Armed simply with needles and yarn, the Knitting Nook club at Franciscan University of Steubenville is a community which harbors relaxing weekend fellowship and service projects.
Katelyn Dombrowski, founder and president, was inspired to start the club when she found herself helping a few friends learn how to knit. When she saw that more and more of her friends wanted to learn the skill, she decided she should advertise it and see how much interest it would attract.
“We just wanted to have a place where we (could) teach people how to knit,” said Dombrowski. “We wanted to be able to have the supplies to offer them, like yarn and needles.”
After going through the process of becoming an official campus club, the Knitting Nook had its first semester in spring of 2019.
The Knitting Nook meets at 1 p.m. on Saturdays in the lobby of Sts. Louis and Elizabeth Hall and welcomes knitters and crocheters of all skill levels. By gathering together in the casual setting of the dorm lobby, the club is able to build a home-like community of relaxation and support.
“One of our goals as a club is to really foster community and sharing,” said Dombrowski. “We really want people to feel at home; we want to be able to share our gifts and talents with each other. … Knitting is a very prayerful, relaxing activity. It’s a very chill community where you can just show up and feel at home and get to meet new people.”
The club can be a perfect place to hang out on a Saturday afternoon, to de-stress from homework and the other pressures of college life. It can also be the perfect place for those with creative talent to use their gifts for service work.
The knitting club participates from time to time in special service projects called “knits of mercy.” In the past, they have made gifts for nursing home residents, including knitted Easter bunnies and flowers to put into Easter baskets. For another project, each person knitted or crocheted a square, and then the group sewed the squares together to create a throw blanket for the nursing home.
But the club doesn’t only make these gifts; they also take part in distributing them with the university’s Works of Mercy program.
Dombrowski said this was important for them to do as a group because they not only take time out of their day to knit the projects for people, but “we actually get to meet the people whom we knit it for and participate in the works of mercy that our campus has to offer here,” she said.
Gathering around the projects gives participants an opportunity to make friends and relax.
Dombrowski said that one focus of the club is to allow those who are skilled in knitting to share their skills with each other. But another primary focus is to provide the opportunity for people to learn how to knit.
“We’ve had a lot of new knitters,” she said, “so we’ve been focusing on teaching this semester.”
No experience is required to show up to a club meeting; members who are more experienced happily teach newcomers their skills. “We want the people who have been knitting for a long time to be able to share their wisdom with the people who are just starting out,” Dombrowski said.
Morgan Litterer, a member of the Knitting Nook, said that when she first showed up at the club, she didn’t know anything about knitting. But once she joined, she was able to learn knitting and to develop a new hobby.
Litterer said that she “enjoys practicing different stitches and the way that knitting allows for prayer.”
Supplies are made available by the club to those interested. Participants are able to borrow needles for a semester and use the yarn provided by the club, free of charge. Members have worked on projects from simple creations like headbands and scarves to more complex items including sweaters, cardigans and gloves.
This club is special for the members because they are able to form a community and work together to solve problems.
“Even though they are just knitting problems,” said Dombrowski, “we are able to solve them together.”