A group of local knitters is trying to make sure children in Wilkinsburg have hats, gloves and scarves this winter.
“These children come to school with cold hands and cold ears; you can’t learn if you are worried about being cold,” said Ruth Kittner, development coordinator for the Wilkinsburg Community Ministry.
During a ministry board meeting, Ms. Kittner said members were discussing what it means to be poor when one of the members moved her with her answer.
“She said it means never having anything new, always having cold hands and cold ears and other things. I thought, ‘I make 300 hats [in a program for chemotherapy patients] a year, we can make hats for these children,’ ” Ms. Kittner said.
According to Ms. Kittner, Wilkinsburg Community Ministry, a nondenominational nonprofit works to fight hunger and provides emergency services in the community. It provides a food pantry, help with emergency social services, Meals on Wheels, holiday food banks and food for schoolchildren.
“Many of our community members are under-employed and working so hard just to try to keep food on the table. Over 57 percent of our families live at or below the poverty line,” Ms. Kittner said.
A knitter, Ms. Kittner of Wilkinsburg contacted the owner of Knit One, a yarn shop in Squirrel Hill. As soon as Laura Knoop Very heard about the project, she was on board.
“Stacey Wettstein, the original owner created the store’s motto ‘A closely knit community’ and this just seems to fit right in, to be a continuation of her unique vision,” Mrs. Knoop Very said.
Mrs. Knoop Very of Forest Hills bought the business eight months ago and said she was looking for a service project for charity knitting when Ms. Kittner, a frequent visitor of the shop, approached her.
“It was exactly what I was looking for,” Mrs. Knoop Very said.
The two came up with the name “Warm Hearts” for the project and held a kickoff Oct. 3. Knitters and crocheters came to learn about the project and receive free patterns. The hats will be distributed through Wilkinsburg schools.
“We don’t want people to think this is about them coming in to buy yarn — in fact we encourage people to use their stash (yarn left over from earlier projects or bought without a pattern in mind). They don’t have to be customers or even step into the store except to drop off the hats,” Mrs. Knoop Very said.
Knitting for others means something special to knitters.
“When you are knitting for a purpose, when you are knitting for a gift, you choose the patterns and yarn and think about that person while you knit,” Mrs. Knoop Very said.
And that makes the hats, gloves and scarves for the children that much more special, Ms. Kittner said.
“These will be new things made just for our children with them in mind,” she said.
Knit One will welcome knitters for “Quiet Charity Knitting Night” every Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. while the Oakland Girls Choir rehearses at the shop.
“It will be a nice time to relax, knit and hear some lovely music,” Mrs. Knoop Very said. Drop-in knitters and crocheters are always welcome.
Through the project, Ms. Kittner hopes to collect more than 100 hats, gloves and scarves. The women hope knitting groups will adopt the project as their own for the fall.
“We hope to have 50 knitters involved. Hats and scarves are easy to make, so if everyone makes just one, they quickly add up,” Ms. Kittner said.
An event to thank participants will be hosted at Knit One from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 24.
There are links to free patterns for hats, gloves and scarves on Knit One’s web site, www.knitone.biz. Charity knitters receive a 10 percent discount if they wish to purchase yarn at the shop. Knitters are encouraged to use easy-care yarn since the items will be worn by children. Participants are encouraged to register so organizers can send email reminders and estimate a production count. Those with yarn to share are encouraged to bring it to the knitting sessions. For more information, contact Knit One at 412-421-6666 or the Wilkinsburg Community Ministry at 412-241-8072.
Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer, email@example.com.