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Needles and Grins

Stitch 'n' Bitch develops into a closely knit group.

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There's a revolution of sorts brewing in the back of an indie record store in Akron. And it all started with a pair of knitting needles.

Every Wednesday night at Square Records in Highland Square, 25 women, ranging in age from 20 to 40, convene for the Stitch 'n' Bitch knitting group. Part social circle, part feminist coup, and part bellyaching session, it's the creation of Juniper Sage and her friend, Rae Nester. Theirs is inherently not a very social age, says Sage, who started Stitch 'n' Bitch in January out of what she calls a dire need for more communal activities.

"We're trying to take back a craft that's considered homemakery," she says.

And she's succeeding. In just three months, Stitch 'n' Bitch has skyrocketed, with local chapters already planned for Lakewood, Willowick, and Canton. The collective's moniker comes from a sassy knitting handbook, written by Debbie Stoller, that was published last fall. A national registry of knitting groups sprang from it.

At the meetings, women are free to talk about whatever they want. But mostly it's about sharing patterns, disclosing new techniques, and unwinding for a few hours. "Knitting is basic," says Sage, a 30-year-old who's been putting needle to fiber for more than 18 years.

Purses, cell-phone cozies, and scarves are among the items created. Within the next few months, they plan to make clothing and distribute them among local women's and children's shelters. Men are welcome to bitch along: "We've taught six boys how to knit," Sage says.

And don't worry if you don't know a double front cross from David Cross; Stitch 'n' Bitch is open to knitters of all skill levels. "People who don't know how to knit can show up and learn," says Sage. "We'll even let them borrow needles."

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