MIDDLETOWN—While most people don’t think about celebrating knitting in the summer, over 20 people came together on June 18 for a Knit in the Park event in Middletown.
The event coincided with international Knit in Public Day, which James Prather, the owner of Middletown’s fiber arts store, American Needleworks, used as his inspiration when he started the event three years ago. The park where the event takes place is located directly across from his store on North Street, and while he said it’s a nice way to bring in customers, his goal is to get people interested in the fiber arts.
“I sell yarn and I sell products, but we also are selling creativity,” he said. “This is an unending art form. It’s endlessly creative, and that’s what’s the fun part for me, and that’s what I want to share.”
He named the event Knit in the Park, but he said it was about all fiber arts, and the people who came brought crocheting, spinning, and weaving as well.
Joseph R. Mierzejewski, a retired pastry chef from Ferndale, demonstrated different kinds of weaving on one of American Needlework’s looms in the park. He said growing up in a poor, coal-mining town in Pennsylvania, they used rugs to cover the walls that both stopped drafts and brightened up the room. He learned from people in his neighborhood how to weave 40 years ago and has been doing it ever since.
Now he makes custom rag rugs and other woven goods, a hobby-turned-retirement job he said helps him relax.
“Even if it’s only a half hour a day or an hour a day, it takes you away from the world,” he said. “It calms you down, makes you forget everything else, and an hour later, a half hour later, you’re like ‘I feel better.'”
Dingmans Ferry, Penn. resident Alisa Schenck brought her spinning wheel and a basket of carded wool to make into yarn.
She got into the craft after years of knitting and wanting to know what it would take to make the yarn herself. She took a class, bought a wheel–which has multiplied into four wheels–and now does it every day. She also has 14 Angora rabbits, known for their soft and warm fur which she spins into her yarn.
“It’s my escape,” she said, calling it an “addicting” pastime and one that has seen a resurgence in popularity.
Prather said each year the event gets a little bigger because “friends bring friends,” and he hopes one day it will outgrow the little park.
“It’s becoming a tradition … Like-minded people getting together to do something they enjoy,” he said.
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