Local yarn artists create a tight-knit group through hobby

DULUTH -- After retiring at 89, Margaret Gaskins needed a hobby to take up some of her free time. So she joined her local church's senior knitting club in Baltimore.

Her teacher called her a persistent knitter and in so she stuck with it and kept knitting.

When she moved to a senior home in Duluth, a manager complimented her on a knitted sweater and asked if she was interested in starting a knitting club. She was hesitant.

A year later, she found herself putting up signs for those interested in joining a knitting club.

"I wasn't interested in starting a knitting club, at first as I had never actually taught a class before," said Gaskins. " But I decided to do it and we [knitting club] are pleased with the work that we've done."

The club started with about four or five people, some who already knew how to knit, others wanting to learn the craft.

Club member Mary Byrd said at some people were a little hesitant to join.

"Not many were interested in the beginning because they thought they forgot how to knit," Byrd said. "But once they started doing it came right back to them, and now they love doing it."

The club has grown to 12 members between the ages of 70 and 95.

Ellen Barnes, club member, said she her grandmother taught her how to knit when she visited during the summers.

"It is very relaxing. I enjoy seeing the end result of what my efforts have been," Barnes said.

The results from this club's efforts have proved to be positive and helpful for the community.

This past year they knitted baby blankets and caps for the Newborns in Need Program and presented them to the president, Marlene Baker.

The program is a nonprofit charity that donates baby item to hospitals, homeless shelters, crisis center, county health units, sheriff offices, and any organization who provides for the needs of premature and newborn babies that are sick or in crisis.

The blankets and caps were for teen and drug-addicted mothers with high-risk premature babies in the Gwinnett area.

"It's good that we can do this for these babies. Some make it and some don't, and sometimes the blankets that we knit are used as keepsakes by the mothers," Byrd said.

The club meets twice each month during September through May.