Apr 07, 2023

South Shore Blanket Parties brings kitting to local breweries

HINGHAM − On a recent weekday evening at Vitamin Sea Brewing in Weymouth, a dozen women had more than beer on the mind.

Spread out across tables, benches and even the floor, they all held massive spools of yarn as they listened to Hingham resident Sarah Martin explain the evening's game plan. By the time two hours had passed, they'd all had a few beers, a lot of laughs and something to show for it: A hand-knit blanket made from soft chenille fabric.

"People love it. It's a way to put the screens down and step away," said Martin, who founded her business South Shore Blanket Parties last year. "Not only does it give your brain something new to do, but it's great for your hands and fingers to work in a new way. (Knitting) is proven to lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, and it's a skill you can take with you forever."

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Martin has turned her love of blanket-making into a traveling teaching business. From parties to private events and tasting rooms across the region, she leads classes where every patron walks away with a full-sized throw blanket. She has dozens of events at breweries near and far lined up for the coming months, and has never had an event that didn't sell out.

"Now I have breweries and restaurants reaching out to me and it's a win-win," she said. "If they have a slower night or month, I can draw a crowd to buy a few drinks and then I get to use their space, which I'm so grateful for."

South Shore Blanket Parties has between 12 and 35 people per event, and each ticket comes with the lesson and five balls of yarn, or skeins. Some breweries also throw in a free beer.

The combination of knitting and the brewery scene came naturally, Martin said. The blanket-making itself is a relaxing, low-stress activity that blends perfectly with the atmosphere of a craft brewery.

"Beer people are just so chill," Martin said with a laugh.

Once everyone arrives, Martin spreads her students across the space with enough room for everyone to make their blankets, which will be about 40 by 50 inches depending on how tight each knitter decides to make the loops. Then Martin starts a lesson on knitting that is done entirely by hand − no needles required.

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"The trick to creating the perfect blanket is really having a wide, flat surface," Martin said. "We don't pick up the yard with our hands or do it in the air, it all needs to stay nice and flat and spread out, which is how we end up with some people on the floor."

Knitters walk away from every event with a trendy, chunky-knit blanket that washes well, but also with a new hobby, Martin said. She keeps no secrets and is happy to share information on technique, materials and more with any pupil, and will also take calls after the class to remind people of how to start the blanket, knot the ends or any other detail.

"Not only are they super-cozy and aesthetically pleasing, they make for excellent home décor and you can do endless combinations of colors and patterns," she said. "It's an excellent way to get people together. It's an activity you can do on your own, but these events are a way to add a level of excitement and learn a new skill."

Martin said she is developing a new technique and pattern for blanket knitting and will start offering classes to teach pillow-making and a few other chunky-knit products.

Upcoming classes on the South Shore include at Untold Brewing on Tuesday, March 7; at Open Doors Yoga Studio in Canton on Saturday, March 11; and at Stellwagen Beer Co. in Marshfield on Monday, March 20. Tickets are $80 to $85.

Uniquely Local is a series of stories by Mary Whitfill highlighting the South Shore's farmers, bakers and makers. Have a story idea? Reach Mary at [email protected].

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