Students rekindle the art of knitting and crocheting on campus.

Story by Annie Renaud ’19

At 6:30 p.m. on Mondays, Adelaide Weidner ’20 and other members of Geneseo’s Stitches Club gather in the College Union, needles, yarn and project ideas in hand. 

Students of all experience levels knit and crochet while sharing stories and camaraderie with one another. At each meeting, everyone tells their names, preferred pronouns, class year and major before turning their attention to a conversation-starting question for members to ruminate over as they work. Today’s scenario? “What store would you live in during the zombie apocalypse?” 

“This helps us get to know our members and starts some fun discussion,” said Weidner, club president. 

Club members work on independent knitting or crochet projects, and the more experienced teach new members basics. Weidner often knits wash cloths for her mom. Margaux Carmel ’21 loves to make baby blankets to give as gifts. Merrin Sardi ’19 regularly crochets stuffed turtles. 

Vizma Leimanis ’22 hails from a family of crocheters. Her grandma crochets and great-grandma used to crochet. 

“I thought it would be a good opportunity,” she said, “to learn a new skill and de-stress a little bit during the week.” 

She’s in luck. 

Studies by the Harvard Medical School’s Mind and Body Institute found that knitting lowers the heart rate because repetitive pattern-making movements are calming. The pastime can lift your mood and reduce pain. Knitting may also diminish chances of developing mild memory loss as we age, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

Stitches members feel those benefits. 

“When I start knitting, it helps my brain shut off,” said Carmel, who picked up the hobby in high school. “It’s soothing when I’m upset.” 

The club also provides a good social setting for the pastime, since the craft can be solitary, Weidner said. 

Sardi was thrilled to find a community of knitters at Geneseo. “I was like ‘Wow, I’m such an old lady. I crochet.’ But it’s nice to see other people my age who crochet,” she said, “because the only other person I know who crochets outside of Geneseo is my grandmother.” 

That has been changing. 

Interest in the craft has rekindled in Europe and the United States, with online groups and in-person meet-ups. The Geneseo club often gets 15 members on Monday evenings, who also use their craft to help others. 

This year, members created poppies for veterans in Livingston County, knitted Halloween costumes for kids in a local after-school program and donated profits from sales to the American Cancer Society and the Humane Society of Livingston County. 

Seeing a finished project and helping good causes is really rewarding for Kaylan Ruiz ’19, club secretary. 

“It’s crazy to think about the start of your project and recognize that a long string of yarn has become a masterpiece that you created,” Ruiz said. “I also love that we are able to fundraise and give back to the community … This club is so much more than knitting to me. It’s more about the friends I’ve made here and the fun I’ve had.”