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A close-knit group

As you’re snooping through friends’ MySpace profiles, the most common hobbies listed in the about me section are usually shopping, reading, hitting the bar scene, working out, music, movies, or just plain hanging out with friends. You probably wouldn’t expect to find knitting and crocheting listed unless you’re checking out your grandma’s page. On the contrary, it seems that knitting is a trend that is recently catching on in our area, for young and old alike.

In fact, a Sit and Knit group meets every first and third Monday at Anthology Books in downtown Scranton. Sit and Knit is a mission carried out by local crafter and soapmaker, Amber Reddinger, who taught herself to knit just more than a year ago.

“I tried to learn how to crochet about nine years ago, but I was horrible at it,” says Reddinger. “I remained quietly obsessed with the fiber arts until I worked up the courage to try something again. Now I can’t stop.”

When Reddinger decided to learn to knit, Anthology was the first place she went for how-to books.

“A few weeks later, I ended up asking Andrea Talarico, Anthology’s owner, if she’d be willing to have a knitting group meet at her space,” she says.

If you think this sounds nuts, you’d be surprised to find that NEPA is actually lagging behind on the latest craze. It’s been hip to knit in larger metropolitan cities for the past few years. The proof is online at Web sites like KnitHappens.com, Ravelry.com and StitchnBitch.org, which host loads of online communities of knitters.

“The Stitch ’n’ Bitch site is a great place to see exactly how popular knitting has become,” Reddinger explains, “as it provides a comprehensive list of knitting groups across the globe — and those are just the ones that took the step to register on the site!

“When I decided to start a knitting group here, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t even know if anybody would show up.”

She is obviously not alone in her passion for knitting. Since the group’s first meeting in November, the turnout continues to increase each week. There is an average of 12-18 people who attend, varying in age, gender and experience. Sit and Knit is a place where people can share ideas, learn new things, chat, eat snacks and meet likeminded people in a friendly, warm environment.

Never picked up a needle and thread in your life? No worries.

“If you are interested in learning how to knit or crochet for the first time, don’t bring anything,” Reddinger says. “There will be many people available to let you test their favorite supplies and tell you exactly what you need to get started.”

If you’ve been knitting all along, now is the time to come out of the closet and join the fun. Lately, folks have been trying to find ways to simplify their lives. Knitting can be a fun way to make new friends, learn a unique and rather inexpensive hobby, and maybe even save some coin on clothing and accessories. On the other hand, if you’re trying to go green or all-natural with your knitting products, it can get a little costly.

Reddinger has some advice if you’re on a budget.

“There is actually a growing movement within the knitting community to only knit items using the yarn you have on hand rather than accumulating more. It’s harder than it sounds.”

Reddinger is about to cast on — which means to place the stitches that will be knitted onto the needle — her first sweater after finishing some smaller projects. Other projects in the group are blankets, purses and bags, clothing, hats and scarves.

Think about it: Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and nothing says “I Love You” like a cozy handmade sweater, or if you’re aiming low, even a pair of socks for a start. Imagine romancing your love on a blanket that you made — talk about scoring some major points.

Anthology would like to see the group continue to grow with people of all experience levels. There is a group project planned for February in an attempt to get involved and spread to the community. Sit and Knit relies mostly on word of mouth, however you can find more information on the store’s Web site, Anthology.com, and Reddinger’s personal Web site, Ambersambry.com.

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Sit and Knit: Every first and third Mon., 7 p.m. Anthology Books (515 Center St., Scranton, above Outrageous). Info: Scranthology.com, Ambersambry.com, 570.341.1443

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