Sharing secretive smiles and finishing each other’s sentences, the president and vice president of the Knitting and Crocheting Club have more than friendship on their side. They share a bond that’s tight-knit with their love for fiber arts.
Senior psychology major Martha Bennett, president of the club, has knitted for most of her life, accumulating over 20 years of experience. She carries her needle and yarn everywhere, a habit she picked up at a young age. Vice president junior psychology major Willa Papanikolas has less experience and prefers crocheting. Even so, both enjoy the fiber arts for its community and lessons learned.
A lot of people assume that knitting and crocheting is an ‘old lady craft’, said Bennett, so finding other people who enjoy the fiber arts can be hard. That is part of the reason the club is important to her.
“When you are a knitter or crocheter and you come onto a college campus for the first time, you think that no one else understands this thing that you do. We try to let people know that, ‘Hey, we’re old ladies and men too!’”
The Knitting and Crocheting Club began in 2009 with the help of theatre and dance professor Martha Marking. Starting with lessons from her neighbor and mom, Marking has knitted for most of her life.
One of the things she enjoys the most is knitting pieces that take the stage. She has created pieces for productions at App State and the North Carolina School of the Arts. Marking is in the process of making hats for the upcoming Department of Theatre and Dance production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
“I have a great affinity for doing it,” Marking said. “The practice is stress relieving, and it’s great that people can even make things for themselves.”
Besides knitting and crocheting, the club also welcomes people who practice needlework, weaving, quilting and more. The club regularly has 15-20 people come to meetings.
“Fiber arts definitely have a different reputation for having a strong community aspect,” Papanikolas said. “I also paint a lot, and I never go to groups for that. But with fiber arts it’s really easy to have conversations and have groups that compare crafts, teach new skills and show what they have created for the past months or so.”
The club accepts people of all skill levels, including those with no experience at all. People who come for the first time are typically not sure how much money and commitment actually goes into projects, so the club is prepared to help the inexperienced, Bennett said. Every week the club provides free supplies for people who come to meetings.
Besides working on personal projects during the meetings, the club also shows movies, eats home-baked desserts, gives to charities and organizations and has fiber art sales for what the members have created. It usually hosts two big sales per semester, including a booth at the Old-Time Fiddler’s Convention.
Bennett and Papanikolas said that knitting and crocheting is an evolving art form.
“It’s a thing that you pick up from your mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts that are willing to teach it,” Bennett said. “It’s not as popular these days because people don’t want to spend money on yarn and a lot of time to make a pair of socks where I can just go to Walmart and buy socks.”
The Knitting and Crocheting Club meets every Monday in New River room located in the Plemmons Student Union from 7:30-8:30 p.m.
“If you can’t make the formal meetings on Mondays, email us. We will be happy to meet you at Crossroads or meet you at the dining halls,” Bennett said. “If you’re learning and you need help, look us up. It’s not a problem. If we don’t know how to help, we can hook you up with people who can.”