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Seniors use crochet to keep their fingers flexible

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Ruby Fields learned basic crochet techniques from friends, but she enrolled in a class at the Charlie Griswell Senior Center to get more advanced instruction.

She began the class at the center on Aug. 20. Since then, the 61-year- old Rex resident has made a scarf and hat set for herself, and scarves for several family members. Now, she's making a throw pillow. She plans to continue taking the classes when they resume on Oct. 12, for the second fall session.

Fields' crochet teacher, Elizabeth Marshall, said one of the health benefits for her pupils is the increased flexibility it provides.

"It causes your fingers to loosen up," she said. "It's because of the repetitive action your fingers have to do."

The beginning crochet classes are offered every Friday at the Griswell Center, from 1 p.m., to 2 p.m. Classes are offered during three sessions through the fall. The first began on Aug. 20, and ended on Sept. 29. Other sessions will be on Oct. 8 and Nov. 19, respectively, each lasting five weeks.

Marshall has been crocheting for more than 30 years. She picked it up when her doctor offered the activity as a way to help relieve arthritis in her hands.

Jonesboro resident, Sue Wilmont, said she, too, appreciates crocheting. Wilmont, 62, had surgery on her hands in August and could barely bend her fingers.

"Since I started doing this, I've been able to move my fingers a lot more," she said.

The maximum enrollment for each session is eight, because Marshall wants to give her students individualized attention.

"This class is designed to teach them the language of crochet and how to do it," Marshall said. "When you pick up a crochet book, there are a lot of abbreviations used instead of full words. When you see "SC," for example, that means single-crochet. If you see "DC," it means double-crochet."

Fields was busy doing granny stitches on Friday to make a light blue throw pillow. A granny stitch is accomplished when the person creating the object starts in the center, and moves out in circles by doing double-crochet stitches.

I like it [crochet]," she said. "It gives me something to do during the day."

Wilmont was sitting next to Fields working on a collar that was originally supposed to be a scarf. Wilmont's stitches were too tight in the center and it formed a curved shape. She now plans to attach ribbon to the edges and wear it as a collar at Christmas time.

"I don't mind it, though," she said. "I see it as a creative experience that I can learn from."