A hobby with a purposePublished 7:05am Monday, October 28, 2013
Knitters donate hundreds of hats, scarves to annual United Way outerwear drive
As Frances Fryer and Bertha Christianson waited in a lobby of The Cedars of Austin to watch hundreds of hats and scarves they helped knit leave for the United Way, both women had knitting needles and yarn in their hands.
The two residents at the Cedars of Austin are using their favorite hobby to give back to the United Way of Mower County’s annual outerwear drive. Donated coats and items will be distributed at Oak Park Mall on Monday.
“I think it’s nice that we can do something for the needy kids,” Christianson said.
The women’s donation is a culmination of a year’s worth of work, as Christians said she and the group have been knitting and building their collection for months.
“We knit all year,” Christianson said.
This year, Christianson knitted 133 hats. Christianson even knitted themed hats, like ones with Minnesota Vikings, Austin Packers and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers colors. Fryer said she made less, since she made hats and scarves, which take longer to knit. She makes adult- and children-sized scarves.
Along with a knitting group that meets about once a month and on some Thursdays at The Cedars, Christianson and Fryer also knit often in their rooms in their spare time.
Fryer said she spends “hours and hours and hours” knitting.
“What else are you going to do in your spare time?” she said.
While Fryer, who taught English in Menomenee Falls., Wis., for many years, also enjoys reading, Christianson said she spends the bulk of her spare time with her knitting needles. She gets up each day and knits from about 6 to 8 a.m. before she has her coffee, and she often knits again in the evenings, unless there’s an event at the Cedars.
“My idle time, I’m knitting,” she said. “I’ve got needles in my hands all the time.”
Christianson joked she only reads knitting instructions and recipes. When she was 23, Christianson taught herself to knit after buying a 10-cent book, because she was having a baby and wanted to make booties. She’s been knitting ever since and even taught knitting.
Fryer and Christianson have some help in knitting the hats and scarves. People donate yarn to the Cedars, so residents don’t have to buy it.
“Thank God for the people that are throwing some of that our way,” Fryer said.
Both Fryer and Christianson admitted it would be quite pricey if they had to buy their own yarn.
“We have some really nice donors,” Recreation/Wellness Director Cathy Ehley added.
Both Christianson and Fryer were happy to pass on donations, especially so children and young people could have proper winter attire.
“I want them to have warm ears,” Christianson said.
Eileen Orlowski and Helen Dixon, a volunteer at the Cedars, also knitted hats and scarves for the drive.