Sixteen years ago in November, a group of friends began gathering every Tuesday afternoon at my Florida home. I live in a community of avid golfers, zealous bridge players and serious tennis aficionados. But these ladies came to “Stitch ’n Bitch” in my living room, and we shared an unstated motto: everyone should knit but they didn’t actually have to use yarn.
And many didn’t. Some ladies arrived with mending, others used the two hours to sort through photographs on their iPhones, another brought her ironing one afternoon. The majority, however, walked in toting project bags stuffed with needlepoint Christmas stockings, multi-colored golf club covers, half-finished cardigan sweaters, even a World War II Watch Cap for a grandson currently serving in the military.
What mattered wasn’t the project these ladies were working on but rather the laughter, hopes, fears and tears they shared every Tuesday afternoon from 3 to 5. Like quilting bees of past centuries, our Stitch ’n Bitch sessions had as much to do with the joy of friendship as making something useful for the world.
But believe me, useful things were made. A former Vietnam veteran who currently serves on the board of D.O.V.E. (Development of Vietnam Endeavors), a non-profit humanitarian and development assistance organization, asked us to knit bandages for the lepers in Vietnam. In a heartbeat, our hands got busy using size 1 needles (which is like knitting on toothpicks) and we were amazed as bandages multiplied.
Gathered around our mascot “Purl”, we created prayer shawls for a local church, then pink and blue baby blankets for the ninos of Indiantown. One of our members asked us to donate used postage stamps which would help save the Irish peat bogs. (Honestly, I never quite understood how our old stamps could do anything until, at one recent gathering, that same member read us a letter from the Irish Bog Commission thanking us for our donations. Who knew?)
Over time our group grew to include 19 women, the newest member being a lovely lady from London whom we dubbed “our Royal Correspondent.” With emails and a few personal visits from Roz, we were kept up to date on William, Kate, the Queen and life at Balmoral. We lapped up every majestic word!
But time passes on. Several years ago, we sadly lost one of our members to cancer. Others sold their homes here and headed back north. We held our last meeting a month ago in a private dining room at the Cornerstone Bistro. As the wine flowed, the reminiscences grew, with laughter besting latent tears. It was a fitting end to our cozy coterie.
We always joked that “what happens at Stitch ’n Bitch, STAYS at Stitch ’n Bitch.” We didn’t change the world or do anything significant. We were just a group of women dedicated to each other and content in our friendships. It rarely gets better than that.