Two years ago, Evy Ellis approached the Matthews Public Library about hosting a weekly knitting group – “a place open to everyone, (where) I didn’t need to worry about parking and setting up,” said Ellis. Having knitted since she was 10 years old, she envisioned that the comfort this group might provide – to each other and to others, together with the final product to be donated to others, might serve a worthy purpose in the community.
Through word of mouth, notices around Town Hall, online information and the library calendar, more than one dozen people signed up. Today, they meet twice each month, due to popular demand.
The “they” includes (older) women who moved to the Charlotte area to be near children, people already residing in the area and the youngest member – the “resident dessert maker,” who is known for her blue hair.
In addition, they are sometimes joined by a gentleman from Africa who rounds out the group.
“This is a welcoming group,” said Ellis. “It’s an eclectic bunch…very interesting (people). We have a great time talking. Since we meet in the library, the majority of people are prolific readers, and knitters. We discuss books, movies, art, recipes…It reminds me of (a time) when women had quilting gatherings.”
Although conversation is often at a premium, it’s the by-product of the group that takes center stage: scarves, hats, baby blankets, NICU hats, lap blankets (for seniors) at the rate of more than 100 per year. All the knitted creations go to local churches, Room at the Inn, homeless shelters, Meals on Wheels, missions and NICU units (one member transports them to Nashville, when she visits relatives).
In addition to camaraderie, the members get to ogle the great craftwork being created right before their eyes. “I’m astounded by the work – the craftsmanship which the women do,” said Ellis. “They use intricate patterns; some make beautiful things.”
It is a sentiment also reflected in the thank-you cards they receive from the recipients who receive the knitted work.
Do any of the women stand out? “A couple of them are like an assembly line,” laughs Ellis. “I just met some great ladies. We all reach out to each other. I’m (also) glad we can get together and chat.”
Said Sandy Davis, of Weddington, a knitter since her teenage years, “(The group) is totally welcoming. There is no pressure or social biases. We’re there to share our yarn and be together. I’m glad that these ladies are keeping up with (this craftwork)……We have given up on knowledge of how to do natural things, use our resources. I’m trying to recapture those as much as possible and I think these ladies are doing the same thing.”
“We’re yarn crafters specifically,” said Davis. “We go there and play with our yarn!”
Rolande Sowers, of Matthews, is one of the newest members. A creative person with many artistic interests, in the past, she made dozens of blankets for wheelchair-bound people but had a hard time finding a place for them. Now, she sees exactly where the fruits of her labor land. “I have only been with the group since the summer. I have enjoyed every bit of it - I’ve even brought my best friend. I have made 25 scarves so far…. We just go at it. I want all my efforts to go to the right people.”