Sun City Needlecraft Club Keeps Art Alive With Yarn Splash

Yarn "splashes" made by Sun City Needlecraft Club members have dressed up a gazebo in Temecula.
A group of local women are hooked on keeping the art of knitting alive, one stitch at a time.

The Sun City Needlecraft Club, part of the Sun City Civic Association, has brought women together to knit and crochet articles of clothing, blankets and more for the past 50 years. The 32-member club recently completed a two-month-long Yarn Splash project that is now on display at the Sam Hicks Monument Park in Old Town Temecula.

Together they produced 164 colorful flowers with visiting butterflies and six giant American flags to decorate the park's gazebo and fence surrounding it. They also made a moon, a sun and a rainbow with clouds to hang from the roof of the gazebo.

"I hope people smile when they see it," said Inger Davidson, who joined the club three years ago.

According to club president Mary Dempsey, they decided to participate in this project when they heard the Temecula Valley Museum was looking for artists in the surrounding areas to decorate the park for the city's first ever Yarn Splash. Artists were required to knit or crochet pieces to hang or wrap around anything in the park, using yarn only.

Museum specialist Dale Wilkins said the Yarn Splash is being held in conjunction with the art festival going on in Old Town Temecula. He believes it will attract more people to the park, which is usually only occupied by wandering tourists or the homeless.

"I'm sure they'll enjoy it," he said. "It'll add a little color and make the park some place to come to."

When members of the Needlecraft Club first scouted out the location, Davidson said the homeless were very friendly and excited about their project. In return, the club decided they will repurpose and recycle their project into blankets for the homeless who hang out in the park.

This is the first time the Needlecraft Club participated in a Yarn Splash. They usually volunteer their time knitting and crocheting for various charities and organizations in nearby areas, such as SAFE Temecula, Michelle's Place, and Life Care Nursing Home. They are particularly fond of donating to veterans and to Blankets for Brianna, a nonprofit located in Menifee for mothers who give birth to stillborn or premature babies.

The women also knit and crochet for family members, friends and for themselves. It's an activity that helps them relax and makes the time go by faster. Because most of them are retired, they need projects to keep them active and motivated.

"I used to knit out of necessity," said Davidson, who was born in 1942. "Now it's more of a fun thing." At left, she displays a crocheted purse made out of plastic bags.

Davidson has made clothing all of her life. She now makes clothes for her grandchildren, and hopes to pass the art of knitting onto them.

Dempsey has also been doing this all of her life. She believes today's generation is lacking in creativity and patience, two qualities that knitting and crocheting can teach a person.

"Kids are missing out on creating something," she said. "We've lost the ability to put time in a project and understand that you don't get instant gratification."

Carol Hardin, who recently joined the club, said she's shocked at the amount of women who don't even know how to sew on a button, much less knit.

"All girls should know how to sew and knit," she said. "It will be a lost art pretty soon."

The art might be losing its appeal simply because it isn't considered "cool" to today's generation, but members of the club are discovering new and exciting trends. For example, a member recently repurposed her plastic grocery bags into a purse. She showed other members how to do it, and the entire club began crocheting their own purses and coin pouches.

"We learn from each other every time we come together," said Bonnie Guilliam, who started the plastic bag project. "There's so much talent in this little-bitty town, and so much knowledge for young people."

For those who are interested in learning how to knit or crochet, the Needlecraft Club holds monthly meetings at the Sun City Library, where they teach the basics. The library is located at 26982 Cherry Hills Blvd.

The Needlecraft Club meets every Thursday from 1-4 p.m. at Civic Hall, located at 26601 Cherry Hills Blvd. Prospective members must be 55 or older and be a part of the Sun City Civic Association.

To learn more about the Sun City Needlecraft Club, contact the president at mmdempsey@aol.com or call 951-244-5830.

The club's yarn installation at Sam Hicks Monument Park is on display now through Aug. 25. The park is located at 28314 Mercedes Street in Old Town Temecula.

Inger Davidson (left) and club president Mary Dempsey display some of the pieces they made for the yarn splash. 

Wanda Hann crochets a popcorn stitch for a baby blanket during a recent club meeting.




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