Community comes together for 12-hour Knit-a-Thon

Ella Abbott

 Yarn enthusiasts took over the fourth floor of the University Library Friday for the annual Knit-a-Thon.

The event was held by Knitting for Those in Need, a campus group that knits accessories for the homeless.

During the Knit-a-Thon, students and community members joined together to knit and crochet hats and scarves. The group also makes “twiddle muffs,” a special item created for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Twiddle muffs are a new item the group recently began making. They are made for keeping the wearer’s fingers warm with embellishments added to give idle hands something to play with.

“We’re basically trying to get a lot of them made, and then we’ll go around to all the nursing homes and the hospitals … to give them out,” said Diane Baldridge, the founder of Knitting for Those in Need.

Baldridge said teachers and parents have asked about the muffs for children with ADHD or autism to give their hands something to play with while in class.

The event offers students an opportunity for Flashperks and service hours for their fraternities and sororities, but also a way to help the community.

“I learned how to knit when I was in middle school,” said Arden Braund, a sophomore managerial marketing major who volunteered at the event. “I heard about this event and I figured what a great way to renew my skills and what a great way to give back to the community.”

The group began as a student organization in 2011 by Baldridge, who attended Kent State as a nontraditional student.

“We started it in 2011 and that year we won several awards on campus for our new initiative and for our work,” Baldridge said. “And then it’s just been going on since.”

The group grew and eventually expanded to include a group in downtown Kent after Baldridge graduated in 2012.

“We’re a true town and gown organization,” she said. “But we’re one big, happy family.”

The Knit-a-Thon began at 9 a.m. and went on for 12 hours as volunteers came through the library to offer a few hours of service.

Braund spent more than three hours on the fourth floor making use of her knitting skills.

“I’m a little bit sweaty, a little bit hungry,” she said. “I need to replenish my resources, but it was worth it.”

Outside of the Knit-a-Thon, Knitting for Those in Need meets on the fourth floor of the library every Friday afternoon, and members knit items for donation.

“I’m in a sorority and we have to get service hours, and that’s why I started coming,” said Julia Kelch, a sophomore political science major. She attended the Knit-a-Thon and goes to the club’s regular meetings. “Me and, like, three of my sorority sisters, we come every week because this is so fun, so relaxing.”

The group accepts novice knitters and will help teach new members how to knit or crochet.

Te group partnered with Knitted Knockers, an organization which makes knitted prosthetic breasts for women who have undergone a mastectomy.

“We’ve been doing (Knitted Knockers) for less than two years now,” Baldridge said. “And we’ve sent out over a thousand of them to women all over the state of Ohio.”

On Nov. 27, the group will have a table in the Student Center where members will be selling items that can’t be donated in an effort to supplement its costs. They will have the table open from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

“We’ll probably have some Christmas-themed stuff and different hats you can buy and scarves and bags,” said Riley Weatherholt, the president of Knitting for Those in Need.

The Knit-a-Thon had more than 100 people come through the first floor to lend their time to the project. Weatherholt said they began to run low on supplies due to the large turnout.

“We’re really thrilled with the amount of people here,” she said. “Everyone is just really excited to be working on all these cool projects.”

The group meets on campus in the library at 4 p.m. every Friday and the downtown branch meets at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays at Last Exit Books.

Ella Abbott is the fashion reporter. Contact her at [email protected].