Every week in Triton’s Pub at Eckerd College—a private liberal arts college on Florida’s Gulf Coast—a group of creative students gathers in a cozy, couch-filled corner to explore hobbies such as knitting, crocheting and sewing. The spicily named club—Stitch ’n Bitch—exists to foster space for relaxation, crafting and venting.
Club heads Elizabeth Oliver, a junior marine science and Spanish student from Lakehurst, New Jersey, and Kaitlin Juarez, a junior film studies and marketing student from Cocoa Beach, Florida, have been crocheting since grade school, where they were taught by their teachers. The experienced crocheters spend time at the beginning of each semester teaching new members how to crochet. They provide needles and yarn, purchased with club funds, and members are encouraged to bring their own materials to work on their projects.
“It’s been a part of my life for so long, it’s just what I do,” Kaitlin says. “I enjoy making gifts for the people in my life.”
Elizabeth values the busyness of using her hands. She finds it hard to put her projects down. “I’ve been caught crocheting on my walk to class,” she says with a chuckle. “Which is unfortunate because I can’t walk in a straight line when I’m focused on the yarn.”
Junior marine science student Rachel Smith, from Sayre, Pennsylvania, is a regular at club gatherings. She learned how to knit when she was very young. “My grandmother taught me,” she says fondly. “Last year, Kaitlin taught me to crochet.”
The club has been a great outlet for Rachel to de-stress and learn a new skill. With her background in knitting, she was accustomed to using two needles, but crocheting requires just one.
“Knitting and crocheting are very different,” she says. “The hardest part was learning how to hold the yarn since the stitches aren’t attached to the needle like I’m used to.”
During their sophomore year, both Kaitlin and Elizabeth wanted to start a crocheting club. They didn’t know each other, but their similar ambitions to find community brought them together. Before the pandemic, Stitch ’n Bitch had been an active club on campus, but it dissipated when meeting in person became impossible. In 2021, the Eckerd College Queer-Straight Alliance took the club under its wing, but meetings were occasional at best.
Elizabeth’s and Kaitlin’s passion brought it back. They inherited the club and kept the historical name. Elizabeth says Stitch ’n Bitch is a nationwide outlet that has traditionally served as a safe space for women to be creative and support one another.
“Our goal is to de-stigmatize this art form,” she says. “We want to break the assumption that it’s only for a certain gender and a certain age group, because it can be fun for everyone.”