Senior Center offering introductory courses in knitting | News

PLATTSBURGH — Richard and Lisa Guay’s Intro to Knitting Class is one of the new free activity offerings, Tuesdays at 1 p.m., at the Clinton County Seniors Council, 5139 North Catherine St. in Plattsburgh .

This Tuesday, Richard was teaching long tail cast on with Green Giant sized knitting needles to students Kris Portal and an icognito knitter.

“We have crocheters in our group who knit and crochet,” he said.

“We just walked in here. Basically, you are practicing your art. Right now, Kris is doing a kaftan. She has been knitting for a while.

“I knitted years ago, and I wasn’t that wonderful,” Kris said.

“It comes back to you, doesn’t it?” said Richard.

“Well, you look at the sweaters and stuff you can buy, and they’re not very interesting,” Kris said.

“They like a cable. It’s a big thing, a twisted cable. Then it’s like $100 or more for those sweaters.

“I made a sweater that’s very simple,” Richard said.

“It took me a while to do it, and it looks like I could be pregnant in it and it would be fine.”


Richard started knitting with his wife, and by this time Lisa had been knitting for 20 years.

“I picked up the knit and cast from her,” he said.

“After a while, I looked on YouTube and found the reverse stitch. I was at work and I was doing the reverse stitch. And I came home, and she was looking over my shoulder and she said, ‘Are you doing the reverse stitch?’ She said, ‘I can test you now.’

Richard started with diagonal dish towels, then progressed to baby blankets.

“My forte is the shawls,” he said.

“Basically you start with four stitches, then you increase and go on and go on, then you start decreasing and you can make a baby blanket in a square. If you continue to make the dishtowel-like pattern and simply increase one or two stitches with each row, you can get a shawl. You can knit plain or knit purl. I make fancy lace.

Richard doesn’t follow models very much. He invents it as he goes along.

“I made hats with the loom,” he says.

“I have already made slippers. I call them suicide slippers. I use a double strand of yarn, then I knit. Then I sewed the back. For older people, it’s a bit dangerous, especially if you walk on wooden or vinyl floors because you can slip. Kids love them because they can slide around like crazy and have fun. There’s a rubbery liquid you can put on the bottom that will shut it down, almost like a hospital type slipper.

Bath mats were one of Richard’s first knitting projects.

“I like it because it’s relaxing,” he says.

“It’s a challenge and you use your imagination. I have been knitting now for about 15 years. It keeps me away from the fridge when watching TV at home.


Lisa first learned to knit from nuns in grade one at Our Lady of Grace in Keeseville.

“We made Father’s Day scarves for our dads,” she says.

“Then I didn’t pick it up for a while, then someone gave me a doll kit, a Barbie doll dress. I didn’t pick it up for another eight years or so. My boyfriend in college, I made her a long scarf, almost Dr. Who. After my divorce, I took it back. I was doing various crafts at the time, and when I was living alone, I started knitting again.

Lisa wanted to knit a baby jacket for a nephew who was about to be born.

“I did, and I didn’t know anything about different yarn thicknesses,” she said.

“It was a bit…”

“A learning experience,” said Richard.

“Yeah, it was a learning experience,” Lisa said.

“It was big enough for a 4 year old.”

“He grew up in it,” Richard said.


During her professional career, Lisa worked as a secretary and engaged in contracting at the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base.

“She retired after being pregnant and having our daughter,” Richard said.

“A girl with special needs,” Lisa said.

Richard’s career as a farmer on his family’s dairy farm. After a three-year stint in the US Army as a forward observer in Baumholder, Germany, Richard returned to Champlain to work on the farm, Ayerst, Wyeth, and finally Pfizer.

He retired from the latter in 2010.

“You started knitting about a year before you retired,” Lisa said.

Kris learned to knit from her mother when she moved home after living in New York and Boston.

“I have a sweater that’s 30 years old and unfinished,” she said.

“It would be nice if I could learn how to finish the sweater.”

For more information, call the Seniors Center at 518-563-6180.

Email Robin Caudell:

Twitter: @RobinCaudell