Bates Knitwits: Knitting, Crochet and More

Do you ever find yourself yearning for a creative outlet amidst the chaos of college? Why not try one where you could make things that are useful for your day to day life, particularly in the cold weather of Maine? The Knitwits, a coalition of Bates knitters, specializes in making cozy handcrafted pieces, welcoming anyone from beginners to seasoned professionals.

During meetings, The Knitwits gather around in the Fireplace Lounge to hold workshops where members can work on different projects or crafts. The club focuses primarily on knitting, but also encourages crochet and other forms of yarn work. Past projects have included anything from making hats and accessories to yarn-bombing, a flashy form of public art where knitters make coverings around objects like benches, tree trunks, or bike racks. 

While many of these undertakings may sound like they require years of experience in the craft, lots of devoted Knitwits members joined the club as complete newbies.

“I got started knitting through Knitwits,” said Julia Jesurum ‘22, the club’s community liaison. “I had never knit before, but I had a couple friends who told me to come by the Fireplace Lounge on a random Wednesday in freshman year. It was a super open place to meet new people and knit together. I love how even though I am not very skillful, knitting is something I can do to relax and feel creative anytime any day, especially while watching TV or listening to music.”

Others had a baseline understanding of knitting and took advantage of the space to further their knowledge and refine their skills. “I started knitting with my grandma when I was younger, but I only knew really basic stuff like how to make a square. Knitwits taught me how to purl and knit a hat! I love how relaxing knitting is and that you have a finished piece when you are done,” shared Knitwits’ secretary Julia Goldstein ‘23. 

Both Goldstein and Jesurum agreed that their favorite Knitwits project thus far has been the hat-making workshop that the club hosted in the winter of the 2020 school year. The event was eye-opening to both members about the dualistic nature of knitting as a craft — it yields pretty works of art that are also fully functional. 

Knitting is an accessible and rewarding art form on its own, but it also breeds a wonderful sense of community around groups of knitters. The Knitwits have not only fostered a warm and welcoming environment on the Bates campus, but they have extended their reach into the Lewiston-Auburn community, partnering with community partners like Montello Elementary School, among others.

“One of my favorite moments was when we spent an afternoon at Montello Elementary School and did crafts with some of the students; it was really nice to teach some of those students how to finger-knit and make friendship bracelets and just to hear about their days,” recounted Jesurum, who, as a community liaison, has the task of connecting Knitwits to the greater community. “I have not been very involved with the community outside of Bates, and this club has given me the opportunity to reach out and build connections.”

If you have even the slightest interest in knitting, Knitwits encourages you to take a stab at it. “My message to anyone looking to start knitting is try it out! It’s okay to mess up!  I don’t believe in knitting mistakes, handmade things are supposed to have imperfections,” said Goldstein. Prospective members should check out their Instagram, @knitwitz20, for more info!