Three Little Birds brings the Hyattsville community together one stitch at a time
BY ADELIA MCGUIRE
Three Little Birds Sewing Co. owner Katie Blattner is bringing together the Hyattsville community one stitch at a time.
On Wednesdays, the business holds its Makers Night & Sewcial, a weekly in-person event open to the community. Residents from Hyattsville and beyond gather in Blattner’s business on Baltimore Avenue for an evening of socializing and crafting.
From 6:30 to 9 p.m., community members are invited to work on their latest sewing and knitting projects in the company of other creators. Attendees knit sweaters and scarves, sew quilts and bags, embroider napkins and wall hangings, and much more.
“We try to do things where we welcome people in and make a safe space for them to create and relax,” Blattner said.
Nightly attendance ranges from 10 to 40 crafters, according to Blattner, and the shop provides refreshments. For a $5 fee, attendees have access to sewing machines and a tranquil, supportive atmosphere.
The weekly event is open to all skill levels and pulls in a variety of crafters. Though the fiber art community at Makers Night primarily comprises sewers and knitters, crocheters and spinners make their presence known, as well.
Some spinners transport their own portable spinning wheels to Makers Night, where they spin a bag of raw wool into yarn. This yarn might then be knit into mittens or a scarf. Four to five spinners regularly attend Makers Night, according to Blattner, and share projects amongst each other.
Crotchet, specifically Tunisian crochet, has been a focus at recent Makers Nights, Blattner said. This unique type of crochet originated in the 19th century and has made a comeback in recent years. Tunisian crochet is a style of needlework similar to crocheting and knitting that produces a waffle-like fabric and trim border. Three Little Birds has dedicated every third Sunday to an event called Tunisian Tea. Attendees are taught how to execute this crochet/knitting hybrid stitch while enjoying refreshments. Many of the Sunday Tunisian Tea crafters return to the store on Wednesday nights to continue their projects.
Former Three Little Birds’ employee Sharon Henderson and her daughter co-own Sweet Pea Fiber, a small yarn shop housed within Blattner’s storefront.
Henderson describes herself as a longtime knitter and a lover of almost everything having to do with fiber. During her time in New Mexico, Henderson and her daughter attended a church where they were involved in a prayer shawl knitting group. According to Henderson, sewing and knitting were restorative for them both.
Henderson noted that sharing this healing art was her primary impetus for opening Sweet Pea Fiber. “When we talked about opening the yarn shop, it wasn’t about selling yarn.” she said. “It was about creating community.”
Henderson said she regularly attends and helps host Makers Night. Although Makers Night is not a class, instructors like Henderson are often available to answer crafters’ questions.
“There’s people that sit around the table that crochet, they knit, they do hand sewing, they do embroidery. We have people bring in quilts that they’re quilting by hand,” Henderson said. “People come in and don’t do any of those things — they sit and draw, or they sit and read or they just sit and take in community.”
Events held by Three Little Birds, like Makers Night and Tunisian Tea, have been effective in uniting community members who share similar interests, according to Blattner. She explained that because D.C. is a very transient area, it can be difficult for new residents to build a community.
“It’s really important to me, and it makes me feel really good when I see people that are making those connections,” Blattner said. “We’ve had people that have taken classes together and then become friends outside of our classes.”
Several Makers Night participants have lost spouses over the past few years, according to Henderson. Even when they aren’t personally close to one another, other attendees have joined together to support them, co-creating a card or other gift for the grieving partner.
“These are people that maybe have met but haven’t really grown close. It’s just the fact that somebody in the group is hurting — everybody rallies,” Henderson noted.
Three Little Birds’ events are attended by those of a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Henderson explained that, for many, the storefront is something of a safe place or an escape for event attendees.
“I think in general, people feel like they can come to any of our events and be safe from whatever stress has gone on in their life,” Henderson explained. “They can come in whatever condition they’re in and just kind of get lost into the world of fiber.”
Adelia McGuire is an undergraduate journalism and business student at the University of Maryland.