Community Heroes: Meet Two Kindhearted Librarians
Every third Saturday of the month San Francisco librarians Betsy Levine and Linda Watson host Get Your Knit Together at Knit Happens!—a free two-hour learn-to-knit and crochet club at the Main downtown. Patrons and volunteer teachers get busy as soon as the doors open: one hundred and one year-old Gladys is set on finishing a pair of socks for her 70 year-old son; Nyles and his brother Shawntique work on scarves, hats, and toys; Jen shows off her drop spindle by whirling out a fine lace weight from a handful of fluff; and Anna, here for the first time, masters a long-tail cast-on.
The club began over 4 years ago as a teen-only event. Betsy, on the lookout for innovative programming for her patrons, asked Knitter Catherine Dunford for help in starting a monthly knitting program. Catherine signed on even as Betsy wrote letters to local yarn shops requesting in-kind donations. A small resource budget for her department allowed the librarian to pick up discounted supplies online and at local sales.
Adult patrons called the SFPL’s exhibits and program department requesting a club of their own. Linda was game to run a second program. As the primary selector for the collection’s knitting and crochet books, she knew there was an audience for the service, even if the adult event budget was stretched to the limit.
Then Friends of the San Francisco Public Library—a non-profit support organization—stepped in with a small grant. Members of the Redwood Empire Spinners and Weavers Guild provided close to 100 pounds of yarn. Further donations arrived from the San Francisco Knitters Guild.
The teen and adult programs joined forces a year later. Fingers were crossed that the mix of ages would work. Today, attendance in the combined program is not just inter-generational and inter-gender-ational. Men and women of all ages drop in for the monthly sessions and no one leaves empty handed. An array of knitting and crochet books are available for browsing and checkout. Several open boxes of free yarn sit on the floor waiting to be used in a project. Donated needles sorted by size can be borrowed under an honor code system.
Betsy, Linda, and volunteer Catherine have each earned a Kindhearted Knitter Merit Badge. If you know a knitter doing great things in your community nominate them for a badge of their own.