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Crocheters create handmade ‘acrylic hugs’

A member starts a new project during a monthly potluck meeting. - Seraine Page
A member starts a new project during a monthly potluck meeting.
— image credit: Seraine Page

The Kitsap Fancy Crocheters Guild members are good at three things: crocheting, laughing, and donating items to charity.

Founded in 2005, the group is made up of avid crocheters working toward the goal of donating as many items as possible into the community. Nothing is ever sold as it always goes to someone in need.

The best part? It’s all done with donated yarn and donated time. In 2013 alone, the group gave away hundreds of items.

“Everything we do is for charity,” said Beth Boshears, founder and president.

Boshears decided to stop sending her crocheted pieces to the National Crocheters Guild to be mailed to someone she would never meet. She thought those pieces should go to someone locally.

The group’s items have gone to abused babies, cancer patients, veterans, and others in crisis situations. Members are young and old, newcomers and regulars.

“People come and go,” said Boshears of the members. “It’s a lifelong craft. Once you learn it, it will come back to you.”

On Wednesdays, the group gathers around a large table in the back room at Cafe Noir in Silverdale.

Out come the hooks and balls of yarn. Coffee and snacks are just a side note. The main event is usually getting squares done for afghans as it takes around 110 hours to make one as a group.

From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., the room is filled with crocheters going to town on their projects. Each has their own bag of colors they work with — sometimes as part of a large project, such as an afghan — at their own pace.

“It keeps us all out of the bars and off the streets,” joked member Dolores Still. “(I enjoy) getting to know everybody.”

Novices and experts alike are invited to take part in the weekly gathering. Last year there were 21 regular members, and the group hopes to add more, said Maurine Howard, vice president.

“If we had more people, we’d have so much more,” she said. It takes about 10 minutes to teach a newbie the basics of crocheting, she said.

And there’s plenty of yarn to go around.

The Kitsap Fancy Crocheters Guild has an entire storage locker full of yarn that’s accumulated over the years. Floor to ceiling, the 5 by 10 space has yarn in every color one can imagine.

Each “skein” as the balls of yarn are called, has been donated to the guild. Twice a year the guild has a “yarn winding party” where members gather at a fire station to unravel and bag yarn for future projects.

“Give us your yarn and we’ll do it,” said member Maggie Jones, who others claim is the fastest crocheter around. Jones has been at the craft since first grade.

Within a matter of hours, Jones can craft a hat to be donated to the Washington Veterans Home in Retsil, one of the group’s largest projects of the year.

Before Christmas, 85 hats need to be crocheted. For average crocheters, it generally takes between three and five hours to make a hat, which are “the best of the best” for the vets, Boshears said.

Aside from creating charity items, the group also participates at the county fair and shares information on using plastic bags in environmentally-friendly crochet projects. Last year they took home a ribbon for best booth for a crocheted cow that fit the fair theme.

On the third Monday of each month, members gather for a potluck crochet event at the Clear Creek Community Club from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for a $5 fee to cover the room rental. Membership in the guild is $24 a year to cover the cost of the yarn  storage locker.

Community volunteers are welcome to join the group at any time as the guild meets year round. Free form and patterns are encouraged and used throughout the meeting for the projects.

“I used to be a slave to patterns, but I’m not anymore,” said Still, who has been at it for 60 years. “It’s just fun to know that you can look at a pattern and probably make whatever it is. Crochet is really popular nowadays.”

If you know someone deserving of an afghan or crocheted item, contact Beth Boshears at rezist@msn.com or 360-830-3360 for more information.

 

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