A wild and woolly yarn to spin

A 125-mph wind tunnel? Been there. Hothouse yoga? Done that. Looking for something completely different? How about the latest, hottest trend with everyone from tweens to grannies? Knitting!

The ancient art of turning string into cloth with essentially nothing more than a pair of oversized chopsticks, knitting seems to be enjoying a renaissance. And nowhere is this trend more evident than at the yarn, buttons and accessories store La Knitterie Parisienne.

Owned and operated by French immigrant Edith Eig, this quaint Studio City boutique has been drawing folks with an itch to stitch since it opened 12 years ago, and for good reason. With 13,000 types of yarn filling the aisles from floor to ceiling and a nearby warehouse with 7,500 square feet of additional stock, Eig's store lays a convincing claim to the title of "the largest knitting-yarn store in the country." Moreover, of course, it features Eig herself, an expert knitter and author of the how-to book "Mother of Purl," who invited me to get a taste of the craft at her biweekly event, Sip & Knit.

Arriving at this BYOB gathering with neither a wedge of cheese nor a bottle of wine, I was warmly received nonetheless by Eig and her crew of a dozen ladies who range in age from young adult to, well, old adult. Down-to-earth and maternal, the doyenne helped me pick out a pair of needles and enough wool to knit a basic, one-color scarf and got me right to work.

Considering the sum of my knitting knowledge -- squat -- the first lesson in "casting on," or stringing the first sequence of loops along one needle, was critical. And hard. After repeated failures, I finally caught on to the process by repeating the relevant directions like a mantra: "Around, through, over and off." After completing 20 anchor loops, I was ready for the next prepositional chant: "Under, around, through and off." Thirty minutes of rote learning later, I was attacking my ball of yarn like a cat.

With autopilot thus engaged, I finally had more time for the "Sip" part of Sip & Knit, and before you could say "pass the Merlot," I was one of the gals. They were conspiring to create a 2009 calendar to fund their year-end charity project, and the consensus developed that each knitter should pick a month and model nude but for one article of clothing she'd knitted at the circle.

After being asked to model my burgeoning scarf for the chilly month of November, I could only consider one thought: I'm going to need a lot more yarn. And wine.

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-- Liam.Gowing@latimes.com

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SIP & KNIT

WHERE: La Knitterie Parisienne, 12642 Ventura Blvd., Studio City

WHEN: 4 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to

6 p.m. Saturdays

PRICE: Free, plus one-time cost of materials

INFO: (818) 766-1515, laknitterieparisienne.com

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