‘We come from crafty people’

Linda STEWART and her daughter, Suzanne, joke around in front of their display of knitted and crocheted items at the Green Bank Gallery. Both ladies carry on the crafting tradition passed down by many members of their family. L.D. Bennett photo

Laura Dean Bennett
Staff Writer

“We’re like Sophia and Dorothy from ‘The Golden Girls!’” Suzanne Stewart said, laughing. “Well, just look at us, Mom is short like Sophia, and I’m tall like Dorothy.”

Suzanne and her mother, Linda Stewart, have been living together since 2008 when Suzanne moved back to Green Bank from Elkins. It started out as a temporary arrangement – it was hard to find a place that she wanted. But it turned out to be easier to live together – one set of bills.

“We have our own space,” Suzanne said.

“We each have our own room for TV,” Linda adds.

“We visit with each other when we’re at the gallery and when we go out places,” Suzanne chipped in. “We both belong to the Durbin Lions Club, so we do that together.”

“We’re good friends,” says Linda.

“We bounce ideas off each other, and I can confide in her,” Suzanne adds.

Linda has been a knitter for 50 years.

Linda poses with two of her first projects – knitted two-color block pillows – which may look a little worse for wear, but nonetheless remain in her collection. Behind Linda is a broomstick lace pillow made by her Aunt Arleta Kuykendall, just one of many pieces of work made by family members and on display in the Stewart home.

She taught business education at Pocahontas County High School for 35 years and has been retired for 14 years.

Suzanne learned to crochet when she was in the third grade. She had to do a project for school and she chose crocheting. She was taught by her grandmother. She made a tiny purple hat for her Barbie doll – purple was her favorite color back then, and it still is.

Linda taught Suzanne how to knit when they were off from school for snow days, and Suzanne was bored and looking for something to do.

In addition to Barbie’s hat, Suzanne also made a little blanket for her stuffed rabbit doll. The rabbit was dressed like a little girl – she wore a dress made of handmade fabric.

The first thing Suzanne knitted – a blanket for her stuffed rabbit.

Suzanne knitted the blanket using leftover yarn from an afghan Linda had made.

Linda was a farm girl, who grew up in Deer Run in Pendleton County.

Suzanne likes to tease her mom about her “appropriate address” there – “just off of Troublesome Valley Road.”

Linda’s mom, Reva Hevener, knitted her a huge gold and orange scarf for her to take to college. The fact that it was outrageously big made it especially nice on cold winter days.

“And come to think of it, it matched my brown maxi coat,” Linda said.

In addition to knitting, Linda enjoys mowing grass. She enjoys knitting while watching TV, and always has her knitting or a good book of fiction with her to keep her busy when she has to wait somewhere.

These two know their way around a pattern – as well as a way around a pattern.

“Some patterns are so complicated – they use a third needle, for instance, when you’re making a cable stitch,” Suzanne said.

Sometimes Linda makes her own patterns.

“I like to make simple patterns that are easy to work on when I’m out places,” she said.

Linda makes baby blankets and scarves, some of which are for sale at the Green Bank Gallery.

“I’ve made those for years” she said. “I’ve donated quite a few to the FRN for the community baby showers.”

About four years ago, Linda and her friend, Joann Fromhart, started a knitting and crocheting group at the Green Bank Library.

“It’s just a nice way to get together and be out with people. You can choose to socialize or just sit with us and do your hand work,” Linda said.

The eight-to-10 ladies meet twice a month – the first and third Wednesdays, from 1 to 3 p.m. and everyone is welcome to join them.

They may call it a knitting and crocheting group, but they do not discriminate against cross stitchers. Suzanne does cross stitching when she’s there.

One member of the group makes hats and blankets for the preemies at the NICU at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. Linda makes hats and blankets for them as well and has made about 20-25 so far.

Suzanne started crocheting first. “I’m one of those people who, if I see something new, I have to try it,” she says. “We come from crafty people.”

Suzanne took a little time off from hand work while she was in art school. After graduation, she moved to Elkins, and got back to cross stitching and crocheting.

“When I moved back here to Pocahontas County, I really got back into it,” she said. “I picked up bobbin lace. It’s a 13th century art form and could have easily been something that some of my ancestors did. I think it’s so important to keep up the old arts.”

Suzanne Stewart, attired in colonial dress at Huntersville Traditions Day, demonstrates the art of making bobbin lace – a form of lacemaking which dates back to the 13th century. She said it is, by far, the most difficult handwork she has done. L.D. Bennett photo

For the past seven years she’s been demonstrating the art of making bobbin lace at Huntersville Traditions Day.

“It is, by far, the hardest hand work I’ve ever done,” Suzanne said. “I got frustrated and put it down for a while – and it was sitting there, mocking me. So I looked it up on YouTube and got a book about it and tackled it again. I like doing the bookmarks – they’re a simple pattern.

A lot of Suzanne’s crafts can be found at the Green Bank Gallery.

Clever little scrubbies for washing dishes, hats, infinity scarves, fingerless gloves, paracord bracelets, made from parachute material – something for kids to buy.

The paracord bracelets are a popular item among outdoor enthusiasts and rock climbers who know that the nylon threads may be unwound in an emergency and used as a climbing cord.

Every project has a purpose.

Linda makes ear warmers and headbands for little girls.

Both mother and daughter make afghans for family and friends, and to donate to church auctions.

Speaking of comfortable things, this spring, Suzanne took on a new project – crocheting wildlife nests.

“When I’m on Facebook, I like to keep up with a lot of animal related sites,” Suzanne said. “I happened to notice this international organization called, Wildlife Rescue Nests.

“They crochet and knit “nests” for wildlife rescue centers that take in orphaned baby animals and sign up to receive the knitted and crocheted nests.

“They make nests for all kinds of babies – birds, squirrels, flying squirrels, rabbits and sometimes they use the nests for eggs.

“I went to their website and volunteered to make some.

“They were very particular about how the nests are made. I had to send a sample of my knitting – it has be be very tight, because the nests have to be really sturdy.

“They have patterns for several sizes. Volunteers have to use their patterns, and you have to use double yarn of #4 bulk.
“I just sent my first batch of nests to the Fresno Rescue Center. It’s really a good feeling knowing that something I made can help a little creature somewhere have a safe, warm place to curl up.”

Obviously knitting and crocheting is a hobby that’s all about love.

Love of family, friends, tradition – even love of creatures we’ve never met.

That’s what knitting and crocheting are really about – making something to keep us warm – not just on the outside, but on the inside, too.

Laura Dean Bennett may be contacted at ldb@pocahontastimes.com

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