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Cheryl George's Labor of Love
One Stitch At A Time

Article published in the Vineyard Style Magazine

child's sweater with horse
buttonsCheryl B. George's creations should come with a warning: these sumptuous hand-knits will ruin you for ordinary sweaters for the rest of your life.

Knitting since she was five and crocheting from age eight, Cheryl spends countless hours individually crafting her collectible sweaters. She displays her wares throughout the summer at the Vineyard Artisans Festival at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury. Each sweater bears the "Bernard George Knits" label, the "Bernard" her maiden name, a tribute her parents, both of whom were instrumental in her mastery of the craft. Her mother patiently taught her to knit and her father shepherded her off- Island to learn machine knitting in Dartmouth.

Today, at 47, she sits surrounded by nearly four dozen sweaters at the Festival, each a testimony on her creativity and meticulous attention to detail. " I work alone," Cheryl says. " I just don't feel comfortable putting my label on someone else's product. I like to meet my costumers, measure them myself for custom orders, knit every stitch and be there when they come to pick it up. That way, I can be sure they're getting the quality I insist on."

While knitting and crocheting are "ancient" arts, Cheryl insists that changes in yarns keep her work challenging every day. She crafts her sweaters from fine alpaca, mohair, wool blends and cotton. "Every yarn is different," she says, " even yarns with the same stitch gauge." She tests swatches of ever fiber, pre-washing her cotton and steam ironing the alpaca to minimize shrinking. " I've never had a sweater returned in 15 years," she says proudly.

Most of the garments in the Bernard George line are classic women's sweaters but Cheryl also offers hats, men's cardigans and pullovers, and children's sweaters. About 80 percent of the sweaters she knits are custom orders- people see her work at the show and tailor a piece to their size, style or coloring.

Cheryl's bestsellers are traditional designs featuring shawl collars, lace work, hand crocheting and cables. She travels off- Island to research yarns and buttons, the latter of which she says "make or break a sweater." Popular colors? " A mossy kiwi green," she says without hesitation," and midnight blues. Oh, and black," she adds," I always do well with black."

Cheryl credits her supportive husband and family for her ongoing love affair with knitting. " I've been at it for 42 years and I still have a passion for it," she says. " I'd make more money in a normal nine-to-five job but my husband wants me to be happy." With family roots on the Vineyard dating back to the 1600's, Cheryl's signature hand knitted lighthouse sweater honors her ancestry of sea captains and whaling men. When she's not knitting, she shares her family's love for riding and driving horses, operating a second business called Lighthouse Carriage which offers pony rides for kids and carriage rides and weddings and special occasions.
Lighthouse Carriage and Vineyard
Handknit sweater
photographs by Heather Goff