‘Ghost Knitters’ come to the rescue after artist breaks her wrist | ParkRecord.com

‘Ghost Knitters’ come to the rescue after artist breaks her wrist

Group created more than 150 pumpkins to show at Artique

First Friday Artist Opening: Carole Duh’s Pumpkin Patch

A group of “Ghost Knitters,” comprised of friends of fiber artist Carole Duh, stepped in to help create more than 150 knitted pumpkins after Duh broke her wrist in April. The pumpkins will show and sell during this month’s First Friday Artist Opening at Artique.
Photo by Tom Kelly

Since 2013 Park City-based fiber artist Carole Duh knits a batch of nearly 300 pumpkins that show and sell annually during the September First Friday Artists Opening at Artique Boutique in Kamas.

This year, however, Duh took an unscheduled break — of a wrist — after enjoying a spring dinner with her husband, Tom Kelly, at Kimball Junction. 

“It was one of the first beautiful days in April, and I had dreamed of being outside,” she said. “After we ate I asked my husband to drop me off at a trail, so I could get a walk in. And there I was, walking along, and I tripped over nothing and landed on both hands to break the fall.”

The fall also broke Duh’s right wrist.

When they came up with the idea, it was the kindest thing I’ve ever heard…” Carole Duh, fiber artist

“Of course it had to be that one, because I am right handed,” she said. “Thank God I didn’t break both wrists.”

Duh had put off going to the doctor, because she was terrified of the diagnosis.

“A broken hand would be one thing, but I just didn’t want it to be ligaments or tendons,” she said. 

Duh underwent surgery in late April and couldn’t use her hand for six weeks.

“While the broken wrist came as a shocker, I had been telling the universe that I felt it was time I slowed down a little bit, because I’m about to celebrate my 80th birthday,” she said with a laugh. “But now I’m kicking myself for having done that.”

At the time of her surgery Duh had only knitted about a dozen pumpkins.

“I usually knit all summer for my show, and wasn’t able to do anything,” she said. “I really didn’t have much of an inventory.”

In early May, a group of Duh’s friends decided to lend their hands and knit a batch of pumpkins for the First Friday Artist Opening.

“They all know what an obsessive and compulsive knitter I am, and they came up with the idea of becoming ‘Unknown Ghost Knitters,” Duh said with a laugh. “So I cut some eyes out of some brown shopping paper bags so they could put them over their heads. One bag had so much writing on it, that I ended up calling the person who wore it Post Malone. These women just grabbed onto the concept, because they all have great senses of humor.”

Duh decided to reveal the identities of the knitters to The Park Record.

Two — Anita “Neets” Crane and Pam Evans — were the ones who came up with the Ghost-Knitters idea, according to Duh.

“Anita is a sweet and talented, romantic local photographer and her business is called Photography by Neets,” Duh said. “She is a freeform knitter and had to pull in her style and follow the instructions the best that she could. Her pieces are exciting because of how she thinks outside the box.”

Evans, on the other hand, is known around the community for her knitted washcloths. 

“Pam is also kind and funny and a collector of animals because her heart is so big,” Duh said. “Any animal that has the slightest deformity becomes part of her menagerie, and she has become an accomplished knitter through this. She has really created some beautiful pieces.”

A third knitter, Faye Malnar, also helped with the project.

“Faye lives in Arizona during the winter and always comes up to Park City for the summer,” Duh said.

The last person in the Ghost-Knitter lineup is Kim Streit, who used to own Rocky Mountain Baskets.

“Kim helps fill the finished knitted pumpkins, which we call carcasses, with fiber so they are ready for me to sculpt and shape,” Duh said. “It takes a lot of aggression and stuffing to do this, and she has been diligent with this batch as well. I call her the Queen of Stuffing.”

This circle of women formed a bond back when their husbands were members of the U.S. Ski Team, according to Duh.

“We became fast friends and shared books and wines when our husbands were in Europe,” she said. “We had a book club called the Literary Lushes that has been going on since the 1980s. We’re a tight group of women who have grown up together.”

The Unknown Ghost Knitters met every week this year, starting in May, over coffee and breakfast to work on the pumpkins at Duh’s home or the Park City Nursery.

“I was the coordinator, because I have all the yarn and tools,” Duh said. “I would pack everything up in individual bags, and put a note in to tell them what size needles they needed and how many strands of yarn to use. They are all supporters, and everyone one of them buys at least one pumpkin every year. So they know what they are all about.”

While the knitters stressed over whether Duh would like their work or not, she was confident they would make her proud.

“Let me tell you it was the best crop, ever,” she said. “It ended up being the perfect solution. So much love has gone into making every pumpkin. Even the sticks I collected to use as the pumpkins’ stems were extraordinary this year.”

Although Duh told the women they could stop knitting at the end of July, they rebelled.

“They told me that they couldn’t stop, because they wouldn’t know what to do with their hands,” she said. “They told me they were able to listen to a book on tape or watch movies they wanted to watch while they knitted. So I said, ‘All right. Let’s keep on knitting.’ And we were able to finish 150 pumpkins.”

Duh said she is lucky to have such a strong support group who stepped up to help her.

“This is about friendship, love and giving,” she said. “When they came up with the idea, it was the kindest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Duh is also looking forward to showing these pumpkins at Artique.

“(Owner Katie Stellpflug is an amazing person, and the atmosphere in her little space is rejuvenating and joyful,” Duh said. “She is so supportive, and she is just as passionate about her shop and in letting us be a part of it. We have 20+ artists of crafters, artists and painters. So it’s pretty diverse.”

Now that Duh’s wrist has fully healed, she is still tossing around the idea of slowing down.

“Well, Tom and me, unfortunately, are sort of like bees in a bottle,” she said with a laugh. “Our version of slow down is probably not what other people think is slowing down.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Park City and Summit County make the Park Record's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.