Humans of UK: Shelby Fraley and Cora Spohn knit to relax


David Falade

Shelby Fraley, left, and Cora Spohn, co-presidents of the UK Knitting club, pose for a photo on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by David Falade | Kentucky Kernel

Paul Schlowak, Reporter

As classes start to get more stressful and the first midterms are due, the demand for relaxing and fun activities rises.

For seniors Shelby Fraley and Cora Spohn, conversational knitting seems to be the best way to cope with stress while having a good time. The two high school friends are the presidents of UK’s Knitting Club.

“Our members sit together at a table and just work on their separate projects, and we’re there for each other if we need help with something or to teach specific things … or just for camaraderie,” Fraley said.

Fraley showed off her achievements on her phone, including a long scarf that took her one year to knit. Until now, they knitted socks, sweaters, blankets and laces.

Fraley said another benefit of knitting is coping with distraction. Instead of picking up her phone and scrolling, she said she is happy about having an alternative.

“I’m actually doing something that feels productive and is probably much better for my mental health,” she said.

The meetings are a “scheduled break for us from school,” biology major Spohn said.

Both started their “knitting career” in high school when they attended an extracurricular knitting course. After coming to UK, they realized that there was no organized knitting club on campus.

“We were hoping that UK would have a club because they boast about having 200 organizations,” Sophn said.”We looked and looked, and we couldn’t find it. So we said, ‘Well, we’ll just make our own.’”

Three years later, about 20 students attend the meetings to knit and talk. Even though Fraley said that knitting “is not just for old ladies,” she said the knitting club is still mostly white and female. They try to make the club more diverse and include men in order to challenge the female stereotype of knitting.

Now and then, they said they received “stupid” comments.They were once asked if joining the knitting club would be “a good way to pick up girls.” However, these comments are rare.

“Mostly, people are just curious,” Fraley said.

By hosting beginner lessons, Spohn and Fraley target people who have never knitted before. They invite everyone to join and provide, if needed, the necessary materials.

Since both are seniors, they said their biggest challenge is finding a successor who continues the club. Fraley said they would love to find someone who figures out “how to grow” and implement new projects and ideas.