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Knitting Renaissance Growing With New Luxury Yarns

Knitters, crocheters and weavers aren't content with creating baby sweaters and booties in 2013. There is a variety of new yarns to choose from and things to make.

Luxurious yarns come in a wide and blends coming from around the world -- from China and Japan to Ireland, Turkey, Spain and South Africa.

There are yarns made of silk, linen, mink, bamboo, cotton and cashmere as well as the more traditional wool and acrylic blends. There are a myriad of textures from loopy bouclé to a smooth cashmere blend. Some have beads, feathers and ribbons woven in.

Patterns are available for hats, shawls, and high-fashion sweaters, vests and purses. Even haute couture New York designers are featuring custom-knit fashions.

Laura Dobratz, owner of the Four Purls Yarn Shop in downtown Winter Haven, hosts hundreds of knitters for Tuesday knit nights and fashion shows.

"People are moving back to do-it-yourself," she said. "They want to make something by hand rather than buying it in a store."

She likened the enthusiasm for knitting, crocheting and weaving to a "new generation of hippies."

Phyllis Collins, a Realtor, said she has become addicted to knitting, sneaking out of her real estate office for 45 minutes to go to the yarn shop to knit, catch up with friends and see what everybody else is working on.

"It's a wonderful place," she said. "You leave the world outside. I've made the best of friends even though we only know each other by our first names."
The store has been at its current location for almost three years. Over that time, Dobratz has added various classes for the crafters. Even a few men come to knit. Weavers come to weave on tabletop looms and some bring their own spinning wheels to spin yarn from wool purchased from an alpaca farm in Polk City.

Due to people of all ages picking up knitting needles and crochet hooks, Dobratz has added classes for youths.

"They tend to learn faster than the adults," Dobratz said. "They aren't afraid to make a mistake."

Youths enjoy felting, a process where they knit a purse, wash it in the washing machine and then dry it. It shrinks so that any mistakes are no longer visible, she said.

Donna Coquyt teaches weaving at the shop after learning from a friend in Tennessee with a handmade floor loom. She has done several projects on the Cricket table looms at the store.

Coquyt is also an avid knitter.

She made a wall hanging using a technique called illusionary knitting.

Looking at the hanging straight on, it looks like a series of vertical stripes. Viewed from the side, it's the Mona Lisa.

"It's a series of knits and purls that gives the illusion of a painting," she said.

To read more about the resurgent popularity of knitting, check out Alpaca Culture magazine's March 2013 issue for the article "Knitting: The Very, Very Old Becomes New Again" on page 64.