On Tuesday nights, the private room toward the back of Pageturners Lounge at 50th and Dodge Streets is reserved.
It’s reserved for a group of women who belong to a loosely organized group called Crafternoon Delight. They gather at 7:30 p.m. with their knitting, crocheting and embroidery to catch up both on their projects and on the events in group members’ lives.
They share tips, compare projects and offer assistance if someone gets stuck.
“It’s easier to ask someone than to look it up on YouTube,” said the group’s founder, Shauna Daly, who was in the midst of knitting a navy cowl Tuesday evening.
Daly, 32, founded Crafternoon Delight last summer, shortly after she moved back to Omaha after attending the Montessori Institute Northwest in Portland, and later living in Lawrence, Kan. She learned to knit in Portland, where she often knitted with friends. In Lawrence, she belonged to a group that met weekly at a coffeeshop and bar. Knitting became a social endeavor, and after she moved home, she wanted to keep it that way.
Crafternoon Delight first met at Krug Park in Benson on Sunday afternoons. Tuesdays worked better, so they moved the weekly gathering to Pageturners shortly after the bar opened last fall. The back room, with its padded bench seats and huge coffee table, was perfect save for one detail — it had no lamp. Daly schlepped one to and from the bar each week, until one of the bartenders told her she could leave it there. She did.
Crafternoon Delight has more than 50 members, but usually around half a dozen attend the craft nights on any given week. Daly attends every week, but many women — like Anna Wilcoxon, 34, who last Tuesday was attending for the first time in a month — pop in and out, depending on their schedules and whether they’re working on anything. On Tuesday, Wilcoxon was knitting a sock.
Like Daly, Wilcoxon learned to knit from friends, and it’s something she’s always done as part of a group.
Knitters encourage each other, she said. And she thinks it’s more fun to show her progress to her crafty friends — they understand how much work goes into each sock or scarf, and they appreciate tricky stitches and challenging patterns.
Gina Mogis, 38, who was embroidering tea towels Tuesday evening, said the dedicated crafting time reminded her of a time when women got together to do work on quilts or do their mending.
“That’s when they had time to gossip or catch up,” she said. “It’s kind of a throwback to us.”
Mogis learned the basics of embroidery from her grandmother more than 20 years ago. Her first projects were from little kits purchased from a five-and-dime store that included fabric, embroidery floss and instructions.
She kept it up, even as the kits became harder to find. Eventually, embroidery floss and hoops became elusive, too. When Mogis was living on the West Coast nearly a decade ago, her mother would mail her embroidery supplies from Midwest craft stores, where they weren’t quite so rare.
But embroidery is enjoying a resurgence, Mogis said, just as knitting did 10 years ago. She credits craft sharing websites like Etsy and Pinterest, which often feature embroidered tea towels, aprons and pillowcases, for reviving the hobby. Iron-on patterns — once nearly impossible to find — abound online.
“All of a sudden, it got really, really popular,” she said.
Crafting in a bar isn’t without its perils. Bars are dark, even with Daly’s lamp brightening up the crafters’ corner at Pageturners. And drinking and knitting can be a dangerous combination, Wilcoxon said.
“I’ve definitely had drunk knitting mishaps,” she said.
Daly said she had purposefully left a complicated afghan she was knitting at home to avoid that very thing. Many of Crafternoon Delight’s members purposefully stick to easy things during the weekly gathering, she said.
But just as in the days of quilting bees and mending circles, it’s good to meet with other women, have a few drinks and leave with a few rows of knitting to show for it — or perhaps even a new stitch in their knitting arsenal.
“It’s awesome to learn a skill like that with your friends,” Wilcoxon said.