Sheffield service project

Photo by Michele Murphy

Rachel Mitchell, left, Ashley Honse, library staffer Beth Campbell, Amanda Harrett and Regina Honse are among Sheffield Lake residents who have turned their knitting and crocheting talent into a service project with purpose as they create caps, scarves and lapghans for cancer patients and others in need.

SHEFFIELD LAKE — A group of women in Sheffield Lake have quite a yarn to tell. They are members of a 2-year old knitting and crocheting club that one member affectionately called "Stitch and Bitch" before bursting into gales of laughter.

While they manage to keep each other in stitches as they share stories of daily life, their fingers are a blur as they knit or crochet hats, scarves and lapghans from skeins of yarn in virtually every imaginable color for patients at Mercy Cancer Center in Elyria.

Their hope is others will join them at the Lorain Public Library System’s Domonkas Branch.

Regina Honse emphasized that anyone can participate. The library has a supply of knitting needles and crochet hooks as well as donated yarn. Honse, who was joined one morning last week at the library by her daughter, Ashley, Rachel Mitchell and Amanda Harrett, said they would help teach beginners. Honse said she and Ashley had never knitted or crocheted before they took a knitting class at the library a few years ago.

Ashley was so taken by her newfound skill that she began to use social media to attract other crafters to the library on alternating Friday afternoons. They said they have a core group of six, but that as many as 10 attend their bimonthly meet-ups. Ashley has even developed her own website to sell some of her knitted items.

When library associate Beth Campbell approached the group about a service project connected to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. birthday observances this month, they immediately committed. Last year, 25 knitters and crocheters created 383 items for Mercy's cancer patients, according to Campbell.

Last week, group member Rachel said she hoped they could provide 400 items this year.

Besides the library's knitting group, another group of local knitters who meet at Joyce Hanks Community Center contributed to the project and are expected to help out again, Campbell said.

She added that others simply showed up at the library and offered their help. Some were experienced knitters who provided items they crafted. Others brought bags of yarn from gift projects left over from Christmas. Still others offered needles, hooks and looms.

Honse said they were hoping, in particular, for donations of soft yarns that she referred to as "baby yarn." Ashley and Rachel explained that the effects of chemotherapy often make a cancer patient's skin extremely sensitive. They said soft yarns aren't scratchy like wool.

They carried with them bags full of completed items including brightly colored caps for little children and adults and lapghans to provide a layer of warmth when spread over the knees.

Ashley sported a cap and matching scarf she had knitted herself as well as a bright red nose warmer. For this project, she said she chooses simple patterns that allow her to knit as fast as she can. Rachel agreed, but said she also changes things like color or a stitch pattern so she doesn't get bored. This year she plans to knit more items for men, noting she had selected darker-colored yarns for that purpose.

Once their service project is completed, the group will look for other service opportunities. The Honses, who belong to St. Thomas Catholic Church in Sheffield Lake, plan to knit lapghans for elderly and shut-in church members. There also is talk of knitting caps and mittens for schoolchildren.

Honse pulled from one of her bags a basket she is making from bits of plastic. She explained she also creates sleeping mats for area homeless people because the plastic wicks off water.

Next weekend, they plan to provide a first lesson in crocheting to a group of Girl Scouts.

They welcome others to join them throughout the month at their regularly scheduled meetings from 4:30-5:45 p.m. on Fridays. The library calendar lists additional times at 10 a.m. Monday and Thursday, Jan. 31. People with little or no experience may phone Regina Honse at 949-5791 so an experienced knitter or crocheter can be on hand to help at any time the library is open.

Campbell said anyone who would like to knit or crochet at the library is welcome during regular hours, available at www.lorainpubliclibrary.org/locations-hours/domonkas-branch or by calling 440-949-7410. The branch is at 4125 Lake Road in Sheffield Lake.

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