Afghan project designed to knit seven sisters more closely together

Photo courtesy of Mary Folsom These are some of the afghan strips Mary Folsom of Hampden and her six sisters are knitting to create afghans, one for each sister.

The seven Conley sisters, who grew up in Portland as part of a family of 11 children whose parents were Mike and Mary Conley, have a special way to keep themselves threaded together.

Each year for the past 10 or so years, the sisters — Mary Folsom of Hampden,  Dorothy Lee of Hinsdale, Ill., Patti Conley of Portland, Kathleen Kuntz of Portland, Margaret Allair of North Berwick, Tery Foster of Westbrook and Maureen Conley of Portsmouth, N.H. — get together for a long weekend to hang out, shop, catch up on family news and enjoy time together. Often, said Mary Folsom, that time includes doing a craft project. This year, the sisters have taken on what they refer to as the Seven Sisters Afghan Project.

The idea, said Kathleen Kuntz, is for each sister to knit seven strips, all in the same pattern. When the sisters get together in the fall, they will sew the strips into seven afghans, one for each sister. Kathleen said she will knit her strips in the feather and fan pattern.

Folsom said she will knit an eyelet pattern for her strips. Patti Conley will knit hers in the Seven Sisters cable pattern in blue. Hers will serve as the center strip of each afghan.

Tery Foster is the sister who came up with the idea for the project. The sisters chose Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice yarn in dusty blue, oatmeal, gray and tan for the project. The choice to go with an acrylic yarn was prompted by a need to bypass wool allergies, Kuntz said.

But there was just one small bump to be overcome before the project could cast on, so to speak. Maureen and Margaret didn’t know how to knit. Mary and Patti took on the task of teaching them how.

“Mother didn’t have time to teach the younger girls to knit because she was so busy with the family,” Folsom said. “I was 10 when I asked mother to teach me to knit. She had seven children by then. She got me some size ten and half needles and yarn and got me started on a scarf. It was pretty strange looking when it was done — full of dropped stitches and holes. Later on, mother taught me to knit two-needle mittens and I knit mittens for the younger children. Learning to knit was a nice time with my mother. In 1958,  when I was 11, I got a knitting bag for Christmas. I was thrilled.”

The sisters also have four brothers — Mike, Tom, John and Steve Conley.

Kathleen said she learned to knit in a home economics class at school then consulted her mother when she was ready to refine her techniques.

“Mother knit when she got to sit down, which wasn’t often. In the evening, when everything was done, she sat and knit while she watched TV,” Kathleen said.

“We will leave the afghans to our daughters and nieces,” Folsom said.

“When we get together,” Kuntz said, “it’s comfortable and it’s like being home. We were blessed with good parents and now we have each other. The afghans will be our arms around each other when we are apart.”

To access the Seven Sisters cable pattern, visit and use the pattern search feature. When the next page comes up, click on Cable: Seven Sisters, which will be in red typeface halfway down the page.



If anyone living in the Bangor area knows how to tat and would be willing to teach the skill to an 80-year-old woman, give me a call and I will pass on their contact information.

The University of Maine Museum of Art will host a Rug Braiding Workshop with Lisa Scofield, from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays, Feb. 23-March 2, at the museum, 40 Harlow St., in Bangor. The cost is $45 for museum members, $50 for others, plus a materials fee of $15, or bring your own materials. For more information, call Eva Wagner at 561-3360 or email

A Quilt Show and Tell will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Penobscot Marine Museum’s Main Street Gallery, 40 E. Main St., Searsport. Bring old quilts and share them with other quilt enthusiasts. Maine State Quilt Study Group members will provide analysis of the quilt, including the history of the patterns, fabrics and techniques used. Participants are invited to share their stories about the quilt. Admission is free.

Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153 or email Don’t forget to visit her blog at