Friday, February 12, 2021

Raymond club crafts warm hats, mittens for local students

Members of the Raymond Community Knitting
and Crocheting Club made and donated 25 pairs
of mittens and hats to students at Raymond
Elementary School. SUBMITTED PHOTO
By Ed Pierce

When the pandemic arrived in Maine last March, a devoted group of Raymond knitters and crocheters just weren’t ready to put down their needles and find another hobby. In fact, they saw the pandemic as an opportunity to continue doing what they love while helping others at the same time.

While practicing social distancing and wearing masks, the dozen or so members of the Raymond Community Knitting and Crocheting Club have kept on meeting twice a month at the Raymond Village Community Church, sharing camaraderie, cups of tea and a love for the craft of creating projects that keep others warm in the winter. The club started three years ago and not only is an outlet for creativity, but also to keep friends and neighbors busy and engaged in life.

“It’s really about getting to know other people person to person,” said Brenda Olsen, a member of the Raymond Community Knitting and Crocheting Club. “People come here as much for socialization as much as they do to knit and crochet.”

The club is open to anyone with an interest in knitting or crocheting in the Raymond and Windham communities and meets from 2 to 4 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month.

“I really like crocheting,” Olsen said. “It keeps my hands busy and I’m able to make small projects fast. All of the projects I make I then give away as gifts.”

According to Olsen, even though the Raymond Community Knitting and Crocheting Club meets at Raymond Village Community Church, it’s not a religious organization.

“Everyone is invited, regardless of skill,” she said. “It is nice to meet and get new ideas and help with projects.”

She said that some club members are experienced at knitting and crocheting while others are just learning.

“We can teach you how to do it if you would like to learn,” Olsen said.

After decades of decline, knitting and crocheting is enjoying a revival in popularity as the internet has made it easier to share patterns and connect with others worldwide who are passionate about making items by hand and crafts in general. Yarn and craft shops are rebounding as sources for material and interactive ideas for new projects.  

In case you were wondering, knitting and crocheting are vastly different activities. Knitting uses a pair of long needles to form loops, moving a set of loops back and forth from one needle to another while the stitches are held firm on the needle. Crocheting is a bit simpler, using a single hook to hook yarn loops together directly, making crocheting a great deal easier to perform than knitting.  

Olsen herself became interested in knitting and crocheting after attending a beginner’s class at Rosemary’s Yarn Shop in Windham a few years ago.

“Knitting and crocheting is sort of an underground activity, she said. “Many people first hear about it through word of mouth. I tried it and was hooked. It’s a great pursuit.”

Last year club members made several hats and gave them to the Seafarer’s Mission, which were then distributed to sailors from all over the world, who come to Portland or other ports along the coast of Maine.

“This year an idea was presented from a member of our group, Sarah Allen, who told us about her friend, a teacher in Norway, who said that children were coming to school last fall without hats and mittens.

“We realized that this probably happens a lot in our communities,” Olsen said. “We checked with the Raymond Elementary School and they were delighted to have us make hats and mittens for the young school children.”

Last week the club presented the school with 25 sets of hats and mittens for students with most made from donated yarn.

“On average it takes about an hour to make a hat,” Olsen said. “It runs about an hour to make a pair of mittens.” 

She said club members were happy to work on such a meaningful project and see their handiwork be used to keep children warm.

“Everyone who worked on these hats and mittens had fun doing it and we’re pleased they will be used by the children,” Olsen said.

Raymond Elementary School Principal Beth Peavey said that the school is appreciative of the donation.

It's heartwarming to have a thoughtful community organization such as the Raymond Community Knitting and Crocheting Club donate 25 handmade hats and mittens,” Peavey said. “Each student who has picked out a hat or mitten walks out of the office with a big smile and is ready to brave the winter air. We are so thankful and grateful for the generous donation.”        

For more information about the Raymond Community Knitting and Crocheting Club, call 207-655-7749 or send an email to < 

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