Anne Hawkins, 79, knitter whose profits went to charity

December 21, 2005|By JACQUES KELLY | JACQUES KELLY,SUN REPORTER

Anne Hawkins, who sold sweaters and blankets she knitted and then signed the checks over to charity, died of emphysema Dec. 14 at Charlestown Retirement Community. She was 79.

A retired bookkeeper and accountant, she savored liberal Democratic politics and social causes. After moving to Baltimore in 1991, she found she could sell her knitting at the Woman's Industrial Exchange, and she gave the proceeds to charities such as the Salvation Army, the Fuel Fund of Maryland and Beacon House in Washington, D.C.

"She didn't suffer fools and hated sloppy sentimentalism," said her husband, John Hawkins, a retired public school math teacher. "She was heavy into politics and was always an ardent Democrat."

Born Anne Cover Barton in Winchester, Va., she moved to New York City when she was 22.

Mrs. Hawkins, who was profiled in a Sun article last year, said her first knitting work was a navy blue cardigan and a green-and-blue skirt. "I was fascinated, right from the get-go," she told a reporter. "There's always something to learn - a new pattern, a new stitch."

In New York City, she was a bookkeeper at Chase Manhattan Bank and lived for a while in post-World War II Germany. She later kept the books at a Harlem settlement house.

"I still have the first sweater she knitted for me, and it must have been washed 400 times," her husband said yesterday. "She was meticulous until the very end. And she was consistent. If a project took three weeks, it took three weeks."

The couple lived for several years in the early 1970s in Putnam County, N.Y., where Mrs. Hawkins was controller for a Mercedes-Benz dealership.

"She liked to be on the move and often got bored with jobs," her husband said. "So we went out to New Mexico, where she took up all sorts of political causes and jobs."

In 1991, they moved to Baltimore because New York City was too expensive and Washington seemed "a nice place to visit, but not live," her husband said,

They liked the downtown and moved into an apartment at Chesapeake Commons on Howard Street. They became volunteers at Our Daily Bread and the Walters Art Museum's gift shop.

The couple had lunch one day at the Woman's Industrial Exchange. Mrs. Hawkins became acquainted with its manager and found a retail outlet for her knitting. She submitted an afghan coverlet based upon a design from the Aran Islands of Ireland.

"The salespeople at the exchange weren't impressed," The Sun's article said. "That is, until a group of visitors from the Smithsonian Institution happened upon the Exchange. One of the women examined her afghan and remarked: `Now that's knitting.'"

The afghan sold, and Mrs. Hawkins produced more. When sales were slow at the Baltimore exchange, she offered her woolen goods to a sister exchange in Brooklyn, N.Y., which in time became a major outlet for her products.

Mrs. Hawkins never gave up her interest in politics. "We drove to Iowa to campaign for Bill Bradley for three weeks in 1999," her husband said. "She was a Democrat, but she could be picky. She backed Bradley, Ross Perot, Howard Dean and John Anderson."

About six years ago, she lost sight in her left eye, but kept on knitting and consigning sweaters, ponchos, scarves and blankets for sale. At her death, there were several in the exchange's inventory.

"She never cashed the checks she got and just re-endorsed them over to us," said Mary Ellen Vanni, the Fuel Fund's director. "She had a detachment from material things and over the years gave us about $10,000."

At Mrs. Hawkins' request, no funeral will be held.

In addition to her husband, survivors include two daughters, Elizabeth C. Teviotdale of Kalamazoo, Mich., and Ramsay W. Teviotdale of Arlington, Va.; and a stepdaughter, Margaret M. Hawkins of Stewartstown, Pa. Her marriage to David Teviotdale ended in divorce.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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