The sounds coming from a cozy nook at Patty Dalka’s Northern Coffee Haus every Tuesday afternoon is a combination of soft clicks and happy chatter. An enthusiastic group gathers here once a week, and their goal is to not only enjoy each other’s company, but also learn and hone their knitting skills. In addition, every stitch they complete on a project brings them one step closer to helping a friend or neighbor in the community.
This industrious group meeting once a week to learn and hone their knitting skills, is the brainstorm of Candy Arts who felt this art was slowly going by the wayside. “My mother, Nora, taught me how to knit when I was 10 years old and I have been knitting ever since,” said Candy. “I have always enjoyed knitting and I wanted to share that with others so I started asking around if anyone would be interested in learning how.”
Candy put the word out about her idea at the YMCA of the Northwoods where she frequently works out. She asked a couple of her friends there if they would be interested in learning the craft. She got some positive responses and like a fruitful seed her idea grew. Those friends ask others and soon Candy had a group willing to meet to either learn the skill or hone what they already knew about the craft. Patty graciously offered her Northern Coffee Haus as a headquarters for these women which provides the perfect place.
“I wasn’t concerned about forming a formal group,” said Candy. “I just wanted to offer the knowledge to those that wanted to learn it in a relaxed atmosphere and the Northern Coffee Haus is a perfect spot.”
Some women came with no idea how to even start a project while others had knitted as young adults but the business of life had waylaid them in pursuing this craft. Candy started by teaching everyone how to “cast on” which is the foundation of intertwining the yarn on a knitting needle. Then knitting stitches were demonstrated and it wasn’t long before projects were proudly being displayed. Everything from scarves to sweaters to mittens and hats were all favorite projects.
Soon there was an abundance of these homemade items. The group talked about sharing their projects with others and Candy came up with a decorative, cast iron tree that she brought to the Coffee Haus. It wasn’t long before each branch was filled with handiwork of every caliber.
One of the members of this group is Melanie Tulowitsky. Melanie and her husband, Shane, adopted a baby from the Congo they named Mia, about five years ago, and were contemplating adopting another child from that region. But bringing a baby to America from halfway around the world is an expensive proposition. Melanie told her new friends about her family’s plans but the finding the funds to get the adoption started was a taunting task.
The group put their heads together and decided that one way they could make a difference, not only to the Tulowitsky family, but a needy child as well, was to sell their projects. Their tree became a “giving tree” and they decided to keep it up at Patty’s Coffee Haus and her patrons could browse over the items and purchase them. Before long Melanie had enough money to submit an application for a baby from the Congo, and the Tulowitsky family is now officially in the process of adopting a new little one. “It was amazing,” said Melanie. “The money I needed to file the adoption papers was exactly the amount we had raised with the giving tree so far.”
Helping their community is a big impetus for these women to keep on knitting but the craft has also opened doors to them they never thought possible. “I take my knitting with me wherever I go and often times a woman will come up and ask me about it,” said Jayne Bromann, a member of the group. “We get to chatting and pretty soon I have a new friend that I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for my knitting.”
Candy also encourages the group to make items that can be handed down through the generations.
“My mother knit me a Christmas stocking and she knit one for my husband, Tom too,” said Candy. “I knit one for my own daughter and I hope someday she will knit one for her daughter. Every year when I take them out all these wonderful memories come up. I think that’s because when you knit something you are putting your time and love into it. Each piece is different and unique and for me that’s what makes knitting so special.”
Associate Editor Mary Ann Doyle is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.