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Woodstock mounts knitting project for winter cold

by: ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - At the August gathering of knitters in Woodstock, eleven people turned out to work on hats and scarves for those who attend All Saints Episcopal Church's weekly hot meal. Standing, from left, are Pamala Clarke, Judi Barbour, Mary M. Earl, Bev Curtis, Ruth Goodwin, Susanne Bateman, and Shirley L. Jones. Seated are Elizabeth Allen, Geri Dash, Kathleen Grabski, and Lucille Pierce.In late August, while days are still warm and summer lingers in the evening air, a cross-generational group at All Saints Episcopal Church on Woodstock Boulevard was inside knitting gifts for those who face the upcoming bitter cold of winter without adequate resources.

Since last February, fifteen women and one man – ranging in age from 43 to 91 – have been meeting monthly, and in their spare time have been knitting hats and scarves. When winter weather becomes harsh, the knitters will set out their knitted warm accessories on a table during the church’s weekly hot meal, and people attending the meal may take what they need. A special hat and scarf giveaway is also planned for the Saturday meal before Christmas.

Knitting hats and scarves is a slight departure from knitting prayer shawls, which this group has done for seven years. They create the shawls as gifts for those needing “spiritual sustenance”.

“Spiritual sustenance: Whether facing the happiness of marriage, a birth, or other special celebration, or the adversity of sickness, addiction, fear of the unknown, spiritual crisis, or pending death,” explained Kathleen Grabski at the opening of the August monthly meeting of the shawl group.

The idea for knitting hats came to Ruth Goodwin last fall, when she saw a barrel for donated hats at a local grocery store.

“Ruth told me about the barrel she saw at New Seasons. We who love to knit thought about donating hats there, but then decided to knit for people we knew,” says Bev Curtis, a faithful knitter.

“People we knew” did not necessarily mean people they might know on a first-name basis, but people who come frequently to the Woodstock church for the weekly hot meal. For thirty-five years, members of All Saints with the help of the youth group and people from St. David of Wales, and Providence Hospital staff, have cooked for people who live on the streets, are down on their luck, or who just need a social connection.

“The shawl ministry has had such a positive impact on us and those who receive them, that we decided to grow this ministry and reach out to even more people,” explained Elizabeth Allen, while knitting a scarf.

“And it’s also a good way for each of us to use up our extra yarn,” says Goodwin, with a grin. “Plus, it’s a way of showing love.”

Judi Barbour, whom the group identified as the “hat expert”, shares her hat pattern with whoever needs it. She says she knits on the bus every day going to work, and finds it relaxing. Pamela Clark, at 43 years old, is the youngest regular member of the group – although grandchildren as young as eight sometimes learn to knit and attend a monthly meeting. Pamela knits head bands and refers the group to a website – HYPERLINK "http://www.ravelry.com" www.ravelry.com – to see a pattern for headbands, as well as one for fingerless hand-warmer mittens.

So far the group has knit about one hundred hats and scarves – but the need is great, and they welcome people from any neighborhood who would like to donate yarn or hats and scarves. Knitted hat and/or scarves can be dropped off at the church Monday through Thursday, between the hours of 9 am and 2 pm. The address is 4033 S.E. Woodstock Boulevard.

For yarn, or more information, call church secretary Ann Avery at 503/777-3829 during office hours.