At first glance it would be difficult to stitch together Catherine Rabbito’s true colors. Her loving and focused mindset is shown in the five hours a day dedicated to creating her crochet masterpieces.
Each of Rabbito’s crocheted works has complementary colors she alone envisions. No two are the same. Unless of course, someone specially requests it.
“I did two matching blankets in all black once, and it was hard to see each stitch,” recalled Rabbito.
So far, Rabbito has hand crocheted hundreds of afghans blankets, booties, decorative items and baby sweaters through the years. At 94 years old, she says there are endless possibilities of patterns and colors in her blankets. The afghan blankets she creates take weeks to complete, depending on the style of the stitches.
Her stitches go well beyond a typical squared off granny stitch made famous in the ‘70s in vests and clothing. Rabbito incorporates raised roses, antique pineapple stitches, and sometimes intricate circles into the afghan she finishes.
“I once made a set of sweaters, booties and blankets for triplets. It took me six months to finish each set,” said Rabbito. Some of her blankets she donates to local charities such as hospice and assisted living facilities. Others she sells at Gulf Coast Candle Shop in North Naples.
“I was 7 years old when I learned how to crochet from my mother,” said Rabbito. “My mother was very creative.”
Growing up in Queens, N.Y., Rabbito fondly recalls the good old days of low prices on yarn. “I used to go to a knitting place, where you could get yarn that was unwrapped for 5 cents.” Rabbito would recruit her young daughter Barbara to hold the yarn as she wrapped it into balls for her blankets and crocheted clothing.
Rabbito also sewed her own gown and all the bridesmaids dresses for her wedding. Later on, Rabbito taught her daughter Barbara how to sew using a Singer foot pedaled sewing machine.
“I’ve tried to teach others, and you need to have patience,” explained Rabbito. Once her niece threw a hook and yarn across the room in frustration when Rabbito tried to share her crocheting techniques. Her advice to beginners starting the art of crochet is simple: “If it doesn’t relax you, then move on,” she said with a chuckle.
For Carol and Fred Cuthbertson, proprietors of Gulf Coast Candle Shop, Rabbito’s warm fuzzy afghans and delicately crocheted clothing pair perfectly with their many decorative candles, sconces, necklaces and watercolor paintings.
“We’ve had a customer come in to buy 13 afghans at a time to decorate their horse farm up north,” said Carol Cuthbertson.
“Catherine has such good tastes in combining different colors,” added Cuthbertson, who has noticed new mothers and proud grandparents come in to select one of Rabbito’s crocheted creations.
“Men have also come in for their new nieces and nephews who are having babies,” said Cuthbertson of Rabbito’s creations, which range in price from $65 to $98, depending on the size and details.
IF YOU GO:
Gulf Coast Candle Shop
2464 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Suite 508
Monday through Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday: Noon to 5 p.m. during winter months