It’s finally knitting weather in Savannah! My phone says it’s 49 degrees as I type. Weren’t we just complaining, just a few short weeks ago, that it was too warm for it to really feel like Christmas ? It was on one of those ‘springy’ December afternoons that I first met with Unwind Yarn and Gift’s dynamic knitting duo, Becky Jo Cole and Brenda Gordon.
Becky Jo arrived first, wearing a beautiful hand-knit shawl. Always smiling, she checked her black Garmin Vivofit, which noted she had already taken 4,345 steps by lunchtime and announced, “Brenda’s running a bit behind. It’s been a crazy day.”
The two friends first met at a dog park they both frequent in Savannah. Nowadays they meet a couple of times a week at Unwind where they catch up on their knitting projects, grandbaby stories and just about anything they haven’t text each other about during the week. If they have time, they’ll also meet on Saturdays at Cutter’s Point Coffee in Sandfly. Brenda first discovered Unwind about two years ago - right around the time Wendy took over the yarn shop. They have been coming in together ever since.
As she unpacks samples of her knitted treasures, Becky Jo chats away about her life and love of yarn. “I’m a self-taught knitter. I’ve always been very crafty.” Originally from southern Ohio, she married an Army officer and has lived and knit in many places, now settled at The Landings. Her adventurous spirit and confidence is reflected in her knitting as well as love of military life. “I love the military. You make great friends and meet people that other people you know, know.” She has knitting stories from many places. One of her favorites is knitting with her good friend Annette while they were both living in a little town called Delkenheim in Germany. She fondly talked about the town’s tiny yarn shop - especially their stock of gorgeous Italian wool. Annette is Danish and translated a German sweater pattern for Becky Jo so they could knit matching sweaters! She held it up to show the group, laughed and declared “I didn’t block this either.”
Becky Jo is not a fan of blocking- and she’s not afraid to admit it. In fact, I can’t imagine anything she’s afraid of. Wendy calls her a “fearless knitter,” and she wears that title proudly, showing off many other beautiful projects both completed and in progress. Her current project is a shawl for her mother-in law, but she mostly knits for her three grandsons. Her youngest grandson is four months old. She knit him a hat but it’s a little too big and she can’t seem to shrink it, so she consulted with Wendy for a bit.
Just then, Brenda walked in, and in the best Upper Midwestern accent greeted the group of knitters that had casually gathered around the yarn shop table to knit and listen to Becky Jo’s incredible adventures.
“Hi everyone! I’m sorry I’m late. It has been a crazy day.” I noticed she was wearing a Garmin Vivofit that matches Becky Jo’s. By 2 p.m. she had logged a whopping 8,580 steps! Her petite frame is sporting a light-weight, boxy sweater. Nel complimented her on it right away and pointed out how similar the construction was to the shop’s Cancun Lace Boxy Top. Boxy knits seem to be the popular new style for knitwear. Brenda begins talking about a baby blanket she knit for her grandson Henry. Her work is also quite lovely and I ask how she learned to knit. Originally from Kansas, she comes from a long line of quilters. She ended up living in Minnesota for 30 years (hence the beautiful accent), and had turned to a friend to learn how to knit.
Her left-handed, English-style knitting friend taught her to the best of her abilities. Brenda remembers being totally backwards on how exactly to execute her own stitches. She recalled with a smile having had a “rough start.” Then, about four years ago during a woman’s retreat, another friend re-introduced her to knitting. Not long after, she started knitting with Becky Jo, and the dynamic duo of Unwind was born.
“Becky has been very encouraging over these last two years,” she says as she talks about working on her grandson Henry’s blanket. “I knit this blanket for Henry for his baby shower.” Henry is her first grandson and she is currently knitting him a sweater as well. Just then Brenda zeroed in on a sample knitted hat. “Oh, what a lovely hat. I just love knitting hats. For some reason, that is my thing.”
Sometimes, however, they'll knit the same project. “Becky and I recently made ponchos. I still have to block mine but Becky’s already worn hers,” Brenda says with a smile, and sideways glance at her friend. Everyone laughed because we remember that Becky Jo hates blocking. . . “You have to start blocking things Becky,” Wendy interjects with a laugh. "You said I’m a fearless knitter!” Becky Jo reminds Wendy, with a giant grin, and keeps knitting.
Brenda was focused on the baby sweater but added, “we try to come in to Unwind twice per week. I’m the opposite of Becky [fearless knitter]. I make a lot of mistakes at home that we have to undo in the shop. My goal for 2016 is to learn to read my knitting. To understand my stitches, so I can easily identify my mistakes.”
You can find Becky Jo and Brenda on Ravelry. Becky Jo @mrssnake and Brenda @brendagordonmn.