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Knitting for America’s wounded warriors

Created date

June 26th, 2014
woman knitting

style="font-size:0.923em; line-height:1.5em">A Choice resident Betty McQue reserves a special place in her heart for U.S. service personnel. Her husband Bob had a 28-year Army career, and their son Tom is in the Pennsylvania National Guard. 

When Tom served in Afghanistan, Betty knitted helmet liners for troops stationed there. So when she learned that amputees at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center wanted “stump socks” to warm and comfort their shortened arms and legs, she rallied her neighbors at Erickson Living’s retirement community in Bucks County, Pa. 

“I’d been looking for a project Ann’s Choice could do,” she says. “I thought we could do this.”

With support from Philanthropy Director Susan Abtouche, Betty launched Knit Wits. A lifetime knitter, Betty drafted a sleeve-like pattern and began recruiting.

Growing strong

Because the socks would benefit wounded warriors, 26 women attended the group’s first meeting this January. Betty estimates that 50 women are knitting now.

“At our February meeting, we collected 100 socks,” she says. By March, the number was 141. By the April meeting when U.S. Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, who represents Pennsylvania’s 8th District, presented the group with a congressional citation for their efforts, the total was 400. 

One of Betty’s first recruits was Lynn Swan, her friend of 40 years from even before they lived in Warminster and then moved to Ann’s Choice.

Lynn’s husband is president of the Ann’s Choice veterans club, and Betty’s husband is secretary.

The women also pursue volunteer projects with the community’s Liberty Belles, a Red Hat Society. Lynn and Betty, like their Ann’s Choice neighbors, share a passion for helping others.

“Women have been coming out of the woodwork to knit the socks because they feel so good about the project,” says Lynn.

Catching the knitting spirit

Erika Woloschyn signed on when she saw Lynn knitting. 

Because Erika learned to knit in her native Germany, she uses a five-needle method to make seamless socks. 

A creative person, she mixes colors to fashion vibrant, cheerful striped socks. “She’s making the most interesting socks going,” Lynn says.

While she cared for her ill husband, Erika spent little time in campus clubs. After he died, at first, she wasn’t motivated to join any. “But when I saw Lynn knitting the socks, I thought this would be good for me,” she says. 

In fact, she’s often the center of attention as she knits and chats in a clubhouse lobby. 

As residents pass by, they admire her work; some have asked her to teach them European-style knitting. 

The praise is flattering, but the socks are what matter, Erika says. “I’m just so glad I found something I can do that benefits somebody else.” 

That pretty much describes the Ann’s Choice spirit, too.