Every Thursday, a large circle of friends gathers in the library in The Village of Tansley Woods. Knitting needles and crochet hooks clack away quietly as the friends chat, discussing every aspect of life imaginable. Some of the ladies call the village home, but most of them are connected through a loved one that either lives there or once did.
The village is their connection; they can’t imagine not being part of it, and what started as a knitting circle has grown to become so much more. Yes, they still create hundreds of items to donate or sell in the Christmas bazaar, which this year helped to raise more than $22,000 for residents, but beyond that, there is the value of coming together with likeminded people who, through shared experience, act as a de facto support group. They’ve been or still are caregivers and for those who’ve lost their loved ones, they simply can’t imagine losing the connection to the village as well.
“It’s hard to give that up,” says Eleanor, whose mother moved into the long-term care side of the village when it first opened. “You come for eight or almost nine years and suddenly, that part of your life is gone. You do get attached to other people in the home and make friendships.”
Her friend Lynn explains how after her father passed away, the team members she’d grown so close with helped support her in her grief.
“It really is like a family when you come here,” another knitter offers, and 12 heads around the circle nod in agreement.
Rena moved to the village with her husband, who she says was one of the healthiest older gentlemen she’d ever known – he was as fit as any man half his age. His sudden death not long after the move was a shock to everyone, and Rena says it was the community that helped get her through that most difficult of times. The knitting circle became part of that community, though she admits that when the idea first came up of joining, she sloughed it off. “I’m not going to be one of them,” she said to herself, “but this amazed me when I first came.”
Now she wouldn’t miss a Thursday.
As the group of ladies continues to share their thoughts with a writer of no particular knitting skill, a new resident of but a few days, along with her daughter, venture into the library, curious to know the source of the laughter and chatter.
Two spaces in the circle open up and they’re welcomed immediately, while a few of the knitters offer a quick synopsis of the group’s purpose and benefits. The knitting needles keep clacking away as the conversation moves forward, and a new member of the circle will join the group next week.
That instant connection is perhaps the best thing a knitting circle of friends could ever create.