Sunday, January 17, 2010

All about Knitting

The following was published in the January 17, 2008 issue of The Floyd Press and also appears online HERE.

About fifteen knitters showed up to have their knitting questions answered by Margaret Radcliffe at the Jessie Peterman Library this past Sunday afternoon. Radcliffe, a Blacksburg resident who has been knitting for forty-five years, is the author of The Knitting Answer Handbook. She travels the country teaching knitting techniques and answering knitting questions. Her business, Maggie’s Rags, is a wholesale outlet for her original handknitting patterns.

Eleven year old Jessica Spangler, one of the event’s attendees, has been teaching herself to knit using a book her mother gave her. She asked Radcliffe one of the first questions. Several women worked on their knitting as Radcliffe, donned in an eggplant colored hand knitted vest, answered Spangler’s question about fading yarn.

“Anything that is dyed can fade,” Radcliffe said. She advised not to keep knitted yarn sitting in the sun and to watch if knitted clothing runs the first time it is immersed in water for hand washing.

Knitting has been regaining popularity, as evidenced by the number of new yarn shops and online knitting businesses, Radcliffe told the crowd.

“If you spend a lot of time knitting, people come to you, yarn comes to you,” she said, explaining how she came to teach knitting.

When asked how long she had been knitting, Eleva Smith, another attendee, laughed and answered, “Just since I got here.” She has been crocheting Afghans for years, so she picked up the knitting stitches pretty quickly. She also welcomed the help of the knitter sitting next to her.

A Floyd woman originally from Michigan spoke of a wool sweater that her mother had knitted for her sister in the 1950’s. Her sister still wears the sweater.

“As it should be,” Radcliffe said. “Knitted wool clothing lasts a long time,” she said as she moved around the room offering tips.

Towards the end of the hour long meet-up, knitters browsed through tubs of clothes that Radcliffe had brought, admiring the finished prototypes of Radcliffe’s design patterns that included sweaters, shawls, vests, socks, hats, and more.

Several women purchased Radcliffe’s book and she signed copies for them. The book has been reprinted in several languages and includes chapters titled Casting on, The Basics, Binding Off, Tools, Yarn, Reading Patterns, Stitches, Circular Knitting, Color, Shaping, Fitting, and Embellishments. It can be purchased for $14.95 through and in some knitting shops.

A list of stores that carry her original handmade patterns can be found on her website,, Radcliffe said. The webpage also features knitting tips, a schedule of her classes, and a color catalog of her knitting designs. She suggests interested knitters ask local stores to carry her products for easy access.

Artist and avid knitter, Cheryl Sweeney announced to the group that an informal knitting club has been meeting monthly on Wednesday nights at the Floyd Country Store. She suggested that anyone interested contact her for the next scheduled date. ~ Colleen Redman

~ Originally posted on January 18, 2008.

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