Thursday, February 25, 2010


We lost a friend and fellow knitter, Nancy Van Hof, yesterday. Many of you knew her but many did not, so I'm going to tell you a little about her and what I will remember.

Nancy was a wonderful person and had an amazing attitude toward life. She was so positive about many things, especially knitting, and would often be heard encouraging someone who felt they weren't experienced enough to knit something. When someone would ask her if she thought they could tackle a particular knitting pattern, she always said yes, feeling that it was just a matter of learning some new skills. During the knit-ins many people often looked to her for advice about their knitting.

That's her in the upper left in the pink shirt. She had a wealth of knowledge about knitting and loved it so much. She was always quick to tell people that if nowhere else, they could come to the shop to show off a project and someone would "give them glory" for it. (sometimes non-knitters just don't understand how great it feels to finish a project, and they don't want to ooh and aah over it as much as you/knitters do!). Nancy was always at the knit-in's and usually stopped in Saturdays and Sundays to visit and knit for a while. She lived just a few doors down from the shop - many considered her lucky in that respect!

One of the things she loved to knit was socks and when I first met her in 2008 I learned that this was a fairly recent "obsession" for her. Several months before I took over the shop, she made her first pair. She had been resistant to it, not really seeing what the big deal was. After she knit her first pair she couldn't stop! Many people knew her as "the Nancy that knits all the socks."
This picture is small but this is Nancy displaying all of her socks at our Fashion Show right after I took over the shop in April 2008. She had knit something like 17 pairs from November 2007 to April 2008. More recently, during the holidays, she was knitting 13 pairs of socks for her co-workers at MicroKnowledge, all in about 5 weeks time. We all watched her progress (and cheered her on) to see if she was going to get them all done in time for the holiday party ( she got almost all of them done and finished the rest up soon after!).

She also liked experimenting with dyeing yarn and roving, and here she is with a pair of socks she knit from a scarf blank she dyed:
They happened to match the beaded bracelet Joan made for her!

Nancy was also a designer and her patterns are very popular at the shop. Here she is with her double basketweave scarf:

(She was always willing to humor me when I wanted to take a picture of her with her finished projects).

Nancy was also a talented spinner. She dyed roving, spun it into a plied laceweight yarn (do you know how thin you have to spin roving in order to ply it into a laceweight??????), and made this gorgeous seed stitch shawl:

It took her a really long time and we all ooh'd and aah'd over the beautiful colors that looked like fall. We also asked many times "Are you really going to do that whole thing in seed stitch???". But when it was done, it was absolutely wonderful. She said she thought it was her best work.
A couple of other things I knew about Nancy:
In order of preference, her sandwich of choice at Hungerford was egg salad, chicken salad, tuna salad. And she liked Birch Beer.
She had a tiny crush on Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer. (We all had a big conversation about him and his show at the shop one day.)
Nancy had a great sense of humor and we had many laughs together. We also had some serious talks about her health -- she was pretty private about what was going on but now and then when we were alone in the shop she would say, "Ok, I have some news" and she'd give me a little update. She even tested out some of her dark humor on me. I think sometimes she made these jokes just to see the shocked look on my face so we could then laugh together about it. I guess it made things a little easier for us both and I thank her for that. She really was very courageous.

Several people have told me that Nancy loved coming to the shop and I'm happy about that. She was here a lot so I know she felt comfortable here. She was a big part of the shop - so enthusiastic and so very supportive of me when I took over, for which I am very grateful. The shop won't be the same without her - she will be dearly missed. We do have great memories of her, though, that will help us through.


Rows Red said...

I am so very, very sorry to hear about Nancy's death. She was one of my favorite day-tripper WOOL guests, and I loved getting to know her a little bit each year at the retreat. Her talent was clear, and her love for life was the first thing I noticed about her. I will always remember her big red sun glasses, and her stirling hair.

It is to my great regret that I didn't get to know her better while she was alive.

kbeth said...


What an amazing tribute for an amazing woman. Nancy was one of the first people I met at the shop probably 6 years ago. She was the first person I would look for when I would come to knit-ins. I will always remember one night when I had found out some life altering news and had to be dragged in by Courtney. Nancy quietly asked me if I was okay and I said no. She didn't ask any other questions but rather told me to sit, knit and not be okay. She was also the person who convinced me that my Noro scarf was the right colors for me.

I am so saddened by her passing and grieve along with everyone at the loss of someone so wonderful. But I am thankful that she touched my life and the lives of so many others. I look forward to the Nancy Knit Night.

Amy said...


Thank you for such a lovely eulogy.

Joan said...

I will miss Nancy along with all of the "regular weekenders"--Since the shop opened we have spent many weekends sitting and knitting--In the early days there were weekends we were the only two there for hours on end and of late it would be rare to be "alone" for very long--Nancy and I started our friendship on a very bumpy road--Think we hold the distinction for being the only two customers almost kicked out of the shop for "fighting"--We could go on forever disagreeing (usually something to do with knitting) and Mary told us to chill or we'd find ourselves taking it to the streets!!! Over the years we developed a deep respect for each other and would always remark at how unusual it was when we actually did agree on something!! I will miss her spirited opinions and know we have lost one of the finest knitters EVER!!!!!

weavrdan said...

liz .. i was so sorry to hear the news about nancy... i had only met her a couple of times, however, her spirit and humor endeared her to me on the spot. she will be missed ..dan

Lene said...

It really saddens me to know Nancy isn't going to be around, especially at the Knit-ins. I haven't been able to come lately because I am the care taker for my 94 year old Grandmother. When I was able to come, since I consider myself a "Needy" Knitter, I always look for Nancy because she was always able to help me and/or explain to me any of my knitting problems.

When I was around Nancy, she was my Cheering Section, always giving me Positive support. To make me feel better about my mistakes, she told me they were "Design Elements" (something I refer often when showing my knitting to others!)

My fondest memory of Nancy, was when I finished a project in the beginning of my learning to knit, I brought it in, showed it to her & she actually cheered, clapped, hooted and hollered for me, which I didn't expect. She was just SO excited for me. It made me feel SO good about my accomplishment.

Her knowledge of knitting plus her ability to make a person feel like they can do ANYTHING, will definitely be missed. I feel so grateful to have met her. She certainly will missed by me whenever I go back to the shop.

Thanks Liz for writing wonderful words about Nancy!