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Games test knitters’ mettle

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PROVO ? Knitting a sweater using an official 2002 Olympic Games pattern is not for the faint of heart.

Experienced knitters can plan to spend a minimum of 200 hours working on the intricate pattern ? and that's if they can handle keeping multicolor threads on their small-gauge circular needles without dropping a stitch.

"You can't drop a stitch on this, no," said Ted Schofield, manager of Provo's Heindselman's store, which sells the Dale of Norway wool sweaters and patterns. "This is too dense and too complicated to get away with that."

That's because a surprising number of Utah symbols ? seagulls, mountain goats, sego lily, elk and mountains, for example ? are painstakingly worked into the design.

The borders re-create the patterns ancient Anasazi tribes used on their baskets and pottery. There's also a tiny man and woman woven into the pattern to represent Utah families.

And don't forget the Olympic flame and the snowflakes.

The suggested yarn colors ? golds, oranges and greens ? reflect the color combinations of Utah's scenic landscapes.

Schofield said Heindselman's has carried Norwegian wools and Dale of Norway products for years, so it's logical to be the area's designated licensed distributor of the Olympic pattern.

Sonya Hammock of Lehi is one brave knitter who is trying it out. "It's quite difficult," she said. "It took me about five months from the time I bought the pattern to get the courage to start."

Hammock would not recommend the project to a beginning knitter. "I told my husband, who also knits, not to try this."

Hammock said working with the three colors simultaneously requires holding two in one hand and the third in another.

"You can't drop what you're doing and answer the phone."

Hammock has the front and back nearly finished.

Then, she'll add the sleeves and, hopefully, it will be ready for her to wear to the Martina McBride concert at the Medals Plaza.

Originally, she thought she'd knit a sweater for herself, her husband and two girls.

She's modified that goal. "Eventually, they'll each have an Olympic sweater ? but not by this year's Olympics."

Schofield said the store has sold about 100 patterns so far and the cost of knitting an Olympic sweater is less than half the cost of purchasing one.

Patterns are $8 and the wool yarn runs around $100. The finished sweaters purchased at the store cost about $240.

"What better heirloom could there be?" said Schofield.

"It will last forever and be something that could be passed down to grandchildren and great grandchildren as a memento of the most famous event ever in Utah."

E-MAIL: haddoc@desnews.com