World Wide Knit in Public Day (WWKIP Day) is June 10 (Yippee!), and to celebrate, Gregg Burrell of Highland Park will combine her love of crocheting and the Detroit Riverfront, and you’re invited to join her for a free and exciting afternoon of stitching from noon-4 p.m. Just grab your crocheting or knitting bag, a lawn chair and a packaged lunch, and head on down to Atwater at Rivard, just east of the Renaissance Center, for “Detroit Knit and Crochet on the River.”
The crocheting enthusiast fell in love with the Riverfront last summer when her church (Scott Memorial United Methodist Church) paid a visit to the redeveloped site, which has become one of Detroit’s main attractions for tourists and locals.
“I was down there with my church last summer,” Burrell said. “They do a day once a year just to walk the river walk, and of course, I had my crocheting with me, so instead of walking the river walk, I just sat there and crocheted. It was peaceful. I really enjoy the river walk for the scenery. It’s just beautiful down there. And, the way they’ve fixed it up and made it such a showplace — I think it should be enjoyed by everyone.”
Burrell, who’ll be joined by fellow members of the Detroit Knitting and Crochet Club (DKCC), is delighted at “the interest other people show in the craft” whenever she crochets in public. She said, “A lot of times someone will tell me, ‘Oh, I remember my grandmother use to do that.’ It brings back fond memories for a lot of people. I take my crocheting with me to make the time past, so when I’m in a situation where you’re going to wait — like at the doctor’s office, the hair salon, or waiting for my mother at church — it’s a good way not to just watch the clock.”
The talented crocheter (whose well-crafted work I’ve seen often at DKCC meetings) spends roughly four hours a day working on one of the four or five projects she usually has in the making — things like shawls, afghans, scarves, hats, vests, bags, potholders and baskets. She sometimes sells them at local craft shows.
Burrell, 50, doesn’t recall how she learned to crochet, but said her mother (Cheryl Alston, a 2012 Kresge Fellow), says she taught her when she was about 12, but she gave it up until a few years ago.
“About six or seven years ago at church, they were requesting people to donate lap blankets for the nursing home that we have a relationship with, and it piqued my interest to see if I could still do it, so that I could contribute to it,” she said. “So, I asked my co-worker if she could help me see if I remembered what to do, and she brought me a crochet hook and yarn. It came back! It was like riding a bike!”
Burrell invites men and children to attend her event, and in case you forget to pack a lunch, concession stands will be available, along with ample parking.
Celebrate with Knit Sew Fabulous
If Saturday afternoon is your time to shop for fruits and vegetables, no need to worry. You can still be part of WWKIP Day. Just stop by historic Eastern Market for the “WWKIP Day Celebration With Knit Sew Fabulous,” where you can sit, knit and/or crochet with Grosse Pointe Park resident Lynette Halalay of Knit Sew Fabulous, and get your shop on — all in one location.
Look for the multitalented fiber artist with gorgeous silver hair beneath a white tent, near the gazebo, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and don’t forget to take your lawn chair to this free, kid-friendly event.
Halalay, 56, who learned to knit and crochet at the hands of her mom, said what she enjoys most about knitting and crocheting in public is the questions she gets from youngsters. She said, “I love seeing the look on the children’s faces.” She also enjoys being “able to ask other’s opinions, and tap into their knowledge of knitting and crocheting. To me, that is priceless!”
Along with being a skilled knitter, crocheter and seamstress, Halalay also spins yarn, and will have a limited quantity of her handspun wool available for sale.
Halalay, hosted a WWKIP Day event at the market in 2016, and said, this year’s event is “sure to be a good time,” as well. She invites you to “come learn a new fiber art, or just hang out and create on your own.” Highlights will include talks on knitting for charity and spinning, in addition to arm-knitting demonstrations.
The Eastern Market is on Russell, between Gratiot and Mack, near downtown Detroit.
World Wide Knit in Public Day was created in 2005 by Danielle Landes.
Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.
Contact Gregg Burrell at email@example.com, or on Facebook.
Contact Lynette Halalay at (248) 877-5334, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Facebook.