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Knitting together, with a common thread

On a snowy Friday afternoon in February, an enthusiastic group of ladies assembled for a congenial afternoon of knitting and crocheting at Ruby Sisson Library.

This was the first in what may become an ongoing series of similar Friday afternoon adult events. The reasons these ladies had for being there were as varied as their levels of expertise and their needlework projects, and even their ages. But their love of and interest in needlework was a “common thread.”

Tessa, the Adult Services librarian, had some welcoming remarks for the attendees before they all began working on their projects, comparing styles, looking for assistance, and simply enjoying a winter afternoon with like-minded individuals.

Tessa began by sharing some of the intriguing books on needlecraft that the library has to offer. There are the usual pattern books, and several complete books of stitches, both for knitting and for crochet. There are specific books that deal exclusively with socks, scarves or baby clothes. One book is all about toys, dolls and animals for the knitters who want to do something besides apparel. To show that needlecraft is not just for adults, there is a book at the library specifically for the younger set: “Teen Knitting Club — Chill out and Knit.” For all the knitters who travel frequently — to Durango, to the Front Range, to New Mexico or farther — there is “Knitting on the Road — Sock Patterns for the Traveling Knitter.”

When knitters aren’t busy with their craft, they are often readers. There are also many out there who might like to read about needlework, yet lack the talent, time or desire to pick up knitting needles or crochet hooks. There are fiction books at the library that follow the knitting theme. Author Maggie Sefton’s mystery fiction includses “Knit One Kill Two,” “A Deadly Yarn,” “Needled to Death,” “A Killer Stitch,” “Dyer Consequences,” “Fleece Navidad” and “Dropped Dead Stitch.” These books include knitting patterns, as well as recipes for the food included in the book. “The Friday Night Knitting Club” by Kate Jacobs is also on the shelf.

Tessa said she wanted to introduce the needlecraft books that are in the library, but she also wanted to pull together knitters from all over the community to share ideas, resources, tips, etc. She began knitting fairly recently, and is excited about getting to know other knitters.

As members of the group introduced themselves, everyone learned that it was indeed a gathering of diverse individuals with common interests.

Catharine introduced herself and said she brought along a sweater that she started 10 years ago and wants to get started on completing it.

Zoe, who works at the library, is familiar with many of the books, both fiction and non-fiction, that were the books mentioned above. She has a background as a weaver. She said she tried to teach herself to knit a year ago, and came to this session to get some inspiration and guidance from more experienced knitters.

Nancy, too, works at the library, and was glad to see such a group meeting there. She crochets rather than knits. Additionally, she is less traditional in her needlework style, and does not usually follow a pattern. She enjoys creating unconventional items such as crocheted baskets. She enjoys incorporating a number of fibers with her handiwork.

Della crochets a lot, and came to this group at the urging of co-worker Jennifer. She does a lot of crochet work, and has for years, and now she would like to become a knitter as well.

Liz, on the other hand, began knitting when she was in kindergarten. She explained that in her native Switzerland the girls began “required” needlework classes in the third grade. She was well on her way by then. She brought samples of items she has recently made, including an amazing little yellow sweater that made everyone wish they were three months old so they could wear it. She has recently been knitting socks for seniors in veterans’ nursing homes, and shared that she uses short pieces (scraps) of yarn in the baby blankets she makes.

Peg is a knitter who says she has “lots of starts.” She has the basic “knit and purl” mastered, and now wants to put her skill to work on a variety of projects.

There were two Janets in the group.

One of them had received a knitting wheel for Christmas and is trying to perfect using it. She is interested in learning to knit as well as to crochet, and is anxious to learn how to read and follow patterns. The other Janet said she was at the event with her knitting instructor and friend Lynn. This Janet started knitting last year. She successfully completed a baby hat, and remarked that she has been working on the same scarf over and over again.

Lynn knitted a sweater while in high school, but stopped knitting after that. Her sister inspired her to pick up the needles again several years ago. She was wearing socks she had knitted and is presently working on a sweater.

Jeanine also loves to knit socks. She and Lynn were overheard comparing sock patters, yarns, etc. She is also one of several knitters in the area who have just wrapped up a project in which they knitted wool helmet liners for the troops to wear in the cold harsh winters in the Middle East.

Joan is another knitter who learned within the past year. She enjoys knitting for others as well, and has been busy making hats and scarves for a local program that is administered through Social Services. She enjoys knitting and donating to humanitarian programs.

Jennifer and Dru, now experienced knitters, learned knitting together several years ago. Both have other crafting talents as well. Dru is currently working on a baby blanket, and hopes to soon begin a sweater for her husband who brought some amazing yarn back from a trip to Peru. She is excited about being able to create his sweater from this yarn. Jennifer, who serves on the library’s board of directors, was working on a vest she had started two years ago.

Jennifer also meets with a group of ladies who enjoy knitting crochet, coffee and lunch on Fridays at 11 a.m. at Higher Grounds. This group focuses their talents on community service projects. Last year, for example, they knitted or crocheted all the ornaments and the tree skirt for the tree they donated to the community center’s Festival of Trees auction. Their creative efforts raised over $300 for their chosen local charity.

The chairman of the library board, Kay, was on hand as well. She was glad to see such an enthusiastic turnout for this first needlework program, and said that the enthusiasm of the group has her motivated. She says she wants to “re-learn knitting” and to learn to crochet for the first time.

Cynde is one of several veteran knitters who attended the event. She was very interested in seeing the projects and techniques of other knitters. She enjoyed watching Liz, who knits the “European method” which appears “backward” to most people who learn to knit in the United States.

These “yarn ladies” were enjoying getting to know one another, renewing old friendships, offering assistance when asked, and generally having a wonderful time at the library on a snowy Friday afternoon. The hot tea and coffee, not to mention the decadent chocolate offerings, were just an added bonus for an already festive occasion.

Are you a knitter? Do you crochet? Would you like to learn? Would you like to meet up with fellow “yarn people?” At the end of this session, no decision had been made yet about whether this would become a regular program at the library, but one thing is certain. Our community has an abundance of enthusiastic people who knit or crochet. If you are interested in seeing a program like this continue at the library, contact Tessa. The phone number over there is 264-2208. She knows who to connect you with if you would like to learn to knit, to resume a forgotten pastime, or connect with a group that shares your interests. Or, if you’d rather curl up with a good mystery rather than a ball of yarn, get to the library and check out some of these books that were presented.