Crocheters are hooked on helping the elderly

April 18, 1994|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

They are known as the "Yarn Ladies," and they have crocheted hundreds of lap covers for Anne Arundel County's nursing home residents.

Last year, the five women, all members of the Retired Teachers Association of Anne Arundel, made 177 lap covers.

"It's so rewarding to go to the nursing homes and either see these on their laps or on their beds," said Margaret Cutchins, 69, who was 10 years old when her mother taught her to crochet.

The effort began about four years ago, when the women, members of the association's nursing home project, decided to do more than just visit people at four county nursing homes, including ones in Brooklyn Park and Severna Park. The visits started as a way to keep track of retired teachers.

Soon the demand for the crochet work outpaced the efforts of Mrs. Cutchins, Doris Barker and Dorothy Street, who started the project. They turned to Ruth Knight and Bernice Chenoweth.

Before long, the ladies noted other needs during their visits. People needed arm covers for wheelchairs, tote bags for carrying personal belongings. Suddenly, the supply of yarn the women kept in their closets wasn't enough.

"We started out small, buying yarn ourselves, but as the need increased, people started to ask, 'How can I help? I don't sew,' " said Mrs. Cutchins.

People started bringing shopping bags filled with yarn and other materials to association meetings. At times they brought so much yarn, Mrs. Cutchins couldn't fit it all in the trunk of her car.

"One time the trunk was so full I had to push it shut and fill up the back seat," she said.

Association members who didn't donate yarn helped keep the project going by donating money. What started as a program to give people lap covers has expanded to include pocket bags for walking canes, the 188 wheelchair covers, bags and 98 pillows ** made last year. The women also bring fruit and candies, and donate jewelry for prizes in nursing home bingo games.

"Of course, the biggest need in most nursing homes is just for someone to come and see them," said Mrs. Street, a 72-year-old Brooklyn Park resident.

The women meet about four to six times a year to sew.

"They do the cutting and I do the stitching," said Mrs. Cutchins, whom the other women call their leader.

They said they can make 40 wheelchair bags and 50 pillows in a day. They usually do the crocheting at their homes. Sometimes they get calls for more pillows in between their regular visits. In those cases, they sew and go.

But they don't rush their work. They are perfectionists.

"We don't want something not to look not perfect," said Mrs. Cutchins.

Nevertheless, there can be some imperfections.

"Sometimes we get a little carried away and make [wheelchair bags] too big," said Mrs. Cutchins, who said the women usually measure the wheelchairs and adjust the length of their bags accordingly.

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