Knitting, crocheting and fiber arts are, at their core, social crafts. Practitioners are often introduced to the medium by a parent or a grandparent, and often collaborate with others on their creations.
Despite this, though, there are a dearth of options for the social crafter in Atlantic County. Loose Threads, which meets once monthly at the Galloway branch of the Atlantic County Library System, is one such option.
Pat Morrow, head librarian at the Galloway branch, said she began opening the library to the knitting group, which meets once per month, earlier this year.
"We had knitters and crocheters who were coming in for mini groups on different nights of the week, and this room is so heavily used for meetings, that trying to create a formal, structured event was really not possible," said Morrow, a lifelong knitter. "I started picking a vacant night every month and just tagging it for this group so that there would be this one night a month that anybody who wanted to get together could come to these groups."
The library became the de facto meeting point for many Atlantic County knitters, crocheters and weavers after the 2011 closing of the Borders off Wrangleboro Road in Mays Landing, where they had previously met.
Martha Kleiner, who has crocheted with others at the Galloway branch for a few years, said she enjoys the meetings for what she can learn from others.
"It's socialization, and also to see what others do that's a little different than what I do," Kleiner said. "I've learned a few things that I didn't know about before."
Meetings are informal, and crafters filter in starting about 6:30, and often stay past the library's 8 p.m. closing time, Morrow said. Attendance varies depending on the night.
In addition to working on their own projects, many of those in the group make garments and blankets as donations to various groups, Morrow said.
"We get donations, we recently got a donation of a huge box of yarn, they take it and they do blankets, for Hats for Preemies, Blankets for Veterans," she said. "Some of us have been doing blankets for the animal shelter."
The group is welcoming to new members and is willing to teach beginners.
Nancy Larned went to her first Loose Threads meeting Nov. 8, at the prodding of her son-in-law, who said she needed a night out for herself. Shortly after sitting down, she was actively conversing with other group members.
"I think these people are great," Larned said. "I just watch how they think about doing what they're doing, also, and it's fantastic. I like seeing the stuff like this."
Morrow said she hopes the group, as one of the few options available to knitters, crocheters or weavers who wish to share their craft with others, continues to grow.
"We just encourage people from all over the county to come out," Morrow said. "We have a good book collection to go with it, and we get a couple of the magazines, the major magazines in the field, so it's a fun place to share ideas."
For more information, call the Galloway Branch at 609-652-2352. Meeting dates are posted to the library's website a few weeks in advance.
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