March 28, 2013 in Washington Voices

Crocheting for a cause: seniors create prayer shawls

By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photoBuy this photo

From left, Betty Cuthbert Thiot, Wanda Lyon, Laura Curtiss, Marion Skaufel and Barbara Walker, work on shawls Friday. The group from Broadway Court Estates produces prayer shawls for people who are in hospice care.
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The group of women sat around a table at Broadway Court Estates Friday, crochet hooks in hand, as activities assistant Sarah Ivie dumped bags of new skeins of yarn on the table.

“Oh, I like that one,” Barbara Walker said, reaching for a large skein of turquoise yarn. The label on the mammoth bundle said it contained 1,020 yards of yarn.

“I like the big ones,” Laura Curtiss said. “Then I don’t have to tie a bunch of knots.”

The women were getting a fresh start on making prayer shawls after donating 32 to a local ministry the week before. The women, all residents of the retirement community at 13505 E. Broadway Ave., started meeting once or twice a week in mid-January.

“My expectations were only five shawls a month,” said Ivie, who was blown away by the speed at which the women knitted and crocheted. Most learned the craft from their mothers when they were 10 or 12 years old and have been doing it for decades.

“I’ve crocheted all my life,” said Curtiss, who makes everything from pot holders to towels. “My mother did. My grandmother did.”

The completed shawls were given to Micah 6:8, a ministry that brings singers to hospice patients. The shawls are given to the patients and their families, Ivie said.

As their fingers worked, the women chatted, laughed, compared patterns and shared tips. Making the shawls is something to do with your hands, Marion Skaufel said. “I haven’t crocheted for years,” she said. “I just started back up again.”

It was the opportunity to have a little fun while doing something they believe is important that drew the women in. “It kind of gives us a warm feeling,” Curtiss said.

“It keeps us out of mischief,” Betty Cuthbert Thiot said.

Some of the yarn the women use is donated and some is purchased by the facility, Ivie said. “I just go whenever there’s a sale,” she said.

The women say anyone can learn to crochet a prayer shawl. It only takes five minutes to learn the basics, Wanda Lyon said. Then it’s just a matter of practice. “Just do it and keep doing it,” she said. “It’s not difficult.”

Bev Wilcox arrived late to the work session and showed off a shawl made with nearly every color under the rainbow. “I had a pattern called odds and ends,” she said. “I used up all mine and asked other people for theirs. It’s so much fun to make.”

The women seem determined to keep on creating the shawls as fast as they can. “You just keep tempting us with such pretty yarn,” Wilcox said to Ivie.

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