Cheryl George's Labor of Love
Article published in the Vineyard Style
One Stitch At A Time
B. George's creations should come with a warning: these sumptuous
hand-knits will ruin you for ordinary sweaters for the rest of your
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.
photographs by Heather Goff