If you’ve ever enjoyed the warmth and cozy touch of a handmade afghan, now you can learn how to make your own by visiting the Greenville-Butler County Public Library.
Every Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. in the Library’s Community Room at 309 Fort Dale Road, Julie Smith teaches a knitting class for adults.
“Most people think it’s hard to do, but it’s not,” said Smith, who has worked at the library since 2013.
From beginners to experienced, everyone is welcome in his free courses, and it doesn’t even cost anything to get started.
“The library provides knitting needles and yarn for early 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 exams.
Classes are informal and the instructor is flexible. “Come when you can,” Smith said. “If you arrive late, that’s fine.”
“I quit work just to come to this,” said fellow student Catherine Tanner.
The class first learns to read a knitting pattern. “People are amazed at how many different beautiful things you can do by learning just two stitches,” Smith said.
By far the most favorite pattern that all knitters have made 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 as gifts.”
“I made two scarves and now I’m working on a baby blanket,” Tanner added. “I want to do a dog sweater next. Everyone can work on their own projects.
Smith teaches his class about the different types of threads available. She prefers natural fibers, such as cotton for a tea towel and angora for an heirloom piece. The class also likes to work with yarns of wool, silk and bamboo.
“Acrylic blends are good for beginners,” Smith said.
The class also learns to work with different types of knitting needles. 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 not only with her newcomers, but with all of the students,” Markle said.
Olivia Foster, who started working for the Library in 2017, attends class when she can be away from the circulation desk. She graduated from an MLS program at the University of Alabama in May of this year, but still finds time to practice the skills she learned in Smith’s class. She said she loved her new hobby and added, “It’s a great way to relax. Julie is a very good teacher.
When asked what she finds most satisfying about teaching others to knit, Smith replied, “Showing non-believers that they can do it. It makes me so happy when a student says, “look what I’ve done.”
The class agrees that they go there not only for the camaraderie, but also for the camaraderie and the sharing of memories.
“It’s something we do for ourselves,” Jones said. “Knitting is a good way to reconnect with the past. Knitting is just good therapy.