Last updated: July 17. 2013 6:13PM - 121 Views
Joanie Newman

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Handmade in the U.S.A. can only be topped by Made from the Heart in the U.S.A., which is exactly what the more than 200 blankets that Stitches of Love at Racine make.
Stitches of Love is a group of ladies who join together on Thursday evenings at the Racine Community Center to fellowship in the nearly lost art of crocheting.
With each loop of their yarn, love is crocheted into delicately soft and warm baby blankets. These are then donated to the infant units at area hospitals.
The deal was, once you learned to crochet, you made a blanket to donate to the childrens hospital, group organizer Sherry Sharp, said.
Every other month, a trip is made to the Charleston hospitals to drop off the blankets collected and made by the ladies.
The first baby to ever receive a Stitches of Love blanket was a baby boy named Gregory, who the women kept going back to see in the hospital.
He was there for four or five months," Sharp said.
"It might surprise some people that there are as many as 25 to 30 babies in the infant ward every month," she said.
The group hopes to start a baby book, or baby album, one day soon to keep the mementos shared with them by appreciative parents of these newborn babies.
Kay got a letter from one of the mothers. Her baby blanket went to a little girl and the mother told her that you dont realize what it means to have something made for you from someone who doesnt know you but just wants you to feel better, Sharp said.
This lovely group of ladies have been meeting for every bit of two years and they plan to continue to meet at the Racine Community Center through the summer months, thanks to the Boone County Parks and Recreation.
We average about 20 ladies, Sharp said.
The youngest recruit, however, happens to be 10-year-old Brian, though the group of ladies chidingly say that the few hours they are able to gather together each Thursday is really their girl time.
Thats another thing weve told ladies if you dont want to crochet, thats okay, just come and socialize, Sharp said.
If you are open to instruction, this talented crew is ready to pass along years worth of accumulated knowledge and wisdom.
For Sharp, crocheting began when her grandmother picked up a skeen of yarn and a few needles and proceeded to teach her the craft.
My father was in the military and when he would take a 30 day leave, we would come home to Breezeville, W.Va., where my grandmother taught me how to crochet, Sharp fondly said.
In addition to blankets, the women make items for themselves, their family members and friends.
From floppy crochet hats to delicate baby booties, the items are only limited by the womens imaginations.
Sitting down with the ladies this past Thursday afternoon, this reporter witnessed a lot of camaraderie and pattern-swapping.
There were ooooos and aaaaahhs when members shared their creations with the others from a brightly colored Fourth of July blanket to furry white angel wings.
Each year, the women also team up to create a special blanket that is given as a door prize for the American Cancer Societys first Monday in October.
Each woman crochets a block; then, all of the blocks are sewn together to form a large blanket. This years blanket is made completely of pink blocks. Some of the blocks have the design of a ribbon in them, while others are plain and square.
An item that the women see growing in popularity is the prayer shawl is that if you know someone who is downhearted, a shawl is made for them. Then, the person and the shawl are prayed over. The idea is that each time that person feels down, they wrap the shawl around themselves and have the prayers of the congregation with them.
The women say these make perfect gifts for graduates, parents of graduates, new mothers, military spouses and those who have lost a loved one.
The ladies have also been involved with making hats for the American Cancer Society in Kanawah City and say that they have been told of a drive for sending scarves to military personnel in Afghanistan.
The amount of yarn for a project depends exclusively on the project undertaken, though it is recommended that a beginner bring at least 2 skeens of yarn of different colors and a G hook.
These items, the group says, can be found at hobby and craft supply stores, though the women are quick to point out that they have to travel many miles outside of Boone County in order to find the supplies they need.
Anyone is welcome to join the ladies if they are interested in learning to crochet.
They meet every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Racine Community Center.
Crocheting is a dying art. If you dont pass it down, no one will have it, Sharp said.
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