First Knitting Invitational
There are so many wonderful knitters in the world.  Many of them are in Wisconsin.  Elizabeth Zimmermann and her beloved Gaffer are best known as Wisconsin residents, first in Milwaukee and then Pittsville.  We are honored to have in our entrance area, framed as a permanent exhibit, her prototype of the epaulette sweater.  She not only designed and knit the sweater, but also spun some of the yarn.  Her daughter Meg Swansen, designer and owner of Schoolhouse Press and famous for the knitting camps begun by EZ has furthered the art of knitting through her own designs and publication of knitting books.

The past 7 years that The Dining Room at 209 Main has been in business, our goal has been to exhibit textiles.  The exhibits change about every 3-4 months.  Our goal in this exhibit is to showcase some of the knitters (there are so many - the Madison (WI) Area Knitters' Guild has 260 members) in the Madison/Monticello Wisconsin area.  We hope to invite more knitters in the future to share their work.

Featured in this show are seven knitters (in alphabetical order).
Ruth Cadoret - I've always been fond of fiber.  Before learning to make my own threads and cloth, I could be found at the fabric store.  Then I took a weaving class and that was extremely enjoyable.  Next, I reluctantly took a spinning class, reluctant because I didn't want to acquire another "hobby".  I was already busy enough.  I fell in love with spinning and didn't do much else with fiber for many years.  I learned to knit in self-defense.  The closets were filling up with yarn.  It could be admired by visiting the closet, but it seemed desirable to turn it into something that could be admired and enjoyed in use.  A class on designing your own gansey, at Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill in Mt. Horeb, WI, resulted in the gray corriedale gansey style sweater.  Now I alternate between spinning and knitting.  These are my idea of ideal winter sports.
Adria Cannon - I am juggling several lives right now:  I homeschool my four children, help mothers learn about breastfeeding their babies, run a household, and create fiber arts.  I started knitting seriously as a college student to stay awake during lectures.  Apparently I kept several other students awake as well because I would get questions like "Have you finished that yellow thing?".  I like the whole process of creating fiber articles:  growing the fiber (Bob the angora rabbit); dyeing fiber and yarn; spinning; and knitting.  The vest on display is a blend of wool and silk that I dyed and spun.  I wanted to create a piece that captured the color and feel of the long, hazy, summer sunsets in the humid mid-west.  The mobile is made of cotton yarn, glass beads, wire, fishing line and curly willow branch.
Margaret Cottom - I have been fascinated with knitting as long as I can remember.  My mother had an old pair of steel needles that she used to knit socks during WWII and one of my earliest memories is playing with them.  No one in my family was a knitter, but over the years I managed to teach myself how to do it.

When I was 15, I was invited to spend a month in Norway with a friend.  When I wanted to buy a Norwegian sweater, my friend's mother suggested I knit one instead.  She watched me make a few stitches, then taught me a more efficient way to knit, along with how to handle two colors.  You should have seen my face when I discovered that we made the sweater into a cardigan by CUTTING IT OPEN!  The experience made me fearless and made me believe I could knit anything.

I knit by myself and only knit from patterns for many years.  About 15 years ago I read an article in Vogue Knitting that opened my eyes to the possibilities.  I joined the Madison Area Knitters' Guild and found many wonderful knitters to spend time with.  I also began to knit without always having a pattern.

One of my loves has been lace.  I designed and knit a lace skirt and jacket for my sister when she was married.  There is little use for lace in day to day life -- I don't have the kind of decor that requires lace curtains and a person only needs so many doilies, so lately I have been knitting (and wearing) fine lace shawls.  The white shawl was knit from a pattern by "Two Old Bags" and is called Siberian Winter, inspired by ethnic Russian shawls.

The green sweater has a yoke made from handspun (by me) and dyed mohair.  I
was given some white mohair and one of my friends said it was too boring.  So I dyed it and knit the yoke of the sweater.  It took me several years to find yarn to go with it and get the sweater finished.  I wanted the body to be delicate and interesting, so I used a little lace pattern throughout.

I live on five acres outside Oregon, Wisconsin with 2 llamas, 5 goats, a cat, two children and a supportive partner.  I am trying to put more knitting and fiber into my life by teaching and designing.

Megan Christiansen - I came to knitting relatively late in life.  I was 37 years old when a friend told me that she was going to teach me to knit, despite my considerable misgivings.  It looked so complicated, and I had never demonstrated any aptitude at all for arts or crafts.  To my delight, Linda proved me wrong.

I am not an artist, despite this "artist's statement."  Rather, I am a technician who takes great satisfaction in bringing designers' visions to life (after the inevitable tweaking of the pattern), one knot at a time.  I love both the process and the product.  In my professional life I'm a budget and policy manager, which also requires attention to detail but, alas, only limited creativity, and often does not result in tangible product.  For me, knitting provides a needed balance as well as visual evidence of accomplishment.

I agree with William Morris, who advised in the 19th Century, "Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."  Hand-knit items exemplify both characteristics.

Sweater:  Adapted from pattern in Sweaters, by Tone Takle and Lise Kolstad.

Entralac Tuxedo Vest:  Pattern by Great Yarns, Everett, WA

Fair Isle Gloves:  Pattern by Vicki Sever.  Knitted with Shetland wool from Jamieson & Smith Wool Brokers, in yarn left over from Fair Isle sweater project purchased during 1999 visit to Lerwick, Shetland Island.

Rae Erdahl - I have been an irregular knitter for some fifteen or so years, having taken my first knitting lessons at the Weaving Workshop on East Johnson Street in Madison and then proceeded to several summers of Knitting Camp with Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg Swansen.  I do enjoy making up my own designs, no matter how long it takes, but I have also delighted in finding beautiful knitting from other times and cultures.  I have a small stash of Bolivian knitted caps (known as chullos) and a large and growing collection of ethnic socks (or choraps) from Turkey, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria with a few Latvian mittens thrown in for good measure.  The design, color work, patterning, and technique from knitters around the world is impressive and a constant joy to the eye.  This sweater is of my own design and is not for sale.

This sweater was designed in a topsy-turvy manner:  first, I wanted to use some very beautiful variegated yarn that I had.  Since I only had enough for part of the sweater, I thought the special yarn should grace the top of the sweater and started planning the bottom of the sweater to coordinate with and show of that beautiful yarn.  I chose three yarns that all blended nicely with the colors in the variegated yarn and found a three-color slip-stitch pattern to use.  I worked in a couple of colored threads (one perle cotton, one silk) to give more texture and interest and was pleased with the result as I knitted my way up the sweater.  When it was time to include my beautiful variegated yarn, I started swatching various stitch patterns.  No matter what I did, it looked awful with the three-color  body of the  sweater that I had just finished.   So much for my beautiful variegated yarn!  (It still lives in a dresser drawer, all nicely skeined, waiting for just the right project).  I stood back, assessed the look and feel of the sweater at that point, and decided that it needed just one color to pull the  design together.  Fortunately, around that time I found the gold, hand-dyed (I think it was done using walnuts), maybe hand-spun (I don't remember now) yarn being sold by Anne Bosch from Blackberry Ridge in Mt Horeb at a Fall Sheep-y event.  It was just what I needed.  Again, I swatched, thinking I wanted some knit-purl patterns in diamond shapes that would echo the patterning in the bottom of the sweater.  Again, nothing looked right.  On a whim, I used the gold yarn in the very same slip stitch pattern of the sweater-so-far.  It looked great -- it is not apparent on first glance that the stitch pattern is the  same from bottom to top, but it gives a nice cohesive look to the sweater.  Then on to the collar -- a challenge since I wanted the deep, cushy rib stitch known as Brioche Rib but needed to subtly increase so the collar would have a generous shape that would like flat.  That challenge met, I moved on to how to finish this by now very time-consuming sweater.  Knitted-on I-cord was the answer.  Of
course I had not knitted I-cord, on or off.  A few tries at this (including snipping and grafting) and the sweater was finished.   I added some stashed-away buttons from decades back and had a wearable sweater that is one of a kind.  Word of caution:  it would be MUCH quicker to use a pattern.

Audrey Hein - I have been interested in knitting and needlework for most of my life, having learned from my mother and grandmother.  My primary interest in knitting began as a high school student knitting squares, which were joined into an afghan and provided to the Red Cross to be sent overseas during World War 2.

This interest continued throughout my life and in 1980 I opened by own yarn and needlework store in Monroe Wisconsin.  As a retailer I was involved with national retail groups and educational groups for retailers.  After 14 years I closed the store and retired.  I continue to teach knitting and needlework in my home, the Senior Center, and the local Arts Center and have a dedication to keep my skills alive, by passing them on to others.  I am available for presentations and/or instructions to groups.

Skirts became an interest following an advanced knitting class in which the final grade depended on the design and construction of a dress.  I have taught many knitters how to plan and knit a skirt.

Dress:  Made as a final  test for an advanced knitting class.  It is the first thing I designed and finished for myself.  The buckle on the belt was rescued from a coat that was being recycled for rug braiding.  I passed the class.

Wool Suit:  Designed and knit as a challenge from another class I took.  The challenge was to knit a fair isle skirt.  The border on the bottom fulfilled the criteria -- and repeating the design on the top helped coordinate this outfit.

Linen Skirt:  The first  lace patterned skirt I knit; it has been washed and dried in the dryer many times.  The challenges here were placing the decreases and working the gauge.

Ruth Knight Sybers - Knitting has been a thread running through most of my  life.  My mother's knitting class prior to World War II thought it was fun to teach me to knit.  I think that I learned to knit mittens early on, using the teacher's chart to customize the knitting to the recipient's hand and the gauge.  It still seems like a trick!

Knitting in college classes, knitting during Christmas vacation -- during college and teaching days was always a relaxing time.  As I taught home economics in high school and later at the UW-Madison, my formal training in textiles was enhanced.  It was many years later at a meeting of the Madison Area Knitters' Guild that I put my knitting down and observed five different methods of knitting by people around me.  That Guild made me realize that there is a whole world of knitting out there -- as Maggie Rhegetti said "There is one knit stitch and you spend the rest of your life learning what to do with it" (well maybe not those exact words).

Early on at the Guild Jean Blakely Jensen gave a glowing account of her recent attendance at Elizabeth Zimmermann's/Meg Swansen's Knitting Camp -- I couldn't wait to go -- and have been going since.  I am definitely a blind follower.

Many years later, after my husband died, I signed up for knitting trips, camps, and soaked up all I could, trying hard to not be only a process person (I can't count the number of color classes I have taken trying to get color theory to come naturally).

With the creation of a fine dining restaurant in Monticello, Wisconsin by my daughter and son-in-law, the decision to decorate with textiles has changed my life.  With a friend, Rhoda Braunschweig, who I met as a graduate student in textiles at UW-Madison to guide me, we have been having lots of fun doing the textile displays.  I now knit a lot.  I have a business Knitter's Treat, LLC that now sponsors workshops in Monticello by excellent international teachers.  I have a small shop and retirement has blossomed into doing things I like to do -- everyone's dream!

Socks:  Lucy Neatby's Bicycle Socks and Fiesta Feet patterns  (Lucy has taught here several times)

Vest:  From Sweaters From Camp, edited by Meg Swansen (adapted)

Shawl:  Beauty and the Bias, pattern by Two Old Bags

Faroese Shawl:  Pattern by Mryna Stahlman

Don't all you knitters relate to our stories?

If you would like to be on an e-mail list to be notified of future exhibits
or if you have questions about the current one, contact Knitter's Treat.

Knitting workshops are held in Monticello
For information about future knitting workshops
contact Ruth Sybers at Knitter's Treat.

As always, a heartfelt thank you to Rhoda Braunschweig  who plans and 
David Braunschweig who assists in "hanging" each exhibit.

Photos by Lori Manning
Copyright © 2003.
Web Designs by Lori

The Dining Room at 209 Main

Current Menu

Past Displays:
Weaving and the Structo Loom
Valentina Devine Creates
Wearable Art
Moving Weft
Men Who Knit
Quilts by the Thursday Friends
Katherine Pence Inspired by Everything