“Knitting is just good therapy”

Published 2:15 pm Friday, April 15, 2022

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If you’ve ever benefited from the warmth and cozy touch of a handmade afghan, now you can learn to make your own by visiting the Greenville-Butler County Public Library.

Every Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. in the Community Room of the library located at 309 Fort Dale Road, Julie Smith teaches an adult knitting class.

“Most people think it’s hard to do, but it’s not,” said Smith, who’s been employed at the library since 2013.

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From beginner to experienced, all are welcomed to her free classes, and it doesn’t even cost anything to get started.

“The library furnishes knitting needles and yarn for the first few lessons,” Smith said. “So, if you’ve never knitted before, there’s no need to invest in supplies.”

“And best of all,” student Annabel Markle added, “there are no quizzes. No tests.”

The classes are informal and the instructor is flexible. “Come when you can,” Smith said. “If you come late, that’s fine.”

“I leave work just to come to this,” Catherine Tanner, another student, said.

The class learns  first how to read a knitting pattern.  “People are surprised by the number of different beautiful things you can make by learning just two stitches,” Smith said.

By far, the most favorite pattern all the knitters have done so far is called Old Shale.

“It’s a beautiful pattern and makes a lovely scarf that can be passed down,” Markle said. “I’ve made three Old Shale scarves so far and given them away as gifts.”

“I’ve made two scarves and I’m working on a baby blanket now,” Tanner added. “I want to make a dog sweater next. Everybody can work on their own projects.”

Smith teaches her class about the different types of yarns available. She prefers natural fibers, like cotton for a dishcloth and angora for an heirloom piece. The class also likes working with wool, silk, and bamboo yarns.

“Acrylic blends are good for beginners to work with,” Smith said.

The class also learns how to work with different types of knitting needles. The short, long, circular, and double pointed needles are all used to make different projects and give the knitted piece a unique and individual look when finished. The size of the needle used, as well as the knitter’s tension on the yarn contribute to the overall look of each handmade item when finished.

“Julie is very helpful and patient with not just her newcomers but with all the students,” Markle said.

Olivia Foster, who started working for the Library in 2017, attends the class when she can get away from the circulation desk. She graduates from a MLS program at the University of Alabama in May of this year, but still finds the time to practice the skills she learned in Smith’s class. She said she enjoys her new hobby and added, “It’s a great way to relax. Julie is a really good teacher.”

When asked what she found most fulfilling about teaching others to knit, Smith said, “Showing non-believers that they can do it. It makes me so happy when a student says, ‘look at what I did.’”

The class all agrees they go not only for the camaraderie, but the fellowship and sharing of memories.

“This is something we do for ourselves,” Jones said. “Knitting is a good way to reconnect with the past. Knitting is just good therapy.”