WALDOBORO—There will be no tea and scones for the ladies who knit one purl two. For the last month, an informal group of knitters and crocheters have been meeting in the comfortable taproom of Odd Alewives Brewery in Waldoboro every Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m.
Calling themselves “Unraveled,” a half dozen women of various ages and backgrounds place their yarn and knitting projects on the long farm table at the Waldoboro brewery, while a couple of their husbands pull up a chair and chat. Soon, a few more knitters arrive with cheese and crackers or fresh strawberries. There are new people to the group each week, but Unraveled welcomes anyone with a craft or a project.
The first order of business is to grab a beer—one of several farmhouse ales, Saisons or light small batch brews currently offered for the summer.
Husband-and-wife team Sarah and John McNeil can be found in the taproom, hanging out and willing to talk about their newest small batch brews largely made from ingredients from their own farm.
It’s no secret that Maine’s craft breweries have taken the state by storm, with Portland now considered the top city in the world for craft beer by the website Matador Network. And what “Big Beer” corporations such as Budweiser and Anheuser-Busch are seeing is a shift on how people are drinking and socializing. Many taprooms, such as Odd Alewives, offer a rustic, non-fussy space for people with similar hobbies to gather with no fancy set up or clean up. They are the new coffee house in that regard, the “third place” outside the home and office, revitalizing neighborhoods and fostering tighter communities. There are runners’ clubs who run from taproom to taproom; knitters and crafters who meet up; work mates who want an informal boardroom; and a place for strangers to bond over nightly trivia and board and card games.
Amanda McNelly owner of Long Winter Farm in Waldoboro, initially started the small group roughly a month ago with two online friends, but found their first meeting spot choice, a Midcoast bakery, too distracting. So, she asked Sarah McNeil if it would be okay to meet weekly at the brewery instead. McNeil not only said yes, but joins the group with her own knitting project.
Susan Kellan, a writer, likes to come to the taproom each week for the camaraderie as she works on an asymmetrical scarf. “I tend to really focus on what I’m working on,” she said. “Normally, I knit in the early in the morning listening to NPR, but I just really like getting a beer and knitting socially here.”
Fiber artist Rachel Jones, owner of On The Round, which sells uniquely dyed fiber and yarn in Maine, said, “For me, I’ve got three kids, and this is a way to just get away for a bit in a fun environment and have some time with people who like what I like.” Working with speckled yarn she dyed herself, she chatted with everyone, taking a sip when her hands weren’t occupied with her knitting needles.
Another woman who goes by the moniker, Crystal from Bristol, is an artist and crocheter and uses Tunisian crochet hook technique, which is considered to be a mixture of crocheting and knitting. Having learned to crochet from her grandmother from the age of five, she has been crocheting all of her life. She didn’t know anyone in the group when she first started coming to the taproom, but now feels right at home.
“We just do what what we do and put it out there to the world, we’re a welcoming group if you ever want to drop by,” said Jones.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org