Story by Lynn Cook
Photo by Kyle Rothenborg
Back in her native Australia, Talia Sullivan was a spinner of sheep’s wool and an avid knitter. Then she moved to humid, rarely-drops-below-70 Honolulu. “I didn’t know if I would find knitters here,” she says, “but I do know knitting is a passion, not just a winter sport.” As she says this the staccato, rapid-fire click of knitting needles fills the air. All around Sullivan sit friends working on intricately patterned, half-finished sweaters and shawls and scarves of every color.
Knitters in Hawai‘i? Indeed. The Monday night meeting of Aloha Knitters is in session at the Mocha Java Café in Ward Centre. The crowd is different every week. Aloha Knitters has no real club membership, no official count on participants, just weekly get-togethers, a website, an occasional workshop. “Work, kids and life,” says Sullivan of the distractions from her passion. “We come when we can.” She is a Monday regular as is self-described “knitaholic” Megan Warren, who has a closet filled with what she calls “UFOs,” unfinished objects. “We can’t resist yarn!” she laughs. “If I knit every day it will take thirty-seven years to use what I have in my yarn closet right now.”
The knitters have an assortment of talents: crocheting, spinning, weaving and felting. Security officer Everett Abe, possibly the only man in the group, smoothes out the evening’s progress on a scarf. “My grandmother showed me how to crochet,” he explains. “I picked up knit one, purl two knitting to pass the time on my night job. Now all my friends want a scarf.” Noted Hawai‘i sculptor May Izumi joined Aloha Knitters, learned stitches, finished a sweater, traded it for yarn and created an entire exhibition of knitted animals.
Bethany Bannister-Andrews, once a Monday regular, has now started a spin-off Wednesday group at the food court of Windward Mall. “People stop by to ask if they can join or if anyone teaches,” she says. “Some of us do.”
As the Monday meeting continues, a pattern is spread on the table for a knitted beach bag that will let sand flow through. Next week someone promises a yarn trade. The needles keep clicking.