CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Beautifully knitted garments and accessories fly off Steven Hicks' knitting needles and they don't sit around his home for long.
Hicks gives most things away.
"Women and kids are more fun to knit for," he said. "And that's the problem - I can't wear them."
Hicks doesn't mind. It's the process he prefers. He enjoys teaching novices to knit and recently has begun designing his own patterns, the first of which he recently published.
Born in Rhode Island, Hicks and his family lived in Pennsylvania before they moved here in 1989. He recalls he taught himself to knit from a Family Circle magazine when he was 7.
"Even though both of my grandmothers knit or crocheted, we didn't live near either of them," he said.
His first project was a simple garter stitch hat. And from there, Hicks was a knitter on and off throughout his middle and high school years.
About 10 years ago, a co-worker mentioned she wanted to learn to knit and Hicks offered. About the same time, Sara Radow had opened Kanawha City Yarn Company and Hicks struck up a friendship with her, offering to make samples for the shop.
She had an idea to create a scarf-of-the-month club and Hicks ran with the idea, producing scarves in a variety of patterns from lace to cables and more.
"At that time, there were a lot of customers coming in who wanted to learn to knit," he recalled, and he and Radow began offering classes.
Hicks, 36, has an accounting degree and does payroll for West Virginia Media. He says the math of knitting appeals to him.
"I find I do see patterns pretty quickly," he said.
A couple of years ago, he attended a Stitches East knitting convention in Baltimore and struck up a conversation during lunch with a Virginia yarn company called Just Our Yarn.
"They said, 'We need people to do sample knitting.' "