Sitting in a circle at George Little Park, a group of women are having a yarn of a time. Some are beginners, others are enthusiastic hobbyists and one is the creator of over a dozen patterns featured in a series of well-known knitting books.
The Terrace Women’s Resource Centre Society hosted their annual Knit in Public Day on June 8, celebrated worldwide, to showcase local knitters and teach any curious passersby how to stitch at the Skeena Valley Farmers Market.
And those bundled up in the craft would point to Frances Lilly, an expert knitter whose work has been published in the popular Scotland editions of the Patons Knitting Book in the 1970s and 80s.
“As part of my master’s knitting [course], I had to do so many patterns. I wrote them, I designed them, and they were published after my exam,” Lilly says. “I had sent my work over to my aunt, who turned it over to them.”
Lilly, who has been knitting since the age of four, says it was part of their schooling in the U.K. to learn how to knit. Growing up, she’d often wear her own clothing that she designed herself and continues to do at the age of 72.
“In England, you would learn when you’re very young. You’d learn how to sew… it was part of mathematics,” she says.
Labeling herself a “yarn snob”, Lilly says she’s picky with the yarn she uses as it’s important to use natural fibres that will last the wear and tear of time. For her, most items that are purchased at the store aren’t quality material as they “stretch” and are disposed of quickly.
“I just can’t be like that. I guess I’m more like my mother who, because of the war, had to recycle [clothing],” she says. “I make my own stuff because I know it will last me for years.”
And her decades of expertise are clearly visible in her work. Her prized knits are passed around the group, with some that were sewn over 30 years ago.
At the event, she works on a pair of socks she will later give to her granddaughter. She says she doesn’t wait for holidays or birthdays to gift her knitted pieces to her family and friends since she enjoys always having a project on the go.
She adds that she even taught her husband, who is now com-knitted to the craft.
“It’s been good for him, it’s good therapy,” Lilly says. “He has a hard time concentrating and breathing because he’s COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease] and all that, but this is something he can do.”
The Terrace Women’s Resource Centre holds a knitting group session twice a week, on Mondays and Tuesdays, open to all levels.