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Friendship and charity draw knitters, crocheters to weekly group

by Carrie Steinweg

LANSING, Ill. (January 6, 2019) – If you thought knitting circles were a thing of the past, you need to stop by the Lansing Public Library when the Purls of Wisdom group gets together. Organized by a former library employee, the group has gathered weekly for years to share a common interest and teach skills to newcomers. Besides the fellowship, the group also has aimed to create items that would be useful to others—scarves for the homeless and caps for newborn babies.

“We’re still here doing our thing,” says Nancy Wojcik as she works on a knitting project at the Lansing Public Library. She is one of the members of the Purls of Wisdom knitting group that meets there weekly. (Photo: Carrie Steinweg)
The library employee who oversaw the group for so long has since retired, but the group has continued, according to member Nancy Wojcik. “It’s been going on for years and was run by someone on staff at the library who would teach new people who wanted to learn,” she said. “After she retired, the ladies who were left just kept coming. We’re still here doing our thing.”

The fun of giving

The group has decreased in size over the years, so they aren’t able to participate in some of the projects they once did, like a giving tree that was put up each year with handmade gloves, hats, and scarves for those in need. They do, however, donate baby blankets and hats that are made on a volunteer basis by members.

Lois Lessner holds a sleep sack and baby cap that she knitted. Members of the Purls of Wisdom knitting group create handmade items for newborns that are donated to Franciscan Health Olympia Fields. (Photo: Carrie Steinweg)
“The hats and blankets used to go to St. James Hospital, but now we give them to Franciscan Hospital in Olympia Fields,” said Wojcik, who makes sure that the items get to the hospital staff. This past fall, some members of the group made purple baby caps as part of a nationwide project to promote awareness of Shaken Baby Syndrome. Wojcik said that members enjoy having the opportunity to use their skills to make items to go to new families.

Another recent project the group participated in was making fingerless gloves that were sold at library concerts to raise money for the Friends of the Library.

The camaraderie is what keeps members like Wojcik coming back. She has been part of the group since 2007 when she retired and had more time for her hobby. “The group has evolved, and we keep it going for the handful of people who are interested in attending and making baby items,” she said.

New members welcome

The group meets weekly, but the day of the week rotates—one week they meet on Wednesday and then the next week they meet on Friday, from 10:00am until noon. On Fridays, there are typically about a dozen knitters there. On Wednesdays, it’s usually about four. The next meeting date will be Friday, January 11.

“Everybody is welcome, and it’s kind of like show and tell,” said Wojcik. “You get together and have a common interest, and it’s a good time.” Both knitters and crocheters are part of the group, and if someone wants to learn how to do either, the regulars are happy to give pointers.

Even those who have been at it for a long time still work from patterns, said Wojcik. For newbies, she recommends finding a simple pattern to start with—maybe a scarf for knitting or a dishcloth for crocheting.

The Purls of Wisdom group doesn’t have a Facebook page or a website. Those who are interested are encouraged to show up on a scheduled meeting date and meet the group. Dates are posted on the library’s calendar of events.


Carrie Steinweg
Carrie Steinweg
Carrie Steinweg is a freelance writer, photographer, author, and food and travel blogger who has lived in Lansing for 27 years. She most enjoys writing about food, people, history, and baseball. Her favorite Lansing Journal articles that she has written are: "Lan Oak Lanes attracts film crew," "Why Millennials are choosing Lansing," "Curtis Granderson returns home to give back," "The Cubs, the World Series, fandom, and family," and "Lansing's One Trick Pony Brewery: a craft beer oasis."