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Of earls and purls: Costa Mesa knitting group makes accessories to look the part at ‘Downton Abbey’ showing

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Lauren Horwitz, owner of Knit Schtick in Costa Mesa, shows off a piece she planned to wear on opening night for the “Downton Abbey” movie.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The floppy black cloche looked like something Lady Mary Crawley might wear, but it was for and by Teri Hendrix — who crocheted it herself.

Her best friend, Jill Holt, made a closer-fitting gray cap with a vintage amethyst brooch, more to Lady Sybil’s style.

The two wore their work to a showing of the new “Downton Abbey” movie in Newport Beach Thursday evening — paying homage, as many fans might, to a film continuation of a television show known for its costuming.

The twist is that the women and several other friends from a local knitting circle made pieces themselves just for a group date to see the flick, which is set in the 1920s.

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Westminster residents Teri Hendrix, left, and Jill Holt work on their garments at Knit Schtick in Costa Mesa on Tuesday. A group of women made 1920s-style cloche hats and gloves to wear to opening night for the "Downton Abbey" movie.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)
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The crew’s home base is Costa Mesa’s Knit Schtick, a yarn shop that looks like the inside of a crayon box, but softer and fluffier. Under the ownership of former fashion model Lauren Horwitz, the shop has endured the Great Recession and online shopping and encouraged an interest in designer and pop culture-inspired looks that Horwitz said aren’t stereotypical “old lady” styles.

The “Downton” outing was a follow-up to Knit Schtick’s “Sex and the Knitty” field trip, where a group went to see the 2010 film “Sex and the City 2” while wearing wide scarves inspired by the red Chanel wrap Carrie Bradshaw wore in the first movie.

Horwitz’s project for this week’s affair was a whimsical yet elegant cream-colored shrug, with floral and loop details and mink pompons at the cuffs. It took 15 hours from its first stitch and paired with a black drop-waist dress with a sequined bodice topped with long beaded necklaces.

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Knit Schtick customers wear their "Downton Abbey"-inspired garments to a Thursday evening showing of the film at the Regal Edwards Big Newport theater.
(Courtesy of Lauren Horwitz)

Making contemporary handicrafts is Horwitz’s thing. She has faithful re-creations of an oversized black-and-white sweater that Angelina Jolie wore on the cover of Vogue in 2015 and a granny square patchwork coat that she saw listed for $1,200 in a Neiman Marcus catalog to show what inspired artisans can make themselves with the materials at her store.

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Hanks, skeins and balls — from cloud-soft kid mohair to slightly felted, neon yellow merino wool from Uruguay to beginner-friendly, spaghetti-thick acrylics — pack the cubbyholes that hug the walls in the shop on Red Hill Avenue. Sample garments abound on shelves and dress forms at Knit Schitck — schtick being Yiddish for an entertainer’s routine and sharing some consonant sounds with stecken, German for stick, like knitting needles might be.

Near the register, Horwitz sells cloth tags that can be sewn inside finished projects. They say “This took forever.”

The yarn and sewing notions are the commodities and the community comes along with them, driven by classes and regular group sessions where many made their retro hats, wraps and gloves for Thursday’s movie outing.

The knitters talk about family, dogs and fashion — but no politics, Horwitz said. That’s a rule.

It seems to be working. About two dozen knitters turned out for the movie.

“The camaraderie is what keeps the store going,” Horwitz said.

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