When skeins of colorful yarn, patterns and knitting needles – along with finished and unfinished projects – spill from bags and baskets at the Mooresville Public Library on Mondays, everyone knows the knitters have arrived.
The women began visiting the library because they’re readers, but a common thread emerged: They’re also knitters.
Numerous women requested a place to gather and exchange ideas. They were persistent, and Debbie Livesey, a reference department library assistant and knitter, responded. She organized the group.
“I open the doors and it runs itself,” Livesey said.
But members say Livesey is their leader.
As the women knitted and crocheted during a December gathering, they displayed their art and swapped patterns and techniques. Because of holiday schedules, only the core members, four retired women, were present instead of the usual 12 to 15. They had lots to discuss and exhibit.
One of Judy Freeman’s knitted hats was inspired by the Art Deco movement. She described it as a hat “with a little slouch and a lot of style.”
Livesey usually gives her creations away, but not the latest one. She’s keeping the “Big Sack Sweater.” In fact, some of the other women plan to try the cable stitch running down the front.
In addition to stitching adult sweaters, Kathleen Cummings knitted sweater ornaments by adapting a pattern designed for Barbie dolls and crafting tiny clothes hangers.
Since she likes to crochet as well as knit, Cummings made an 18-foot holiday chain for the library’s circulation desk.
“With all the knitting I’ve been doing, it’s probably kept me from gaining 10 to 15 pounds,” said Cummings who listens to audio books while she knits.
Although the women embrace traditional needlework, they also embrace technology. They download books from Hoopla, One Click Digital and the North Carolina Digital Library, services available through the library website.
“Most of us use our mobile devices, go to You Tube and pull up instructional videos,” Livesey said.
“They’re wonderful. You Tube has videos for basic knitting and crocheting,” Freeman added.
In addition to these sources, there’s an extensive collection of knitting and crochet books on the shelves.
Like many places where women gather, conversation flowed as needles moved. Talk turned to memories, a passing of the art through generations.
As Cathy Addington crocheted a ripple afghan, she talked about her grandmother’s wedding gift – an afghan. Addington continues the tradition.
Once Lori Wiltinger’s mom knitted socks for Wiltinger’s dad. Wiltinger learned to knit about 10 years ago. Now she knits socks for her mom.
Since Cummings’ 93 year-old mother no longer knits nor crochets, Cummings is the beneficiary of her mother’s unfinished projects like a pair of argyle socks started during World War II.
“I don’t have the heart to throw them out,” said Cummings who cherishes a king-size quilt her mother made.
The women are creating memories for new generations. Freeman knitted a wedding rehearsal dress for a 22-year-old friend, an avid knitter.
“I felt she simply must have a hand-knitted gift for her wedding,” Freeman said.
Freeman’s twin 6-month-old grandchildren, a boy and girl, were baptized this month. They wore the sweater, vest and hats she knitted for the occasion.
When Livesey showed infant hats she had made for the anticipated arrival of a new granddaughter, talk shifted to the merits of self-striping, variegated yarn with more than one color, or solid-color yarn.
The women laughed as conversation meandered to the yarn stashes every knitter or crocheter keeps.
With so much chatting, counting each row can be a challenge, but this group has solved the problem. As Wiltinger completed a row, she attached a ring at the end. Others clicked counters or made tic marks.
The women are eager to share their knowledge. There’s hope for the future as a younger generation discovers a creative way to unwind.
“Crocheting and knitting travel well,” Livesey said.