with AJ Wolff and Carol Alt

Our Knit n’ Chat is now really a fun time of catching up along with showing off any current project we are doing.  Some of us are still away in our summertime digs but can join on Zoom which has really been fun to see their places. Zoom is both a challenge to deal with and a new kind of joy in sharing our personal space. Often there are family members that pass behind us or cats on the key board with tails filling the camera eye. We miss the hugs but enjoy our time of connecting. So, please join us on the first and third Tuesday of the month by emailing ajwolffie@yahoo.com for the zoom link which is sent out the day before.

I have a personal joy–a knitting anniversary–making Peace Pal Dolls for two years. In January of 2018 the Knit n’ Chat group found out about Knit4Peace, a worldwide organization. They had a pattern for Peace Pal Dolls which started me on a journey I never expected. I made 243 dolls over the next ten months for this organization. But the anniversary I am writing about is the one I have with a local organization, Hope Family Services; Serving Domestic Violence Survivors in Manatee Co. Every month I deliver dolls I have made to their counseling office. After I have delivered the dolls I get a personal letter in the mail from the director thanking me with little hand written comments like “We love, love, love Peace Pals” Thanks again!”.  This always fills my heart because I truly know I have made a small difference in the lives of people in our community whom I will never meet but do know that I put a smile on the faces of 385 children and counting with my handmade dolls.

Here is the story of how this all began in the fall of 2018 when MUUF had a school supplies drive for Hope Family Services and I was one of a number of members who delivered the supplies and got a tour of the counseling center along with a very hidden emergency shelter. In the shelter a toddler was standing on a sofa leaning against the back of a it watching us tour the open space kitchen, the toddler watched with such big soulful eyes it touched my heart. The mother was sitting away on another sofa lost in her own moments of despair and I wished I could give that child something to bring a little joy/comfort. We finished the tour and I continued to think of that child watching us and contacted the director asking if they would like Peace Pal dolls to give to the babies and children when they come into the shelter. They have come to use the dolls in counseling both at the center and at schools in the county. Wow, when I look back what a simple thing that brings me joy in the making has had on my community.

During the pandemic: We are now on Zoom and enjoying our two meetings each month. The group has grown and decided that we will continue to meet through the summer, now that distance doesn’t matter. We are
exploring new ideas to do knitting projects for social justice groups. Members are continuing to create for the Knit 4Peace organization which is
reopening in July, as well as doll making for the Bradenton Women’s Shelter.
We will meet the second and fourth Tuesdays each month at 10am on Zoom. Please contact me, AJ Wolff, for the link to join meetings. ajwolffie@yahoo.com

In normal times the meetings are monthly as a friendly group, a “drop in” open gathering that meets from 10:00 am to noon.
On-going projects:

  • Joint project with Lakewood Ranch UUs selling knit, crochet, and craft items at the November Farmers Market on Main Street in Bradenton for the benefit of Turning Points. This highly successful event in 2019 will be repeated in November 2020.
  •  AJ Wolff continues with our monthly delivery of Peace Pal dolls to Hope Family Services. The dolls are given to the children who come in the shelter as well as given to children in counseling at their schools. Annually Hope Family Services help nearly 480 women with children of which 300 are children recovering from domestic violence. The staff is always excited to see the dolls. For more information www.hopefamilyservices.org and Hope Chest Thrift Store on 8th Avenue West in Bradenton, where you can buy the dolls and other items.
  • The Welcome Blanket Project www.welcomeblanket.org . We made two blankets to give to new U.S. immigrants. This is a practical gift which will also carry words of welcome and connection. Many of us knit squares which were then crocheted together for the blanket.
  • Our group continues with projects sending scarves to Knitting4Peace which totaled  20 colorful scarves sent during 2019.

Our work was on display before a shipment went off to Knitting 4 Peace in Denver.

We have an assortment of yarns so knitters can choose the colors and textures they want. Lots of yarn has been donated and we have help for new knitters.  One meeting AJ brought cotton yarn and everyone had fun making kitchen wash cloths.  Our MUUF Group is listed in the National Directory 0n www.knitting4peace.com

Pictured here are some of the wonderful scarfs and hats that were sent to the Knitting4Peace organization. Our scarves with those of other registered groups will be sent on to health clinics in third world countries to be given to patients.