July 12, 2007
The Knitting Circle Shows Its Chic
By RUTH LA FERLA
TEVA DURHAM is an unlikely idol, a soberly outfitted, plain-talking mother with a passion for quirky yarns. But to her fans, who snap up her how-to-knit books by the tens of thousands, Ms. Durham is the undisputed mistress of stitchery.
Those admirers, often young and aesthetically inclined, follow her patterns — casting on, increasing, decreasing — with unwavering fidelity. As well they might. Ms. Durham’s artfully crafted stockings and skirts, open-work dresses and cardigans vie in style and intricacy with many of their counterparts on the fashion runways.
Just a few years ago, the assertion that hand-stitched garments could compete with designer wares would have raised derisive hoots from the fashion set, which viewed the needle crafts as the domain of ladies in buns and harlequin glasses. As Ms. Durham acknowledged mildly, “People still think of knitting as, you know, a homey hobby.”
Well, no. Formerly neglected domestic arts like knitting, quilting, sewing and embroidery are being eagerly embraced, especially by the young. Their passion kindled by the abundance of handcrafted looks on the runways, they are blowing the dust off these folksy skills and lending them the bright sheen of style.
“It wasn’t that long ago that people would cringe at the word ‘craft,’ ” said Melanie Falick, who developed a crafts imprint at Stewart, Tabori & Chang. “Ten or 20 years ago, there were far fewer crafters and knitters, certainly fewer who ‘outed’ themselves. Now it has become a badge of honor.”
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