Knitting for Those in Need makes unique gifts for breast cancer survivors

Katherine Mohnacky, a senior early childhood education major (left), Samantha Hunker, a sophomore fashion merchandising major and Zoe Katz, a sophomore fashion merchandising major, enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with one another and help create knitted goods for the homeless Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.

Emily McMahan

A student organization is using needles and yarn to help combat the effects of breast cancer.

Knitting for Those in Need works hand-in-hand with Knitted Knockers, a breast cancer awareness organization based out of Washington, to create handmade prosthetic breasts for women who have gone through mastectomies or other breast procedures.

“I’m not exactly a knitter,” said Diane Baldridge, founder of the group. “I’m a humanitarian.” 

Knitted knockers are lightweight sacks that can be put in bras to mimic the appearance and feel of real breasts.

Baldridge found out about the product through a high school friend who went through a mastectomy. Guided by the advice of the Kent State University Women’s Center, a place Baldridge worked in heavily as an undergraduate, she created the group in 2015.

Since then, the organization has made over 1,000 knitted knockers to distribute all over the state of Ohio.

“You can learn a lot here, even if you know nothing about knitting,” said Riley Weatherholt, president of Knitting for Those in Need and senior chemistry major.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, according to statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In many instances, women have to undergo mastectomies, a removal of breast tissue, in order to treat the cancer.

Jennifer O’Connell, the director of Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services (SRVSS), is no stranger to this surgery.

“When all the tests came in…it was determined there was no way to save it,” O’Connell said. “The only thing they could do was a full mastectomy.”

Instead of buying breast prosthetics, which can be expensive, knitted knockers provides the women with a cheaper alternative.

On top of knitted knockers, the group also makes scarves, hats and other materials for the homeless and others in need. 

As for experience, it’s not required. Members often teach other members how to make the clothing.

“You only need a willingness to serve and an open heart,” Baldridge said.

Emily McMahan is the student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected]