It seems everyone knows someone who knits, used to knit, wants to learn to knit, is related to someone who knits, or just appreciates the handiwork of others. Seeing someone pull out knitting in public is an invitation for a conversation. I've seen people knitting on buses, in line at the grocery store, even here in the library. So that makes knitting, which might seem like a solitary activity, a shared one and I have yet to meet a knitter who does not knit for others, be they family, friends, or their community.
That's why I love this time of year at the library. Between October and December, when you walk into the building, you can't help but notice the clothesline strung between the columns behind the Welcome Desk. For the sixth year, the library is collecting knitted and crocheted winter items as part of our Knit for Others program, keeping them on display until the New Year when they are donated to area organizations for our neighbors in need.
The colorful array of hats, sweaters, and scarves is the focal point of many a conversation with customers who want to know more about the program, compliment the knitting, tell their stories of their own experiences with knitting, and ask how they can participate.
And that's the part I love the best – the stories. Every item has a story, from the choice of pattern, how the yarn was selected, where or who the person was with while knitting, and who might the intended recipient be. Three of these stories stand out in my mind as being perfect examples of the generosity of our knitting community.
In one of the very first years of the library's Knit for Others program, I was in Pins and Needles, the local yarn store, talking with the owner, and she mentioned that she had some hats for me. One of her elderly customers, who had recently passed away, had been quite concerned about getting the preemie hats she had been knitting to their intended recipients. As luck would have it, we had a staff member who worked with preemie babies at a local hospital and she was able to deliver the hats for us. Another year, a longtime knitter, who knit at the Suzanne Patterson Center, using only donated yarn of whatever color and variety she could find and using her own pattern, created a dozen toddler sweaters that were donated to a local nursery school. Last year, after the knitting had been given away, an ESL teacher brought in a collection of nine sweaters and at least one scarf. She told me that in addition to learning English, her students also wanted to learn to knit and wanted to donate their creations to us. I saved them for this season so that I would have some items to hang up right at the beginning of October. The very next week, during a tour of the library for this same ESL group, one of the women looked up and saw the sweater she made hanging on the line. She and her friends were so excited!
And that's what this program is all about – community, giving back, sharing.
We will be collecting hand knit and crocheted winter items through the end of the year. We decided to focus on items suitable for men this year but we are happy to find a home for whatever you make. So dust off those needles and grab some yarn and see what happens.
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