2017-02-10 / Front Page

A STITCH IN TIME

Knitting Circle meets weekly
BY LAURA LEVERING
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Chief Warrant Officer 4 Felecia Shurn, with 7th Signal Command (Theater), receives knitting tips from Sheila Zimmerman, an Army spouse, while knitting a sock Jan. 21 at the Woodworth Consolidated Library. 
PHOTO BY BILL BENGTSON / FORT GORDON PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE Chief Warrant Officer 4 Felecia Shurn, with 7th Signal Command (Theater), receives knitting tips from Sheila Zimmerman, an Army spouse, while knitting a sock Jan. 21 at the Woodworth Consolidated Library. PHOTO BY BILL BENGTSON / FORT GORDON PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE The library is generally a place where people go to read books, conduct research and work in a quiet setting. It can also a place where ideas from books and experiences come to fruition. Such was the case with local library staff, Yadira Payne and Grace Smith.

Payne, Woodworth Consolidated Library director, and Smith, Education Services specialist, came together and created the Knitting Circle; a gathering of knitters with skills ranging from first-timers to some with decades of experience. The group meets at Woodworth Consolidated Library every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in a spacious room closed off from the rest of library-goers.

Wanting to better support the library’s patrons, Payne began researching ways to help alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder when she came across knitting.

“We have quite a few (Warrior Transition Unit) Soldiers that come in, and they don’t always know what to do with themselves, or some veterans that come here to listen to music and relax,” Payne said. “I’ve spoken to them, and certain things become triggers, but if they had something to keep themselves occupied, they would be able to separate themselves from that trigger.”

Payne tasked Smith, a devoted knitter, who worked over the course of a year putting together a plan, to include a curriculum for knitting. Smith hosted the first “Knitting Circle” less than two months ago. Since its inception, the group has consistently seen a mix of beginners, middle learners, and experienced knitters each week. And given the benefits, it’s no surprise. Smith would know. For her, knitting is a refuge.

“When I am nervous, I can feel the anxiety flow out of my hands and away from me,” Smith said. “When I am sad, the swishing sound of needles is comforting and reassuring. When I am angry, the stitches fly.”

Smith and Payne aren’t the only ones who find knitting beneficial. In addition to easing PTSD, Smith found multiple reports backed by scientific studies proving that knitting helps people with depression, anxiety disorders, attention deficit disorder, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s. For Cristina Gonzalez, the group came at a perfect time. Gonzalez, an Army spouse and mother of two young children, found herself feeling depressed after moving to the area. The Knitting Circle has become a way for her to relax, hone her skills, and meet new people.

“It’s nice to focus my brain on something so repetitive,” Gonzalez said. “You just kind of stop thinking for a little bit and just focus on the knitting.”

Knitting exercises the brain because it uses both sides of the brain at the same time; yet another benefit some people don’t realize.

“When you cross the needles, you’re crossing the midline of your brain, and you’re working both sides of the brain,” Smith explained. “Knitting is particularly good because of that bilateral motion that you have.”

The Knitting Circle is open to the entire adult Fort Gordon community. All abilities are encouraged to attend. If the need is present, a teen group will be started.

”Even if someone is on the edge, there is very little to lose with trying it out,” Smith said.

“Just come in, and jump in where you are, and we’ll catch you up with somebody here,” Payne added.

You can join the circle for free. Call (706) 791-0396 to learn more.

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