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Kelly Writer's House Fiber Arts Circle meets every Sunday. Credit: Max Mester

Students created the Fiber Arts Circle, a group that brings Penn’s knitters and crocheters together in the Kelly Writers House, over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Fiber Arts Circle, according to its leaders, aims to serve as a safe space where students can take a break from Penn's competitive culture. The group holds weekly two-hour meetings on Sunday nights, which is a time for members to work on their own projects and socialize, often utilizing the free resources that the Circle provides.

The Circle — which is currently led by College junior Emily Truong —  previously organized field trips to places related to the fiber arts, including Wild Hand, a small fiber arts shop in Mount Airy, Philadelphia this past semester. 

College first year Zuza Jevremovic, who joined the Circle earlier this semester, said that she has enjoyed her time in the club so far.  

“I think it’s a great way for people who want to learn fiber arts to get into it because there’s no pressure and you don’t have to bring your own materials,” Jevermovic said. “There are lots of people there who can teach you.”

During the Sunday meetings, Jevremovic focuses on crocheting stuffed animals — she highlighted the independence all the members of the Circle have during their meetings.

“You work on your own projects,” Jevermovic said. “And we all chat with each other while working.”

College of Liberal and Professional Studies student Victoria Arenas is the only graduate student in the club. She discovered the Fiber Arts Circle while previously working at KWH, and has been a member of the Circle since January 2022. 

Arenas’ focus in meetings is knitting clothes, something she said was both challenging and enjoyable and takes her mind off her school work.

“I honestly mostly picked [knitting] up to help with stress,” Arenas said. “It’s a really, really good hobby to pick up in my opinion.” 

Arenas, who is pursuing a master's degree in environmental studies, added that the Fiber Arts Circle aims to be sustainable.

“We get our resources from local businesses,” Arenas said. “We like supporting a lot of small businesses, especially in Philadelphia.”

She added that she hopes to promote even more sustainable knitting within the Fiber Arts Circle.

“You can find sweaters that are already done, and there you can unravel them,” Arenas said, “so then you can reuse yarn. I think it’s a really cool idea, since yarn is really expensive.”

Truong, who joined the Circle last fall semester, organizes the Circle's meetings and maintains its resource library. While she said she is unconcerned with labels, her fellow members consider her a leader figure in the Fiber Arts Circle.

“Emily’s interested in our input, and she's trying to make sure we have lots of supplies,” Jevermovic said.

Truong emphasized that students are encouraged to use the Circle's extensive resource library, and are welcome to come into the low-pressure club, even if they have no experience with fiber arts.

“Just come in, hang out, chat, knit or crochet or whatever,” Truong said. “It’s nice.”

She added that amid the culture of stress and competition that can exist at Penn, she wants the Fiber Arts Circle to be a place where students can relax.

"It’s a nice way to have a safe, comfortable space to do these sorts of activities and take a break from 'Penn face' and your life," Truong said. “During meetings, the members don't want to be talking about school. They don’t want to be talking about work or careers right now. They just want to chill out.”

The Fiber Arts Circle is currently working on a club-wide community blanket project. Any member that wants to may create a square of fabric for the blanket, using any method they wish. All of the squares will be combined into one large blanket at the end of the current school year, which will reside on the KWH couch.

In the future, the Fiber Arts Circle hopes to continue growing and to become a fixture in the Penn community. 

“I want the Fiber Arts Circle to be something that’ll stay around for a long time, even after I’m gone,” Truong said.