Handmade: 'Stitch-Together' attracts people back to Detroit
Question: What happens when 15 knitting and crocheting enthusiasts from all across Southeast Michigan gather on the eighth floor of a downtown Detroit office building for an afternoon of stitching, and sharing stories and ideas about their favorite fiber art?
Answer: Far more fun, excitement and togetherness than I could ever have imagined while making plans for the first "Detroit News Stitch-Together."
"Jocelynn, you got people to come to Detroit who haven't been here in years," I was told by one attendee, who, like all the other women, had entered our "Stitch-Together" contest for a chance to be part of the event, which I had the pleasure of hosting. Interested persons were asked to send in a paragraph about their knitting and/or crocheting experience with an optional photo to yours truly, along with a statement about why they wanted to join the group.
It was a rather difficult task to narrow the entries down to just 15 winners, but finally a letter of congratulations went out to: Barb Caddy (Royal Oak), Debbie Rosenman (Bloomfield Hills), Jan Parson (Adrian), Nancy Wrubel (Chesterfield), Mary Bajcz (Milford), Elizabeth Howe (Pleasant Ridge), Ellen Leigh Sadler (Northville), Diane Lux Krawitz (West Bloomfield), Pat Kapolka (Troy), Jodi Ann Micallef (Dearborn), Maxine Ricks-Chappell (Sterling Heights), Janet Downey (Clarkston), Barbara Bloink (Beverly Hills), Leigh Mosley (Detroit) and Alva Randall (Eastpointe).
Each brought lots of enthusiasm, and their knitting/crocheting bag stuffed with finished projects for show-and-tell, copies of their favorite pattern to share, a skein of yarn to trade, and something to knit or crochet. Parson, who writes the "Knitting: A Love Story" blog, surprised everyone, including yours truly, with a copy of her hefty book of 2014 blog posts that she had printed.
Items for show-and-tell included Lux Krawitz's Victorian-inspired beaded bags, complete with vintage purse frames; Downey's "knitted knockers" for breast cancer survivors, Caddy's broomstick lace (a lost art) blankets, Ricks-Chapell's metallic gold crocheted bracelets embellished with vintage military buttons, and Bloink's knitted tank top, which she wore after having finished it the night before.
With a view of the Detroit River and Windsor as the backdrop, the fun-filled event was highlighted by a drawing for a basket filled with various yarns and other items with a retail value of $230 donated by the Wool & the Floss in Grosse Pointe. Assistant Managing Editor Felecia Henderson pulled the winning entry, held by 78-year-old Howe, who, by her own admission, may have been the oldest person in the group. "I always win!," she said cheerfully, as I presented her with the basket.
The idea behind the "Stitch-Together" was to interact with some of my readers, while giving them the opportunity to connect with one another — and connect they did! After asking me, "When's the reunion?", they exchanged names, phone numbers and email addresses, compiled the next day into a spreadsheet by Sadler. Plans for staying in touch through Facebook were also in the making.
Then, when I arrived to work on Monday, I found I had been copied on emails from 13 of them with back-and-forth discussions about a possible name for their Facebook group, and talk of group activities. Wow — what an inspiring bunch of women! It was a common thread that brought them together, and one I think will serve as the basis for a closely knit group of yarn buddies for years to come.
Question: Could we be the first major newspaper to ever hold such an event?
(A second "Stitch-Together" is being planned for the fall!)
Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more news and giveaways, visit her blog at detroitnews.com/crafts.