Knitting to help refugees | News

Common Threads has been actively making hats, scarves and other goodies only for a short time, but they’re already stepping up in a big way to send handmade goods to Ukrainian refugees.

Taking its name from a sister group in Australia, Common Threads meets twice a week at St. Peter’s of the Valley Episcopal Church in Basalt to work on projects that will be shared with the community. Some group members knit, some crochet, and others cross stitch or sew. So far, the group has made a quilt for the church’s altar and donated some goods to Stepping Stones, a youth-mentoring program that supports young people in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Now, the group has set its sights a little farther away from home, knowing there is a big need to fill.

“This is, I would say, the second project we’ve done, and it’s certainly the biggest,” said Sue Craver, chairperson of Common Threads. “On television they were talking about how cold they were over there and they really needed things, and I thought, ‘Well, we can do that.'”

It was Craver’s idea to find a way to send things to refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. Through Lifting Hands International, an international humanitarian organization, Common Threads plans to send two large boxes of handmade goods overseas this week. The items don’t have to be seasonal, Craver said, so the group can experiment with making things that will last a little longer — like cotton baby blankets, slippers and toys.

Craver said she’s been knitting since college, but this week she tried her hand at making a stuffed dog for the very first time. There’s always something new to learn, and in the future, she plans to try making teddy bears, stuffed rabbits and other animals.

“All I’ve knit before in my knitting life is clothes,” she said, examining what would soon be the head of a little gray dog. “If you’ve run across something in a knitting pattern that you can’t do — and I do all the time. I’ve been knitting for 60 years and I still run into things I can’t do — you go on to YouTube and there are like 14 different tutorials.”

Lifting Hands supplies Common Threads with a shipping label for $15 per box, and Common Threads can send as many boxes as they like, in whatever size they like, to Lifting Hands’ home base in Salt Lake City. There, they will be picked up and delivered to wherever the greatest need is. Craver said it was important to find a reliable organization to deliver the goods, and Lifting Hands fit the bill.

Craver mailed the first two large boxes on Friday, after all the items were blessed by Priest Wendy Huber on March 27. Craver said that it’s nice to know that everything in the boxes was blessed, even if future recipients have no idea.

“It’s a nice thought that it’s going out with a blessing from St. Peter’s,” she said.

The two boxes contained twice as many items as Craver had initially expected — in fact, she had to order a second shipping label from Lifting Hands because she originally thought she would only be sending one box. In addition to the 15 members of Common Threads who contributed hats, slippers, blankets and toys, friends, neighbors and fellow congregation members also dropped off bags of their own crafts to be donated. Craver said she had no way of knowing exactly how many people contributed to the effort, but it amazed her.

“I’m astonished at the outpouring,” she said. “I mean, not just from our tiny little group here, but every day there are things out in that box out at the front door, and some of them have names on them, others don’t.”

In the future, Common Threads plans to continue donating handmade goods to wherever there is a need — whether it’s as near as Glenwood Springs or as far away as Ukraine.

“I think it could be a year-round project, as long as there’s a need,” she said. “I think the list is probably endless.”

Common Threads is not seeking additional donations from the community, but anyone who would like to send items to Lifting Hands International can find a needs list on its website and a link to purchase a shipping label.

Items needed for the Ukraine response range from clothes to school supplies to bed linens. More information can be found at liftinghandsinternational.org/ukraine_response.

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