yarns of varying texture, each with a specific use. Speer uses some for her own projects, and sells the rest to other knitters.

Booth raises three varieties of angora rabbits. She uses the sumptuous fur, spun into fluffy yarn, to knit soft scarves, mittens and parkas for lucky friends and family members. One of the scarves won best-in-show at the Michigan Angora Club Show.

Everyone is welcome. There are no membership requirements and no dues — just come to the library on Tuesday afternoons.

If you’re an experienced knitter, bring your current project and join in the activity. Members also bring other needlework such as embroidery or crocheting, so whatever your interest, feel free to participate.

Don’t know how to knit or embroider or crochet? No problem. The group is always glad to teach beginners.

Whether you’re already involved in knitting or other needlework, or hoping to learn, you may want to consider joining the group. It’s an enjoyable way to find new inspiration, trade tips and patterns, enhance your skills and spend time with talented and interesting people.

The Marion Public Library is at 120 E. Main St., Marion. For further information about the group, contact Speer at (231) 743-9607.