The market for calendars of fully clothed middle-to-senior women knitting must not be what it used to be.
Meet the women of Knotty Knitters, Pierce County's own calendar girls.
Marsha Cunningham is their ringleader on this project, managing photos, design, sales and marketing. She's also the grandmother of Josef and Mollee Cunningham, 7-year-old twins with autism.
The children are the inspiration for the 2011 Knitting Naked for Autism Calendar featuring eight Pierce County knitters and one from New York State, tastefully draped in knit goods. Except for the shot in which they're standing behind a hedge, laughing and wearing only hand-knit hats.
Calendars featuring tastefully bare ordinary people have grown in popularity since England's original "Calendar Girls" posed naked behind baked goods and easels to buy a couch for a Yorkshire hospital and ended up raising enough money for a new wing. This year, the men of Vashon Island are using motorcycles and garden tools to support schools.
"You know what's interesting?" said Cunningham, who is Miss September for the Knotty Knitters, but was entirely clothed at the group's recent meeting at Tacoma Public Library's Swasey Branch. "The number of people who said they'd do it in a heartbeat, and then you asked them later, and they couldn't do it."
You mean, women from their mid-40s through their 80s might have second thoughts about taking off all their clothes for photos that, with luck, will circulate across the continent and beyond?
You really think an excellent knitter might balk at the prospect of being photographed in a scenic bathtub piled with watery blue yarn?
"I've learned a lot about nudity and people's reaction to it," Cunningham said. "One woman e-mailed, 'Why naked? Just curious.'"
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