March 2021 Meeting Recap: Jennifer Berg (Native Knitter) shares We Are Still Here: Keeping My Culture Alive Through Knit Design, Member Tips, and Show & Tell
by Melanie Chen
Puddletown Knitters Guild Board Chair Kimberly Williams (sporting a beautiful Meditations shawl, which was this year’s Mystery Knit Along for the annual Rose City Yarn Crawl) convened the March 2021 meeting, which debuted a truly inspiring video presentation by Native Knits designer Jennifer Berg. Kimberly thanked everyone who has paid their annual dues, issued a gentle reminder to those who still have it on their To-Do List and announced that the Board has decided to keep the meetings in virtual format via Zoom through October. This allows the Guild to book speakers from farther away than normal, a benefit to help offset the loss of shared in-person time.
Many thanks to those who have already made items for the Winter Warmth Drive (this year's charity knitting for Rose Haven women’s shelter), and finished projects continue to roll in, which is wonderful. If you are doing paired items (mittens, socks, etc.) it would be great to put them together in a clear bag or pin them together so the mates don’t get lost. Our sister guild in Uganda was recently given help from USAID to sell their items through the internet. They will receive our gifted needles as soon as Kathryn Gearheard is able to travel with them.
The 1:00 PM afternoon slots for April 17 and 24 are still available for Jennifer Berg’s Mixing of Cultures stranded colorwork class, but going fast! Jen’s work will also be offered at the Native Knits trunk show April 1-4 hosted by Weird Sisters. There will be a virtual show with Jennifer on April 1st via zoom to kick it off. Weird Sisters also has a spring Knit Along (KAL) featuring Anker’s Summer Shirt by Petite Knit (done in a light DK yarn) set for March 17, 31, and April 14. The Knitted Wit has announced a Springtime KAL with kits available now and KAL itself starting on March 20.
Call for Sock Test Knitters. Abstract Fiber seeks 3-4 experienced sock knitters or adventurous beginners, and they will supply the pdf pattern and yarn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Our Member Tip this month looked at Stash Organization. Anna took us through several good ways to keep our yarn sorted, including by weight, project, fiber, brand, and color. Anna personally uses categories of yarn: sock yarn, mini-skeins, left over bits of yarn, yarn already designated for projects (kits, etc.) and general yarn all kept in bins, and then places recent acquisitions throughout the house to gaze at and consider the possibilities! We thank Kerry Elenitoba-Johnson for sharing the Closet Organizers and Kimberly Williams the Fabric Cubes methods they use and imagine that one day soon our stashes, too, might just be better organized.
Bonus Member Tip: drawing from the Vogue Live knitting class with Lili Chin, Anna shared this rule of thumb for determining appropriate needle size: take intended yarn, fold it double and see which size needle matches it best by looping it through a needle gauge guide with holes.
Next month’s Member tip: swatch motivation. How do you get yourself in the right frame of mind to do a proper swatch before commencing a project? Anna welcomes suggestions from members who have tackled this.
The centerpiece of the March meeting was the must-see video produced by Native Knits designer Jennifer Berg. Jen, who draws inspiration from her Dine/Navajo cultural background, took us on a tour of her birthplace, showing us the sights and colors that feature prominently in her work. Jen noted that while her designs are based on traditional themes, she often puts a contemporary twist on them. Above all, she uses the knit pieces to tell a story of the Navajo people’s continued existence, strength, and resilience. “We are still here,” she noted.
Jen also gave us a window into her family’s heritage and traditions and linked them to the patterns and symbols that she incorporates in her knitwear. We got a glimpse of the art and craft-filled interior of Chee’s Indian Store, which has been in Jen’s family for four generations, and also learned about their philosophy to employ Navajos and provide livelihoods for the community. Jen spoke to us about the distinction between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, and how we can avoid the former and embody the latter, but she emphasized that her goal is to encourage people’s curiosity about not just the Navajo, but all the Native Americans and their traditions.
Jenn has kindly offered a 20% discount to PKG members. She also gave us a preview of her stunning new design, the Sheep Camp Sweater, which is due to be released later in March.
We’ve been busy! Guild members were able to enjoy seeing the completed projects of so many knitters.