The stitch of giving

Jan. 28, 2007, midnight | By Maya Calabrese | 14 years, 10 months ago

Blair knitters have fun helping the needy

Every Wednesday, room 157 is transformed from English classroom to knitting palace. Balls of yellow, red, purple and blue yarn are pulled apart and looped around needles as quiet voices exchange helpful hints and laughs. Heads down and fingers moving, the girls of Blair Stitch Project are hard at work.

Photo: Julia Mascioli Knitting in Stitch Club

Seniors Rayna Andrews and Lily Ickow have been knitting for several years and began donating their pieces to charity this summer. Embracing the idea of helping others while doing something they enjoyed, Andrews and Ickow decided to start a club in which Blazers could do the same. "I enjoy knitting and crocheting and wanted to improve my skills while doing something worthwhile. It seems like a really good way to both have fun and help people," says club co-president Ickow.

With their goal in mind, Andrews and Ickow enlisted the help of friends Julia Mascioli, Erica Irving and Ellie d'Eustachio, who all took an interest. "I love to knit, and I know that it's been getting more popular among teens in the past couple of years, so it seemed logical to add a knitting club to the Blair community," says vice president Irving.

Once the school year began, Maureen Diodati happily accepted the girls' offer to sponsor their new club, Blair Stitch Project. "They asked me and I couldn't say no. It's a wonderful project, and I admire them for starting it," says Diodati.

Now every week Blazers are given the opportunity to learn how to knit and make a difference in peoples' lives.

Projects in the making

Blair Stitch Project began with the initial idea of having a featured project of the month that members could complete if they chose. With some members still learning the basics, the club has decided to focus on a few charities instead of having monthly projects. "Because there were several people that didn't previously know how to knit, we are still working mostly with projects for Food for Friends, the Orphan Foundation of America and Warm Up America!" explains Ickow.

Beginners are concentrating on a simpler project for the Warm Up America! Foundation (WUA!). They are asked to knit or crochet seven by nine inch sections which WUA! join to make quilts. The quilts are distributed to women's shelters, homeless shelters, AIDS facilities and other organizations that help the needy.

Food for Friends, an organization that collects mittens and scarves for Valentine's Day care packages, is the focus of the more experienced members. "Food for Friends is more of a long-term general deadline for the people who already know how to knit and want more freedom in their projects," says Ickow.

Members are also working on scarves for the Red Scarf Project, an annual project headed by the Orphan Foundation of America (OFA). Each year, OFA collects homemade scarves and adds them to care packages for foster children going to college.

Needs of their own

As a new club, Blair Stitch Project has yet to receive funding. To work on their current projects, members rely on one another to bring in supplies. "The members bring in any yarn or needles that they have," says secretary Mascioli. "Eventually, we will need to buy more yarn and probably more needles, though."

Photo: Stitch Club member Alyssa Sanders

With their limited personal supplies, members reached out to parents for donations. "We sent out a request for supplies over the Blair Listserv and received several replies," Ickow says. "We now have an overflowing cabinet full of yarn and several other boxes as well." Still, this may not be enough. "Our yarn supply should last us for awhile, but we might need to buy more before the end of the year," Mascioli says.

Members are also worried that the lack of variety amongst the supplies will limit what projects they will be able to complete. "The donations have been wonderful, but it's going to be difficult to work on more complex projects without more types of yarn and needles," says Irving.

Good times all around

Whether they are knitting pros or just learning the basics, members of Blair Stitch Project are always having a good time. "We sit around and chat about all sorts of things," says Mascioli. Since there aren't many people in the club right now, it has a really personal feeling and nobody feels left out."

Much of the bonding is attributed to teaching one another new techniques and skills. "Teaching new members is always interesting," says Ickow. "Some of the officers, including myself, are definitely less than knitting experts, so trying to teach new member can be challenging. We basically just have a great time helping each other."

Though Diodati is unable to take part in the projects for now, she enjoys supervising them. "With all the mundane activities in life it helps you climb above to see the good in other people," she says. "Looking at their enthusiasm, and their eagerness to work for other people is enlightening."

Blair Stitch Project meets every Wednesday in room 157 between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Maya Calabrese. Maya is a SSEEENNNIIOOORRR! Her guilty pleasures include MTV, chocolate, boys and blasting music in her granny mobile with the windows down. More »

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