Slow Jed’s Mudhouse, Averill Park knitters find the ideal,
laid-back hangout for their stitching and socializing
recently, I had never driv-en down Route 43. I had never been
to Averill Park or even thought much about the town.
on a particularly frigid Monday in February, I am intent on
checking out a place I had heard a whole lot of good things
about. After a 10-mile drive on 43 into the “country,” I spot
my destination—Slow Jed’s Mudhouse—and pull over.
I park my car and walk into the coziest of coffeehouses; it
simply radiates warmth and invitation. I had noted earlier
that day that the establishment’s Web site said that Slow
Jed’s was the result of “a decision to create something that
would reflect the value of ‘slowness.’ ” That goal was certainly
Upon entering the café through the side door, I see a couple
of tables covered in an array of free local publications and
what I assume are locally made crafty items for sale. By the
door hangs a huge bulletin board covered in event announcements,
for-sale advertisements and other notices. In the corner sits
the service counter, overflowing with tasty-looking baked
goods and other food items. The colors of the café are warm
and cheery, the ceilings are low, and there’s exposed wood
Two friendly young ladies behind the counter take my coffee
order and direct me to my destination—the lending library,
where I find the knitting group that I’d heard meets here
on Monday nights.
The lending library, a second-story loft type of space, is
home to the Averill Park Stitch ’n’ Bitch knitting group.
The library is a small, brightly colored room stocked with
bookcases filled to the brim with books and puzzles. A nearby
framed sign imparts the rules of the library (basically, take
and leave what you will—reading and doing puzzles is better
than watching TV). There’s a sofa, tables, chairs and stools
arranged around the room in which knitters sit, working, chatting,
generally looking down at their projects instead of up at
Beth Malone, a sweet-voiced mother of two who lives in Averill
Park, started this knitting group immediately after Slow Jed’s
reopened on Black Friday in 2005 after being renovated (“This
place used to be a blah liquor store,” according to the ladies;
an album of pictures documenting the renovation rests on one
of the library’s tables for perusal). They’ve been meeting
in the lending library every Monday night ever since.
started when my son gave me a Stitch ’n’ Bitch book as a joke,”
Malone says. “My teenagers thought it would be funny and that
it would offend me. It totally did the opposite, and I said
I want to start a group. I saw there was one in Albany already
started. Then I realize: That’s a little far—I think I want
to start one over here in Averill Park.”
This Stitch ’n’ Bitch group has an over-18 rule, and it averages
about 10 to 20 members who show up weekly.
had to enforce [the age limit] a little bit in the beginning,”
Malone says. “We had a couple people who wanted to bring kids
and make it more of a family knitting thing, and I squashed
it because we wanted it to be a girls’ night out.”
However, Malone is quick to point out, “girls’ night out”
isn’t exactly accurate, since there’s a guy who joins
in once in a while. “Aaron is our token guy knitter,” she
OK, it’s a girls’-night-out thing. But these gals are knitting
at a coffeehouse, not sipping cocktails at a bar, which some
may more readily associate with a girls’ night out. So why
knit? I ask.
stress relief!” they tell me, almost in unison.
would probably be an alcoholic if I didn’t knit,” one of the
knitters pipes in.
The knitters here tonight are working on scarves, socks and
hats, among other projects. I tell them how impressed I am
by people who can make socks. “You’re making socks, right?”
I ask a frustrated-looking knitter sitting nearby.
about ready to start swearing,” she says, “but yes, I’m making
An astonishingly quick young knitter who goes by the name
of Sam (really—that’s not her real name) takes off one of
her boots to show me green-and-red socks she knitted for herself
last time I went to church I noticed that I’ve been knitting
for so long,” says Sam, “that when I sit still I can’t pay
attention completely—I have to have part of my brain occupied.
I actually brought a sock I was working on . . .”
church?” an older knitter chides.
to church!” Sam said. “It was so much easier to concentrate.”
The knitters talk about the high quality of local yarn shops;
knitting for charity; knitting during class or meetings. .
. . And then eventually the conversation evolves into who
was on our lists of Top Five Celebrities You’d Sleep With
if the Opportunity Were to Present Itself. Always a crowd
pleaser, the topic peppers the rest of the evening’s conversation.
(“Rob Lowe? Top of the list,” Malone says.)
The conversation stops short when a knitter loses a needle;
nearby knitters help her look for the rogue tool, and eventually
they find it in the overstuffed armchair the knitter was sitting
in. Twice more over the next hour the same would happen: Someone
drops something, and the others jump to help retrieve the
lost items. After, conversation returns to that of environmentally
friendly yarns, the quality of Slow Jed’s espresso (and how
their brownies are as addictive as crack), and, of course,
Malone smirks at me. “This is not your grandmother’s knitting