Deborah Sanborne says a “UFO” has nothing to do with flying saucers. To her, it stands for an “un-finished object.” And that object is knitting.
Knitting wasn’t exactly a tradition passed down to Sanborne through the women in her family. In fact, none of her family or friends knit. What first piqued her interest was a box kit to knit a Barbie coat that she received as a 12th birthday present from her parents. The first person to help her master the project was her dad.
“My dad spent the whole night figuring out how to do it by the directions,” Sanborne said. “It was amazing. He knitted a whole panel of the coat and showed me how to do it the next day.”
Sanborne knitted a few projects after that, mostly clothing items such as sweaters. But she “never liked how they looked,” so she put down knitting for several years after. It wasn’t until graduate school she tried to pick it up again.
“I thought I might knit a sweater for someone,” Sanborne said. “So I made a sweater again, and I didn’t like it again.”
And again, her knitting hobby went by the wayside. As often as she put it down, it’s hard to believe knitting became as serious a hobby for Sanborne as it is today. Just less than 10 years ago, she picked it up once more—and this time her knitting hobby would stay for good.
“I was going to visit my niece at college in North Carolina,” Sanborne said. “And she called me up and said she wanted to learn to knit socks.”
So Sanborne packed up her needles and yarns and brought them along. She loved knitting with her sister and her niece, and knitting soon began to take up any spare time that wasn’t spent practicing piano or teaching and playing as a St. Ambrose University instructor in the music department.
“My husband calls it ‘constructive fidgeting,’” Sanborne said.
She then combined her “fidgeting” with her pleasure knitting with others by joining her church group’s knitting club, the “Knit-Wits.” Sanborne doesn’t spend as much of her free time as she would like knitting for the Knit-Wit’s monthly gatherings. But she feels great personal reward in the projects they create, which usually go to those in need.
“We make baby caps and baby blankets and prayer shawls,” Sanborne said. “When we finish the shawls, we pray over them and give them out to people who might need a little comfort.”
Sanborne’s projects don’t stop with those items. She has taught herself how to knit big sweaters, small sweaters, jumpers, scarves and afghans, to name a few. While afghans are the most time-consuming, she has managed to make an afghan for every couple in both her family as well as her husband’s family. Knitting gifts for others is what Sanborne most enjoys.
“It’s really weird how I don’t want to wear the things that I’ve made,” Sanborne said. “Most knitters usually wear proudly what they make.”
But Sanborne is “addicted” to her hobby, and making projects for others is the perfect outlet. Her friends and family appreciate and love her work so much that she even gets requests every now and then.
“They know I’m pretty busy, so they try not to ask too often,” Sanborne said. “Although my son reminded me he doesn’t have a big sweater yet.”
She prefers working on smaller projects, like gloves or socks, because they are easier to travel with, but whenever she knits at home, Sanborne has to keep an eye on any extra paws that might be eager to help.
“My cats really like to help me knit,” Sanborne said. “I try to kind of knit out of a bag and hide the yarn so it’s less tempting for them.”