Kenyon’s Mayer Craft Center sits nestled to the side of the North Campus Apartments, appearing in sharp contrast to their neat, suburban appearance. On the exterior, it is a large, somewhat foreboding gray barn with little decoration.
This impression is lost, however, upon stepping inside: The kitschy ornaments and posters that adorn the Craft Center’s walls are a friendly reminder that all are welcome. On Sunday evenings between 6:30 and 8 p.m., if you walk upstairs and past a mural featuring a knitting raccoon, you will run into a lively group of fiber arts enthusiasts ranging in expertise from seasoned veterans to total newbies. This is Fiber Arts Club, Kenyon’s home for knitting, crocheting, embroidery and just about any form of yarn manipulation you can think of.
A typical Fiber Arts meeting consists of members simply sitting down and picking up their needles or hooks, occasionally chatting with their neighbors beside them. Often, one can see more experienced knitters helping new attendees learn. New members sign out a pair of needles for the year and pick out their yarn of choice; besides this, there is little in the way of housekeeping.
Described by co-presidents Paloma Fernandez ’26 and Nick Kloor ’26 as “a fluid space,” Fiber Arts prides itself on being an open artistic community. This helps to draw in Fiber Arts’ diverse membership, which ranges from athletes to drama kids — Fernandez described it as a “ragtag group,” where yarn enthusiasts can come together and work independently on their own projects, whether it be a scarf, mittens or a friendship bracelet. It is a relatively new club, started just four years ago by a group of recently graduated seniors. They passed Fiber Arts onto Kloor and Fernandez, who joked that they were given the presidency because “we were just there.” Fernandez added, “They didn’t know who to pass it on to, and we just showed up a lot and had the energy.”
One thing immediately noticeable when entering any Fiber Arts meeting is that, despite its range of members working independently, there is a well-established laid-back energy permeating the room. Kloor and Fernandez unanimously agreed that music is their secret to the art of vibe cultivation. Calm music plays throughout meetings, often Chet Baker or another jazz artist.
Learning to knit can be a daunting task. When asked about advice for prospective newbies who might be afraid to try this new hobby, Fernandez offered this: “It’s really a learning curve; once you get it, you get it. It becomes muscle memory after a while.” Fernandez and Kloor advise beginner Fiber Arts enthusiasts to just stick with it, as it’s ultimately incredibly rewarding to be able to create something with your hands. Kloor, who learned to knit at Fiber Arts meetings just last year, quipped, “If I can do it, literally anybody can.” He cited his first project, which was intended to be a scarf but became a hammock. It could be seen on proud display at their involvement fair booth, a sign to newcomers that all are welcome in the Craft Center.
The Craft Center offers several other avenues for creative expression beyond just hosting Fiber Arts club, with classes available in weaving, pottery, woodworking and stained glass. Registration for classes is held at the start of each semester, but it is important to be vigilant in checking for the Craft Center’s emails, as classes, especially more popular ones like pottery, can fill up in a matter of minutes. Outside of Kenyon, Gambier has its own Community Fiber Arts circle, which meets in the bookstore each Wednesday.