What’s the best time to being knitting hats and scarves for a cold winter? Of course it’s in the middle of the longest streak of 90-degree days anyone can remember.
Spokane Valley’s Karen Gallion, her mother, Donna Gard, and her grandmother, 101-year-old Lorraine Henry, all belong to a knitting and crocheting group that meets in the Edgecliff Park area and makes hats, scarves and blankets for those in need.
They all joined in 2011, and now they have a problem: the group is running out of yarn.
“We go to yard sales and secondhand stores and pick up yarn for our projects,” Gallion said, “but it would be so nice if we could get some donations.”
The knitting groups are part of RSVP - Retired Senior Volunteer Program – and it’s organized by the YMCA.
Last year, the five loosely organized groups in Spokane Valley, Spokane and Cheney, produced 8,000 hats.
“Since we started in 1991 we have produced more than 145,000 items,” said Adam Borgman, RSVP director. “There are no specific patterns or demands. We encourage people to knit and crochet the things they like.”
Brigitte Hall crochets a hat and scarf combo that’s become very popular.
“It’s a fun thing to be part of,” Hall said. “We welcome people even if you can’t knit or crochet. We will help you get started.”
RSVP is a senior program but those under 55 are welcome, too.
“And men. We have men who knit,” Hall said. “That surprises some people.”
Borgman said a $3,000 grant from the Avista Foundation helps keep the yarn supply going, but there’s never quite enough.
“The hats and scarves go to veterans groups and to preemie babies at the hospitals,” Borgman said, adding that there are always more requests for hats than the group can fill.
In the fall, all the hats, scarves, socks and blankets made over summer are sorted in a gymnasium at Opportunity Presbyterian Church.
“We have piles and piles of stuff by then; it really is amazing,” Gallion said. “Even if we have 12,000 items there are always requests for more from the organizations that distribute the hats.”
Gallion said that volunteers could make even more hats and scarves if they had more yarn.
“It would just be fun to, for once, have a surplus of yarn,” Gallion said.
Donations of yarn, knitting and crochet needles, complete or incomplete knitting projects are welcome at the Central YMCA at 930 N. Monroe St.
Borgman said a volunteer may be able to come out and pick up larger donations.
“Sometimes people donate everything from the home of someone who did a lot of crafts,” Borgman said. “We will take it, and we will find a good use for it.”
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