Knitting with purpose
By Valerie Putnam
These are the tell-tale sounds that a small group of women have come together for their weekly gathering to knit for the less fortunate in the community. Known as the Liberty Lake Library Knitters, the group began as a special adult program offered by the library.
Library Director Pamela Mogen started the Knitters with the intention of helping those wanting to learn the craft, needing help on a specific project or wanting to socialize with other knitters.
"We're always looking for different ways of using the library and appealing to the people in the community," said Mogen, who's been with the library for nine years. "I had the idea that we would try some craft programming."
Mogen enlisted her mother, Elaine Stanley, who has been knitting for more than 60 years, to teach the class.
"She is a fantastic knitter," Mogen said. "She was very interested in the idea of teaching knitting."
After reading an article about a young woman knitting items for charity, Stanley led the transition from being strictly an adult program to knitting items for area nonprofit organizations.
"It inspired me to talk to the ladies," Stanley said. "We agreed to support both the Sarah House and Vanessa Behan."
Since May, the group has knitted items for all ages, including hats, scarves, gloves, blankets, baby layettes, sweaters and vests.
"They're a fun group," Mogen said. "And the fact they have knitted over 45 items since last spring amazes me. They're very enthusiastic, looking for ways to be creative and to give."
The knitters donated many of the completed items to the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery on Tuesday, club member Joanne Weirich said.
The group remains open to other needs in the community. According to participant Louise Quirk, the group isn't structured, and participants can work on any project of their choosing.
"One lady knitted hats for the military," Quirk said. "That's the nice thing about this group; you don't all have to make the same thing."
Quirk joined the group in January to learn how to knit. Because she already knew crochet, she decided to crochet scarves for charity instead of knitting.
"I like the camaraderie," Quirk said of the group. "Everyone is willing to help."
Members share patterns, materials and knowledge. Currently, the group consists of a core group of five to seven women representing all stages of knitting experience. Stanley hopes the cooler weather will bring more knitters to the group.
"The beauty of the thing is anyone can come and go," Stanley said. "It's a fluid thing, not like a class."
The Knitters hope to find a way to get the younger generation involved in learning the craft.
"It's a dying art," Stanley said about handwork. "Hate to see it pass."
According to Mogen, the group has looked into a program published by Knitters Guild that helps people put together knitting instructions for young people.
Hoping to begin a children's knitting outreach, Lisa Wardian, Title One Reading teacher at Greenacres Elementary, and co-worker Bethany McMulkin, a fourth grade teacher at Greenacres Elementary, are working on getting a $1,500 Washington Education Association Community Outreach grant. The grant would be used to teach elementary age children the art of knitting.
Wardian came to the group seeking help on a knitting project she was working on in September. While knitting a pair of socks for her son, she got stuck working on the heel.
"I brought in my pattern book and asked Elaine, ‘Can you help me?'" Wardian said. "I restarted that sock six times, but Elaine sat there with me so patiently. She is just a delight."
Wardian completed one sock and is working on the second.
"It's nice to teach kids handiwork," Wardian said about the effort to attain the grant. "It gives them something tangible to show for their time and effort spent."
If the funding is secured, Wardian hopes to enlist members of the group to help with the afterschool program and potentially using the Saturday group as a resource if children need additional help.
"It'll help keep the kids motivated and excited," Wardian said.
Wardian hopes to hear back within four to six weeks if Greenacres is awarded the funding. The program would begin before the end of the year.
The Knitters plan to continue to knit to give to community organizations as well as knit animals to give away as prizes for the library's summer reading program.
Next year, Mogen hopes to start a crochet group. She is currently working on the logistics, including considering if it will be combined with the knitters or a separate group.
Liberty Lake Library Knitters
Meeting time and location
Who should come?
What to bring?
For more information