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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Jo Ann Knox knitted these hat and glove sets.

Knitting a happy ending

Woman keeps her needles busy helping others

Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
The prayer shawl group blesses the shawls. The women have completed 589 shawls since September 2006.
Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Jo Ann Knox has knitted since learning from an aunt more than 60 years ago. Now she creates hats, gloves and scarves for others.
Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Jo Ann Knox, third from left, leads a prayer during the prayer shawl group Thursday afternoon at Forest Park Methodist Church.

Jo Ann Knox learned to knit along with her mother at her aunt’s side during World War II.

It was then, at the age of 9, that she also learned the value of crafting for a cause.

At that time, the American Red Cross was collecting 6-inch-by-6-inch squares to put into blankets intended for wounded servicemen.

Today, at the age of 77 she’s still motivated to help folks using her preferred craft: knitting. Whether it’s lap blankets for Aging and In-home Services; hats for the Volunteer Center at RSVP; or shawls for a prayer shawl group at Forest Park Methodist Church, Knox keeps her needles busy for a cause.

From leftover yarn, Knox has churned out nine lap robes and one big blanket that she’s given to Aging and In-Home Services. In the past, she’s donated baby items to Baby’s Closet or Whitington Homes and Services, and she runs a prayer shawl ministry at her church.

“It’s a fun thing,” she said. “I get a warm feeling when I can do something like that.”

Knox has been asked why she doesn’t sell her goods, but she believes she couldn’t get out of it financially what she does emotionally by helping others.

Knox was recommended to Crafty Living by Ruth Malich, who appeared in a Feb. 28 column. Malich raved about Knox’s hats.

To date, since starting in 2004, Knox has knitted nearly 1,000 hats that have been donated to the less fortunate. So far this year, she has made 160 hats since January, which includes taking off the summer months to work in her yard and to work on her prayer shawls at the church.

The prayer shawl ministry meets from 1 to 3 p.m. the second Thursday of each month, except June, July, August and December, at Forest Park United Methodist Church, 2100 Kentucky Ave. The ministry started in September 2006 and, to date, the women who get together to make shawls have completed 589.

Prayer shawls can be given for any number of reasons: a hospital stay; a death in the family; the birth of a child.

“A prayer shawl really is a tangible prayer,” Knox said.

The ministry at Forest Park has chosen to give its shawls to those who are in crisis, be that because of the death of a loved one, a terminal illness diagnosis or other serious illness.

“It’s like God is there for them, that he’s there to see them through,” Knox said.

To open their prayer shawl sessions, the group lights a candle, which signifies God entering the ministry, and says an opening prayer. At the end of the two hours, if someone has brought in completed shawls, there is a blessing where each of those in attendance tries to get around the table and touch the shawl. Then, the meeting is closed with a prayer and the blowing out of the candle, Knox said.

On average, about 10 crafters show up each month and the group does welcome those who aren’t members of Forest Park United Methodist Church, Knox said.

Anyone interested in starting a prayer shawl ministry at their own church is also welcome to see how Knox’s group works. Anyone knowing someone in need of a prayer shawl can call the church 484-6696.

Knox pointed out that there is plenty of opportunity for people to get involved in crafting for a cause if they wish. When you figure out what it is you want to do, she says there are plenty of organizations to help.

Anyone interested in making hats, mittens and scarves can call the Volunteer Center at RSVP at 424-3505 (it also takes yarn donations). Blankets can go to Project Linus, which has a local chapter and can be found at www.bestlinus.org, to help local homeless shelters and crisis pregnancy centers.

Medical facilities have been known to take hats and caps for chemo patients. The list of possibilities is endless, Knox pointed out.

So why not get a group of crafting friends together and craft for a cause as we enter the colder months of the year?

Knit-in Nov. 14

National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week is Nov. 14 to 20, and in Fort Wayne, the Homeless Task Force is sponsoring a knit-in from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Allen County Public Library main branch in downtown Fort Wayne.

During the knit-in, participants will make hats and scarves that will go to local shelters. If you’re interested in learning to knit, you will have the opportunity. There will be free yarn and patterns, and refreshments will also be available.

Handmade or newly purchased hats, mittens and scarves can be dropped off at collection boxes inside the library’s main branch through Dec. 15. On Nov. 14, the day of the knit-in, those items can also be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at a drive-by drop site in the parking lot of Trinity English Lutheran Church. Food will also be collected at the library the day of the knit-in.

Organizers from the Homeless Task Force are hoping community members will join them on Nov. 14 to work together for a cause and learn more about the organization.

For more information about the knit-in and how you can help, e-mail hope4homeless.fw@gmail.com.

For more information on the Homeless Task Force visit homelesstaskforcefortwayne.org/.

If you are interested in starting a project at home, visit www.journalgazette.net/craftyliving and check out our pattern links on the left side of the website. We have patterns for knit and crochet scarves and hats listed alphabetically by craft.

Joyce McCartney is not a craft expert. She is, however, interested in crafting of all types. She shares her experiences and those of area crafters. To reach Joyce, call 461-8364 or e-mail craftyliving@jg.net. Also, go to the blog at www.journalgazette.net/craftyliving. Hear podcasts on knitting at Crafty Living: Math4Knitters.

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