Courtesy of Amanda Meltsner
Last week, Amanda Meltsner realized her friends seemed to have a lot of time on their hands. Meltsner, who was recently laid off from “all three” of her jobs, understood the feeling — but she also knew a good way to ride out long days of social distancing.
Meltsner is a knitter, and during non-pandemic times, she and a friend run a monthly crafting group called Queen City Fiber Night at Three Needs Tap Room & Pizza Cube
in Burlington. Gathering in person to chat, drink and stitch isn’t an option right now. But Meltsner had a bunch of donated yarn from previous fiber nights stored in her house. So she posted in a few public Facebook groups asking if anyone in Burlington wanted a knitting kit delivered to their front door.
The response was immediate and enthusiastic. Meltsner said last week that around 20 people had requested yarn and needles, and several others had offered to donate to offset the costs of needles, which Meltsner bought at Michael’s.
“It’s kind of turned into something bigger than I thought,” Meltsner said.
She loaded up paper bags of supplies and delivered them around the city, being as careful as she could to keep everything clean. A friend ordered more needles online, and Meltsner plans to keep making kits as long as she has supplies.
Courtesy of Amanda Meltsner
A learn-to-knit kit, delivered.
Knitting, Meltsner explained, “is really mentally soothing. It makes your brain focus on one thing and sort of shut off for a minute." She added, "I feel like I’m getting something tangible out of it, even though I’m just sitting.”
She isn’t the only one feeling the urge to take up a pair of needles. Kelly Otty, co-owner of Must Love Yarn, a shop in Shelburne, said she’s seen an uptick in online sales. The hand-knitted sign on the shop’s front door is currently turned to "Closed," but Must Love Yarn is offering free delivery of web orders.
“Our mailbox is stuffed right now,” Otty said last week. The store’s patrons range from local Waldorf school students, where knitting is part of the elementary school curriculum, to knitters in their nineties.
“Knitting can be calming,” Otty said. “It kind of grounds you and centers you.”
Kelly Otty at Must Love Yarn before the shop closed.
Otty has taught private lessons for years and said she’s looking into offering those services online, too. Even longtime knitters can get stuck in a project and need to consult with an expert — although offering advice via webcam will be “a unique challenge,” Otty acknowledged.
She said Must Love Yarn has more than 4,500 followers of its video podcast
, in which Otty and another shop co-owner, Angela Zaikowski, knit and talk about all things fiber. The owners also plan to start virtual knitting groups in the coming weeks.
Meltsner, too, wants to offer virtual guidance to anyone eager to dive into the fiber arts. She and a friend are putting together a list of online resources for beginners. Anyone interested can email email@example.com
. Luckily, Meltsner said, the knitting and crocheting community is ahead of the game in terms of online resources.
“YouTube is the greatest invention for crafters,” she said.