BAR HARBOR — Michelle McCann is like many other women she knows: “I’m never not knitting,” she said.
“When you’re never not knitting, you sit on the couch a lot,” McCann observed. Years ago, she developed a method to knit while walking. She often knits as she walks the shore path with her son, she said.
“There’s a little bit of choreography in this,” McCann said of knitting and walking at the same time. She decided to teach the skill to others like her who were “never not knitting.” As she told the Islander, “we all need a balance between craft and activities.” So last winter, she started a class at the YMCA called “Knit Fit.”
The class took off at a brisk pace, so to speak, with about 12 participants from the beginning, McCann said. By summer, it had picked up more people and was often held outdoors on the Carriage Roads.
Class participants need not be experienced knitters, McCann said. Knitters of all levels, including beginners, are welcome to attend Knit Fit. The Wed. 11:00 a.m. class that is open to the community, not just YMCA members.
“Somehow it just caught fire,” McCann said. “It really caught me by surprise.” Not only did the group grow, it attracted the attention of television news and the publication Vogue Knitting.
One of the secrets to walking while knitting is choosing a project that doesn’t require much concentration. A hat is ideal, McCann said. It also helps to have a wide and level place to walk, such as the YMCA indoor track or a carriage road.
But the real secret to knitting and walking is finding an effective way to “take your yarn on a walk,” McCann explained. To do this, she made herself a small bag to wear around her wrist to hold her yarn in. “I put a lot of thought into the design,” she said. In addition to yarn, the bag contains scissors, bamboo needles, and a row counter, which can also be used to count laps around the track.
After designing her first bag, McCann found seamstresses to make additional bags, which are for sale on the Knit Fit website and used by class participants.
McCann recently participated in a Vogue Knitting vendor trade show at the Times Square Marriott in New York City. It was there she added gray to the color choices of the Knit Fit bags. Talking to knitters in the city, she learned that dark colors were preferable: they could be discretely worn on the subway and elsewhere around the city.
Despite making it big, McCann still teaches her weekly class in Bar Harbor with local knitters. “I have had wonderful support from my knitters here,” she said.
Like knitting itself, knit walking is a good social activity, McCann said. “I encourage everyone to bring a friend, because I think you walk farther with a friend.”