By ELIZABETH OGUSS
You don’t have to be a knitter to join the Montclair Knitting Circle. You can bring your embroidery, your needlepoint, or even your patchwork piecing, to the Edgemont Park House on Tuesday mornings and you’ll be welcomed to the circle because it enlarges to accommodate as many people as join it.
On a rainy winter Tuesday, 15 women sat in comfy chairs working on a variety of projects — socks, leggings, blankets, sweaters, caps, cat mats — in yarns of many colors. Outdoors, raindrops created patterns on the pond; indoors, the patterns were created in wool.
The group began in May 2016 at the home of longtime Montclair resident Mary Krugman, who says she posted to the Montclair Watercooler Connections on Facebook, “Would anyone like to knit with me?”
Six knitters said yes, and that night at Krugman’s house, they named themselves the Montclair Knitting Circle. They started a Facebook page that very night and by evening’s end, 30 people had joined the group, says Barbara Rudy, a Knitting Circle regular.
Now, 100 knitters share their knitting accomplishments, and snags, to the page, along with project ideas and knitting-related cartoons and memes, says Rudy.
Interest is high enough that the Knitting Circle announced on Facebook earlier this week that to accommodate demand, there will be a session on on Wednesdays from 1 to 3 p.m., at the Edgemont Park House, in addition to the Tuesday morning gathering.
Krugman says the group is “amazing. They are all ages, all colors, all nationalities, They’re Asians, longtime Montclair residents, black and white, all over the spectrum.”
Beginners are warmly welcomed and do not lack for experienced and willing teachers. Knitters work on their own projects, but pause to help one another with tricky things like sock toes.
When not helping one another, they talk about children, pets, “all that stuff people talk about when knitting,” says Krugman, but not politics, as a rule. Though some members of the Montclair Knitting Circle knitted pink pussy hats for people taking part in the Jan. 21 Women’s March, not everyone in the group subscribed to the march idea, said Rudy. But a shared love of yarn unifies the group.
Linda Tate, an administrative assistant in the municipal Health and Human Services Department, staffs the desk at Edgemont Park House, which hosts many activities of the township’s programs for seniors. As she worked on a baby blanket for a grandchild-to-be, she and Veronica Hunter, a West Orange resident, practiced the purl stitch with the help of another woman.
A knitter who didn’t want to be identified so as to keep a secret was almost hidden under the big woolly blanket she’s knitting for her son and his fiancée. Another shared photos of hats she’d knitted for her children.
The help these women extend one another reaches beyond the circle to many charitable efforts. A sale of their candy-corn caps raised $500 for Toni’s Kitchen at the Harvest Festival in Edgemont Park last October. They’ve donated cat mats to a Purrfect World, a nonprofit that helps animal shelters. And they’re knitting caps that they place in boxes at Toni’s Kitchen, the Human Needs Food Pantry, the Salvation Army, and at the Senior Services office in the Municipal Building. Anyone who needs a warm cap may take one.