Keeping the community warm - stitch by stitch
Members of the Twisted Sisters knitting group pose behind a table full of hats, scarves, mittens and blankets at their May 10 meeting at Cheney's Sessions Village.
According to Joanna Morris, you have to be a little loose to join the Twisted Sisters.
Not that kind of loose. Loose as in not having a penchant for making your quilt stitches too tight.
One Saturday a month, Morris and other members of Twisted Sisters gather at the multipurpose room of Cheney's Sessions Village to talk, enjoy a potluck lunch and knit. The women, and a few men, knit just about anything - blankets, scarves, baby sweaters, gloves, mittens and toddler/children's sweaters.
"Anything that provides warmth," Morris said.
The group began in 2009 after Morris's son received a knit blanket from Project Warm-up while he was in the hospital. Project Warm-up is a program whose purpose is to "collect and distribute hand-knitted and crocheted hats, scarves and gloves to local organizations that help the needy" that is part of the national Retired Volunteer Seniors Project and run in Spokane by the YMCA's Spokane Cares organization.
Morris, who works at Cheney Care Center, wanted to do something to say thanks, so she and a couple other women formed Twisted Sisters, meeting at an apartment in Sessions Village. After three or four meetings though, the group had grown so much they had to move to the larger multipurpose room.
Twisted Sisters now has 38 members, and provides items for donation to a number of different charities. Those charities include groups in Cheney such as the Cheney Food Bank, a couple of churches and the Early Childhood Education program at Eastern Washington University. The local donations are an important aspect of what Twisted Sisters does, along with Project Warm-up.
"We wanted to give back to the community, but wanted it to stay in the community," Morris said.
Project Warm-up coordinator Teri Wallace said - between stitches at Twisted Sisters May 10 meeting - that over 100,000 items have been made since the project began locally in 1991. Last year, 265 volunteers aged 8-93 years old put in over 60,000 total hours making 8,972 items - between 1,300 and 1,400 of which came from the Twisted Sisters, the largest group.
Besides members' time, all of the yarn is donated. This comes from a variety of places such as the family of a deceased member who do not want to throw away their loved one's yarn, to a grant from Avista. Morris said she has even been known to "Dumpster dive" when she comes across good yarn.
Only about 10-12 members take part in the monthly meetings, which run from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Sessions. Often though, Morris said other members stop by and drop off items they had been working on at home.
"That's the thing about Project Warm-up," Wallace said. "You don't have to be in a group, but you have the support of a group."
The Twisted Sisters accept members who knit using any number of styles from crotchet to looms, and any level of experience and skill.
"We don't have any yarn snobs," Morris said.
Members knit for a variety of reasons. For some, they've made about everything they can for family, but don't want to put the needles down just yet while others have different reasons.
"It's a good stress reliever," Kathleen Morrison of Medical Lake said.
Morris said they also hold knitting classes for children at summer camps as well as church groups. Residents at Cheney Care Center, who want to take part but no longer possess the dexterity to knit, also help by "tagging and bagging" the incoming donated yarn, even yarn Morris termed "ugly yarn."
"If we can take something ugly, and make something pretty out of it," Morris said, leaving the sentence unfinished as she focused on her work.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.