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Threads of compassion

Oak Crest volunteers knit and crochet items for local veterans and babies

Created date

January 8th, 2016
Oak Crest residents
Oak Crest residents

With a name like Knitwits and Hookers you might not expect to find a group of women at a retirement community knitting and crocheting hats, blankets, and foot warmers. But it is no surprise that the babies and veterans who receive them as gifts are grateful for the warmth and comfort they provide.  

“Our name always gets a laugh,” says Betty Mihm, one of the group’s leaders. “But we put thought and effort into everything we make. If it brightens someone’s day and we can bring comfort by doing something small like this, then we are happy to do it.” 

The group from Oak Crest, in Parkville, Md., donates knitted and crocheted baby hats to Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson and works with the Hamilton American Legion to distribute handmade blankets, foot warmers, amputation covers, and lap robes to local veterans in need. 

Polly Carroll, a lifelong knitter, joined the group when she moved to Oak Crest from Annapolis three years ago. 

“I learned to knit in the fifth grade,” says Polly. “We would knit squares in school to put together for blankets. Later, when I had kids, I would knit things like sweaters and argyle socks. When I came to Oak Crest and heard there was a knitting group, I just joined right in.” 

Polly and Betty, along with neighbor Nadia Dimitry, facilitate weekly knitting and crocheting sessions and are responsible for collecting items from the 20 or so members who contribute their handiwork to be donated. 

In stitches

“The group gets together every Thursday for one hour to knit, stitch, and enjoy conversation,” says Polly. “When I first joined the group, it was so quiet all you could hear were needles clicking. Now we laugh a lot, share stories, and help each other with the things we are working on. It’s a fun group.” 

Over a two-month period this summer, the group knitted and crocheted two 40- by 60-inch blankets, 57 lap robes, 37 pairs of foot warmers, 35 amputation covers, and 180 baby hats. In the past, they have also made more than 100 miniature stockings, big enough to hold a candy cane, to be placed on hospitalized veterans’ trays at Christmas, as well as hats and gloves for disaster relief. From time to time, Betty says they get thank you notes from the people who receive them. 

“I really enjoy making the hats. I like to do something creative so I use a seed stitch, which is a little different. It feels good to do something you love and help someone else at the same time,” says Betty.  

In addition to the items they donate, many of the women sell knitted and crocheted items like hats, scarves, gloves, cotton dishcloths, and Swiffer covers to help pay for yarn and other materials. Items for sale are displayed in a showcase located outside the community’s Windows Restaurant. They also sell their creations at the biannual Oak Crest Craft Show and Sale. 

“The Swiffer covers seem to be the most popular item we make,” says Polly. “They sell for $2 each. They are reusable. You just throw them in the washer, and you never have to buy the refills again. Sometimes, people will walk by and see us making something and buy it before it’s even off the knitting needles. That is encouraging and makes it really fun.

Polly invites everyone in the Oak Crest community who knits, crochets, or would like to learn to join them. And of course donations are always appreciated.

“It’s a lot of fun, and it’s for a good cause,” says Polly. “We welcome others in the community to stop by and join us. We have plenty of patterns, needles, and yarn—everything you need!”