Rancho Santa Fe’s fun-loving Knit Wits keep each other in stitches
By Karen Billing
If it’s a Wednesday night, one is sure to find some warmth in the children’s wing of the Village Community Presbyterian Church. Follow the buzz of conversation and laughter to find a room full of Knit Wits, fingers flying over knitting projects and stories swapped between stitches.
When they pause to pose for a group photo at their annual Christmas party on Dec. 7, the visiting Rev. Dr. Jack Baca remarks it’s the quietest he’s ever heard them.
After all, they are a very social group who just happens to knit, led by “Head Knit Wit” Marsha Wenskay.
Wenskay learned how to knit when she was just 6 years old, taught by her mom’s best friend, “Aunt Ivy.”
“She taught me how to knit during their Friday night coffee club, I sat at her feet and we knitted,” Wenskay said. “She was just an amazing knitter and she had great patience to teach a 6 year old.”
Her first project was a headband and she went on to make clothing for her Barbie dolls.
Wenskay has been a member at the Village Church for 20 years and had the bright idea to start a social knitting club — on the first night almost 15 women showed up to learn to knit and she used giant needles, standing on a chair to demonstrate to the group.
“We just continued on and never quit and it will be 10 years in January,” Wenskay said. Wenskay is more than happy to say that more than 40 women have learned to knit over the 10 years she’s led the fun, creative group.
“It can be something you can do when you’re doing something else,” said Lynn Lylyquist of Rancho Santa Fe who learned to knit through Knit Wits. “I do it when my husband is watching sports, it makes sports so much more interesting.”
The Knit Wits meet at 5:30 p.m. and work “until close” around 9 p.m. They give the church custodial staff a break during the holidays and busy times by meeting at Brett’s BBQ in Encinitas.
The average attendance is about 20 women.
“There is always a bottle of wine to keep our fingers nimble,” Wenskay said.
Knit Wits have come to the group from all over; you don’t have to be a member of the church. Knit Wit Heather Walpole met Wenskay at her yarn store in Oceanside, where Wenskay served as a knitting instructor.
“Marsha taught me a lot of what I know,” Walpole said.
The pair became close friends and Wenskay encouraged her to join the Knit Wits.
While her store has since closed, Walpole started her own yarn line called Ewe Ewe—her yarn gets used on many Wednesday nights.
For the most part, Knit Wits work on their own individual projects on Wednesdays.
“I sit here and I never get to knit because I help everyone else,” Wenskay said. “I keep the seat next to me empty.”
About four times a year they will take on a group charity project. They have knit helmet lines for soldiers, baby hats for preemies, chemotherapy caps for cancer survivors, red scarves for heart patients and pink scarves for breast cancer survivors.
They also do optional “Knit Along” projects — last year they all made Christmas stockings and this year they have done cap sleeve cardigan sweaters and handbags.
“I’m really proud of them because they all challenge themselves to learn something new,” Wenskay said.
The group is a very social group; sitting “knee to knee” they share secrets and gab and many wonderful friendships have formed just from the group. The group is home to “Never Knitters” who have never knitted a stitch; they just come because they like the fellowship. They also have “Knitter Quitters” who came to learn at first and then stayed on for the friendships.
Once a month they have a “Show and Share” where each Knit Wit presents something they have been working on. Some have just one item to show, others — “prolific elves that don’t sleep” — have numerous pieces to share.
All work is considered good by the Head Knit Wit.
“My motto is there are no mistakes in knitting, just design details,” said Wenskay. “If you don’t like the way the yarn is going, rip it out. It is only yarn!”
For more information, e-mail Marsha Wenskay at email@example.com.