On Centre Around Bellefonte: Knotty Girls not just a knitting club

The image of a knitting circle perhaps involves several grandmotherly figures, sitting in rocking chairs, dutifully crossing their needles back and forth.

It doesn’t conjure images of more than two dozen people across several decades of ages gathering at a local coffee shop to design and create their hats, scarves and whatever else they may devise.

But every Monday, the Knotty Girls knitting club does exactly that, gathering in the open space of Cool Beans Coffee and Tea on West High Street around 6 p.m. to knit, converse and provide friendship to all who join them.

The club was formed in 2007 by Joyce Howard and Deb Boscaino, who both worked in Penn State’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations, Howard said.

The pair decided they needed an outlet for their desire to create, so a group with five other ladies was formed and met at Barnes and Noble in College Township to knit, she said. Before long, the group, now 10 people, were meeting in the YMCA annex in Bellefonte.

In 2009, Cool Beans’ owner Wendy Fultz opened her space to the group, where membership has swelled to 52 knitters, she said. On an average night, about 30 people show up to cast, knit and purl.

“It’s just addictive,” Howard said.

“And once you see what other people are knitting, then you want to make that item.”

The group has creative freedom to make anything they want, she said, and often do many activities together outside of knitting, such as road trips to knit shops and fiber festivals in Maryland and New York.

The only rule, she said, is no gossiping. Keeping the nitpicking out of the group has allowed a lot of friendships to grow, and the group often looks to each other for companionship.

“We are truly a family, not just a knitting club,” she said.

“Everybody cares about everybody else.”

The club also involves itself in community charities, donating knit goods to the needy.

Recently, according to Boscaino, the daughter of a member mentioned how lonely the residents of a local nursing facility can be during the holidays.

The club took to knitting shawls and lap robes for every member.

Knotty Girls has also knitted baby items for the State College Pregnancy Resource Clinic and a giant afghan for the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, she said.

The knitting and getting involved in different charities has made her think more about helping and giving, Boscaino said, and made the rest of the group think about it as well.

“I can only knit my granddaughter so many hats,” she said.

“You need an outlet.”