Gender neutral and age neutral, knitting offers a consoling touch for anyone dealing with an illness or trauma
Fifteen years ago, Candi Sisson's doctor encouraged her to take up a hobby, so she began knitting lessons at Damascus Pioneer Craft School.
At first, Sisson, a dresser for Broadway shows, was stressed and would break the needles in half. But she quickly progressed.
In addition to knitting, Sisson now crochets and spins. Her latest project has been creating hats for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
'You give them something they can wear and use,' Sisson said. 'Even when they aren't up for company, they know you're thinking of them.'
Knitting chemo hats and shawls has become a trend among knitting communities hoping to make a difference for loved ones.
Sisson is good friends with Sherri Anderson, owner of Designer Yarn in downtown Sandy.
Anderson says she has seen many women come through her shop looking for the softest yarns to make hats for friends going through chemo. For friends going through surgery or serious illness, the women will make shawls.
'It's like they're being hugged when the shawl is draped on their shoulders,' Anderson said.
But knitted items aren't just comforting for their recipients. Through the years, Anderson has collected memorabilia with quotes about knitting's calming properties.
'Knitting is cheaper then therapy,' one reads. 'Knitting keeps me from unraveling,' another says.
Anderson used to work in graphic and web design with corporate offices located in the New York City World Trade Center. Her supervisor, who she once mentioned opening a yarn store to and who had once owned her own yarn store, died Sept. 11, 2001.
Anderson was faced with a career change after Sept. 11. When she opened her shop seven years ago, Anderson realized how therapeutic knitting was to a variety of people, men included.
Since then, Anderson has seen many more people take up the hobby, especially with the influence of knitting celebrities such as Julia Roberts and Martha Stewart.
'It's very mathematical,' Anderson said. 'There's a technical part to it.'
Anderson offers regular knitting and crochet glasses 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Saturdays and 6-8 p.m. Fridays for $15 with materials 10 percent off. Leza Hayes of From Barn to Yarn teaches the courses.
'It's portable,' Sisson said. 'Once you learn how it is very relaxing; even if you're watching TV, you can be accomplishing something practical.'
'Go see Sherri,' she said. 'She has great patterns, yarns and an instructor.'
For more information, visit Designer Yarn online at dyarn.com, 38871 Proctor Blvd. or call 503-826-0123. Store hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Instructor Leza Hayes can be reached by calling 503-312 0994.
Additional resources include Ravelry Facebook page and Yarn Market News Magazine.