Yarn Gatherings

by Christine R. Gonzalez
December 2019

Life happens while sitting around with friends and knitting. Or crocheting.

Whoever has thread in their bag, they are welcome to join and come sit and meet other people," says Caroline Hegwer, owner of The Noble Thread in downtown Wilmington. "Two different things bring people to a yarn shop. You have classes where people learn a skill, individually or in a group. The other is social gatherings. We have a living room with two really big couches. People come to hang out every day, but the official social times are Friday nights and Sunday afternoons."

The social times are free and open to anyone. For almost three years, needlework enthusiasts ages 16 to 90 have been congregating at the shop to create, talk and relax.

There's more to it than just a time to hang out with fellow needlework enthusiasts. Rhythmic, repetitive movements can help manage stress, depression, anxiety and even chronic pain.

A 2013 Psychology Today article noted that the repetitive movements "distract people from mulling over the past or fear of the future." It said handwork can bring down blood pressure and heart rate and help prevent stress-related illnesses.

Newer articles suggest that sewing can even stave off dementia, citing the many different parts of the brain that are engaged in creativity, spatial thinking and problem solving.

"It's meditative, like bicycling or going for a walk, because your hands are engaged in a repetitive motion," explains Hegwer, who was born in Paris. "With each stitch you begin to relax.A lot do say, 'This is my therapy.'"

Yarns of Wilmington owner Leslie Branch concurs.

"So many say this is their therapy and at the end of their day, maybe for just an hour, they can tune out everything else, and have a handmade creation in the end," she says. "They keep their sewing in their car for visits to the doctor's office or if their kids have practice. And it is cheaper than going to a psychologist."

Branch says needlework is part of a trend for DIY, and a lot of her sewers are going back to their roots.

"My mother taught me how to sew, my great-grandfather was a tailor, and my grandmother taught me how to knit," she says. "So, a lot of us have that in our backgrounds."

Though male needleworkers are in the minority, Hegwer points out that it was originally a man's work to knit fishing sweaters and socks for themselves. She says men are welcome to participate.

"Nobody checks their phone, it is off when they are here. They are with friends and we often refer to each other as a large family. And if someone is sick, we get together and take care of them," Hegwer says.

The Friday night group can be pretty wild and unpredictable, she says. When someone expresses doubt about knitters being wild, Hegwer laughs. "Well you haven't met Janice then.One night sitting in the store a gentleman came in and started talking with her, and when he left we asked, 'Is that your husband?' She replied, 'No, but he could be.' Which broke all of us out in laughter."

Local stores carry unique products and see a growing interest in locally hand-dyed yarns. They often carry alpaca yarns from North Carolina.

Branch says needlework is part of a trend for DIY, and a lot of her sewers are going back to their roots.

"My mother taught me how to sew, my great-grandfather was a tailor, and my grandmother taught me how to knit," she says. "So, a lot of us have that in our backgrounds."

Though a male needleworkers are in the minority, Hegwer points out that it was originally a man's work to knit fishing sweaters and socks for themselves. She says men are welcome to participate.

"Nobody checks their phone, it is off when they are here. They are with friends and we often refer to each other as a large family. And if someone is sick, we get together and take care of them," Hegwer says.

The Friday night group can be pretty wild and unpredictable, she says. When someone expresses doubt about knitters being wild, Hegwer laughs. "Well you haven't met Janice then.One night sitting in the store a gentleman came in and started talking with her, and when he left we asked, 'Is that your husband?' She replied, 'No, but he could be.' Which broke all of us out in laughter."

Local stores carry unique products and see a growing interest in locally hand-dyed yarns. They often carry alpaca yarns from North Carolina.

 


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