Bertram Rantin

July 18, 2014

RANTIN: Richland Library program sews seeds of friendship and service

Participants in Richland County Library’s Sew Divine program have been stitching patterns of friendships and service.

Somewhere, neatly tucked between the laughter and chatter of the quaint library meeting room, a little stitching is going on.

To be sure, the sea of faces at the Richland Library St. Andrews have come to share their love of knitting, sewing, scrapbooking and all things craft worthy. But the regular gatherings have become a place where not only fabrics but lifelong friendships and opportunities for service are being sown.

Thursday was the latest such stitch in time, as nearly a dozen women took their places at the table for the library’s Sew Divine program. It’s one of several such meetings held at six library locations across the county for those interested in knitting, needlework and other related crafts.

“We never start on time,” said Jane Freeman, a long-time regular of the St. Andrews group.

Even so, that didn’t stop the early arriversfrom engaging in one of their favorite pasttimes –conversation.

“We talk about everything,” Freeman explained.

“We’ll talk about you when you leave,” added Margery West, who spearheaded the St. Andrews program after the program was launched several years ago across the county.

On any given week, attendees bring along their wares and stitch, sew or knit while discussing the news of the day, family matters or one of any number of craft-related topics.

“There is always someone who knows more than you,” said Charlotte Martin, who recently joined the St. Andrews group.

Added Susan Molina, “You see people doing things that you might be interested in so you can ask questions and share what you are doing. It’s a great socializing thing for women who want to get together with others and talk.

Molina started coming to the St. Andrews group recently with her daughter, Meaghan Molina, and said the two immediately felt welcomed.

“You don’t feel awkward,” the elder Molina said, “because everybody is working on something.”

And while sharing information about particular techniques, the women also pass along tips and ideal spots for selling their prized creations.

“The common interest is the craft,” Molina said.

Another major interest many group members share is service. They’ve taken part in combined outreaches through the years that have included decorating Christmas trees for area hospice patients and making “fidget aprons” for Alzheimer’s patients.

Others like Martin have taken on individual projects. Martin regularly knits hats that she gives to cancer patients and others facing medical challenges. Another family routinely makes lap quilts for a local hospice.

Library officials report similar acts of kindness among Sew Devine gatherings.

St. Andrews branch manager Michelle Dupre, also part of the group, said as much as the gathering offers a place for sharing ideas and service, it’s just as much a place to connect.

“It’s great to have that human interaction,” she said, adding that in the smart phone culture many people just “don’t do face-to-face anymore.”

A listing of meeting times for Sew Devine and other library activities can be found at www.richlandlibrary.com/events. But Dupre said there’s no formal application process for this particular program.

Just show up.

“It really is a fabulous place to meet people,” Dupre said.

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