Kansas group donates items made with love, yarn

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topekan Michelle Huntsman was sorting through items at her mother’s home last year when she discovered hundreds of skeins of yarn.

Instead of throwing the yarn away, Huntsman Googled “Topeka crochet” and came across the Topeka Crochet Guild, which was formed about 5 1/2 years ago.

Her mother, who is deceased, loved to crochet, so Huntsman decided to donate the yarn to the guild.

Connie Gould, leader of the guild, invited Huntsman on Thursday night to visit the Baker’s Dozen, as guild members sorted through hats, scarves, afghans, baby blankets and more, all of which will be donated to charitable organizations and area hospitals. The items were handmade — crocheted or knitted — with yarn donated by Huntsman.

“I can always remember my mom having a crochet hook in her hand,” Huntsman said, as she wiped away tears. “This is what my mom would have wanted.”

Last year, the Topeka Crochet Guild donated 2,100 items. They topped that number this year, Gould said.

“Every year, our numbers have grown,” Gould said.

A snowman blanket that had been started by Huntsman’s mother was completed by one of the guild members. Huntsman and Gould held it up as Huntsman recalled her mother’s love of crocheting.

“We want you to have it,” Gould said.

Huntsman smiled and hugged Gould.

While there were tears Thursday night, there also was plenty of laughter.

“I’m just a hooker trying to keep Topeka warm,” said Sandra Harter, jokingly referring to the hooks used when crocheting.

The Topeka Crochet Guild meets at 1:30 p.m. the first and third Sunday of every month at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. Members also meet at 6:30 p.m. every Thursday at the Baker’s Dozen.

The guild uses only donated yarn to make items for charitable organizations and local hospitals. And while members make other donations throughout the year, the holidays are a perfect time to spread the warmth.

“Each piece is made with love,” Harter said.

Guild members range in age. Member Cathy Long, of Topeka, is currently teaching a 9-year-old how to crochet.

“We have retired teachers, retired nurses,” Gould said. “We have all walks of life.”

Hats made from extra-soft yarn for cancer patients, tiny colorful hats for babies in neonatal intensive care units and blankets made from camouflage yarn for veterans at Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center sat in piles on tables Thursday night. Small groups gathered around the tables and counted and sorted items. Members have even started making sleeping mats out of plastic shopping bags that can be spread on the ground to help protect the homeless from the wet ground.

Dog toys and small blankets for cages will be donated to Helping Hands Humane Society, too.

“It warms our hearts to be able to donate and help provide warmth,” said guild member Tricia Eddy, of Topeka.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com

AP KANSAS PANORAMA

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