Knit-Pickers provide warmth through homemade blankets

If Leila Miller and her fellow Knit-Pickers get their way, no sick children or traumatized family members will ever have to face life’s most difficult moments without the warmth of a homemade blanket.

If Leila Miller and her fellow Knit-Pickers get their way, no sick children or traumatized family members will ever have to face life’s most difficult moments without the warmth of a homemade blanket.

Miller is the director of the Bonney Lake Knit-Pickers, which meets at 9:30 a.m. weekly at the Bonney Lake Senior Center to create blankets through Project Linus, which donates the finished creations to hospitals, police and fire stations to distribute as needed.

Together with their fellow Puget Sound-area groups, the nonprofit organization delivers approximately 100 blankets each month.

The Bonney Lake Knit-Pickers formed in May 2005 after Miller heard of Project Linus and its success after watching the late Florence Seymour head up the Buckley group. Impressed with its mission, Miller brought the idea to Bonney Lake Senior Center Director Sue Hilberg.

“She thought it was a good idea,” she said. “We put it in the senior bulletin to see if it would fly and it’s been great.”

The Bonney Lake group averages between eight and 15 members, depending upon the time of year, she said. And with help from the community donations of yarn, batting and fabric, its members knit, crochet and sew quilts. Once completed, Miller sews a label onto the back of each blanket that features a blue heart – the logo for Project Linus – and reads “Project Linus.”

“We absolutely welcome anyone,” Miller said. “We’ve had young ones. And a gentleman came in when his son was out of school; he even joined us for a couple weeks making afghans.”

Miller said the group is not limited to those with expertise in knitting, crocheting or sewing because help is always available.

“The instructions are always there and so are the patterns,” she said. “If someone likes what we’re working on they’re welcome to use that pattern.”

Along with the patience and gentleness accompanying each stitch, members also form a closely-knit camaraderie.

“We can just sit and talk and have a great old time,” she said.

Miller delivers the finished products monthly to the regional headquarters in Lakewood, where they are sorted by size and free of any fragrances or cigarettes. From there, they’re bagged and ready for the community.

The work never ends because neither do the needs.

“Usually that same afternoon after sorting, we’ve already had requests for more blankets,” she said. “All they have to do is call.”

The blankets’ creators never hear the rest of the story – until recently. Miller recalled hearing of a Buckley family who had lost everything but the family Bible and church bulletin in a house fire, she said. As she was leaving the regional headquarters, she told the other volunteers she needed a quilt for the family’s baby.

“They chose a blue one,” she said. “That one just happened to be the one I’d donated.” Miller’s voice filled with emotion. “It touched me to think that here was this little teddy bear quilt going for this very precious little girl. That’s the first time I know of that I knew where it went – and it happened to be mine.”

Knowing the Knit-Pickers are helping to make a positive effect on others keeps her coming back week after week, she said.

“If there was every anyone in need, they’d absolutely help anyone who needed a blanket – all they have to do is call,” she said. “It just brings me joy to know we can help others who are less fortunate.”

For more information on the Knit-Pickers, to make a donation or find donation sites, call the Bonney Lake Senior Center at 253-863-7658 or visit the Project Linus Web site at www.projectlinus.org.

Reach Judy Halone at jhalone@courierherald.com or 360-802-8210.


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