The Big Stitch event started in 2008 as a way to gather these knitters and crocheters to work towards a common goal of providing baby blankets and hats for Nashville General Hospital.  In the last eight years Knit and Crochet Tennessee has expanded their charitable reach to more than thirty local groups donating more than 25,000 hats, scarves, afghans, baby hats and baby blankets.  Three years ago Big Stitch University was added to further the skills of the more than 500 fiber friends who attend the quarterly Big Stitch each year.


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unnamedJoy Baskin

A passion for crochet was passed on to me by my grandmother when I was eleven years old. She patiently taught me how to make a granny square, and that is where it all began. Over the past thirty-five plus years, I have picked up and put down my crochet hook many times to pursue other needle crafts. However, I always come back to crochet. I think I have tried just about every type of needle craft there is, but crochet is my passion. Since I discovered the need for “charity” knitting and crochet, I’ve felt more satisfied with using my skills than I thought possible. I enjoy teaching others to crochet, and I especially enjoy teaching children to love yarn, crochet, and creative arts in general. By doing this, I am paying forward what my grandma taught me, and it keeps her memory alive in my heart.

Barb-BeldenBarbara Belden

Barbara Belden started knitting and crocheting at a very young age of 6, in northwest Ohio, with her Grandmother Wagner.  Being a left hander,  was quite a challenge in learning, but not to be undone, she persued on.  Since then she has become  the resident left handed crochet teacher. She has switched over to her  right handed friends since  reading patterns made no sense at all!  She has taught the Entralec knitting technique, continental knitting, backward knitting and enjoys knitting and purling with friends whenever possible! Her crochet skills  are being honed by surrounding herself  with fellow friends “ Ravel Rousers”, whenever possible. She can be found at every Big Stitch!

PennyPenny Belden

I am a self-taught knitter and crocheter.  I love using color and especially like to do scarves, shawls, socks and afghans.  My yarn stash fill the entire guest closet in my condo!  I started the Prayer Shawl Ministry at my church in Cleveland, OH and will be working with a church in Nolensville to get their ministry started.  I worked in a needlework store for nearly 30 years.

unnamed-3Debbie Brown

Debbie Brown has been crocheting and knitting since childhood.  She is originally from Indiana. She is a combination of self taught and have taken some lessons. She was blessed to learn crocheting and knitting from her grandmothers. She enjoys working more with texture than color. She truly believes interesting texture yarns require simple techniques so the yarn can shine, and is skilled in textured techniques. She has taught both crochet and knitting in various locations in the US. She moved frequently during my working career. She moved to Lincoln County 10 years.  Debbie enjoys charity work especially baby items, which allows me to make a variety of techniques without overwhelming her family with items. Debbie teachs for both Lincoln and Franklin County Senior Centers. Debbie is rather new to Knit & Crochet Tennessee, but look forward to future events. She skilled in other crafting areas, but her first love is knitting and crocheting.

QuogG0FmAMBME499ALIElxGcZcsq1rM1UuYch7sQaBY-560x420Connie Crowell

I learned to knit in 1965 when I was a member of Vanderbilt Students’ Wives’ Club. After starting our family in 1968 I continued to knit for our two children and made gifts until I went to work full time in 1976. The knitting was forgotten for years until 1998 when a librarian showed me a lovely scarf she made with ribbon yarn. I was hooked. There are so many fabulous yarns and so many clever patterns. It makes knitting items for family members and for charitable events so enjoyable. As a retiree, it is one of my favorite hobbies. I love taking classes and teaching beginners to knit. I’m sure it lowers my blood pressure.


Wray Estes

My knitting life began in high school. I knit my first (yellow mohair cable cardigan) while on breaks at my summer job as a lifeguard. Mohair and sweat don’t mix well.  I later learned crochet and enjoy having some of each going all the time. My retirement from 40+ years of microbiology is a joy.

12310671_1724520521114086_1620615448681606449_nJanice Frank

Janice and Jessica Frank are mother and daughter, who along with Janice’s mom Patty Richmond make up 3 generations of the Happi Hookers. The Happi Hookers can take any type of willing material and manipulate it into a work of art.  Each prefers a different size hook, resulting in a wide selection of products. Our passions include things for the home such as throws and afghans for any size bed, rugs for any floor, and baby blankets for your newest addition. Doilies, table runners & place settings help make up our home décor line. We’ve broadened our clothing line from ponchos, tank tops and beach cover-ups to include accessories such as belts and barefoot sandals. Also check out our purses, shopping bags, scarves & hats.  We make kitchen accessories such as grocery bag holders, decorative dish towels, and great dish scrubbies that don’t hurt your pans.  We are more than willing to try new customized works of art and we can’t pass up a challenge. Check out or website to see some of the items we’ve made over the years: www.happihookers.com.  Once you’re hooked…you’re hooked.


Gwen Greene

I have been crafting since elementary school. I hold a Masters of Advanced Stitched from the Crochet Guild of America. In addition to crochet I also enjoy knitting, quilting (hand),  and embroidery.  I don’t believe anything is complicated ; it just requires more concentration. 


Val Gropp

I hated school but love to learn! I was taught to knit one day at 10 years of age and crocheted for many years. At 18, I taught myself to knit and read a pattern to make a completely ribbed turtleneck sweater for my toddler. This was back when we made do with what we had..think moss green and mustard acrylic! In 1999, a librarian encouraged me to check out Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books and I joined the Rochester Knitting Guild. Then came the Genesee Valley Fiber Fest. Through these I learned better knitting, spinning, raising sheep, llamas, rabbits, goats etc..all while homeschooling and homesteading. I continue to knit, teach and learn!

unnamed-2Jeanie Gulzau

Jeanie been knitting and crocheting since I was a child …got serious a few years ago when a friend and I opened a yarn shop. I love teaching, especially beginners..the light bulb moment ..is my favorite part, I know they’re hooked…watching their progress pleases me no end.

I was taught to knit by my aunt at age 5. My mother had me knitting in the round aka socks for dad when I was in second grade. In the fifties, crocheting, knitting, and sewing was taught in German schools an hour a week. Eventually, the projects became more sophisticated and I actually enjoyed crocheting tops paired with knitted skirts. Then followed a twenty­five year hiatus when I did not pick up a needle. Thanks to a colleague who sold me a felted purse in 2005, my knitting interest is rekindled. Since then I have attended some classes, joined knitting groups, took a bead­ knitting cruise (Laura Nelkin design). Knitting is a relaxing pleasure for me, love to try new patterns and techniques. The biggest challenge is to keep me from planning and starting too many projects.


danniDanni Hughes

I learned to knit as a little girl but never really liked it. It was slow and I wasn’t very good at it. So I never did any knitting until 2009. In late 2008 I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called dermatomyositis or DM for short. The body attacks the muscles and you become weak and tired all the time. The first flare was pretty bad and I would sit in a my chair for hours not even moving. I was getting depressed and decided I had to find something I could do with just my hands. I can crochet, but I prefer the look of knitting better. So….I got some cheap knitting needles and started with a dishcloth (imagine that).

When I was finally able to get out and about, I found FiftyForward Knowles and joined their knitting group. Even though I wasn’t quite 50, they graciously took me in and started teaching me. Catherine Hale (no longer with us) was a master knitter and took me under her wing. I couldn’t learn fast enough and Catherine was anxious to pass on her knowledge. She would have me over for some wine and knitting and lots of laughter. I learned so much from Catherine, the best of which was how to fix your knitting when you mess it up. She used to say that you learn the construction of knitting when you have to fix it.

In the past 5 years I have grown as a knitter. I was a thrower (otherwise known as American style) and it hurt my arm after 15 minutes. Thankfully through YouTube, I found Liat Gat, who makes wonderful videos and taught me to knit continental. My favorite things to knit are socks, fingerless gloves and use interesting techniques like fair isle and cables. I love interesting stitches and knitting small items.

Happy Knitting!

photoShauna Jared

Shauna learned to knit at a Big Stitch in 2009 and also learned to crochet shortly afterwards.  Although she loves knitting, crochet has become her obsession… especially amigurumi (crocheted stuffed toys)!  She also enjoys hand embroidery, cross stitch, sewing, quilting, reading, and cooking.  Lately, she has been working on designing her own amigurumi crochet toy patterns.  She can be found on her brand new blog, http://theplainrabbit.wordpress.com/ and on Ravelry as sjared.  Shauna lives in Lebanon, TN with her husband and three year old son. 

MichelleMichelle McClellan 

I have been crocheting as a full-fledged hobby since 2006. I learned to crochet as a child from my mother, but didn’t commit to the craft until I met my husband. I wanted to make him something to keep him warm as we were long distance dating at the time. My local Michaels held a crochet workshop and afterwards I was unstoppable. I learned to knit in 2009 as a result of having knitter friends who were relentless in their pursuit to make me a knitter. I’m glad I learned because it has made me a respecter and lover of all yarn crafting. Since my first scarf, I have enjoyed making projects for charity, gifts, myself, and my family. There’s just something special about making something for someone that will be beautiful, functional, and a symbol of your regard for them. As an instructor at the Big Stitch, I have enjoyed seeing students “get it” while learning new techniques, getting tips, and some learning for the very first time. My hope is that everyone who wants to learn will leave my class getting what they came for and then some. If I can offer any advice, it is to be patient with yourself. Keep at it, get help when you need it, and you will succeed.

Sharon taught for thirty-one years and is a retired teacher from Metro Nashville Public Schools.  She learned to crochet on one of the first snow days she experienced as a teacher nearly thirty years ago.  Most of her work has been with thread crochet because she fell in love with the lacy pieces she saw in some old crochet books she bought at a yard sale.  She has delved into designing crochet since her retirement and has made a few designs with thread crochet and beads.  Mainly she enjoys sharing crochet with others.


Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 12.22.18 AM

Jo Meyer

I’m a cross crafter that learned at a young age to crochet. I needed to make a doll sweater, so I took a knitting refresher course, and I haven’t stopped? I’m always learning and loving knitting and crochet!

Lefties are credited with being an artist, maybe that’s why I think of crocheting as an art form.  Each piece you make is a piece of you, by your choose of yarn, color, hook you have created that one of a kind piece.  I like to share that idea with others. I crochet jewelry and other art form pieces, like tassels and soft sculpture objects.

After my husband and I retired, we moved to Tennessee from California. To be closer to family. I now spend my time painting, crocheting, and traveling. I am an active member of the Tennessee Watercolor Society and Art Seen.


Connie-PinkertonConnie Pinkerton

I was born in Texas, went to elementary school in Nevada and moved to Tennessee when I was 13.  I am married to Gary and we have two grown sons, Cody and Taylor.  Cody is married to Amanda and they have a daughter, Ava.  Taylor lives in Pennsylvania with his girlfriend, Nicky and her father.I cannot remember a time that I did not do some sort of crafting.  I enjoy paper crafts, clay scuplting, cross stitch, needlepoint, and scrapbooking; but I think crochet is my first love.  I don’t really remember learning, so I tell everyone I came into this world with a crochet hook in my hand (much to the dismay of my mother, I am sure…hahahaha).  As for knitting, I am still a novice, but do enjoy learning from my sweet daughter-in-law, Amanda.I love to be able to teach young girls and boys to crochet, so that the craft is passed on.  Hopefully, someday, they will pass it on too, because they love it as much as I do.

356841e3-4912-44d5-a0ed-451a9fb0a00aMy Name is Penny Ruchti.
I am married and I have lived in Nashville for 25 years. I have one daughter and 2 grandsons.
I am an active member at Lakeshore Christian Church.
I went on a retreat at Johnsons Bible College and during that retreat they had workshops and one of  those workshops they taught us how to make mats for the homeless out of plastic bags.
I was so excited I bought this idea back to Nashville and started teaching other women at our church 🙂
We will start out on a smaller scale and make chair mats for the homeless for either the ground or a bench to sit on.
You will learn how to cut plastic bags into strips and with those strips you will slip knot them together and learn how to make a plarn ball (which is plastic instead of yarn)
Whatever you can crochet or knit with yarn, you can also do with plastic.
I have since then gone out to show others how to do this process and have shown them that they have a purpose in life and they can make a difference.
“Together we can do what we can never do alone”



Helen Shull

I learned to knit at a young age, 9 years old.  I had been a sickly kid when in 4th and fifth grade.  As I was recovering from scarlet fever, a kind friend of my mothers brought me a box of yarn and some needles.  My mother was a knitters and from a family of Swedes that all knit.  This activity would keep me busy and quiet as I was recovering. Ever since, I have been engaged in knitting projects.  First a long just knitted stitch scarf to sweaters, and whatever was a challenge.  Before coming to Nashville, I lived in Rockford , IL, and taught a knitting class once a week at local yarn shop. Yarn blends, various stitches, along with new projects keep the interest and challenge for me to keep knitting.  It is so relaxing for me to sit and knit for even a short time. A teaching background makes me excited to teach someone to knit.


Deborah Stillwell

I knitted my first sweater in the fifth grade and continued on-and-off until my youngest daughter asked me to teach her. One thing led to another, Knit and Crochet Tennessee was created in 2009 and I’ve been organizing events, classes and donations for KCTN ever since.  I started crocheting in 2011 when I realized that it provides certain looks and techniques that knitting cannot.  I love them both!

 BJ Strickland learned the start of knitting and crocheting when she was about 10. Using the popular green-covered Coats & Clark booklet with instructions for those plus several other needlework arts, she taught herself after that. She quickly decided that she preferred crocheting over knitting and she has tried hundreds of yarns, hooks, patterns and techniques over the last 50+ years. She loves to teach and is happy to share from her large pattern and book stash. BJ has lived in Middle Tennessee for most of the last 45 years and is constantly working on something for her granddaughter or friends.


Screen-Shot-2014-08-29-at-5.33.38-PMLeigh Arino

Leigh Arino started crafting when she was a little girl with cross stitch and latch hook kits, when her mother would drop her off at the craft store. Her first experiences with continuous yarn were through free-form crochet, learning from a friend about 10 years ago. She has since branched out into crocheting all manner of items through patterns, knitting socks and sweaters, and learning new techniques with yarn. She enjoys teaching knitting and crocheting to ‘newbies’ regardless of their age and/or gender. She has one crafty son in middle school and a husband who both understand her yarn-capades. When she figures out how to get over their lack of opposable thumbs,  she will also attempt teach her three dogs how to crochet.

Louann-YoungLouann Young learned to crochet and knit as a young  girl. The skills sat dormant many years and were awakened about 15 years ago when she saw friends creating adorable scarves from furry yarns that she’d never seen before. Realizing yarn had changed a lot over the years, she entered a local yarn shop, purchased yarn for a project, and hasn’t stopped knitting and/or crocheting since. She always has multiple projects on the needles or hooks. She discovered the efforts of the Knitted Knockers organization (www.knittedknockers.ORG) while surfing the web in Spring 2016 and joined the cause, having family members who are breast cancer survivors. She and Beth Wise created the local group, Knashville Knitted Knockers, to encourage knitters and crocheters in the area to participate with us in providing Knockers (knitted or crocheted) to  women in need middle Tennessee and beyond.

beth-wBeth Wise learned to knit from her mother when she was young, but never got beyond basic knit and purl.  After moving to TN 12 years ago, she joined an arts and crafts club, and the first project was knitting a decorative scarf with ribbon yarn.  When she mentioned to someone at the knit shop where she went to buy needles and yarn that she was a little nervous about remembering what to do, the advice she was given was, “Just shut off your brain and let your hands take over – they’ll remember.”  It worked!  And she’s been knitting ever since, learning more complex stitches and patterns through the years.  She’s passed the skill on to her children, and hopes someday to teach her grandkids as well.  She found the Knitted Knockers organization when she was looking for something to make for a friend who was having a mastectomy, and enjoys working on projects that bring comfort to women who’ve been through so much.  She looks forward to meeting more knitters and crocheters who can help us provide for the women in our community.

Photo Gallery

Big Stitch 34 - February 2017

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Big Stitch 33 - February 2017

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Big Stitch 32 - October 2016

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Big Stitch 31 - July 2016

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Big Stitch 30 - April 2016

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Big Stitch 29 - January 2016

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Big Stitch 28-October 2015

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Big Stitch 27-July 2015

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Big Stitch 26-April 2015

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