BOONE — A group of local fabric artists gathered at the Boone Greenway to knit and chat on June 13 for World Wide Knit in Public Day.
The observance started in 2005 to give a space for knitters to come together and enjoy each other’s company, according to World Wide Knit in Public Day organizers. The first year hosted about 25 registered events around the world, and in 2019 grew to 440 registered events in 33 countries. Two local women decided to host the first local gathering for the observance, and asked attendees from several local groups to gather for the Watauga Knits in Public event.
Jean-Marie Martinac and Vicki Skywark invited participants in both the local Yarn Circle and Blue Ridge Fiber Guild groups. Skywark also raffled off a cowl she had hand knitted, with proceeds benefitting the Equal Justice Initiative.
While the observance’s title targets knitting, Martinac said all fiber arts were welcomed — such as crocheting, needle felting, spinning, weaving, macrame, tatting and quilting. The group met outdoors and allowed for social distancing to adhere to guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Martinac has crocheted since childhood, and picked up knitting about a year and a half ago by taking classes at Unwound Yarn shop in Blowing Rock — owned by Colleen Taber. She also started to meet with other fabric artists at the Blue Ridge ArtSpace in Boone in the Yarn Circle group — which is free and open to the public. Martinac said the group’s members are eager to help and teach people.
Typically Yarn Circle meets from noon to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays, and Blue Ridge Fiber Guild hosts regular meetings for its group. Neither have been able to regularly meet in person since the start of the pandemic, but Martinac said some have met a few times via Zoom. She added that knitting and other fabric arts can be enjoyed alone, but can also provide social time with others to feel productive and creative.
“(Knitting) mandates that you unplug. Your hands are busy. You have to put your phone down,” Martinac said. “It takes you to a place where you can sit and be quiet if you just want to relax. It’s great therapy for people who want to take their mind off of things.”