Knitter receives legendary recognition

CHESTERTOWN She has taught hundreds of people to knit, and even invented her own stitch, and Annis Holmes was recently honored as a North Country Legend. Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY) held its annual North Country Heritage Awards on Oct. 14 in Canton, and Holmes was one of three North Country artisans to receive the honor. My youngest daughter was so pleased, she came in from Henderson, Nev., to drive me to Canton, Holmes said. I was appalled, I had no idea Id done anything to get this award, and it was fun! She said the trip to and from Canton was an adventure itself. Just outside of Potsdam, we saw a big yellow cat cross in front of the car, she said. It was really moving, probably a big bobcat. Holmes specialty is buff mittens, an old Adirondack tradition. Back when the men worked back in the woods with their teams, the women would knit these extra thick mittens to keep their hands warm, Holmes said. When they took off their mittens to eat lunch, theyd put them under their horses collars to keep them warm. She said when acrylic yarn came on the market, it didnt work for buff mittens, which had traditionally been knitted with wool. She created a stitch to knit the warm buff mittens with any yarn and published a book of patterns that made her a name in the world of knitting. I like to keep the heritage alive, she said. Holmes, who turned 89 in September, has run her yarn and knitting shop in the basement of her home since 1952. She still has knitting circles and teaches people to knit. I have some young people come in and learn, but mostly its retired people who want to knit for their grandchildren, she said. North Country Heritage Awards is TAUNYs annual program for recognition of individuals, families, or community groups who have mastered traditional arts or customs identified with our region and have remained committed to passing them on to future generations. Recipients are featured in The North Country Wall of Fame, TAUNYs gallery of photographic portraits.

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