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Poulsbohemian knit to be tied over record attempt

POULSBO — Knitting a scarf during the summertime isn’t exactly a typical activity.

Then again, neither is knitting a 22-mile scarf.

But at the Poulsbohemian Coffeehouse in downtown Poulsbo, a place that’s been long known for not exactly being typical, those two things have found their niche. In late May, Marianna Mears, owner of the nearly 11-year-old hot spot on Front Street, came up with the idea to invite her customers and the community at large to help her knit a world-record length scarf.

Since May 25, about 30-40 people of all ages have taken a turn adding their touch to the multi-colored wrap, which looks to span about 40-50 feet at this point. The goal is to knit a 22-mile scarf, which is roughly the distance between Poulsbo and Hansville.

A log book sits on the knitting table where knitters are encouraged to sign in and make comments, which have included both glowing accolades for the attempt and statements like, “I know, I suck” and, “I hate this.”

“It’s been great,” Mears said of the community involvement so far. “Sometimes people will sit here a long time and we’ve even taught people how to knit who never had before.”

Mears learned to knit at the age of 14 at the old Frederick & Nelson’s in Seattle. But after attempting a number of very complicated projects, she found she’d lost interest in the hobby.

“It made me nervous,” she recalled.

But she picked the needles back up again three years ago while convalescing and has never put them back down.

“I needed to do something that would really stimulate my brain and I’ve been told that knitting stimulates both sides of your mind,” Mears explained. “It turned out I loved it but I also only do scarves so I only do one stitch. I can practically drive and knit now.”

For the last few years, Mears has sold her one-of-a-kind scarves at the Poulsbohemian during the holidays and she soon realized that she had become part of a real community of knitting fanatics. Thus, the record-breaking scarf idea was born.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to have a community effort to make something?’” Mears recalled of her first inclination toward the project.

The world record for the longest scarf is held by a group of grandmothers in Raglan, Wales. The scarf was knitted for charity and is said to be 21 miles in length. There is another world record scarf attempt going on in Melbourne, Australia but that one is being pieced together.

“This one is different because it will be one continuous scarf,” Mears commented.

An engineer who visited the Poulsbohemian recently estimated that completing 22 miles of scarf would take a knitter about 100 years, so the crew at the Poulsbohemian made the project two-ended to cut the estimate down to about 50 years. If and when the scarf makes the goal, Mears said she hopes to be able to submit it to the Guinness Book of World Records, however, she says the rules are very complicated.

Mears has also envisioned simply displaying the scarf for the enjoyment of the community.

“Right now, I’m just thinking of a fashion art piece for the coffee house. Maybe encircle us in the wintertime with our own scarf,” she said with a chuckle.

Once the scarf has been completed and shown off in some fashion, Mears added that she sees herself breaking it down into regular-sized scarfs, possibly to be donated to charity.

“Someone will come up with a solution by then, I’m sure,” she commented.

While making an actual record may be a bit complicated, Mears said that knitting an extremely long scarf has not only been an easy task (it’s a simple stitch that anyone could learn) but it also is a very economical endeavor. Besides whole skeins of yarn, knitters can bring in their end pieces, which are usually too short for any other project, and add them to the creation.

Mears said she is always looking for knitters and also for yarn donations, which have been trickling in from all sources and now cover the small table in a thick layer of fluff. Her employees have been snatching up good deals at area garage sales and locals have brought in their leftovers as well. One tourist from Colorado who stopped in sent Mears two full boxes last week.

But all anyone really needs to do to take part in the record attempt is show up. A pair of No. 15 bamboo needles, which make it very easy and very quiet, are provided as is yarn for those who don’t bring their own. Mears said she’s found the project a very interesting way to meet more people and learn more about the hobby she loves.

“One thing that’s interesting about knitting is all the knitters who come in here, I don’t recognize what they’re doing and yet we’re all making the same stitches,” Mears commented. “We all have different styles of knitting and we all learned from different people.”

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