Philadelphia's Latest "Free Little Library" Is Filled with Yarn Instead of Books
The Little Free Fiber Library outside of the Wild Hand Yarn Shop is one of the first of its kind in the country.
There are more than 90,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide that operate on a "take a book, return a book" exchange policy. From the suburbs of New Jersey to central Chile, the popular book-sharing movement has made an impact in communities near and far. Now, it's inspiring a new kind of giveaway. According to Billy Penn, Wild Hand, a yarn shop located in the West Mt. Airy Village section of Philadelphia, created a Little Free Fiber Library to offer piles of yarn, knitting books, needles, and patterns to local crafters.
Owner Liz Sytsma conceptualized the idea and her father built the library box using wood and plexiglass, then attached it to an outdoor brick wall. Systma told Billy Penn that she was surprised by the response after posting a photo of the Little Free Fiber Library to Wild Hand's Instagram account. "Yarn shops all over the country reached out, [as well as] people from all over wanting to put yarn in it," she said.
In addition to offering free fibers to local crafters, Wild Hand also donates yarn to a nearby library and Interim House, a women's rehabilitation center. Anyone is welcome to add leftover or unused skeins of yarn to the wooden library box. "We take donations (from near + far) to keep this sweet library full in addition to the daily donations from our friends and neighbors," Wild Hand wrote in an Instagram caption.
Systma wants her shop—and the library—to serve as a way to support marginalized communities and local vendors. She sources as many products as she can from nearby suppliers. If you're an inexperienced knitter, grab some yarn from the box and step inside the shop where employees will be happy to pass along their knowledge. "I'm very interested in getting new learners," Sytsma said, "and this felt like a way to invite folks in."
Need another reason to get started? A 2018 study found that knitting can reduce depression, chronic pain, and anxiety, so even if you're a seasoned pro, take a seat in the shop and start knitting. “Every day we have people that come in that say this is their therapy—making them feel calmer and happier and more satisfied," said Systma.