Interested in acquiring a hobby that is useful, fun and social? Consider picking up a pair of knitting needles and yarn this month. Free knitting classes are being offered at the First United Methodist Church (121 N. George St.) in Wesley Hall on Nov. 7 and Nov. 21 from 6-8 p.m. All Millersville University students are invited to attend a class, where they will be given a pair of free knitting needles and yarn.
Inexperienced students and community members are welcome to join the group, which ranges from ages 22 to 78. Instructors will lead the group in a hands-on session to teach the knitting basics, but students should sign up first by texting or calling 717-723-8070. Soup and soda will be provided at the class, which regularly meets twice a month at the church on the first and third Thursday of every month.
MU Senior Bri Piccari likes to knit with the group as a way to unwind when she isn’t attending art classes or studying.
“It’s a wonderful break in the week to just relax and knit. It’s a really calm atmosphere and everyone is super supportive and encouraging,” she said.
Shelby Foster of the Grace United Methodist Church started the knitting group when her father, who was suffering from brain cancer, was given a knitted prayer shawl from his church. Although originally declaring that the shawl “was for women,” he eventually turned to it for comfort and was never seen without it.
Foster realized the power behind the prayer shawl, which led to her role in the formation of the Grace Cancer Care Ministry, which supports families suffering from cancer in the Penn Manor community. The group helps people with daily tasks, whether they need their dog taken care of or their leaves raked; and of course, every family receives a prayer shawl. Prayer shawls are made to be draped across the shoulders, and are created with three stiches, which are symbolic of the trinity. The prayer shawls are special because each one is prayed over as it is being knitted. When recipients of a prayer shawl hear this they are comforted, which makes all the hard work worthwhile, said Foster.
Although the group usually makes prayer shawls or prayer pads that fit under soldier’s helmets, anyone can make anything.
“Knitting is a cheap hobby and is something that you can learn to do for someone else. If you wanted, you can knit a scarf for someone for Christmas,” Foster said. Although Foster hopes that some individuals will be interested in making a prayer shawl, they are encouraged to make whatever they want.
Ultimately, Foster hopes that people choose to come for a fun learning experience with others.
“It opens up a fun two hours with no stress and a great group of people. I love the intergenerational development that takes place. We even have a man that knits with us.”