Vintage pattern reignites Roberta Sheffer’s passion for knitting

Roberta Sheffer's knitting basket is usually close at hand at her home in Stonington.

Roberta Sheffer admits she may need some intervention, possibly some professional help in curbing her “mittens-knitting” fascination. Everything her needles touch has a Scandinavian flair to it.

“I’m not Scandinavian, but I have a real affinity for it,” she says. “I went to Sweden a few years ago. I think that’s why I’m so drawn to these particular mittens.”

Sheffer knits most of her mittens in bright, primary colors because “that’s what they used in the old days,” but if a relative or friend asks her to break away from the basic colors, she’s willing to do it.

Sheffer learned to knit from a friend’s mom while she was still in high school. Although her own mother was a proficient knitter, she couldn’t teach her daughter. “She was left-handed,” Sheffer explains.

The Stonington resident put aside her needles while in college, but renewed her hobby years later while living in Michigan, knitting mostly children’s mittens. After returning to Connecticut, she returned to her hobby. It was then that her sister gave her a vintage pattern, one that is symbolically Scandinavian.

Sheffer ramped up her knitting within the last year because she had more time on her hands after retiring from years of work as a research associate in a university laboratory.

“Most of them have a snowflake design, but some of them have stars. People seem to like it because it reminds them of their childhood,” she says.

To keep track of her various creations, Sheffer has named them after her Swedish friends, such as “Moa” and “Gunilla.” Some of her other favorites are “Greta,” “Helga” and “Kristina.”

Sheffer’s husband thinks she’s obsessed. Is she?

“Yeah, I am,” she says with a laugh. “Normally I do it when I’m watching TV. I can’t watch and not knit, and I can’t knit and not watch.”

She typically dedicates about four hours each night to her hobby, sometimes longer, depending on what project she’s working on and whether there’s something interesting on the tube. And with Christmas right around the corner, there’s no shortage of projects.

“I really wouldn’t want to calculate how much time I’m spending, but when you’re doing it as a gift, you don’t think of it so much,” she explains. “It’s very therapeutic. There’s something about taking the yarn and then seeing the finished product. I don’t know how to describe it.”


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