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Knitting needles to the rescue

Local knitting group uses their creations to help others

Created date

April 23rd, 2014
Ashby Ponds’ beloved Knit-Wits knitting club put their needles to work in support of numerous outreach efforts.
Ashby Ponds’ beloved Knit-Wits knitting club put t

There’s no such thing as an idle hand at Ponds, the Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va. Every Monday afternoon, the campus knitting club—the Knit-Wits—delves into crafting unique creations. 

“Our group provides wonderful opportunities for camaraderie and creativity,” says group leader Cathy Williams. “Each week, as many as 20 of my neighbors enjoy knitting together. We knit not only for family and friends but for those outside our community who need our help.”

For some members, like Cathy, knitting is a craft they’ve enjoyed throughout their adult lives. Others, like Lois MacKay, find that the Knit-Wits provides an opportunity to pick up knitting needles for the first time in years.

“I hadn’t knit in 20 years before moving to Ashby Ponds,” says Lois. “I’m thrilled to be able to do it again.”

“That’s what makes our group so special,” says Cathy. “We welcome anyone interested in knitting, regardless of their experience. I encourage all members to knit what makes them happy or fulfilled. There are no ‘have to’ projects.”

Sharing their yarn

Without limits on their creativity, Knit-Wits members create a wide range of handmade items. The majority of these creations are sold at the annual Ashby Ponds’ Holiday Bazaar. 

“Since our club began in October 2008, our main focus is raising money in support of Ashby Ponds’ resident care fund,” says Cathy. 

The fund provides confidential financial assistance to residents who, despite careful planning, can no longer afford to cover the full cost of living at Ashby Ponds. Ashby Ponds is a not-for-profit community dedicated to supporting residents who experience an unforeseen change in their financial situation. See the Ashby Ponds’ Residence and Care Agreement for complete details.

To date, the Knit-Wits have raised almost $10,000 for the fund, selling mittens, scarves, blankets, hats, caps, Christmas stockings, and sweaters.

Preparation for the bazaar begins in late summer and lasts until the November event. They spend the remainder crafting items for a variety of national and local charities. 

Locally, the Knit-Wits have donated numerous blankets to INOVA Fairfax Hospital; hand-knitted clothing to the Reston Interfaith Homeless Shelter; and small garments for premature infants at INOVA Loudoun Hospital. 

Outside the local community, the Knit-Wits make blankets and other personal items for the Ronald McDonald house, victims of natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, and the Wounded Warriors Project. 

They also knit children’s sweaters for World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children and families devastated by poverty and injustice. 

“There are so many people in the world who need our help,” says Cathy. “This is just our small way of doing our part.”

Stitching together a friendship

Throughout the Ashby Ponds community, neighbors applaud the generous spirit of the Knit-Wits. Last summer, community member Bill Davis suggested that his daughter Sue Waffle, a teacher for Loudoun County Public Schools, reach out to the group in support of her work with Foster Care to Success (FC2S), the oldest and largest national nonprofit organization working solely with college-bound foster youth.

“Sue is a kind, compassionate woman who is always busy doing what she can to help others,” says Bill. “During one of our conversations, she brought up the work she was doing knitting scarves for FC2S’s Red Scarf Project. I immediately thought of the Knit-Wits and knew they would be eager to help.”

The Red Scarf project ensures that each Valentine’s Day, FC2S students receive a bountiful care package that, in addition to books, DVDs, inspirational magnets, and homemade valentine cards, includes a handmade red scarf.

“I was thrilled,” says Sue. “I had previously mentored a Foster Care to Success student, and I knew just how much the red scarves mean to the students. My goal this year was to donate 50 homemade red scarves, and as a novice knitter, I knew I needed help.”

Every Monday throughout the summer, Sue visited Ashby Ponds and spent a few hours knitting with her new friends.

“I didn’t want to just ask for help,” she says. “It was important to me to also form a relationship with these women. I appreciate them so much.”

“We were all glad to help,” says Cathy. “Not only did we have a lot of fun but we completed 30 scarves, in various shades of red, for the students.”

Time to buy more yarn

Always looking forward and sharing their knitting magic, the Knit-Wits are starting another new project, this time with their new neighbors at Maple Grove, Ashby Ponds’ new continuing care community.

“We are providing residents with yarn and needles to make lap robes,” says Cathy. “It’s an exciting new project and is the focus of our activities this spring.”

Sue Waffle also hopes that this summer will bring a renewed partnership with FC2S. 

“This year, I’d love to bring some of the care package materials to Ashby Ponds for assembly,” says Sue. “I think Cathy and the women would love to see the whole thing come together and know where their handiwork is going.”

And it seems the Knit-Wits won’t need a lot of convincing.

“Knitting is such a relaxing craft,” says Cathy. “To know that, in addition to doing something you enjoy in the company of women you admire, you are helping others—that’s wonderfully rewarding.”