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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

New club at URI is very tightly knit

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 25, 2004 -- There's a new tightly knit student group at the University of Rhode Island that's been keeping its members in stitches -- the first ever URI Knitting Club.

Whether they're pulled by childhood memories of a grandparent's knitting, tugged by warm wooly fashions, or even intrigued by seeing math multiplied into patterns, dozens of URI students have become entwined with this crafty pursuit.

The knitting club started in late September when two international engineering majors, Sareh Rajaee from East Greenwich, and Meghan Bellows from Pawtucket developed the idea of a club to share their interests in knitting and crafts with other URI students. The two joined with Amanda Juriansz, a communications major from Coventry and Nate Walker an international engineering major from Harrisville to form the club's board. Rajee and Bellows are club president and vice president and Juriansz and Walker are treasurer and secretary respectively. The group became an official Student Senate-recognized organization in December, quickly created their own website, stocked up on skeins and needles, and even produced their own club promotional video. (Pictured above l-r: Rajee, fellow IEP student Brian Dowdell of Charlestown listen to needlepoints from Chemical Engineering Professor Mercedes Rivero-Hudec.)

"I had just learned how to knit when I finished this cross-stitch piece that took me about four years to finish," said Rajaee who is the group's president. "Meghan and I thought having a club would be fun and we could accomplish some good things.
"Knitting is a great way to de-stress," she added.

Rajaee said the club is a great experience for anyone, male or female, who wants to learn to knit or work on any craft projects. After holding its first membership drive in February, the group now has more than 70 people on its mailing list. Each week about 15 people gather at the IEP house on Upper College Road and needles begin clicking. As no knitting experience is needed, some pros teach their peers to knit and purl. This spring the group is planning a baby hat drive and will teach members to knit caps for donation to a local hospital.

While the group has been meeting in the IEP house living room as several of its founding members, including Rajaee, Bellows, and Walker are residents, Rajaee said she worries that they're location might be keeping some students away.

"It can be tough to meet people in different majors. We're hoping this club can bring any students who share an interest in knitting together for fun," Rajaee said.

A new need-to-knit led Heather Stapleford, a senior business management major from Pittsburgh, Penn., and several of her friends to join the club and meet at the IEP house. "My grandmother taught me to knit over winter break and I immediately got hooked," said Stapleford who is shown here modeling her newly knit cat-ear cap. "I brought my needles back to school from my grandmother's house, and was kind of a closet-knitter for a while because I didn't want anyone to see me and judge. Then one of my friends saw me knit and wanted to learn, and overnight there were about 10 sorority sisters who started knitting."

When Stapleford and some of her sorority sisters went to their first knitting club meeting, it was shear pleasure. "When I got involved in the knitting club, it amazed me. We went to a meeting and there were about 12 students, including two guys," Stapleford said with a smile. "We were all just knitting and talking. It's really great."

Knitting has long been a craft that brought community members together -- often to gossip, to sing, or tell stories. It seems students in the URI Knitting Club haven't missed a stitch in crafting a new pattern for their college living community.