The scariest thing that Judy Williams can remember doing happened in May of 1989. “That was when I held a fundraising fashion show for the Guild House at the Stockdale Country Club,” she recalled.
“I made all of the clothing and presented them to the audience for sale.” This was also the year when Williams started to sell her original designs out of a studio in the Hay Building where she took oil painting lessons. Unforeseeable to her at that time was how her love for designing clothes would lead her to where she currently stands today: the owner and operator of Classy Knits and Yarns in downtown Bakersfield.
When her daughter was hospitalized for three months and Williams couldn’t work, she sought out something that would help to ease her stress during those trying times. “I started to take lessons and I fell in love with knitting from the first one.” In light of the dismal circumstances, she found a refuge in the repetition and results that were all a part of knitting her own creations. “It was very soothing, like speaking a mantra,” Williams elaborated. “You can get into the motions and just forget everything else. It relieves tension.”
With time, her passion for turning yarn into beautiful and intricate garments grew, and the demand for her “wearable art” did, as well. “I was selling the things that I was making out of novelty yarns fast, and then people started asking me for yarn, so I started to sell yarn. Not long after that, I started teaching. In time, I couldn’t even keep up with the demands for my garments.” It didn’t take too long for Williams to have to move her operation from that studio to her current location on F Street, where she shares her love for knitting and crocheting with all who enter.
Though she certainly knows how to manipulate a skein, Williams relayed that she loves knitting lace patterns the best. These have finer details to them, and they can range from items like light and comfortable sweaters to very fine and delicate scarves. She has even made scarves out of mohair yarn that appear to be comprised of very tiny loops that cross over each other and form an X-shape with nothing but space in between the stitches.
On one such scarf, she affixed small beads—something she enjoys doing with some of her fancier items. Using a crochet hook, Williams brings the bead onto the stitch, and then she continues her pattern to lock the bead into place. With a yarn like mohair, the finished product feels silky, soft, and very elegant. The beaded accents are often quite small so they don’t strain the fabric. A scarf of this caliber takes a month to complete.
It is incredible to think that the fabrics she crafts start out with just some yarn and needles—though these tools that she uses make all the difference. Some needles are small, being only a few inches in length, while others are about a foot long. She uses circular needles, as well, which are two needles joined by a plastic, flexible cord that comes in different sizes.
Other projects may require serious attention to detail, but don’t take quite as long. In one of the many workshops she teaches, they crocheted coasters in the likeness of flowers with bright, colorful petals. Her skills even afford her to knit stuffed animals, like bunnies.
Inspiration comes in different ways. “Sometimes I will start with a bead and then look for a yarn that matches the color. After that, I will decide what to make,” she smiled. “Other times, the yarn just looks so yummy that I must try it. What I will use it for comes later!” Speaking of inspiration, after her husband passed last year, Williams was determined to pick up the pieces and remain strong with her lessons and business. “My customers and friends told me it really inspired them. This was my reason for getting up in the morning.”
To learn about classes and discover more about Judy Williams, visit her website at www.classyyarns.com.