2017-02-16 / Editorial

It takes a village . . . of knitters

Library Links
by Melanie Taylor Coombs

McArthur Library’s knitting group started by chance when I was asked to host a casual weekly meeting of crochet and knitting enthusiasts. Now, I tend to be a “leap before I look” kind of person, so I immediately said “yes, sure, absolutely, let’s have a knitting group!”

The group was added to our calendar of events and I became leader of a knitting group even though I do not know how to knit. This is a fact I should have considered before starting a knitting group . . .

Just after we started meeting on Friday mornings, we were asked to knit red scarves for the AIDS Walk in Portland. The walk was a couple months away and the yarn was supplied. I readily agreed. A scarf seemed like an excellent beginner project. So sans pattern I began my scarf. A group member cast me on and taught me the basic knit stitch. Needless to say, within six inches, it became quite obvious that I was not especially good at knitting.

Another knitter said cheerfully “don’t you mind all those dropped stitches, we will just sew buttons on over the holes.” Regretfully, it took me months to complete the scarf and I missed the AIDS Walk deadline altogether. By the end of the four feet, it actually looked sort of normal and with pom-poms it could almost pass as a respectable scarf.

Next I took on a soft, plush baby blanket for an expectant staff member. Several months into the project an expert knitter in the group asked, “do you have your extra yarn with you? I thought I might bring it home and work on it a bit during the week.” I understood at that point that my beautiful baby blanket would be done about the time the child was ready for high school. The good thing about the plushy yarn was the dropped stitches barely showed. The blanket was completed in time for the baby shower – only because a kind knitter took pity on me and completed the project.

The group has grown since fall 2015 and has become largely self-sufficient. Recently I have been working on some rather large and time consuming projects in the library and have not had as much time to spend with the members. This morning I wandered in and out of the group between checking on a computer installation project and going to collect mail at the post office. Nine ladies were gathering around a large table. Two were sharing tips on four-needle knitting of socks, one was showing an amazing collection of teeny, tiny knitted animals, another was working on a baby sweater, and everyone was chatting, busy and happy.

These amazing people encouraged me through my red scarf and baby blanket and understood when I abandoned a dog sweater I had begun for my elderly dog that passed away before it was completed. Two of the members this morning were brand new to the group, and I think they felt as welcome as the others. Libraries are often called the living rooms of the community and today I got an opportunity to see and feel part of Biddeford’s very special space, McArthur Library’s Community Room full of knitters. What a joy!

Beginners are always welcome to join the knitting group which meets every Friday morning from 10 a.m. to noon.

Melanie Taylor Coombs is adult services supervisor/ librarian at McArthur Public Library in Biddeford.

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