Every week at Victorian Village, a small group of women turns donated yarn into a lovingly crafted gift, and creates close-knit friendships in the process.
They call themselves the Knit & Stitch Group. The group started at Victorian Village more than 10 years ago, and its current members meet on Thursday afternoons in the Fireside Lounge of the Grand Victorian. They’re not an exclusive club; some residents attend casually, stopping by to work on their own projects, or just to sit and chat. But a few women are faithful knitters.
“We’re the die-hards,” said Annette Hulford. “We come every week.”
As a group, they create blankets, booties, and hats for babies in the NICU at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, and they knit chemo hats for women and children there as well. They have also knitted prayer shawls for the Ronald McDonald House.
This fall, the Life Enrichment staff asked if the group would make purple scarves to raise money for The Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The women knitted about a dozen to be sold in the Victorian Village gift shop — and they sold out.
“Next year, we’ll have to start earlier!” Annette said.
The yarn they use is given to them by friends, relatives, or new residents who aren’t interested in or able to knit anymore, and their projects are completed accordingly. They’re always talking about new projects to try — perhaps mittens for the homeless, Annette suggests. Sometimes they take breaks from their charitable knitting to create a gift for grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Sometimes, they just start knitting, and they’re not sure where the needles will take them.
Annette and another group member, Gert Buikema, have been knitting for years — Annette was in eighth grade when she picked up the skill, and Gert was 10 years old when her mother put her in a Wieboldt’s knitting class.
Jenny Smith, on the other hand, has only eight years of knitting experience. She didn’t know how to knit until she came to Victorian Village, but she soon learned that she enjoyed her new hobby — maybe a little too much.
“I was staying up until 3 a.m., working on my knitting!” she said.
The newest knitter at the meetings is Life Enrichment Assistant Deb Hannemann, who leads the group. She typically prefers to crochet, only picking up knitting in the last couple years.
“She’s the leader, but we’re always trying to teach her,” Gert laughed.
All the women certainly enjoy their craft, but they also enjoy the fellowship that comes with the group. That’s what brings them to the lounge each week — a chance to get out and socialize, to see what projects everyone is working on, and just to enjoy each other’s company.
“We do as much talking as we do knitting!” Annette said.