Photo courtesy of Brewmaster’s Taproom. Dan and Kathie Clark.

Photo courtesy of Brewmaster’s Taproom. Dan and Kathie Clark.

Craft beer and crafting blankets for a cause

Local taproom memorializes regular through knitting circle event

Brewmaster’s Taproom, a beer hall on Benson Road South, is dog and family friendly. Lots of customers take advantage of that fact. The owner Marley Rall ironically can’t bring her dogs in often as one doesn’t like people and the other “likes them too much.” She’s a huge animal and dog lover, which she had in common with regular Kathie Clark.

Rall said Clark always wanted her to bring in her dogs, and harassed her about it. Which is why she’s glad, on a Tuesday in late 2019 when Clark and her husband Dan Clark came in after a month-long cruise, that Rall had her pup Layla with her. Layla was one of Clark’s favorites.

“I’m very happy knowing that I did bring Layla in,” Rall said. “Without knowing it would be the last time we would see (Clark).”

In mid-December, Clark passed away. To honor her legacy as an animal lover and a member of the Brewmaster “family,” Rall will be hosting monthly knitting/crocheting circles at the taproom. Clark had told those who knew her that she often knitted and donated blankets for animal shelters, and the county shelter, Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC).

RASKC Administrator Lluvia Ellison-Morales said blankets, especially for the cats at their shelter, can create a safety net for those animals. Having a familiar scent while you are being moved around from crates to rooms to a new home can relieve some of the stress. The shelter especially needs blankets and fosters during the spring and summer. There’s many ways to volunteer, including blankets. RASKC has a video and PDF on blanket-making, at kingcounty.gov/pets on the “Get Involved!” volunteer page.

“If you organize an event (for making blankets,) not only can that be fun for adults, but I think it’s a really great way to just bond and get to know your community,” Ellison-Morales said. “We from RASKC definitely appreciate all the support the community provides to animals, whether here or at other shelters.”

Rall said that the Clarks liked to call her their “adopted daughter” and that she was a kindred spirit with Kathie Clark. She thought, Clark wouldn’t want to be the center of attention or have a beer dedicated to her, and it wouldn’t be appropriate to have a huge event. Instead, they are going to take care of animals, which Clark cared about most.

Everyone that knew Kathie Clark, loved her, Rall said, so it’s been interesting to see what an impact this is having, even on those who didn’t know her. She said within the taproom’s regulars, those who hear of her loss and only knew her in passing still feel the impact. She was part of their close-knit community. Rall said folks feel a loss and want to help somehow.

Ashleigh Vessey said the regulars are like family at the taproom. She only met Clark a couple of times, but it was a no brainer to join the circle. She said knowing Rall’s support for different causes, she wasn’t surprised she’s putting it on to honor Clark.

“(Rall) is really action-oriented, it’s not just kind words she takes charge and would want to continue to blankets,” Vessey said.

Vessey has brought in cross-stitch to work on at the taproom before, and donated crocheted items to different Brewmaster donation drives. She said she’ll be happy to show people how to crochet blankets and she knows a few knitters in the group who will also be happy to teach.

Whether people want to talk about Clark or not, Rall said, it’s more about continuing her work.

That’s why the response to the knitting circle is so exciting to her, she said. As of the Reporter’s deadline, the group has about 66 interested members on Facebook. Only about 10 or 12 are people that Rall even recognizes, the rest heard about the circle from a post on the “I Love Renton” Facebook page.

Vessey is also excited for using the circle as an icebreaker to meet more folks in the community. She thinks the response the group has gotten is very telling of the Renton community, and how they rally around what is needed.

“Right now, we need a way to honor Kathie, and to do something with our hands and keep ourselves busy while we remember her,” Vessey said.

Kathie and Dan Clark lived on a few acres, homesteading. Clark loved her garden, and would bring in fruits for Rall (who loves blueberries) and donate food to nonprofit Sustainable Renton. Rall said Clark grew everything you could think of, and anything she needed to grow her garden, Dan Clark built for her.

Both Clarks are retired Boeing employees, and enjoyed traveling several times a year, taking cruises and different trips. Kathie Clark also brought in dog treats and made quick friends with the pets who came into Brewmaster’s Taproom, though she owned cats so her and Dan could travel. Rall said she was a happy human being, supportive and made Rall’s life easy at the bar.

“Anytime there was an ask, she was there to do anything she could,” Rall said. “So it only seems right to me that we are doing this.”

Sometimes people see Brewmaster Taproom’s fundraising and donating as an attempt to get publicity or recognition, Rall said. But she thinks when people get to know the bar and know Rall, they understand that she really means it when she says they want to be a long-term member of Renton and that they are just “a community center and happen to serve really amazing beer.” And Clark was someone that was an important part of that center.

Another regular, Terra Buelow, takes advantage of the family-friendly taproom by bringing her two year old and four year old in with her. Both of her kids loved Clark, who brought them in fruits and vegetables.

“We’re going to miss her so much, she lit up the room anytime we went there,” Buelow said. “She was just a really lovely person.”

Buelow said the circle is a great cause, a lot of organizations need knitted items like this. She has no knitting experience but is excited to try and learn from other club members. The first knitting circle is intended to help out animals who were displaced in the Australian wildfires.

Rall emphasized that interested circle members do not need to purchase anything from the taproom, and that all experience levels are welcome. She also will take completed blankets if someone can’t make it to the circle and donate those as well.

For more information on the circle, contact Rall at thebrewmasterstaproom.com or check out the Facebook group “Brewmaster’s Monthly Knitting/Crocheting Circle.”

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