Knitting through the Generations

In late January, I spent a cozy afternoon knitting in the parlor of the historic Durand-Hedden house located right here in Maplewood, NJ.

Owned by the town, this beautiful house serves as a museum and gathering place for folks in our community.

Demonstrations of crafts and cooking, musical performances, and historical reenactments are frequent, and importantly, there is also an annual Juneteenth celebration. 

Durand-Hedden House in Maplewood


Home Arts Showcase

While butter-churning, dough-making, and open hearth cooking demonstrations took place in other rooms of the home and garden, I knitted on a beautiful antique sofa in the parlor. (Several times, Board members let me know it was an honor to sit on this sofa. It felt as though it was made from silky nylon, but it was horsehair!)

Patty Chrisman, whose spinning skills I've long admired, held court using an antique spinning wheel and newer spinning wheels from her collection.

I heard through the grapevine that our open-hearth cook was also a sheep shearer -- not a job for the faint of heart, as I learned by reading Peggy Orenstein's Unraveling.

Seeing a group of artisans coming together to share their work and passions felt on one hand as if we were taking a step back in time, but on the other hand, we were showing the relevance of this work in our increasingly digital world.

Open Hearth Demonstration at Durand Hedden


We were showing the relevance of this work in our increasingly digital world.

This is partly why knitting speaks to me so strongly. It honors my mom, my grandparents, my aunts, and the honorary aunties who wrote down their patterns for us.

It's my mission to pass on the knowledge and traditions to the next generations, to keep the arts alive, thriving, and evolving.

Kari teaching a young girl to knit


The importance of personal instruction

Knitting, music, painting, or cooking aren’t skills that we can master by simply picking up needles, violin, paintbrush, or spatula, and winging it!

We can’t read a book about knitting (although our e-book serves as a great starting point!) and expect to finish the book having mastered a new skill.

For the most effective learning and inspiration, we connect with members of our family, our community, and the online world to help us.

One-on-one time chatting with and learning from others provides opportunities for authentic connection. They can give you quick reassurances when it seems you’ve dropped a stitch, or when something looks "a little different."

And there’s nothing like the experience of seeing craftspeople working at their passions to help inspire you toward new frontiers of your own.

Are you interested in an intensive sweater course with a supportive online community? Visit Knit + Crochet U for details.

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