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I didn't attend every meeting, but it was always comforting to know I could join fellow members of the Detroit Knitting and Crochet Club (DKCC) whenever I felt the need to connect with other yarn enthusiasts. The monthly get-togethers were always held inside the main branch of the Detroit Public Library, one of the most captivating buildings in the city's historic cultural district.

However, since COVID-19 came onto the scene, disrupting life as we knew it, there are no longer in-person meetings, nor the fun activities we shared. Members have been robbed of being able to come together for an afternoon filled with stitching, learning, sharing ideas, laughter, giveaways and so much more.

Activities included demonstrations, anniversary celebrations highlighted with a fashion show that featured members modeling their finished garments and accessories, and stitching along the Detroit Riverfront, an annual event organized by member Gregg Burrell of Highland Park as their way of participating in World Wide Knit in Public Day. 

In recent months, the in-person gatherings and activities have been replaced with Zoom meetings, and so far "it's going surprisingly well," said Leigh Mosley Bloodworth, founder and organizer of the club, which she started nearly eight years ago at a coffee shop on Woodward, that has since closed. There are now over 1200 members (that's right!), including some from Canada. About 50 would show up for the meetings, and there were always several who came for the first time and joined.

"We've been (Zoom) meeting every two weeks, and I find people have adapted well. Some are using the option to call in on the telephone where you can listen and talk," added Mosley Bloodworth.

However, there's nothing like "interact(ing) in-person" with members. "Zoom is fine," she said, "but it's just a completely different experience. It's easier to teach people in-person. One of the missions of the club is to teach. We've taught well-over 300 people how to knit and crochet. We started a YouTube channel about two months ago with information on how to crochet a mask. I want to do one on how to knit a mask, and how to crochet and knit for beginners to help fill gaps because we're not meeting in-person."

Crocheter and sometimes knitter Maureen Carter of Grosse Pointe Woods, who joined DKCC about two years ago after reading about it here, misses the close contact with other members. "You could sit right next to someone and show them something, or have them show you," she said. Since the pandemic, she's been busy "crocheting little yarn bombs" (colorful knitted or crocheted pieces displayed in public) for in front of the house of some kids who live in her area to help celebrate their birthday. 

Detroiter Audrey Chatman joined the group seven years ago because she wanted something to do with others who shared her interests. "I already knew how to crochet. I had been crocheting for many years before I knew about them, but I wanted to meet people with the same interests," she said.

Although she prefers to meet in person, she likes the convenience of the Zoom meetings. She spends much of her time crocheting blankets throughout the year which she donates to Children's Hospital during the Christmas holiday. She also crochets mittens for Mittens for Detroit, and since joining DKCC, she's learning how to machine knit.

Mosley Bloodworth is "very hopeful" the group will some day be able to meet again in-person, which is why she's making efforts to keep everyone in-touch in the meantime. And, staying connected has also proven to help some deal with the negative emotions brought on by the pandemic -- feelings of separation, loneliness, hopelessness, etc.

She said, "People have told me, 'I was down and then we had our (Zoom) meeting.' So, I think it (staying connected) helps people cope during these times." 

Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, jbrown@detroitnews.com or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.

Contact the Detroit Knitting and Crochet Club at: https://www.meetup.com/Detroit-Knitting-and-Crochet-Club/.

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