University of South Florida


COPH student, faculty hook up for mystery knitting

Dr. Alison Oberne, director of the BSPH program at the USF College of Public Health, first got introduced to knitting while pursuing her MPH at the college.

“I learned from some ‘grandmas’ in my Jewish community and found a passion that has stuck with me for 17+ years,” she said. “Knitting helps me to channel my energy into a creative outlet. I can take a break from screens and see yarn take life. It always fascinates me how a ball of yarn can turn into a masterpiece.”

purple ball of yarn with purple stitching and knitting needles

                                                                                                   Photo source: Canva 

Through informal conversations at the college, Oberne found out that others shared her passion. She would often connect with Dr. Janice Zgibor, a COPH professor, and Dr. Rashida Jones, a pharmacist and doctoral student concentrating in epidemiology, over their knitting projects.

And a knitting circle was born. 

The group most recently decided to partake in a “mystery knit along” together. 

A mystery knit along, said Oberne, who knits primarily for friends and family, is a knitting event in which a designer breaks down a pattern into sections, sending out pieces of it over the course of a specific time period. Without a full pattern in front of them, knitters do not know what their final product will look like. The knitters know what object they are creating—say, a blanket or a scarf—but not know how the pieces will fit together.

The three ended up making a “mystery” shawl. They received four clues, or pattern pieces, over four weeks and checked in with each other periodically to note their progress.

blue and green knitted shawl draped over a chair outdoors

                                                                     Oberne's "mystery" shawl. (Photo courtesy of Oberne)

For Oberne, knitting doesn’t just give her a beautiful object to wear or gift. It gives her stress reduction.

“Public health is all about promoting good health and well-being,” Oberne said. “For me, knitting boosts my mental health. I can connect with friends and colleagues and spend time relaxing with a hobby that I love. An added bonus is that I don't mindlessly snack because my hands are occupied!"

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