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Loose Knit Group swaddles babies with their talents (Photo gallery)

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It started small. The idea of helping others was the primary focus. This is how A Loose Knit Group came to be.

JoAnn Carney, a volunteer with Fellows Riverside Gardens, was a member of the Ursuline Mother House’s Prayer Shawl Ministry. She knitted Prayer Shawls for those in need but she wanted to expand the idea of using her knitting ability to give to others.

She brought that thought to Anita Wesler, retired Horticulture Education Manager at Fellows Riverside Gardens Mill Creek MetroParks. Why not organize a group of knitters and crocheters in the area and do something similar?

Anita had heard of a project called “Warm Up America” where individual squares are knitted or crocheted then combined to make one completed afghan. These would then be given out to local organizations who supply items to homeless and others in need. Anita suggested naming the group A Loose Knit Group, and on Jan. 16, 2009, they welcomed 10 women for their first formal assembly.

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Donations of 4-ply acrylic yarn used in the making of the Afghans along with needles and patterns began pouring in to keep everyone well supplied. Any donated wool yarn was used to make wooly pockets for the Family Garden at Fellows Riverside Gardens. Many Afghans were given to the YWCA’s Women In Transition Program, The Sojourner House and the Beatitude House.

In December of 2011, member Lucia Yurco suggested the group make baby blankets for newborn babies at Akron Children’s neonatal intensive care unit at St. E’s and Akron Children’s special care nursery located on the Beeghly campus.

Lucia had somewhat of a personal connection as her cousin, Dr. Elena Rossi, is a neonatologist and associate chair of pediatrics for Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley. Dr. Rossi expressed a great need to Lucia for those newborns who go home with very little.

Armed with the bassinet dimension, A Loose Knit Group started work immediately. The beautiful creations were pouring in–each one a lovely, soft baby blanket to wrap the babies in and take with them when they go home.

To date, there have been 269 baby blankets and 81 baby caps (and counting) distributed, proving the love, generosity and talent of this exceptional group of women. The group has grown to 25 knitters and crocheters at each gathering.

Anyone interested in learning to knit or crochet is always welcome to join us. For more information, call Fellows Riverside Gardens 330-740-7116.