It’s Tuesday night at the Union and Winterfest is in the air. Hundreds of students are being bombarded with sensory information from all directions — bouncy sorority girls pushing flyers into unsuspecting students’ faces, political clubs yelling over the musical vocalizations of the nearby a cappella groups. All the while, the tantalizingly sweet whiff of hot chocolate saturates the hallways.

Tucked slightly behind the hubbub lies another room, 2105B. As you enter this quiet little room, the first thing you notice is the sound. It’s the unmistakable sound of industrial calm, the sound of silver knitting needles meticulously clicking away. Rather than yelling to passersby to join its club, this small community of knitters congregates quietly behind closed doors, hard at work.

Club Co-President Erin Fogarty, a junior in the Ross School of Business, is sitting cross-legged on a chair, diligently working on a red scarf. Beside her is a large bag of yarn, spilling out a whole spectrum of colors.

There are six other people circled around this small room working on blankets, scarves or gloves. Some are carefully plaiting fine, shimmery yarn one strand at a time, while others knit three strands all at once, the needles methodically weaving in and out without pause. One girl stops in to change her needles and pick up a cocoon of yarn. Another drops off a thick orange and green blanket for the donation box.

Co-president Crosby Modrowski, an LSA junior, comes in later, bearing a McDonald’s bag and knitting needles.

“They don’t let us have food in here anymore, so we can’t have pizza today. Sorry, guys,” she says.

Today, this room houses the members of a little-known club called MichKnit, a student-led organization initiated just two years ago by Fogarty, Modrowski and Engineering junior Shannon Power in a lounge at Bursley Hall. The three were freshmen at the time.

“I think it was at our first Festifall was when the club started getting more attention. So many people came up to us and told us they were interested in knitting. We ended up having more than 100 people on the mailing list,” Fogarty said.

“It’s really grown from there,” Modrowski added.

The Ginsberg Center provides MichKnit with free yarn, which the members knit into all sorts of winterwear to donate to Alternative Spring Break projects. Last year, MichKnit managed to donate over 80 hats, scarves and gloves.

MichKnit has no hierarchy beyond the three presidents.

“You just show up, hang out, knit and chat. Mostly it’s just really relaxed — people just hanging out, with more experience and less experience. They ask questions, look at projects and get ideas,” LSA junior Timothy McMacken said.

“Scarves are where you traditionally begin, because it’s essentially just back and forth, and it’s long too,” McMacken explained, “so a lot of scarves come in. A few people make gloves. Last year, one girl made a sweater. It was like a semester’s worth of work.”

Sometimes members work on projects for themselves, in addition to the ones that are donated.

“If you make something and you really love it, you can keep it, but we try to limit ourselves since we’re getting free yarn,” Engineering sophomore Jaimie Brougham said.

MichKnit traditionally has two big events every year: Needle Breakers, which it sponsors itself, and the K-grams Kids Fair, for which the MichKnit gang gathers with other organizations to provide elementary school kids with a series of arts activities.

“We provide free yarn, and needles are only $2,” Modrowski said. “It’s our first meeting of the year and it’s definitely the most popular one.”

At Kids Fair, the club gathers at Crisler Arena to teach elementary school kids how to knit.

“We started out trying to teach them how to finger knit, which is kind of like looping a long piece of yarn around your hands,” Fogarty laughed, “but they were running around like crazy … we just ended up making them yarn bracelets.”

The club’s members are very close. The three presidents all share an apartment together and have been good friends since freshman year.

“We all lived in the same hall in Bursley. When we decided to start a club, we just wanted somewhere to hang out and meet new people,” Fogarty said. “It’s very relaxed. I remember when we first wrote our club description it was like literally, knit, hang out, eat and that’s it.”

While the participants are primarily female, men do come in from time to time.

“Usually around the holidays they come in asking ‘Will you teach me how to knit?’ ” Brougham said.

“We mostly get boys who want to make something for their significant other, which is cute — a very cheap, easy, but heartfelt gift to make your girlfriend,” she added.

That’s just how McMacken got started.

“I had just started dating my girlfriend, a broke high school student,” he said. “I decided I wanted to make her something because that would be more interesting than just buying something. So I ended up making her a really long, nice scarf.

“And six years later, she married me, so it ended up working out,” he added.

MichKnit started with only 10 members, but in these three years the club has grown to more than 100 people, 30 of whom are active. Active members are defined as those who regularly go to the monthly meetings.

“I hope it’ll get bigger. People think it’s weird and old-ladyish, but it’s so cool — something you can do in your free time,” Brougham said. “You can pick up your needles and just go.”

“And you get more winter gear in a winter state,” McMacken added. “Really, it’s not a bad deal.”

Toward the end of the meeting, McMacken finishes teaching a girl how to knit. It’s her first meeting and the first time she has ever picked up a pair of needles. Staring at the misshapen inch of orange and black wool she has just knitted, she smiles with pride as she leaves the industrious little room.

“You can come back anytime,” McMacken calls after her.

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