Fingers never slowing, Gene Blanton can crochet a lap throw while carrying on a conversation, helping another crochet or just smiling and laughing.
According to his friends in the Silver Threads & Needles group that meets daily at the Rutherford County Senior Center, Gene is their “superstar.”
“If anyone runs into a problem, they come to Gene. He’s our instructor of sorts,” said Margaret Bartlett.
Blanton is one of a few men who are a part of the group. He’s been crocheting since he was 22.
“My first wife was bed-ridden for two years, and I had to do something to keep from going crazy,” he explained. “My mom taught me how to crochet a granny square, and after I made a few of those, I thought there’s got to be something more. So, I bought a book and taught myself.”
The first thing he made after learning how to crochet was a vest. But, he made several mistakes and it turned out too small. So he pulled it all out and tried again.
Since that time he’s made more than 100 prayer shawls, lap throws and more. The largest project he’s undertaken was a king-sized bedspread for his aunt.
“It took 27 skeins of thread, and it came to the floor on both sides and at the bottom. There was enough room for her to pull it up and over her pillows and tuck under them,” he said.
He also makes lap throws for a ministry at Florence Baptist Church. They provide the yarn and Gene makes them and returns them.
“If you know how to do three stitches, you can make anything,” he said, his fingers deftly moving the thread across the hook to create a shell stitch, the pattern he’s chosen for the lap throw.
When asked how he finds patterns, Gene brings out a three-ring binder filled with patterns.
“Some I find off the Internet, and I also will make copies from other people’s patterns,” he said.
He doesn’t have a favorite pattern, he said, but enjoys them all.
“I just enjoy piddling and making things,” he said, smiling.
The Silver Threads & Needles isn’t just limited to those who crochet. Other crafts include knitting, embroidery, plastic canvas and Swedish weaving. The group meets Monday through Friday, beginning at 9 a.m., at the Rutherford County Senior Center. For more information, call 828-287-6409.