By Sue Scheible The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Janet Gallagher, organizer of a knitting club in Mass. says, "knitting reduces stress, is good for anxiety, and if you are reading a pattern, it's good for your brain, the neuroplasticity."
For some reason, the fifth time is the charm for Janet Gallagher. The young adult and reference librarian at the Tufts Library tried to get a drop-in knitting club going three or four times before, but only a few people showed up. Then, this fall, the idea took off -- especially among a group of young mothers from India and teenagers from diverse cultures.
"This time it sort of exploded, and we've got about 20 people coming here most Thursday nights," Gallagher said.
If you stop by the library, at 46 Broad St., at 6:30 on a Thursday evening, you'll likely find an intergenerational group off to the right inside the front door. There is a hum of activity as teenagers, young mothers with children, and middle-aged and older women sit knitting, teaching, learning and chatting.
"All the cool girls knit," Suzanne Sarhanis, 58, said with a smile as she worked on one of the scarves she leaves around town for people who are homeless. "I learned to knit six years ago, and I thought it would be nice to teach others."
Gallagher, 57, is a big believer in the value of handicrafts.
"Whenever I go to a baby shower, I like to take an afghan and two baby hats I have made myself," she said.
One of six children, she was taught to knit by an aunt, and when she became young adult librarian in 2012, she began a crafts group that included the basics of knitting. Elizabeth Romeo and the Naughty Needlers knitting group at the Whipple Senior Center donated needles and yarn.
When the interest in knitting began to grow, Gallagher asked the Naughty Needlers if they might help her teach. Christine Steen, Pat Lanigan and Joan Freeman have become steady helpers, along with Chris Nault from the library staff.
On a recent Thursday, Happy Patel, 30, was figuring out spacing and yarn tightness with Steen's help. Varuni Musinada, 28, brought in a sweater she had made at home for her daughter, Lekhashree, 3Ã‚ 1/2 . Musinada used online videos to build on what she learned in the club. She considers herself a fast learner.
"I have the habit of creation action." Musinada said.
Andrea Mori, 73, of Weymouth knew how to knit but wanted advice on how to make one sweater sleeve larger than the other. Her granddaughter has a left arm different in shape and size from her right arm, and Mori wanted to be sure the sweater would easily pull on.
"I got very good advice in how to adjust the left sleeve," she said.
Kathleen Sweeney, 43, was getting back to knitting after raising two children.
"It's been great," she said. "Everybody is really friendly."
The cozy atmosphere seems productive. The knitters have made scarves, afghans, hats and booties. They have learned how to knit and purl, do cable stitches -- "really kind of complicated things -- in just a month or two," Gallagher said.
"It is awkward when you start, and you have to practice, but we can teach you the basics and we have fun," she said. And she swears there are health benefits.
"Knitting reduces stress, is good for anxiety, and if you are reading a pattern, it's good for your brain, the neuroplasticity," Gallagher said.