Carnegie crochet class giving life to an old art form

by Bradley Hartsell

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Crochet rookie Joan Riddell, left, has fun with the challenge as class instructor Judy davenport shows her some pointers. 


Every Monday afternoon at the Newnan Carnegie Library, the crochet class meets for two hours in order to do crafts together and, better yet, enjoy a shared experience.

Nearly two years ago, the Carnegie started hosting the crochet class in the upstairs area of the library. The group started small at first, with perhaps only eight or nine participants. In the past year, the group has doubled, now nearly filling up three long tables connected like a horseshoe. Instructor Judy Davenport couldn’t be more thrilled with the enthusiasm surrounding the class.

“We have some who are crocheting for the very first time. These ladies love it. They’re picking up an old art,” said Davenport, who has been crocheting since she was a little girl and now teaches her 9- and 11-year-old granddaughters.

The group on a recent Monday sat bunched in groups, each member crocheting their own project but talking and helping others. Some were veterans at crochet who liked being around others new to the craft. Others, like Joan Riddell, were working on their first blanket.

“It’s been a challenge, to say the least,” said Riddell. “I love it, though. It’s fun.”

“She’s done beautifully,” added Davenport. Davenport is a cheerful, encouraging and hands-on instructor. Her energy is infectious to people like Sharon Jones, who has been coming to class for the past year.

“Judy is very encouraging and very supportive of anything anyone makes,” Jones said.

Jones’ grandmothers taught her how to crochet when she was little. In the passing years, Jones found herself picking up crocheting for a bit, then dropping it for 20 years, then picking it up again before dropping it again.

Since retiring, Jones connected with the class as part of her quest to stay busy.

“I’m retired, so it gives me something to do. I find I’m happier with a busier schedule,” Jones said, who was working on a fleece throw. “And this is a wonderful program, it’s been great for all of us.”

“We’re all working on something different, so you’re learning from your fellow students, too,” explained Jones. “They have an excellent variety. That’s the great thing about it.”

Jones crochets simply because she enjoys it. She, like many of the women in the class, gives her work away on a regular basis. She donates items to the library or takes them to the Angel’s House, a children’s shelter in Newnan. She took 39 throws to Angel’s House, and at least 25 went to the library for a fundraiser.

Davenport says the class soon will start working on a blanket together to give back to the library as a token of their appreciation.

“They’ve been very gracious to give us this space,” said Davenport.

While working with Riddell on a red blanket, Davenport stressed the virtues of her class representing an old art form.

“It’s good for you. It’s good for your hand/eye coordination. It’s good for your memory,” said Davenport. “We have to keep the old art alive or else it’ll be lost.”



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