Hutchinson — Once a week they arrive at the senior center, lugging plastic bags bulging with a week’s worth of work.
Some can’t sit long without being busy, so they immediately pull out a current project, moving a shiny hook through yarn as they wait for the Wednesday afternoon meeting to begin.
Others build mountains as they unload the bags of stocking caps, mittens, scarves and baby blankets.
Meet the Crochet Angels, a dedicated group — mostly women, but with three men in the midst — creating items that local social agencies request. They meet in a room at the Elmdale 50-Plus Center. This is also where they store the rainbow of colored yarn — half a skein of some, a partial ball of another — all donated by the community.
Gifts to the needy
The blessings seem to flow around this room, where those who love to create have found an avenue for their creations, and the material to put it all together comes miraculously through the door when they need it.
Just a week-and-a-half before Christmas, and the group received a request of 81 scarves from a local nursing home.
Each creation, made from donated yarn, could sell for big bucks in upscale boutiques.
Instead they go as gifts to those in need — a stocking cap for the bare head of a cancer patient; a long scarf wrapped multiple times around the tiny neck of a nursing-home patient; or a multicolored receiving blanket for the infant of a teen mother who needs instructions in swaddling.
The needs are many, so their hands, some knotted with arthritis, move all the time, filling the next week’s order.
On one Wednesday, the room is bustling. Jo Schartz has such a load of finished product she hauls it in on a cart with wheels.
Fern Nelson, 93 and legally blind, sews by feel, and then sends her patchwork quilts with her daughter-in-law. Her contributions receive “oohs and aahs” from the ladies as they are brought out of bags.
Since January they have made 3,316 items. This week’s creations could easily add 100 to that number.
Heads bent, Carolyn Parson is helping newcomer Sharon Eisler.
“I joined to fill a need,” said Eisler, who became a member in recent months since her mother died.
Parson, who has been a member for about three years, helps lead the group. She joined because while she loved to crochet she could only make a chain.
“I could chain from here to South Hutchinson,” Parson said. But the seasoned “crocheters” offered her help.
Parson caught on and now passes on what she has learned, and also helps by leading the group.
Nancy King with Hospice Care of Kansas walks through the room thanking all the angels for their crocheted items, and handing out bags of snack mix.
“Whatever the need, they provide,” King said of the angels, who will be giving her items for families they have adopted this holiday season.
While the women discuss the next projects, contributors Bruce Moots and Vic Jordan hang out with the men in the pool room.
Moots never thought of crocheting as a female activity.
He asked his wife, Barbara, to teach him, and many items later he won first place for his creations at the Kansas State Fair.
Jordan and Moots both make watch caps and scarves in dark colors that are donated regularly to Wichita’s Veterans Administration for homeless men on the street.
“You’d be surprised how many homeless veterans there are just outside this door,” Moots said.