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Connie Power paused her knitting one Friday afternoon to hold up her hand and observe, “I don’t have any feeling in these fingers.”
“Braver man than I, you just keep rolling along,” friend Joy Ellis responded with a word of encouragement.
For a decade, the Knit Wits have kept rolling along, encouraging one another and turning yarn into gifts to help others.
Co-founder Pat Londeree describes knitting for a cause as an “addiction.” Before completing one project, the Knit Wits are already plotting for the next.
“It brings you a lot of peace to be able to be knitting on something, knowing it’s gonna be helpful to somebody,” she said.
In 2010, Londeree and Marianne Mead decided to support U.S. troops the best way they knew how. They brought together 20 residents of the Edgemere retirement community to knit helmet liners and scarves for Operation Helmet Liner.
“It gives people who might otherwise stay in their apartments and be lonely a reason to get out and be sociable.” -Pat Londeree
Next, the women knitted sweaters for orphans worldwide.
Prioritizing local projects thereafter, they knitted caps and blankets for premature newborns at Parkland Hospital, chemo caps for cancer patients at Presbyterian Hospital, scarves and hats for the homeless served by The Stewpot, baby caps for the infant formula program at Fort Worth Methodist Church, and robes and fidget sleeves for Edgemere neighbors in need.
For Christmas Bazaars benefiting the Genesis Women’s Shelter, the group takes about two years to build up inventory. In 2019, the Knit Wits surpassed all past sales of their handmade items, totaling $7,264.
Recently, the group crafted teddy bears for young patients at Scottish Rite Hospital, dividing efforts to complete the bodies, faces, and stuffing.
With a closetful of yarn donated from nationwide supporters, they intend to pay forward the surplus to the Colorado Women’s Weaver Guild.
Mead said the Knit Wits serve as a support group in many ways, mentioning an Edgemere resident who had long been confined to her apartment but was now able to learn knitting with her neighbors.
When they’re together, there’s “lots of talking, lots of drop stitches” while enjoying tea and cookies and knitting, sewing, crocheting, needle pointing, tatting, or quilting. Because many suffer from arthritis, they often take breaks.
At a recent meeting, Nancy Reiter was making blue cap pom-poms, Power was knitting a pastel blanket for her new great-grandson, and Ellis was creating a lamb doll, using an inspiration photo.
“It gives people who might otherwise stay in their apartments and be lonely a reason to get out and be sociable,” Londeree said.
Members often work on projects individually, describing the hobby as a relaxing and therapeutic way to unwind.
Londeree grew up knitting around her mother and grandmother. “I must have learned when I was born,” she said. “I can’t ever remember not knowing how to knit.”
Mead began in high school when it was “all the rage.”
“It’s a wonderful bond because we help each other solve problems,” Londeree said. “We are good listeners for our friends’ problems and aches and pains.”