‘I have missed a stitch; I have to go back,” laments Eleanor Will.
Around the table, the click of needles falls silent as women indicate they feel her pain.
But this circle of kindred spirits sipping chamomile tea at the Tapestry Rose Yarn Shop in Ocean Park, Washington, is as divided as the Sharks and the Jets. Some crochet, some knit.
They tease incessantly.
“I will see a pattern and put my own spin on it,” says Linda Granfors, as she knits a hat and cowl. “I can’t crochet. It’s like a foreign language to me.”
Next to her, Diane Seifert crafts an intricate multicolored pin cushion to fasten on her wrist. On the table in front of her is a stuffed woolen pumpkin she created.
“I am a crochet person . . . only,” she says, quietly but firmly. “I am not going over to the ‘dark side!’”
Seifert is among those putting together a new event called the Columbia Pacific Fiber Arts Festival. It will be held Saturday through Sunday at the Chautauqua Lodge in Long Beach. She’s also secretary of the newly formed Columbia Pacific Fiber Arts Association and will teach a class on mosaic crochet.
The two-day event will feature classes, mini workshops and more than two dozen vendors. It was dreamed up by Ragan Myers, events coordinator for the city of Long Beach, in collaboration with Colleen Smith, owner of Tapestry Rose, a yarn supply store at the back of her Adelaide’s Coffee Shop in Ocean Park.
A third day has been added because the weekend includes Monday, which is Veterans Day. “A Storm of Words and Song” will be held at the Port of Peninsula in Nahcotta. It runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct 11, featuring live music and poetry, plus the opportunity to spin yarn in the port’s tent.
Smith has had 25 years in the yarn business and ran a restaurant for 40. She expounds on why fiber artists love to create. “Well, it’s this camaraderie,” she waves a hand at nine industrious women seated around her knitting table, “and the connection that you make when you are carrying on something that’s a legacy for someone that you love.”
Her particular pleasure is helping others solve knitting and crochet puzzles. This sometimes means investigating how people learn mathematics in different ways.
“You can never be expert at it all, but if I get the challenge, I learn it and I can teach them,” she says. “Even if it’s a problem that I have never seen before, I can figure out the best way to work it.”
Smith recalls helping Will while factoring in that she’s left handed.
Will, a 30-year resident of the Long Beach Peninsula, knits and loves making quilts to donate to hospitals or hospice. Kids at Head Start benefit from her crafts. “It’s fun to go there and see them,” she says.
Giving away their creations is common among the nine crafters around the table.
“I hardly ever keeping anything for myself,” Seifert says.