HUDSON — The handful of women gathered in a corner of the Hudson Regional Library.
On their laps were balls of yarn, needles and thread, each working diligently to turn the colored string into sweaters, quilts, throws and other useful things. One was weaving a cushy sleeping mat out of plastic garbage bags. It was destined to be a gift for a homeless person, said Kathleen Pappas as she worked. She’s been a member of the Knitters for Charity for seven years.
“This gives me something to do and it’s recycling,” she said of her mat project. “It makes me feel good making something that keeps someone off the ground.”
Her next project will be a mat for a shelter dog. Smaller, it will go more quickly, she said.
Everything the group makes ends up being donated to some worthy cause or recipient, said Jerrie Hoge, one of the group’s original founders. There are 125 members, with meetings held Tuesdays and Fridays at the library. No experience is needed, and many new members come to learn. For more information, call Hoge at 727-863-7309 or email email@example.com. The group also accepts donations of yarn, thread and other materials that can be deposited in the Knitters’ drop box at the Hudson branch.
Among the recipients are a domestic abuse shelter, the Salvation Army, military members overseas, cancer centers and newborn intensive care units. They’ve donated handcrafted items to Pasco County deputies for handouts to children in distress following incidents, including the arrest of a parent. The Knitters also have “sort of adopted” the students of Fox Hollow Elementary School.
“We have teachers, nurses, a professor, and members from Ecuador, Argentina, England, Ireland and Japan,” said Hoge. “It’s a very international group.”
There are no fees to join and gatherings are informal affairs with no rules of order.
Margarette Hines, at 89 the elder of the group, has been a member for six years and says the group format works.
“It’s the first time I’ve been with a group of women more than three where everybody gets along,” she said.
For her, knitting is a way to relax and create useful things, though the retired Air Force nurse, chiropractor and all-around adventurer also spends spare time scuba diving with her daughter.
Joan Guariniello is another of the original members. She is a former textile designer who has done work for some of the biggest labels in fashion design.
“It’s a wonderful bunch of women,” she said of the Knitters. “Everyone is like family.”
Most members are seniors, though there are many of working age. The youngest is 29. They share ideas, patterns and talk about a new technique or design found on the web, which Mary Fridke, a college business writing professor said is keeping those into needle handwork networked like never before.
“With social networks and videos online, it’s easier for people to learn,” she said, adding that rather than fading away as a hobby in an increasingly tech-oriented world, handwork is more popular than ever.