Nitwits really don’t care about the numbers. Ask any of them and they don’t remember how many blankets, hats, gloves, socks or sweaters they have made.
It’s because they aren’t nitwits; they are the Knit Witts.
Barbara Daniels says it’s been at least 15 years since she proposed a weekly knitting group at the Pilgrim Senior Center. “They told me it wouldn’t last,” she said Friday afternoon. But the Knit Witts keep coming and the group keeps growing. With the exception of a couple of Fridays during the holiday season, the now more than 30-member group meets every week year-round. When they started off, seven or eight Knit Witts fit easily into a partitioned section of one of the center’s larger rooms. As it grew, additional sections of the room were opened until there were tables stretched like an assembly line down the middle of the room. Knitters face each other and tend to gather at the ends in small bunches. On Friday, about 20 Knit Witts were busily knitting, needles clicking and fingers flying, or talking and knitting.
“It gives us an outlet,” said Daniels. There are few requirements to being a member. Gender is not a consideration – Mike was with the group on Friday – nor is it speed or the level of skills. In fact, those wanting to learn and beginners are welcome.
But, as Daniels makes clear, if donated yarn is used, then the items produced go to one of the several causes supported by the group. Donations of yarn come from individuals and various retailers, but Knit Witters can also bring their own yarn and donate those creations, too.
Some are speedy, if they put their minds to it.
Eleanor DeAvilla (Daniel’s mother, who at 94 is the senior member of the group) can knit a hat at top speed.
“I can make one in an evening, if I don’t fall asleep,” she said.
There’s a team effort to some projects, with members taking on different aspects of the job. Nancy Zinkiewicz, a member for five or six years, has earned the title of the “Pompom Queen.” On Friday, working with small scissors, she trimmed pompoms that will adorn one of the baby hats for Women & Infants Hospital.
“It gets me out of the house, and I’m doing something creative,” she said, and laughed, “And I need someone to clean my house.”
Others gathered around and the banter begins.
Maggie DeCesare, who lives in Coventry and is also a member of the Linus knitting group in the center there, loves that the groups are helping one another. DeCesare always has her knitting needles with her.
“I used to work for a living,” she says, “but I don’t do that anymore; I don’t have time for it.”
Nearby, Ginger Stapleton knit a blanket. She prefers that to the more difficult hats, socks or sweaters, as she is legally blind.
“It’s all by feel,” she said, running fingers over the work.
The conversation shifts to the airport and Stapleton, who lives on Warwick Pond, talks about the changes to the area her neighborhood will see with the relocation of the Winslow Park playing fields. She paused in her knitting but, compelled by the urge to finish another project, picked it up again.
Many projects have been completed in the past year. Daniels produced a copy of the Pilgrim Senior Center News that noted that last year the Knit Witters made 1,233 hats that went to Women & Infants Hospital for newborns; 32 lap robes for nursing homes; 120 pairs of slippers for residents of the Sunny View Nursing Home; and 375 hats, 128 scarves and 43 pairs of gloves and mittens for the needy and homeless.
But the numbers are only a part of the story.