Stitching together

When a group of women get together, pull out their knitting needles and begin working them, it’s likely that something more than what is on the needles will take shape.

If they are sitting in anything resembling a circle, a certain kind of intimacy and conversation will emerge. As that rhythmic wrapping of yarn gets underway, arms reaching up in the air every so often to unwind more, no subject, at least in my experience, is off limits; parents, children, work, men, news—and more. So it was at the knitting circle at Noble Neighborhood Library on a recent Thursday evening.

"I just make squares," said Frances Dostal, 81, of East Cleveland, knitting a lovely burgundy one with a bit of a pattern in it. "Thirty-six, seven-by-nine-inch pieces and then Trudy makes them into a quilt. We give them away." These handmade things are given to someone in need, such as in hospice or through a local church.

Trudy Fischer, 86, is across the table, and as I watch and listen, I sense that she is one of the mainstays. She is working on a sock and she shows me the one she has completed. I admire the perfect heel. I have made three or four pairs and have yet to achieve a heel that looks that good.

The women meet at 6:45 p.m., on the first and third Thursdays of the month, in the Children’s Room, amid the energy and liveliness of the little ones. But the talk is coming mostly from the knitters.

Alicia Evans has come for the first time and her daughters, five and three, are playing across the room. A woman at the end of the table is helping Alicia learn to knit. "You’re going OK," she said as she inspects her stitches. The teacher, Norma Boucher, turns out to be Trudy’s daughter.

Head librarian Jo Ann Vicarel and Norma started the group six years ago. More than a dozen women are attending, some spilling over to the next table where Joan has brought knitting magazines to browse through. One is making a fabulous, thick crocheted bag of many colors that can also be used as a knapsack. Another has made two small crocheted owls for her daughter.

"People come for the companionship . . . and for helping others," said Marcy Schmidt, who is knitting an elegant top with a delicate yarn. Frances Dostal added, "People have a need for this. It is creative and we are so mechanized."

It becomes quiet for a while. The women are all knitting. No one seems to feel the need to speak, or even make eye contact with each other. Then the conversation goes to the churches that are closing. "It’s hard to know which one to go to," someone says. A few comment, then back to quiet.

Knitting can take you to a place within yourself, a place of peace—and connection. Hands are moving and creating; you can listen, speak or be silent. There’s a particular kind of sisterhood in such a group, an oasis. It is bound together by the admiration of one another’s work, the sharing of ideas and skills, making warm beautiful things for yourself, loved ones or for those in need.

Knitting can be private and often solitary, and so in 2005, something called Worldwide Knit in Public Day was created. This year it will be held on any day between June 12 and 20. On Saturday, June 12 from 1–3 p.m., Worldwide Knit in Public Day will be celebrated at the Noble Neighborhood Library. Knitters will gather on the lawn in front of the building. Bring your knitting and a lawn chair

Eleanor Mallet’s column, "A Heights Observer," explores the nooks and crannies in the Heights. She can be reached at

Worldwide Knit in Public Day

Saturday, June 12, 1–3 p.m.

Noble Neighborhood Library, 2800 Noble Road

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Volume 3, Issue 6, Posted 1:38 PM, 05.18.2010