Friends weave yarn of kindness
Some people pray with words. Others let theirs hands do the talking.
The Loosely Knit group has spent the last five years weaving well wishes into quilts for 23 Park City families who have survived cancer, car accidents, hip-replacement surgeries and other maladies.
Luanne Flanders and Kathy DeTemple started the group about five years ago. Since that time, it has grown in size and reputation.
About once a month, as many as 18 women from a variety of churches, backgrounds and ages meet to stitch together fabric squares that, with their time and concentration, become afghans meant to give warmth to people in need.
It can take Marie Brown, a beginning knitter, four hours to knit a square of cloth. She joined the group less than a year ago. "They brought a blanket to my daughter," she explained.
The blue-and-teal colored afghan inspired Brown’s daughter to decorate part of her condominium to match. The blanket is a small gesture, Brown says, but it has given her 23-year-old daughter strength in her fight against cancer.
"It’s nice to know that people she didn’t even know care about her enough to do this," she said.
Brown’s daughter has not been the only one in the family to benefit from quilt kindness. "They’ve kind of made me a knitter," Brown said. "They taught me the ropes."
Jane Washington has been a member of the Loosely Knit Group for about two years. She joined because she enjoys knitting and keeps attending because of the heart-warming feeling she gets from the work. "We hear about people who are having a difficult time, or just people who have done good work in the community," she explained. Those who receive quilts, she says, are the "fabric of the community."
Brigitta Wray knits, in part, because she would want kind thoughts to comfort her in her time of need. "The most important thing is once you start knitting you see what challenges people go through and you put some good thoughts and prayers into what you do." She added, "It gives hope."
As if she were one of the Fates from Greek mythology who threads and measures the cloth of life, Wray knows the value of soft wool. She knows also that the cloth can be can short. She has knit for avalanche victims and people mourning the loss of loved ones. "Those who are left behind also need our compassion," she said.
Wray recently surprised a young woman suffering from cancer with a quilt. "It’s just amazing," she said. "People don’t know that they’re getting it. They’re just stunned. There is this feeling that someone cares for me and supports me in my struggle."
The bond that forms among the women of the Loosely Knit Group helps them grapple with the peril that each faces simply from being alive. "I hope that I’m never in that situation," Wray said. "But if I am, I hope there will be people who care about you if they don’t know you."
Mona English wasn’t close friends with anyone in Loosely Knit before she decided to join. Today, she and the other women are tight. "Now when we come together we’re our own support group," she said. "There always is someone who needs help, and it’s always someone who lives here. Even though Park City has gotten pretty big, it’s still pretty small."
English remembers sitting with her mother as she learned to knit. Following her mom’s instruction — around, through, off — English would only notice after she was finished the holes worming through her pattern.
The intimacy of creating something for someone else still keeps English’s fingers busy. She and other in the group have knit for their own members. Whether prayer or just a positive vibes, Corinne Crandall says each person infuses afghans with their good intentions, regardless of if they know the recipient personally. "A lot of hands can touch the afghans," she said. "We have a real mixture of people. We’re not all from one church, not all from one denomination. We’re diverse in beliefs. I know it sounds corny, but what we are the same in is the power of love."
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