Winter Olympian Does It with Yarn


hannah_kearney_olympics.jpg Freestyle skier (moguls) Hannah Kearney enjoys knitting as a “soothing pastime.” (Photo by NBC Sports / USOC)
With just over a month until the Winter Olympics begin in Vancouver, it was neat to find out that some of the Olympians are crafters as well as world class athletes. Take skier Hannah Kearney (pictured above), for instance.
A skier since the age of 2, Hannah was introduced to knitting in the 3rd grade. She’s hooked on it now, pardon the pun, and carries knitting supplies with her on the road, along with photos of family and friends.
Here’s a short interview I did with her as she prepares for what will hopefully be her second Olympic appearance. You can learn more about Hannah Kearney and other Winter Olympics athletes at and the Team USA site. Be sure to look for the skier in the hand knit hats!
hannahK_dogsweater.jpgOlympian Hannah Kearney knit this sweater for her dog. (Photo by Hannah Kearney)
How long have you been knitting?
Hannah Kearney: I have officially been knitting since 2003, but I learned the basics when a 3rd grade project required me to carve my own knitting needles out of the twigs on an apple tree.
How did you learn to knit?
I learned to knit when a friend — who is like an aunt to me — was just learning herself and encouraged me to take a class at the yarn shop in my hometown of Norwich, VT.
What do you get out of knitting, why do you like doing it?
I love the fact that knitting is a productive, yet soothing pastime. I can be making gifts for my family while stuck on an airplane or knitting a hat for a charity while watching a baseball game on television.
What’s the best thing you’ve made, the biggest, the worst, your favorite?
The first thing I ever knit was a terrible baby blanket that was supposed to be a perfect square, but I managed to add several dozen stitches while I was knitting and it ended up looking a lot like a trapezoid. Next, I knit a red wool sweater that took me 76 hours. It has since been donated to an orphanage in Russia. Some of my favorite items to knit are hats because they are quick, satisfying and useful in the New England winters. I really enjoy hats with cables in them.
Do you do any other crafts?
I own a sewing machine and would love to develop my skills, but for now, I mostly use it for hemming.
Has knitting helped you with your skiing, or vice versa?
Knitting has a rhythmic, calming effect and I clearly remember finishing an elaborate sweater-vest before my final run at the 2005 World Championships. I won, so maybe it was a result of my knitting.

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Sometimes helpful editor and digital media director at MAKE and CRAFT.

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