The Finest Finish: A Tribute to Bev Galeskas

Filed in Uncategorized by on December 31, 2010 2 Comments

The night before last, Bev Galeskas quietly passed away in her home, surrounded by loved ones. She bravely fought cancer for over a year and now her journey on this earth is over.  I wanted to use this post to share a few of my personal memories of her and her work and the influence of both on my knitting life.  Thanks to her hard work and love of the knitting industry, she leaves a legacy of excellence that will never be erased.

I first discovered Fiber Trends Patterns, Bev’s pattern company,  a long, long time ago, in the nineties, when I started work at a local yarn shop.  Like many of us, the first thing I ever made from this venerable pattern source was a felted hat. I think over the years I made about 10 of those fabulous felted hats, and it began an interest in felting that has lasted all these years.  As I continued choosing FT patterns for various projects, they became my iconic version of that item-the one I would make over and over for gifts, teaching models and demo projects because of their reliability and ease of use. Favorites knitted multiple times over the years include the felted Tomten Jacket, various felted stuffed animals, those amazing Felted Clogs, the lace washcloths, several different scarves, the Felted Mittens with short-rowed hands for a better fit, the School Colors Hat, and many others. They really were favorites, always clear and well-written. If a customer had a need for a certain type of project, I always made sure to show them whatever version Fiber Trends had available, because I knew the knitter would have a good experience with that pattern.  Bev’s book Felted Knits is a veritable industry textbook on the subject and definitely on my Shelf of Knitting Fabulousness.

In 2005 when I first started teaching at Stitches, I was paired up completely by chance with Debbie Radtke as my roommate. I recognized her name, double-checked one of my FT patterns and was rewarded by seeing her there, credited as Bev’s test knitter. It was such a thrill for me to meet someone whose work I had used and appreciated. A friendship was begun that is now carved in stone. Debbie loves her work, so naturally over the years, we have talked a lot about her work with FT and her wonderful partnership with Bev. These two women are truly two sides of the same stitch-they have harmoniously crafted Fiber Trends to be an industry leader in pattern publishing.

I never got the chance to know Bev well, other than through the affectionate eyes of Debbie, but I did get to meet her a few times at Stitches events. She was very patient with my blubbering-fan hug the first time I ever met her. I think I may have actually thrown myself at her and sputtered something about how many felt hats I had knitted. Oh my. In spite of that sketchy beginning, she was always friendly to me and took me seriously. That really mattered to someone as new and green in the industry as me,  and I won’t forget that she spoke to me like a peer. Occasionally we’d have a chance to talk about her journey-how she started the company at home on her dining room table and how it came to pass that all her patterns were printed on that now-familiar FT Turquoise paper. I admire her business sense, her design sense, her encouragement of other designers and her high standards for pattern writing.

How wonderful for us knitters that we will never have to be completely without Bev. What an awesome thing for her to have constructed a body of work that will keep her memory, her expertise and her contributions always before us.

And friends,  this is only the knitting part of her life that I’m talking about. I am certain that all the other parts of her life were lived with the same kind of effort and commitment and that her influence will continue to guide and uplift her friends and family. My heart and my prayers sincerely go out to the people who know and love her best.

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