Knitters escape for fiber art gathering on Super Bowl Sunday

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  • Members of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Knitting, Crocheting and Needlework Club work on personal projects at WEBS in Northampton during the yarn store’s 14th annual “Big Game Day Escape” on Sunday. From left are freshman Brianna Shepherd, crocheting a bunny, junior Hannah MacDonald making socks, and sophomore Isadora Harper working on a hat. Also with them, not pictured, was sophomore Annemarie Walsh, who was working on a sweater. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Helen Larkin, left, of Cummington prepares to ball up some yarn while Dotty Taft, center, of Adams and Debbie Thibault of Chesterfield spin wool on spinning wheels they brought to WEBS in Northampton for the yarn store’s 14th annual “Big Game Day Escape” on Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Even though her team wasn't playing Sunday, Patriots fan Heather Start of Charlton said she wanted to support them as she worked on a hat at WEBS in Northampton during the yarn store's 14th annual "Big Game Day Escape" on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Diane Desaulnier, left, of Leicester asks members of her group, dubbed "Fiber Knot Just for Knitting", their opinion on some yarn she was about to buy at WEBS in Northampton during the yarn store's 14th annual "Big Game Day Escape" on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. Desaulnier got a quick nod from her group of a baker's dozen because, as she noted, "We're all enablers." —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Wearing a sweater he made, Bill Gerry of Northampton works on a poncho during the14th annual "Big Game Day Escape" at WEBS in Northampton on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Roe Karparis of Florence works on a baby hat at WEBS in Northampton during the yarn store's 14th annual "Big Game Day Escape" on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Bill Gerry of Northampton paused from his current project to show off a picture of a child's rainbow colored sweater he made as he sat with friends at WEBS in Northampton for the yarn store's 14th annual "Big Game Day Escape" on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 2/2/2020 11:50:17 PM

NORTHAMPTON — While many football fans were watching pre-Super Bowl coverage on Sunday afternoon, others sought out a different scene.

At least 200 people packed into WEBS for the Northampton yarn store’s 14th Annual Big Game Day Escape on Sunday. In all corners of “America’s Yarn Store,” people gathered to knit, crochet and work on fiber art projects while socializing and eating snacks.

“It’s my favorite day of the year at work,” said Beth Zych, WEBS assistant store manager, who has been running the event for six years. “I love it, everybody is relaxed, everybody’s having fun.”

Yarn stores all over have long been hosting special events on Super Bowl Sundays, according to Zych. “I don’t know who started it or where it came from,” she said.

The “Big Game Day Escape” ran from noon to 4 p.m., so knitters could get both their fiber art and football in if they wanted.

Some came for a football escape. “I’m in no rush,” one woman waiting in line said to another. “All I have at home are men and in-laws.”

Others came and had plans to go home and watch the Super Bowl.

“We always come,” said Carol Balise as she worked on spinning sparkly fiber into yarn. “I’ve been coming for five years — since I started knitting.”

The South Hadley resident loves to create and posts her paintings, wood carvings and fiber art on a Facebook page called “Crazy Grandma’s Creations.”

Balise’s sister, Suzy Bonini, sat nearby spinning wool on a spinning wheel. “Fiber is fun,” she said. The first time she came to WEBS, “I was in heaven,” she recalled. “I’m a yarn snob.”

Asked why she spins the yarn herself, Bonini said, “It’s just another process dealing with fiber. There’s just something about it.”

In an aisle between two shelves of yarn, a group of University of Massachusetts knitting club members worked.

“I don’t think any of us knows who’s in the Super Bowl,” said Brianna Shepherd as she crocheted a bunny for an upcoming baby shower.

“I wouldn’t know it was Super Bowl Sunday without this event,” Annemarie Walsh chimed in.

When Walsh heard about the event, she thought “Oh my gosh, we have to go,” she recalled, as she worked on a cable-knit sweater. Walsh associates Super Bowl Sunday with male aggression. “This is an antidote to that.”

Nearby, UMass knitting club member Hannah Macdonald worked on socks and Isadora Harper worked on a brioche stitch hat — a pattern that knitters on the other side of the room were raving about.

The club will “definitely be back,” Walsh said.

Many are regulars at the annual event. Margaret Ludlam, who was sitting in a group of friends, has been coming for the past six years. Bill Gerry sat in the circle working on a garment for his daughter while wearing a blue cable-knit sweater he made. He pulled out an intricate white cable-knit blanket he made for his 4-year-old granddaughter.

WEBS is “like going to a candy shop for us,” said Ludlam, wearing a purple sweater she made.

Gerry added, “I don’t think there are many places in the world that can get 75 to 100 knitters in a store at a time.”

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.




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