Guild’s of any kind are a great place to meet others who share similar interests. At our guild, The Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers, we have Special Interest Groups that break the interest down, hold monthly get togethers, and share their common interest. It’s a great way to make friends and grow in our creative endeavors.
Our guild is fortunate that we own a guild house where these Special Interest Groups (SIGs) can meet. We have a busy schedule and are fortunate that we can fit them all in!
But every once in a while, there is a conflict. Maybe a workshop interrupts the schedule. Or some maintenance needs to be done, or the guild holds a special event.
In those cases, the SIGs are forced to cancel. But in our usual creative fashion, many SIG’s have figured out other locations where their friendships can bloom and their love of creating can be pursued.
Philadelphia is home to many historic buildings. Most of them have common areas for public use. Here is a list of some beautiful mansions, historic areas, and beautiful public spaces where we can, and have met:
- Strawberry Mansion – The gardens here are beautiful and open to the public. There are a few benches and chairs but be safe and bring your own!
- Woodford Mansion – Another beautiful mansion with gardens that are open to the public and a beautiful covered porch. All you need to bring is a chair.
- Lemon Hill Mansion – Just above Boat House Row, Lemon Hill has a commanding view of the Philadelphia skyline and our famous Philadelphia Museum of Art. Just bring a chair and your knitting needles and enjoy the view.
- Just down the hill is The Azalea Garden that is beautiful all summer long. Above the Azalea Garden, behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art is the Sculpture Garden an open space where a gathering would be perfect on a sunny day. There are lots of trees, parking and walking trails. There is also access to the 75 mile long Schuylkill River Trail which offers many riverside settings.
- Ormiston Mansion – Known for its award winning Alphabet Garden, this mansion sits quietly in Fairmount Park. There is a lovely garden and a covered front porch. Bring your spinning wheel and your favorite beverage and enjoy the cool breeze in the shaded front lawn.
- There are many other historic mansions in Fairmount Park. Bring your chair and your portable fibers and enjoy the view! If you enjoy the experience, please email us and let us know!
- Philadelphia locals know all about pocket parks hidden throughout the city. My favorites are in my neighborhood where a short walk allows me some respite outside. Coxe Park is a small park in the Logan Square neighborhood. Convenient to the train station and full of benches it is shaded, clean and houses a newly restored statue of Benjamin Franklin. There is also a small playground for the kids.
- The John F. Collins park is situated in the retail district on Chestnut Street, Center City. The beautiful fountain creates a calming ambiance. Directly across the street, DiBruno Brothers and Gran Caffe L’Aquila offer small plate appetizers and curated wine to sweeten the experience.
- Of course the historic district is full of amazing spaces where small groups can congregate. Independence Hall, Franklin Square, and Washington Square Park are all in a walkable area and have expansive open areas with benches for your crocheting pleasure. The first hospital in the country, Pennsylvania Hospital, is just south of Washington Square and has beautiful grounds to peruse and use.
- If you are to the west of the city proper, Philadelphia is home to our 2000+ acre Fairmount Park where gathering is encouraged and locations are plenty. The areas here are too many to list, but a comprehensive guide is available on the Fairmount Park Digital Guide. Many of these locations, like the Thomas Mill covered bridge, Valley Green, the Centennial District, the Horticultural Center and the Belmont Plateau are all worth a visit and beautiful places to sit and knit.
- The Rodin Museum has a fountain and garden worth a visit whether you want to knit or knot! I often bring a chair here and enjoy the shade and sound of their fountain. Often, they have wine events in the garden that are sure to make your portable fibers more experimental.
- FDR Park – Just south of the city it has easy access off I-95. There are lots of benches and the Swedish Museum is located there. This park has the added bonus of hosting the Philadelphia Flower Show.
- John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge – There is a beautiful loop around the lake where you can see eagles and many other birds and wildlife. There is also a covered pavilion and a nature center. All you need is a chair, binoculars and a pair of sneakers if you want to walk.
- The Philadelphia Navy Yard – has been open to the public for a while and is worth a visit. There is a walking path with benches along the Delaware river and is a good place to watch the planes come in for a landing at the Philadelphia Int’l Airport. On Thursdays in nice weather (spring and summer) there are food truck vendors on the main lawn area and a DiNic’s Pork and Beef stand. The Navy Yard is home to some large corporate home offices and with its easy access to I-95 a nice place to meet to sit and knit.
These are just a few of the vast list of places to meet outdoors when the weather cooperates. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not always sunny in Philadelphia, sometimes it rains. Don’t worry, we have some great and mostly free places you can gather inside when the weather is watering the plants.
Indoor Meeting Options:
- The Parkway Central Free Library in Logan Square is worth a visit. Besides the amazing books, they have instruments you can borrow, an expansive list of sheet music, other rarities you can find yourself lost in, and the building is absolutely stunning. You can sit quietly and knit. If the rooftop is open, it’s worth the view. Outside there are benches and the back of the building has a large paid parking lot. And speaking of libraries, any library is free to go in. As long as you remain quiet, you can meet there. Or better yet, ask the librarian if there is a room where you can meet. They can often accommodate such requests.
- The Philadelphia Train Station is a great place to sit, eat and socialize. If you take the train in or out of the city, make sure you notice the beautiful and historic train stations along the way. Please note, with Covid restrictions, the food court seating was removed. Make sure it’s back in place before bringing a group.
- Recreation and Community Centers are splashed all over this vast city. Here is a list of options to find one in your neighborhood. A few I have visited myself are Lloyd Hall near Boathouse Row, The newly restored Smith Playground, and Awbury Recreation, are possibilities. Here’s a list of other recreation centers you can check out.
- If you’re interested in being creative and adding some culture to your life. you can meet in The Please Touch Museum, The Philadelphia Art Museum (First Sunday, pay what you wish), The Franklin Institute, and/or any other museum in the city. There may be a fee, but check the websites. Monday’s are often free.
- Any coffee shop with seating. A few of my favorites are Vernick Coffee in the new Comcast tower. You can find one convenient to the group with a simple search on your favorite map app. There’s a Starbucks on almost every corner. Personally, I prefer the small coffee shops such as one of the High Point Cafe’s, Good Karma Cafe with locations around Center City, OCF Coffee (try their Chai!) also around the city’s neighborhoods, and check out this list of coffee shops in Fairmount Park! And if you really want a special treat, The Cedar’s House on Forbidden Drive, is worth the effort of getting there. It’s a cute coffee shop in a beautiful and serene setting. And an added bonus is the horse farm around the corner!
Other Super Creative Ideas
During the pandemic I helped my daughter babysit some kids. The parents didn’t allow their children the options of watching screens so we set out on daily adventures in places where no one usually goes. Here are some ideas that are often overlooked in the area but are worth a visit.
- East and West Laurel Hill Cemeteries – I can’t explain the beauty of these grounds. You have to see for yourself. The collection of trees, the historied plots of famous and infamous Philadelphians, and the architecture are simply stunning. Take a chair and sit among Millionaires row. These cemeteries also offer many special events and tours.
- The Woodlands – Also a cemetery but so much more, this location also has a historic mansion and is known for it’s collection of trees. Among the plots are cradle graves you can adopt and tend. There is plenty of parking in all of these areas and the setting is peaceful in an active city.
- Bartram’s Garden – is another beautiful site on the Schuylkill River. Worth a visit and don’t forget your chair!
One of the many things I love about living in the city is the ability to pull my chair out of my car and sit almost anywhere. While I won’t trespass on someone’s porch, no matter how welcoming, there are so many public places to sit and enjoy the outdoors all it takes is a little imagination and some exploring.
So what are you waiting for? Put a comfy chair in your trunk, call your friends (or email) and set up something special where you can laugh away the hours while learning about your favorite fiber art!
If you want to add to this list or make a kind comment about an area listed, please email info at pghw.org.