Knot Your Grandmother’s Crochet - Meet Summer Cromartie!

I don’t know about you, but I have some pretty neat friends.

One of my favorites is Marianne the librarianne (her joke, not mine) who used to work at the library across the street from me. At first I would just see her at kids’ story time, the information desk, and book club, but then we started hanging out outside of just “work”. She knows I love to crochet and asked me about a year ago if I would be interested in teaching a monthly crochet class. Does a bear knit in the woods?? Absolutely! 

What she may not have known is that I’ve been trying to find a way to get more involved in my community and get to know people that I wouldn’t ordinarily meet or hang out with. My area is pretty diverse with a large population of Hindu and Muslim folks who work, eat, and play here. There is a mosque two lights up from our house, and there is quite actually an Indian restaurant on every corner. I love all of it so much! I wanted a way to get to know people that was fairly natural without limiting myself to just my street and without joining with activities that already existed. I wanted something new! I didn’t want to start a charity or do service projects; I wanted to do something I would be good at and enjoy. Growing up in church, I always thought that serving others almost had to be something you didn’t want to do. It didn’t count unless it was a sacrifice, right? So this idea was perfect: I already want to crochet all the time and meet new people in my city, and this combined them both! 

We started in August of last year, and it took us a while to get a consistent group of people who would come back each time. Over the next few months, people would gradually return, and then they asked to meet twice a month! Something that has been tricky is keeping the class basic enough for newcomers to show up and jump right in without having the returning students get bored with basics. So far so great though!

A few ladies said the semi-monthly classes just weren’t enough time together, so we’ve been meeting at my house at the end of each month to just crochet and chat. It’s much more relaxed than the classroom setting, and they even bring their kids to play with my kids, which has been sweet. It’s great to see what topics come up over string and snacks, and last month, one of the ladies brought a traditional Indian dessert because it was her wedding anniversary! What?? It was so flaky and almondy/pistachioey, and everyone loved it!

A little more than half the class are women from India, and almost everyone who comes lives close to the library. One woman who comes is from Cameroon, and I met her at the park across the street from me! I was there with my youngest son, and I saw her crocheting a blanket while sitting on the bench. Why hello, new best friend! Another girl I met while shopping for yarn; she asked me what I was making, and we got to chatting about all sorts of things. 20 minutes later, I had given her the information for the class, and she’s been a joy to get to know. A couple of the girls that come are friends of mine from outside our city (and they knit! <gasp!>), but yarn happily unites us all. It’s also been nice to chat with some of the women outside of class through e-mail, texting, or seeing them at the park or grocery store!

Over the past month we’ve made about 18 hats to donate to the local NICU! My hope is for us to also make larger hats and scarves to donate to the homeless population in Baltimore. I have a friend who gathers items every fall/winter, so it would be great if we could give her even more to send. Our group has so many possibilities with our relationships with one another, how much we can learn together, and how we can even give to those outside our little group. 

When I thought of how I could serve my community and get to know the people that bear God’s image, I never dreamed it would be this perfect. God wires us to have a variety of strengths and loves, and there’s nothing that he asks for that he didn’t create. I have decided in my heart that this is what I want to give; it’s not reluctantly or under compulsion. God has truly made me into a cheerful giver, and I’m so grateful I get to do all of this with women so close to my home.

I don’t know about you, but I have some pretty neat friends.

Summer Cromartie, Missional Practitioner