A Knitting and Crochet Movement at N Street Village

By Ilana Krakowski – Ilana is a member of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps and serves as the Program Assistant in the Health and Wellness Center. Ilana organizes Wellness Center programing, coordinates volunteers, and manages the Wellness Center receptionist team. Ilana is from New York City and graduated from Barnard College with a BA in Comparative Religion.

DIY — Do It Yourself. It seems that as the world grows larger and more interconnected, people are seeking to empower themselves and their communities with a DIY attitude. DIY means the ability to create something original we’ve grown to assume can only be mass-produced in a factory and purchased at a store. DIY puts personal choices and money back into the hands of those who make their own products, and it also offers them inspiration, a sense of fulfillment, and increased self-esteem.  I’ve seen these results in the women who participate in knitting and crochet classes here at N Street Village.

Our first knitting class was introduced in 2006 by volunteer Jane Saari, who wanted to share her love of the craft.  Jane invited her friend Wendy Mayer to teach crochet skills during Jane’s knitting class.  Not long after tapping into her own talent, Barbara, one of N Street Village’s client volunteers, began to teach her own crochet class in the Wellness Center. This past January, Wendy and  Barbara started offering an advanced crochet class because so many women had mastered basic crochet skills and wanted to learn to read more challenging patterns.

Knitting and crocheting have become a part of daily life at N Street Village. Almost everywhere I go in the building I see women working on yarn projects – scarves, hats, blankets, and caftans.  I see ladies sporting knitted or crocheted garments that they have made or a friend has made for them. I see projects completed and new ones started right away. I see the distribution of new yarn skeins greeted with anticipation and excitement. Most important of all, I notice the growth of community and individuality among our clients.  While working on their projects, women chat, joke, develop friendships, and share information on different services available to them in the city.   Many women find their unique styles and voices in their yarn work.  Some shared their gifts outside our community by taking part in the Hyperbolic Coral Reef Project, while others started selling pieces at Luther Place Memorial Church’s art fairs and on Etsy. One client was able to quit smoking after she began crocheting, while others have completed something they’ve started for the first time, showing them that they have the ability to set a goal and achieve it. The Do-It-Yourself ethic inherent in our knit and crochet program really has and continues to change lives.

We are grateful for all of our donors and volunteers who continue to bring knitting and crocheting to N Street Village. Our community is always in need of yarn donations — now more than ever as many women are improving their skills and creating more elaborate pieces. Your donation of yarn will also offer newcomers the very experience that so many women have already benefited from. To make a donation of yarn, please contact Anne Steeves at asteeves@nstreetvillage.org.

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