CLEVELAND — The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many of our daily routines and made many wary of indoor gatherings like gym classes or book clubs. What's left for some is a feeling of isolation and longing for a sense of community, but one local group of knitters didn't let that stop them, so they came up with a way to connect.
For the last nine years, the Rice Branch Knitting Club has met every Monday night inside Cleveland Public Library's Rice branch—sharing tips on knitting, crocheting, and stitching new relationships.
"Anytime I come in it's a warm welcome. Before COVID, you know, warm hugs and greeting, things like that,” said Ashley Evans, a new member of the club.
"It gets me together with other people that like to do the same thing and I haven't met a knitter I didn't like,” said Elfriede Heaney, a member of the club.
When the Rice branch closed because of the pandemic, founding member Eleanor Bergholz said they first tried to keep the meetings going online.
"A month or two went by and then I'm like well maybe we should try ZOOM, and I had no idea how to do ZOOM,” said Bergholz.
She says most of the other members didn't know how to use it either so the idea quickly fizzled. But as the weather got warmer, they came up with another plan.
“It seemed like, my goodness, why not meet outside? And somebody had the idea like there's a beautiful tree at the library and why don't we just try to meet here,” said Berholz. "For the beginning, it was just like staying in your house. But then you get like where are my people where are my friends where are the people I associate with and this seemed to be such a good solution.”
Every Monday for the last six weeks or so, they've sat outside in a socially distanced group.
"I'm more of a just like this face-to-face type of person,” said Anthony, a member of the knitting group.
"People are much more relaxed and actually much more talkative,” said Bergholz.
The members say even though the circumstances aren't ideal, what matters is being together.
"These are my people. What do you mean my friends? You know how you have your people? These are my people,” said Bergholz.
The Rice Branch Knitting Club meets every Monday at 5 p.m. outside CPL’s Rice branch on Shaker Boulevard.
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