Needlecrafters hooked on A Good Yarn program at Grace Mellman Community Library

Needlecrafters are getting hooked on A Good Yarn program offered by the Grace Mellman Community Library in Temecula. It started last summer with two attendees and has now grown to about 25.

“It has really grown as word has gone out,” said Library Page Lisa Oda, who facilitates the program and is an avid knitter and crocheter. “We started out with one meeting per month, but have now expanded to two meetings per month. It’s really exciting!”

Program’s origination

Oda was asked by the library’s previous Adult Program Coordinator Sandra Brautigam to lead a needlecraft program because she always knitted or crocheted when she bought her two young sons to the library for children’s storytime. Brautigam thought patrons would enjoy coming to the library to work on their own projects and socialize.

“I wasn’t so sure about having a program,” Oda said. “But each time I would come in, Sandy would have a new idea about the program. It sounded so exciting that I finally agreed.”

Program leader’s expertise

Oda learned to crochet as a child and knit as an adult. “It wasn’t until I was two days away from giving birth to my oldest son that I learned to knit,” she said. “I sat upright in bed in the middle of the night with this crazy thought, ‘All new mothers know how to knit.’ So, I grabbed some yarn and went online. I didn’t have any knitting needles, but I had chopsticks. So, that’s what I used. I didn’t go back to sleep until I could knit a perfect swatch. I knew that if I could get my tension right that I could tackle anything else later.”

Oda said her skills are still evolving. “I love to learn new techniques. If I see something I like, I start thinking about how I can reproduce it. Sometimes I get a pattern in my head that needs to be made,” she said.

Oda enjoys making hats. “I can whip those out really quick, but I love to make scarves and blankets for friends and family,” she said.

Oda also makes toys for her sons. “As babies I used to make them different sized crocheted balls to play with,” she said. “I also like to make socks for family. My boys like to have homemade knit socks to go camping in.”

Knitting and crocheting relaxes Oda and she enjoys the kinship of others who knit and crochet. “They are very friendly and helpful,” she said. “It was that kind of spirit that I wanted to cultivate in the program at the library.”

Program teaches beginners

Oda teaches knitting and crocheting to beginners at meetings. The library supplies yarn and needles for beginners so they can find out if they like it before investing money in it. At the July 23 meeting, Oda taught eight beginners the basics of crochet in a small group.

Temecula residents Brooklyn Anderson, 8, and her grandmother Jimmie Gidron were in the beginners’ group. “I’m learning to single crochet,” Anderson said. She wants to make a blanket.

Another young Temecula resident, Shea Bledsoe, 10, learned crochet basics from Oda so she can make a blanket, too. She was accompanied by her grandmother Sam Burnstein of Murrieta and her sister Remi Bledsoe, 7.

Burnstein said she was glad that she bought her granddaughters to the program. “It gives the kids something to do instead of looking at their phones and texting,” she said, laughing.

Chance to socialize

Wildomar resident Judy Ferrer has been attending the program since it started and likes its social aspect. She’s retired and it gets her out of the house. She also belongs to the Riverside Knitters Guild and the Temecula Valley Stitch and Bitch and regularly goes to these groups’ meetings.

Ferrer has been creating 8-foot- long ruffled scarfs to sell in local boutiques. “They’re very easy to make,” she said as she worked on one. She sells the lacy, lightweight scarfs for $15 to $20 and makes a small profit on them. She explained that she prices pieces for two to three times the cost of its yarn. She has done commissioned pieces, but mostly makes blankets, hats and shawls for family and friends.

Jennifer Leggett of Wildomar is Ferrer’s daughter and accompanies her mother to the program. Her mother taught her how to knit and crochet. She was busy knitting herself a black rectangular shawl. “This is the first project I’ve done for me in a long time,” she said. She’s a stay-at-home mother and likes the program’s friendly environment. It gives her a chance to enjoy good conversation and relieve stress.

Deborah Glaus of Murrieta is friends with Ferrer and Leggett and was sitting between them. She’s been knitting for six years and loves the program. “I can’t wait to get here. I’ve learned a lot,” she said.

Nell Hariri drove from Escondido to attend the program at the invitation of her close friend Linda Kamgar of Murrieta. Hariri was born in Norway and learned to knit and crochet as a child. She knits sweaters for her grandchildren and often buys good quality yarn for projects during trips to Norway. She’s almost done knitting a blue, red and white pullover sweater for her grandson.

“Norwegians knit a lot,” Hariri commented as she took a coffee break. The library offered light refreshments to snack on.

Kamgar shared that her close friend Hariri is such a good knitter that she doesn’t need patterns and she’s in awe of her abilities. Kamgar’s has knitted and crocheted she was a teenager and finds the program inspiring. “It makes you want to do more,” she said. She’s working on a knitted blanket in pastel colors.

Joining the program

“I really, really enjoy my time with the group. We have fun doing what we love to do,” Oda said. “The library has made it possible for me to combine knitting and crocheting with working at the library. Working with and meeting great people, knitting, crocheting and books—it’s a dream job!”

The group’s next meeting is on Aug. 20. For more information, contact Oda at [email protected] or call the library at (951)-296-3893.

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