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At 11 years old, Maggie has become the master knitter in her family

In the gardens behind the Eureka hotel in downtown Jonesborough, the birds are singing, the creek is burbling and the faint click of knitting needles fills the air. The Misterly family of Elizabethton is enjoying a private knitting lesson on their lunch hour, where they combine knitting projects with good conversation and lots of laughter.
“It’s something fun to do together and it’s not TV or the computer, and it’s inexpensive,” said Nicole Misterly, about knitting and crocheting with her two children, Maggie and Duncan.
Eleven-year-old Maggie is the veteran knitter in her family, with more than four years of experience in deftly looping yarn under her belt.
“Ever since I started it’s just become a hobby, and it just gets my mind off other things,” she explained.
Maggie is working on a pair of socks during her lesson today.
“I’m going to wear them myself, it will be the first pair that might fit me,” she said, laughing.
Maggie has also knitted scarves, and a doll with matching clothing for herself. She says she doesn’t find it difficult to knit, but her instructor, Tara Swiger of Johnson City, believes making socks is a challenge for most.
“Probably the most complicated project is socks, because the needles are small, the yarn is small, (and) there’s the leg, the heel, the foot and the toe – those are all different skills, but there are other options for socks. That’s the good thing about knitting, you don’t have to take the hardest path,” she said.
Swiger has been giving personalized knitting lessons for about a year now, helping seasoned and novice knitters find their way through complex projects. She also advises students on how to best match their knitting goals with their skills, a bonus Nicole Misterly has really enjoyed.
“I started with a really hard vest and I never finished it. So, she helped me finish it, and we decided that was way too complicated a design. That’s when we went for the simpler sweater, and it was easy. So I’m very excited,” she said.
Eight-year-old Duncan is crocheting a colorful rope. Utterly confident and relaxed, he explains that he has only been crocheting for about two months. He says he enjoys making useful things like rope with his hook and yarn, and occasionally asks Swiger for a little advice on technique.
Swiger frequents the gardens behind the Eureka for her lessons because of its beauty and tranquility. However, she also makes house calls throughout the region to untangle webs of knotted yarn for frustrated students. She says she may only meet a knitter once to solve technique problems, or she’ll arrange to meet regularly at a student’s home with a small group. She also teaches larger groups in Jonesborough, using the Eureka or the Fellowship Quilters Store as home base.
Swiger learned to knit about six years ago, and she has been spinning and dying her own yarn for about four years, which she markets on the internet. Since knitting is her niche, both personally and professionally, she also passionately supports World Wide Knit in Public Day, which will be celebrated at the Jonesborough Public Library on Saturday, June 12.
“I think it’s important to knit in public and show your skills, because so many people think it’s a more traditional, old lady type thing, but all kinds of people do it,” she added, “and seeing knitting done, seeing that anybody of any age can do it hopefully inspires them to try it.”
All knitters are welcome at the Jonesborough Public Library to celebrate World Wide Knit in Public Day on Saturday, June 12 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. No registration is needed, refreshments will be served.
For more information, call the library at 753-1800.