A small group recently gathered around a table in the upstairs room of the Back Corner Cafe, a coffee shop in North Cape May, to learn how to knit.
On the table in front of the group were a couple of coffee mugs and several spools of colorful yarn. At this paricular moment, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" was playing in the background.
"So you insert your needle, you wrap your yarn, you pull the loop through, you transfer it to the other needle, then you pull the needle out," said knitting instructor Fran Geores, of North Cape May, to Will Kratz, also of North Cape May, and one of the four knitting novices at the table. "Perfect, Will, you're doing great."
"I'm taking orders if you want a sweater," said Kratz, jokingly, to the others. "I should have the first order done by 2015."
The gathering was put on by Scarf It Up, a recently formed charitable knitting program organized and instructed by Geores, and sponsored by GABLES of Cape May County, a nonprofit social group dedicated to representing the local GLBT by promoting equality and acceptance of its members into the community and doing community service projects.
The Scarf It Up program falls under the latter part of its mission. Program participants will learn how to knit scarves, with the help of Geores, who is an avid, lifelong knitter and a member of GABLES. The scarves will then be donated to community members in need, to help them keep warm throughout winter.
"I thought this would be a great project for GABLES because GABLES is always so active in the community and does so much to support the people who live in the community," Geores said. "But also now that the wintertime is here and things have slowed down, there's not as much to do. So I thought it was a good idea to not only get some people together and to enjoy each other's company, but also to help those in need."
Geores will host the informal Scarf It Up sessions twice per week at the Back Corner Cafe, owned by Wendy Rossner, who is lending out the space. Participation is open to anyone, and all supplies will be available to program participants at no cost, including knitting needles to borrow and an assortment of colorful yarn to chose from. Also, participants can come to as many or as few sessions as they choose.
GABLES President Craig Van Baal, of South Dennis, who was also one of the four knitters recently gathered around the table, said community service is a big part of GABLES' mission.
During GABLES' 18 years of existence, the group - which has more than 200 active members - has donated more than $100,000 to benefit area charities, which have including Family Promise of Cape May County, Volunteers in Medicine of Cape May County and the South Jersey Aids Alliance, to name a few.
"We're not just a group that does parties; we're out there doing stuff," Van Baal said.
Geores said she plans to keep the Scarf It Up knitting sessions going throughout the winter and is looking into adding a weekly evening session.
She said she is excited about the program and the good it will do for those in need.
"Once you get into knitting, it's really very easy to incorporate charitable knitting into what you're already doing," she said, as she held up a blue knit hat. "I had used this yarn to make a cardigan for a friend of mine as a gift, and I had just enough left over to do a hat. So this will be the first contribution to this project."
Contact Elisa Lala:
If you go
What: Scarf It Up, an on-going bi-weekly, informal meet up of community members interested in knitting scarves (with on-site instruction and free materials) to be donated to local people in need.
When: Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon (come when you can)
Where: Back Corner Cafe, 3860 Bayshore Road in North Cape May 609-886-2323.
More info: Call knitting instructor and GABLES member Fran Geores 609-972-1119.