Knitting in Solidarity – The Secret Nightlife of a Small Mytilini Cafe.

Stepping into this cozy little local cafe, it’s only the tittering and laughter emanating down through the stairway that gives the party away. For almost a month now, Mytilini resident Evelyn has been hosting knitting evenings in the upstairs dining room of her self-named cafe.

Evelyn, owner of Evelyn Cafe in Mytilini.
Evelyn, owner of Evelyn Cafe in Mytilini.

Local Greek women (and a man, on the evening I dropped in) flock to Evelyn Cafe every Sunday evening to meet, laugh, drink coffee and most importantly knit in Solidarity. Hats, gloves and mittens of all shapes, sizes and colours are crafted with love to pass on to the cold refugees that arrive daily onto the Island. Other craft nights and book clubs meet up in this charismatic cafe, but it is Sunday nights that have the island talking.

Nestled in the heart of Sapphos square, Evelyn cafe is almost as gorgeous and welcoming as Evelyn herself. In my short time spent here, I felt like family. I was readily welcomed upstairs to join the group and served plates of galaktoboureko, a Greek traditional creamy custard pie, to celebrate the arrival of a new grandchild born to a member of the group. Evelyn diligently ferried trays packed full of coffee and teacups up and down the stairwell all the time enquiring about our time as volunteers. ‘Does Pikpa need woollen hats for children?’ we were asked, as one woman attempted to decide carefully where each package of donations was most needed. These people really care, a lot. So much in fact, that before they began knitting in solidarity in Mytilini, many of these volunteers were responsible for collecting clothes and goods from all around Greece and delivering them to Lesvos refugee camps.

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It is heart warming to so frequently encounter all these sub groups of do-gooders nestled amongst all the larger NGO’s and UNCHR-affiliated organisations. A constant reminder that it only takes one person to start a revolution, to bring change to the world. Charity really does begin at home, and it doesn’t matter whether the change you bring comes in the form of pulling people off boats, handing out hot cups of tea in the middle of the night or hand knitting a tiny pair of mittens – all help is meaningful, and really does make a difference over here.

The joy is infectious here, and despite the upstairs space being packed full of knitters, we were ushered inside and informed of a Greek proverb “there is room for all the good ones” she said, ” so we will find somewhere!”. The warmth is abundant and the enthusiasm flows. After days of mostly meeting a combination of refugees and international volunteers, this evening has been my first real introduction to local Greek hospitality, and my, what a beautiful introduction it has been.

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Want to visit? Check out Evelyn Cafe’s TripAdvisor page here for information on their location and opening hours. If you’re hoping to join in for some knitting, it all happens on a Sunday evening and the action kicks off at 5pm. Knitting not your thing? Stop by any other time for a warm welcome and fantastic cappuccino.

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