First-time scarf campaign knits a closer community
December 26, 2012
By Sebastian Moraga
Claire Petersky thought it would go well, just not this well.
Petersky, from the Sammamish-based Eastside Friends of Seniors, heard that North Bend’s Cascade Covenant Church wanted to assemble care packages for elderly residents across the Upper Snoqualmie Valley.
Then, she saw that the list of items for the packages included scarves, and the proverbial light bulb went off.
“I said, ‘I have an idea,’” Petersky said. “’Since we have such great relationships with different congregations in the community, I’ll ask them to see if they can knit for us.”
She asked around and calculated that if everyone said yes, she would get about 40 scarves. Not that that was her outlook.
“The reason I asked so many groups was I thought I would be lucky if one of these groups came through,” she said. “And that’s how we got so overwhelmed, because everybody said, ‘Oh, we would love to participate.’”
Instead of 40 she found herself sorting through more than 120 items.
Cascade Covenant distributed about 60 scarves in North Bend.
About 15 scarves and care packages went to the Bellevue-Redmond area, and 15 more went to the Sammamish and Issaquah area.
Another 15 went to seniors living in isolated areas of the Eastside as part of emergency kits with batteries, hand-crank radios and flashlights.
The last 15 went out to homebound participants of the Meals-on-Wheels program at the Issaquah Valley Senior Center.
People as far as Hobart and Carnation got scarves, Petersky said.
Churches, service groups, nonprofit organizations and private individuals contributed with the care packages and scarves. Petersky said she never expected to get such a response, particularly since this is the first year they tried to collect scarves.
“We had scarves, knit scarves from Texas, from a friend who read it online on a blog, and said, ‘I can send some,’” Petersky said. “Just a huge outpouring from the community.”
People knitted not just scarves but also shawls and hats, or knitted more than one scarf. The friend from Texas knit four, Petersky said.
Petersky does not knit, so she did not realize how widespread the enthusiasm for knitting is on the Eastside.
“Knitters tend to have knit stuff for everyone in their family,” she said. “So, once that’s done, they are excited to have someone else to knit for.”
According to the U.S. Census, most seniors in the U.S. are women. The trend holds true on the Eastside, Petersky said, so most scarves came in festive and bright colors. Only a few carried dark, conservative, manly-man colors.
Knitters had to be careful with seniors’ allergies. A few seniors asked Petersky whether knitters owned pets. One scarf smelled of cigarette smoke.
“Next time, we can say, ‘Please, only use synthetic so they can be easily washed,’” she said.
The knitting helps people think more often about the elderly in our communities, Petersky said.
“So often, they are forgotten people, they are often off by themselves, homebound,” she said. “A lot of times you forget they are there.”
Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or firstname.lastname@example.org.