Vita Henderson works on her latest creation as she chats with the Los Alamos Reporter last week. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Vita Henderson discusses the color choices and stitches she used for one of her latest pieces. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Vita Henderson is from Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Before she moved to the United States in 2001, two days before 9/11, she was the deputy director of the International Department of one of the major banks at that time. She and her husband, Edward, a retired Los Alamos National Lab electrical engineer, live in the Espanola Valley. Vita has been working for the New Mexico Consortium in Los Alamos for 13 years.
Henderson said when she first came to New Mexico everything was very different to her. For the first few years she questioned why things were the way they were and she had to learn new thinking. But gradually she began to accept that there was no real answer.
Henderson learned to knit when she was six or seven years old. During the Soviet years in Lithuania, she knitted sweaters and other items for herself. It was difficult to find good yarn at that time but her mother managed to find yarn for them to knit with.
When she relocated to the United States, she didn’t knit for quite some time, but during rotator cup surgery a nerve was damaged and her right hand muscles started to shrink and her fingers became weaker. (I don’t know what word to use for that) and my fingers became weaker. Her doctor told her she had to find something to do with her hands to strengthen the muscles.
“I said, ‘What about knitting or crocheting?’ and she said, ‘Just do it’. I started knitting again in 2009,” she said.
At first she gave away her knitting mostly, but then the lucky recipients of her unique work insisted on at least paying for the yarn she used. When Village Arts owner Ken Nebel was the director of the Fuller Lodge Art Center, Henderson began showing and selling her work there in 2017. She also has regular customers from around the country who admire her work and reach out to her from afar to purchase it.
Henderson insists on using top quality yarn, meaning that she often recoups only the cost of the yarn when she sells a piece of her work.
Many people don’t realize that when an artist like Henderson sells their work through a gallery 30 to 50 percent goes to the shop or gallery. So when shoppers look at the price tag, they often realize the real value of her work. Knitting of that standard and unique style using top quality materials will last for years and is guaranteed to always draw compliments.
“Knitting is very relaxing for me. It is how I rest. It provides a balance for my work life to be able to do something so different to what I do every day,” Henderson said.
She has a unique way of combining colors and textures in her works, creating yarns from other yarns, as she says.
“Sometimes people tell me they never thought certain colors would go so nicely together. I look at nature because nature puts beautiful colors together. So why not put those colors together in my designs,” said Henderson who also loves photography. She hopes to have more time for photography and reading when she retires.
Henderson’s work will be available for purchase at the Los Alamos Arts Council Winter Arts & Crafts Fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3 in the at Los Alamos Middle School gymnasium. Her work is also in the Affordable Arts Show at Fuller Lodge Arts Center through the end of December.
To reach out to Vita Henderson, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell her you read about her in the Los Alamos Reporter.
Part of a long and luxurious striped scarf knitted by Vita Henderson. Photo by Maire O’Neill./losalamosreporter.com
Some of the intricate design on a recent work by Vita Henderson who doesn’t use written patterns for her pieces. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
A close-up view of some of the stitches in this wool, cotton and silk scarf knitted by Vita Henderson. A variety of her work is available at Fuller Lodge Art Center. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Some of Vita Henderson’s knitted shawls and scarfs. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
And in case you were wondering how to reach out to Vita Henderson, you can reach her by email at email@example.com