Stitch by stitch, the ladies of the St. Michael and All Angels Knitting and Sewing Group spread goodwill and cheer to people in need from their home base of Rose Blanche to as far away as Africa and South America.
The 20-member group has an extremely long and impressive list of items it creates to touch and enhance the lives of people who are coping with challenging life events.
The group meets in the basement of St. Michael and All Angels Church in Rose Blanche every Thursday night. Each member pays a weekly due of $3, which goes into a pot for purchasing material.
The ladies socialize while they work to create lap quilts for patients receiving chemotherapy treatments — quilts the patients then keep to comfort them at home.
The ladies sew bibs for every resident of their local long-term care home and knit afghans to drape over residents’ legs.
They knit hats for homeless people and orphans in Guatemala, sew dresses for children in South Africa and they put together emergency personal hygiene kits to donate to local hospitals, which include knitted slippers for men and women.
The ladies also knit teddy bears to include in baptismal bags given to each child baptized in their church. The list of all the items they produce for various groups is too extensive to list in its entirety.
Every item made by the ladies comes with a heavenly touch.
“When we get a pile of things, we take everything we make up to our church and Rev. Jeff Petten blesses everything before we give it out,” organizer Maxine Edwards explained.
The talented knitters and sewers have even branched out into making homemade medical aides. Their hand-knit prosthetic breasts are popular, as many breast cancer survivors find them more comfortable than store-bought prosthetics. The knitted breasts are fitted to match the size required by the recipient. The angels also comb local beaches for flat rocks to give the prosthetics some weight and help hold them in place.
Through a request from their local hospital caregivers, the ladies recently started making knitted or crocheted tachometer cases for heart patients who need to wear a monitor on the side of their body.
They are also looking into a request to make touch quilts for Alzheimer’s disease patients. The blankets would be created with different materials and textures that a patient can touch for comfort, such as a section with fur, one with a rough feeling and another one with strings that patients can tie.
The group was started in 2013 by sewing and knitting enthusiast Pamela Gosse, the wife of a former reverend who served at the Rose Blanche church.
“When they left and moved to Stephenville, myself and Edith Leamon decided to continue the group because we loved it so much,” Edwards said.
Although the group’s focus is on helping others, the weekly gathering is also therapeutic for its members, giving them an opportunity to learn, be creative and socialize.
“It’s a group of ladies that never had anything to do with one another at any other time,” Edwards said. “Some people can’t sew at all and they learn. And we’re there sewing and knitting, telling stories and laughing. It’s a beautiful time.”
As if they weren’t busy enough, the ladies also hold a couple of fundraising nights each year to pay back the church for using the heat.
“We do a local, old-fashioned concert every November, where we go onstage, perform and do skits. We sell out both nights,” Edwards said.
People and businesses also donate materials, money and sewing machines to help these knitting and sewing angels keep up their selfless work.
The ladies receive personal satisfaction from creating incredible work and from helping others through tough times.
“It is just the best feeling in the world. I can’t explain it and that’s why we all love it,” Edwards said.
The group especially enjoys hearing back from people who follow up with the ladies through the label they affix to each item they make.
“We send some lap quilts to the Ronald McDonald House for children,” Edwards said, “and we’ve had several pictures come back from families who’ve received those quilts. It’s beautiful.”
Edwards became emotional when she found out that a chemotherapy patient, who owns one of their quilts and found out about all the group does, suggested that The Gulf News write and share their story with a wider audience.
“That’s the best Christmas present I could have received: to know people appreciate what we do,” Edwards said between tears. “The ladies will be so happy to hear it.”
This content originally appeared in YULETIDE PREPARATIONS, a SaltWire custom publishing title.