Every weeknight evening in the foyer of the James Buchanan apartment complex at Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, a dozen or so individuals gather to loom knit. Known as the Masonic Village Loving Loomers, the group began meeting together two years ago after two women discovered a common interest in loom knitting and helping others. They began meeting casually in the library to create hats to donate for local, national, and international needs.
As more people noticed what the women were doing and wanted to take part, they decided to move their nightly meetings to the roomier foyer to accommodate the growing group. "It's friendship, getting together and laughing, and it's a wonderful social outlet to do something good for someone else," said Mary Jean Risser, who helped to establish the club.
Not everyone attends every night, but there is always a group knitting together for about an hour - give or take. "We are a very close-knit group," said Betty Deibert with a laugh. Club members Donald and Emma Hoover have taken on the role of providing a bit of entertainment for the knitters, whether that be a song or a brief reading to open their time together.
Other members of the group include Ann Colangelo, Dianna Taggart, Lynne Brenneman, Joan Firth, Dee Molinari, Twila Shreffler, Jean Saam, Millie Jamison, Lilly Campbell, Edna Sloan, Chris Hornberger, Carolyn Matthews, and Wanda Roth.
In the two years that the Loving Loomers have been gathering, they have made a total of 1,759 hats - and counting - that have been donated to folks in need including babies, cancer patients, and school children. The Loving Loomers also donate items to Elizabethtown Community Housing and Outreach Services (ECHOS), a not-for-profit social service agency that supports individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness or are in need of services in the Elizabethtown, Rheems, Bainbridge, Mount Joy, Marietta, and Maytown area. In 2018, the Loving Loomers were recognized for their volunteer efforts by Lancaster General Health - Penn Medicine.
All of the yarn that the Masonic Village Loving Loomers use is donated, and each member of the group provides his or her own loom to use to create hats. Looms of various sizes are used, depending on whether the hats are for babies or adults. Some members work on scarves, quilts, and other projects at the meetings as well. The time that it takes to complete a single hat can vary based on a person's level of experience and the complexity of the chosen design, explained Deibert, who joined the club after noticing and becoming intrigued by the members' regular meetings.
"I like the friendship and caring and the camaraderie," shared Deibert. "It's a family, really."
The Loving Loomers is one of the many resident-organized clubs on the campus of Masonic Village. To learn more about Masonic Village, readers may visit https://masonicvillages.org.