GORHAM — One can only knit so many hats, scarves and throws before an avid knitter has a house run over by fiber wear.

Meeting at the First Parish Church regularly, a group of women have been channeling their knitting needs to creating prayer shawls for the community. Having heard of a new nonprofit SHE Creations they have decided to shift their focus to make goods for cancer patients, Lynn Kallcoh said.

SHE Creations, which stands for Stitching Heaven and Earth, is a non-denominational organization started by Cassie Nelson, of New Hampshire. Nelson wanted to focus on getting people to knit for cancer patients in need of some comfort. With Kalloch stepping up as the coordinator for Maine, Nelson now has chapters in four states.

So rather than knitting up prayer shawls, the group has shifted to patterns for chemo caps, scarves and lap throws to donate to local hospitals and cancer centers. In the process, Kalloch said they are hoping to get more members of the community involved.

Earlier this week they held a meeting to recruit volunteers to create knitted or crocheted items for those undergoing cancer treatment. Kalloch said this requires the use of soft yarns, simple patterns that don’t create texture and are created in a seamless fashion. She said people going through treatment often have sensitive skin and the softer, smoother the hat the better. Jani Darak-Druck, manager of volunteer services at the Cancer Community Center in South Portland, said they have received donations of hats in the past and patients are very appreciative to have something to cover their heads with.

“When you lose your hair, you feel so vulnerable and exposed,” she said, adding that most people prefer to wear hats.

“It’s a terrible thing if someone has to have cancer. We try to make them as comfortable as possible,” Robyn Shaw said. “Patients who lose their hair to treatment really, really like them.”

Shaw, Maine Medical Center’s Gibson Pavilion administrative support person, said people have been donating caps for years, but more are always welcome. She said the scarves and throws are nice additions as well.

“I remember, I wasn’t sick at the time, but one of my sisters gave me a fleece blanket. She said, ‘It’s like having a hug from me when I’m not around.’ A lot of times, patients are here by themselves,” Shaw said. “It’s comforting to have something warm… People that are making these things really care about other people in need.”

Kalloch, who has been knitting most of her life, said the shawls they have knit have been blessed by the ministry. While people are working on each item, she said, they often say their own prayers.

For this new group knitting caps, scarves and throws, she said they will take a non-denominational approach to include more people. While they may be taking the element of prayer out of the mix, their level of care for those receiving the items will not change.

“We’re trying to supply cancer centers through the whole state and get knitters through the whole state,” to give every cancer patient the opportunity to have something handmade and comforting while they receive treatment, Kalloch said.

“It’s such a great idea. I don’t knit myself, but I have admiration for the people who do,” Shaw said. “It’s a great story when you hear people willing to help others like that.”

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]