Sunday, June 28, 2009

Knitting For Fun and Charity

Hello Everybody,

On February 10, 2009 I volunteered myself to a new adventure. What was I thinking? See, in the past I'm known for the "behind the scenes." On this particular day I met with Tim Woodward. He is well known in the community for his marvelous stories for the local paper. My nerves were rattling so bad that I had to let him know how nervous I was.

Within minutes, his natural peace aided in me being as calm as a cucumber. Included is the wonderful people who participate every Thursday evening. [The Idaho Statesman has removed this article from their website, June of 2010. Below is the hand typed version from the original article.]

Thank you Tim for making this an enjoyable experience for me all the way around.

Cindy ;)

Cindy Williams, center, instructs a knitting and crocheting class that includes Landon Hooker, 6, Justice Lorance, 12, and Jade Hooker, 11, at Hillcrest Library in south Boise every Thursday evening. The class also learns to spin and weave. Most of the hats, scarves and other clothes they make are given to the Boise Rescue Mission and the Interfaith Sanctuary. When asked how the idea to make clothes for the needy came about, Williams said, "You've seen the Blues Brothers movie right? In a funny way it's kind of like that: I'm on a mission from God." The library was happy to let Williams use the community room for the class as long as it is free and open to the public. "Working with Cindy is like working with an act of nature. You just stand back and let it happen," said library branch supervisor Diane Broom.

SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2009
Knitting for fun & charity - (title of article)

A Boise woman got into knitting and crocheting when she was sick. Now she leads a free class that teaches new skills to kids and adults and provides warm clothing to the needy.


Cindy Williams quit making clothes for the poor in other countries when she realized it was all she could do to help the poor in her own backyard. She knits and crochets woolen hats, scarves and other clothing to give to the needy.
"I learned out of necessity when I was pregnant 25 years ago," she said.

Today, what began as a one-woman effort to provide warm clothing to those who can't afford it has become a weekly class and an Internet presence that has generated interest as far away as Asia.

Williams is the founder of Hand in Hand, a program that provides warm, hand made clothing for those who need it most -- especially young children. Its participants gather at a free knitting and crocheting class she teaches Thursday evenings in the library at Hillcrest Plaza mall. Class members have to be 7 or older. About 15 prospective needleworkers met at a recent class where 10-year-old Doryhan Harris got some tips from retired tailor Anna Ricks, 87. Ricks, who once made men's suits, hasn't missed a class since they began in September.

"I don't waste anything," the onetime Rosie the Riveter said. "I'm using one end of an old sweater to make gloves and the other end to make a scarf."

Harris likes "learning new things from Anna and the other teachers. I learned to knit and have gotten better at crocheting. When I'm finished, I donate the things I make to family and friends."

Some of the work is given as gifts, especially at Christmas, but the majority is donated to the Boise Rescue Mission and the Interfaith Sanctuary.

Some of it doesn't even make it that far. Last summer, a visitor left with five hats and three scarves for a needy family in the neighborhood. Two weeks later, six hats and four scarves were donated to schoolkids. "There's a neighborhood near Hillcrest where kids are warm because of Hand in Hand," Williams said. "To help them and know we'll continue to help them is very rewarding."

Some class members case to the library for other things and joined after getting hooked on the flashing needles. Sarah Qualls has become "a knitting machine."

"I've made 10 hats, 20 scarves, a bag and a sweater," she said. "I like the class because it gives me someone besides my husband to talk to about knitting."

Gloria Ryan spent several months crocheting an afghan. When it was finished, she donated it to a new mother at St. Luke's so her baby would have a warm blanket.

Williams started Hand in Hand as a result of being ill.

"I was wasting most of the day sleeping. Then I met a woman online who started a charity group after she got sick, and with my passion for the arts, this made sense. I started out making hats for babies."

The need surprised her.

"We've made and given away 75 hats, 25 blankets and six scarves since August," she said. "And we still have a neighborhood with four families we haven't been able to get to. We need all the help we can get."

The benefits extend to those who make the clothes as well as those who get them. One student said knitting helped her manage her anger.

Williams is "after three things -- socializing, community and prevention. The class is a good way to socialize, it helps the community and I really believe it prevents problems. I think a day will come when a kid tells me that instead of trying drugs she picked up a knitting needle and a ball of yarn."

Though most of the students are girls or younger women, the class also is becoming popular with retired women looking for ways to spend their time.

"Even if you only knit one hat a month, that's 12 people you've helped in a year," Williams said.

The class's offerings are gradually expanding. Instructors are in the process of adding spinning to the mix, and farmers and ranchers are scheduled to lecture on the care and handling of sheep, alpacas and other wool-bearing animals.

Library page Angela Bradbury said what she's learned in the class helped her relieve stress:"It's really relaxing -- except when my cat gets in the yarn. . . It's something you can do with your hands, and I like making warm things for people. It's nice for them to have something made with tender loving care."

Tim Woodward: 377-6409