Evanston Public Library holds needlework circle


Zoe Malin/Daily Senior Staffer

Evanston resident Sally Barnum crochets a winter hat for the emergency women’s shelter at First United Methodist Church. Barnum founded the Evanston Public Library knitting circle about a year ago.

Rayna Song, Reporter

Every third Monday of the month, a drop-in needlework circle meets at Evanston Public Library. Sally Barnum, the organizer of the circle, hopes more people will join this community.

Barnum created the needlework circle about a year ago when she discovered that EPL did not have a resource for adults interested in needlework. They meet for two hours every month.

“It is needlework because it is anything that you can do by hand that includes fabric or yarn… some people quilt, some people knit,” said Barnum, a retired librarian, as she crocheted a hat. “It’s just sort of a relaxing thing to do.”

Barnum explained the difference between crocheting and knitting — the former uses a single crochet hook, while the latter uses two long needles. Because a crochet hook is easily portable people can usually crochet in any location.

For Barnum, crocheting is also a way to give back to the community. She is currently crocheting twelve hats for the First United Methodist Church in Evanston, which runs an emergency shelter for women in the winter. It usually takes Barnum two hours to crochet a hat.

Barnum describes the needlework circle as an “open door” — people are welcome to stay for as long as they want. She also emphasized her desire for increased awareness of the group in Evanston.

Barnum added that she wants a sign in the downstairs portion of the library. Due to lack of publicity, people typically find out about the circle through word-of-mouth, she said.

Barnum extended a particular invitation to men who might be unaware of the circle.

EPL’s needlework circle serves as a place where people sharing the same interest may communicate and socialize, in addition to doing needlework, Barnum said. Because of the social aspect of the circle, she touted the community-building aspect of an activity like crocheting, which can benefit adults and older members of the community.

“As you age, your community gets smaller,” Barnum said. “Sometimes that is problematic for some people, like they don’t leave their house or they don’t meet new people. I think that a community like this is a good thing… it gets you out of your house.”

Jennie Charles, a retired woman sitting across from Barnum doing needlepoint, agreed that the circle persuades people to leave their homes.

Charles found out about the knitting circle in an advertisement in a newspaper. Monday was her first time coming, though she said she would have joined earlier had she known about the meeting.

“Even though it is cold, it is better than staying home and watching television,” Charles said.

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