Dublin online knitting group helps craft connections across the country

  • A collection of items knitted by Nancy Cayford of Dublin over her many years with the hobby. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Nancy Cayford of Dublin knits a scarf while leading her Zoom knitting group on Friday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Nancy Cayford of Dublin chats with her virtual knitting group on Friday, from her home. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Nancy Cayford of Dublin leads a knitting group through the Dublin Community Center, currently being held virtually. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Nancy Cayford of Dublin knits a scarf while chatting with her virtual knitting group, women who are located across the United States and even internationally. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/19/2021 10:39:01 AM

Nancy Cayford sits on a single stool in front of her laptop at her home in Dublin. Her kitchen is empty, but she’s not alone. On the screen come popping in Zoom boxes, filled with the faces of her knitting group.

The group meets every Friday for “Knitting with Nancy,” a program through Dublin Community Center. Originally, the group was meeting in person – and they hope to eventually get back to that – but during the pandemic, the crafters agreed they should keep it going, if only virtually.

It became an important piece of human interaction during that time, and it’s a group that wouldn’t ever have come together in an in-person setting, noted Cayford. Currently, among its regular members are residents of Vermont, Washington state and even an international attendee from Nepal.

“Zoom has saved me in so many ways during the pandemic,” said Katherine Gekas of Dublin, who regularly attends the group. “As someone who lives in the woods pretty happily, it’s been really nice to figure out how to connect with people and still be surrounded by trees. And also have opportunities I would’ve never had, had the online options not exploded like this.”

Susie Turner of Montpelier, Vermont, knew Cayford through her husband, and heard about her knitting group while their husbands were on a Zoom call together.

“In this time of COVID, contact with others through Zoom has been a healthy way to stay connected, and I am grateful for Nancy’s initiative,” Turner said. “This group goes beyond the obvious, though. Not only have I stayed connected, but I have met new people from a different community than my own, and a very special person from an entirely different part of the world. We share our crafts for sure, but more importantly we share our lives together from the perspective of our own cultures and communities.”

Turner’s not even a knitter, she said. Her passion is rug hooking. But she enjoys being able to do her work while speaking to these women, most of whom she’s never met in person. The steady, repetitive work of knitting – or rug hooking – is therapeutic for her, she said.

“In these difficult global times, I find the process of hooking to be both contemplative and calming. Even if I hook just one small part of linen in a day, the process of successful color selection, directionality and overall affect leaves me feeling good about the day,” Turner said. “I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, to create a little beauty every day is an elixir for tough times. I love the opportunity to share with others.”

For Gekas, she uses knitting as a way to focus and reduce anxiety, and said it’s a way to provide a mind-and-body connection while also creating something beautiful.

“Knitting helps you heal and knitting with other women is also part of that healing,” she said. “I imagine it’s similar to having a quilting group or some other group where people come together to make things.”

Gekas said it’s not just the crafting. It’s the company.

“This group of women is special — I don’t know everything about them, but I do know that we’re all trying to figure out how best to serve our communities and the people who need to be served, while still sifting through our own healing, and just daily lives, to do,” Gekas said.

Cayford had taught a knitting class at the Dublin Community Center, and was asked to come back to start a regular knitting group.

“I said, ‘Maybe I’ll just come by and knit on Friday, and see if people show up,’” Cayford said. And people did show up. The group usually works on their own projects, and uses the group mostly for socialization, Cayford said – and sometimes a form of therapy between close friends.

“When we talk about things, it’s confidential,” she said. “It’s girls’ talk.”

When the group went online, about 10 regulars followed.

“And it’s been kind of magical,” Cayford said. “We have people from all over the country. It’s a good way to support each other. We knit – it’s true, we do knit – but we have more discussions than knitting. Some have said they couldn’t have gotten through the pandemic without it.”

Cayford said the goal is to eventually return Knitting with Nancy to an in-person format. But she said because of the way the group has evolved, even when it’s in person again, she hopes to still allow those people who have joined from far away to keep part of the conversation, through the Dublin Community Center’s display television. Those who could come in person, would, but it would allow those out-of-staters who have become an integral part of the group to remain.

Cayford encouraged people who are looking for companionship while they knit or work on other handcrafts to look into starting their own virtual or in-person group.

“It can really serve a great purpose,” Cayford said.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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