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Judy Spooner Viewpoint: Whether 'Stitchers' or 'Knitwits,' it's a fun group

Wanda Reynolds, who is doing a counted cross-stitch project, also made this handbag. Reynolds is one of the women who goes to Stitcher get-togethers on Thursday mornings at the South Washington Senior Center. Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner

From knitting to counted cross-stitch and to Christmas fleece stockings, if they don't know how to do it, they teach each other. Jean Schmitz loves to knit and taught Mary Matykiewicz who prefers counted cross-stitch. For the uninitiated, counted cross stitch requires the maker to follow a pattern by counting stitches.

Most of the women at get-togethers of the Stitchers, who have been meeting on Thursday mornings for about a year at the South Washington Senior Center, can do counted cross-stitch, knitting, quilting and crochet.

I stopped in to meet them last week and had a great time.

I'm not sure what it is about women who are very adept at doing what my grandmother called "handwork," but they seem smarter and more interesting than other people. They also have a wonderful sense of humor.

Jacque Horner, who was born in the South, knows her way around a kitchen as all the Stitchers do, but don't assume she knows how to make biscuits. "I can make hockey pucks," she said.

Horner, who's making Christmas stockings, is also the one who said the Stitchers should be called Knitwits. One of the odd things she had to get used to as a Minnesotan is the phrase "Wanna go with?" when you ask someone to go somewhere.

Wanda Reynolds is a wonder. After she learned how to do counted cross-stitch, her first project featured state birds and was the size of a quilt. You've got to admire that. I don't know how she can watch television and count stitches. "You miss a lot of endings," she said.

Many women learn to do handwork from their mothers and grandmothers but Mary didn't take up any of it until in her 40s.

She said her grandmother did all kinds of embroidery, without patterns, and tried to teach Mary's mother how to crochet. I like to think my grandmother is looking down from heaven in approval, Mary said as she put her needle into her cross-stitch.

The stitchers are also learning how to do hardanger, embroidery that is made with white cloth and white thread. Some of the fabric is cut open and it also involves thread weaving.

Among the other stitchers are Lee Bilderback, who crochets and was making a hat and PJ Schmuki, who is embroidering a tablecloth.

All the stitchers confessed that they have stashes of fabric and projects that have been started and some that are waiting in the wings to be done. Mary works on her projects whenever she has free time and PJ works on her tablecloth only during stitcher sessions.

As the stitches went in and out of fabric, the conversation moved from one topic to another. The women talked about America owing too much money to China, and speculated about what Paula Dean or Oprah would look like without makeup.

Mary talked about a yummy hot chocolate cake with raspberry filling she makes and that prompted a conversation about canning.

Jacque said she's never done any canning. "I could do it if I wanted to," she said.

I told you they were interesting and smart.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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