"My knitting adventures started in 1946
when I was six. Mother was the one who taught me-Rebecca Shannon
- Wetherill Winder, from the first page of her knitting journal
In 1950 Wetherill Winder carefully knit a six-color
swatch for her
first sweater. She was ten years old and had moved to Afghanistan with
her family. Her father would teach math there. Her mother, with the
help of the Calvert Correspondence Course, homeschooled Wetherill and
In the knitting journal Wetherill started decades later, there's a
picture of that first swatch--which she still has.
With green, white, blue, red and yellow stripes, it's a moth-eaten
testimony that even her early stitching efforts stretched beyond the
simple. And like Wetherill, this artifact has traveled across states,
countries and continents.
Wetherill's parents were involved with the Experiment in
Living--an inspiration for the Peace Corps. The family moved a lot and
Wetherill learned to adapt to new places and absorb new cultural
influences. In Iran, where she lived after Afghanistan, she learned
Gujarati embroidery. Wetherill taught it to her mother, who later
taught it to Costa Rican women to use in their handwork. Pictures of
her embroidery swatches are tucked in her knitting journal, recorded
Wetherill was one of the first knitters I met when I moved back to
City over ten years ago. Getting to know her has been like an
archaeological dig, fascinating at each level. Last summer, on her 70th
birthday, she held a hobby display in the lobby of the retirement home
where she and her husband John Bovey now live. "Lifetime knitting, bike
riding, elegant cakes and other hobbies, artwork, sewing and
embroidery. Drop by and discover my interests."
That day, tables were covered with an array of projects and ventures
Wetherill had undertaken. Most remarkable for me was her knitting
display which included: a lace liseuse, a bed jacket knit for her
mother on a college year in France, a nine-piece layette knit for her
grandchildren, an embroidered mohair sweater, a polka dot Lopi sweater,
two cabled child's cardigans, a moebius scarf, Kaffe Fasset-inspired
vest, lace shawls, scarves, a felted purse from locally spun wool,
"walk away" socks that show off special heels when worn with open back
clogs, a diagonally knit jacket, Norwegian pullovers, and a Fair Isle
sweater using her own color combination reflecting the changing light
of day. Nestled alongside all these knitting wonders was Wetherill's
knitting journal with her first swatch--a complicated piece of knitting
for a ten year old.
Recently Wetherill told me that since her retirement in 2000, she
indulged in "her fascination with new knitting techniques and
patterns." That means knitting projects I once believed were designed
to push the edges of knitting possibility. Before I met Wetherill, I
never knew anyone who knit those patterns. I certainly I didn't. Like
Nicky Epstein's hooded Enchanted
French Traveling Cape, a nineteen
color intarsia knit of "a moonlit château, with turrets and a
drawbridge, cypress trees, wisteria, and fleur-de-lis." The cape, which
also has cables, took Wetherill four years and eight months to finish.
From childhood, Wetherill Winder has walked unfamiliar roads,
new terrains and ventured forth into unknowns with curiosity. These
days she travels to exotic places in her knitting. For the sweater she
knit last year, she learned the language of double knitting, mastered
its syntax. She spent six months knitting swatches of increasing
difficulty, understanding how this technique creates a completely
reversible fabric—-positive image on one side, negative image on the
Wetherill Winder stays on her knitting explorations even when they
years. Her knitting journal has slip-in plastic sleeves for her
finished project's photos and space for jotting down notes. Like the
travel journals that some keep on their treks to the near and far,
these pages mark where she's been as a knitter. From the swatch she
made in Afghanistan over sixty years ago, to the double-knit sweater
she finished last year, this small book holds a lifetime of her
Additional Notes of Interest:
- Wetherill has bicycled through Holland, and for two months,
United States. She participated in a dozen RAGBRAI--The Des Moines
Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.
- In 2003, Wetherill organized knitters to knit Afghans for
She took an ad out in the paper and rented a room for knitters to
stitch their donations at the Senior Center.
- Downsizing a few years ago, Wetherill keeps a few shelves
boxes with knitting books. And a very small stash.
- Wetherill puts labels on her finished work--Creations by
- Wetherill is part of a hospice knitting group. They make
Wetherill knits hers in the Bee Stitch, which she learned from Mon
Tricot knitting magazine.
K1 b Insert needle
center of stitch 1 row below next stitch and knit, slipping stitch
above off needle at the same time.
Cast on an odd number of stitches
Row 1 (WS): knit
Row 2 (RS): K1, * K1 b,
rep from *
Row 3: Knit
Row 4 (RS): K2, K1 b, *
b; rep from * to last 2 sts, k2
Rep these 4 rows for pattern.