YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Los Angeles

Help From a Tightknit Group

Benefit: Celebrities craft squares for two blankets that are being auctioned to aid New York terror victims.


It's elbow to elbow celebrities at La Knitterie Parisienne, an internationally known knitting boutique in Studio City that's become a refuge for actors, agents, directors and producers.

On a recent afternoon, "Ally McBeal" newcomer Julianne Nicholson hunts for a seat, squeezing in next to comedic actor Antoinette Spolar-Levine. After a long day of shooting the NBC sitcom "Will & Grace," cast members Debra Messing, Megan Mullally and Shelley Morrison often turn up, praising one another's stitching.

Sometimes, so many knitters are fashioning scarves, handbags and baby booties around the store's big, yarn-strewn table that Daryl Hannah has to crouch on the floor.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the store's celebrity customers have been on a mission: to knit or crochet 7-by-9-inch squares for two charity blankets to sell on EBay, with proceeds going to the New York Police & Fire Widows' & Children's Benefit.

The 10-day auction began Friday and includes squares by Elizabeth Taylor, Tyra Banks, Caroline Rhea, Julianne Moore, Bridget Fonda and Camryn Manheim. Also contributing were Sofia Coppola, Nora Dunn, Joanna Gleason, Annette O'Toole, Jennie Garth, Laurie Metcalf and Parker Posey. Bidding begins at $1,000 per blanket.

The woman behind the charity effort is boutique owner Edith Eig, 57, a Paris-born artisan beloved by Hollywood insiders as a knitting guru and surrogate mother.

The curly-haired craftswoman with the gentle voice was working on a star-studded blanket for another charity on Sept. 11. Many of her clients--which also include non-celebrities with a passion for knitting--flocked to the store to knit, talk and seek comfort in one another after the attacks.

"The tragedy broke my heart," said Eig, who opened the Ventura Boulevard boutique six years ago after she and her family moved here from New Jersey. "I knew the victims' family members needed the money. I wanted to help as much as I could."

So Eig enlisted her famous customers and donated the yarn--the silk, wool, cotton, raffia, chenille and cashmere, in textures both delicate and sturdy and colors bright and subtle. The store is filled wall to wall with bins and boxes overflowing with 13,000 types of yarn, knitting needles and needlework as well as shimmering displays of buttons--porcelain, vintage, designer and semiprecious stone.

Eig spent long hours coaching and coaxing the celebrity knitters before crocheting the Hollywood squares into two blankets that dazzle with patches reflecting the whims of its creators (a deep lavender for Taylor, a glittering rust for Messing and an eye-popping pink and yellow for Rhea).

"Edith is a friend, teacher and mentor who is always giving," said Morrison, who plays Rosario, the spunky housekeeper on "Will & Grace." "When she called me about the blanket, the first thing I said was, 'Bless you.' The tragedy is hard to comprehend. I wanted to help. We all wanted to help."

In July, Nicholson arrived from New York to play a new lawyer on "Ally McBeal." She quickly discovered Eig's boutique.

"I didn't know many people in L.A.," Nicholson said. "Edith made me feel welcome right away."

Eig put Nicholson to work. "She told me she needed a square for the blanket," Nicholson said as she stitched the finishing touches on a frilly patch of sunburst yellow and orange.

"I'm happy to do it," Nicholson said. "A lot of care is in the blankets."

Los Angeles Times Articles