Knitting to help refugees | News

Common Threads has been actively manufacturing hats, scarves and other gifts for a short time, but they are already significantly stepping up the shipment of handmade products to Ukrainian refugees.

Taking its name from a sister group in Australia, Common Threads meets twice a week at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church of the Valley in Basalt to work on projects that will be shared with the community. Some members of the group knit, some crochet and others cross stitch or sew. So far, the group has made a quilt for the church altar and donated some items to Stepping Stones, a youth mentorship program that supports young people in the Roaring Fork Valley.

From now on, the group has set its sights a little further from home, knowing that there is a big need to be filled.

“This is, I would say, the second project we’ve done, and it’s definitely the biggest,” said Sue Craver, president of Common Threads. “On TV they were talking about how cold they were there and they really needed things, and I was like, ‘Well, we can do this.'”

It was Craver’s idea to find a way to send things to refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. Through Lifting Hands International, an international humanitarian organization, Common Threads plans to send two large boxes of handmade goods overseas this week. Items don’t have to be seasonal, Craver said, so the group can experiment with making things that will last a little longer, like cotton baby blankets, slippers and toys.

Craver said she’s been knitting since college, but this week she tried her hand at making a stuffed dog for the very first time. There’s always something new to learn, and in the future she plans to try making teddy bears, stuffed bunnies, and other animals.

“All I’ve knitted before in my life as a knitter is clothes,” she said, examining what would soon become the head of a small gray dog. “If you’ve come across something in a knitting pattern that you can’t do – and I do it all the time. I’ve been knitting for 60 years and I still come across things I can’t do – you go to YouTube and there are about 14 different tutorials.

Lifting Hands provides Common Threads with a shipping label for $15 per box, and Common Threads can send as many boxes as they want, in any size they choose, to the Lifting Hands base in Salt Lake City. There they will be picked up and delivered to where the need is greatest. Craver said it was important to find a reliable organization to deliver the goods, and Lifting Hands fit the bill.

Craver sent out the first two large boxes on Friday, after all the items were blessed by priest Wendy Huber on March 27. Craver said it’s good to know that everything in the boxes has been blessed, even if the intended recipients have no idea.

“It’s a good idea that it comes out with the blessing of Saint Peter,” she said.

Both boxes contained twice as many items as Craver had originally anticipated – in fact, she had to order a second shipping label from Lifting Hands as she originally thought she would only send one box . In addition to the 15 Common Threads members who provided hats, slippers, blankets and toys, friends, neighbors and members of the congregation also dropped off bags of their own crafts to donate. Craver said she had no way of knowing exactly how many people contributed to the effort, but she was surprised.

“I’m amazed at the outpouring,” she said. “I mean, not just from our very small group here, but every day there are things in this box at the front door, and some of them have names, some of them don’t.”

Going forward, Common Threads plans to continue donating handmade goods wherever there is a need, whether as close as Glenwood Springs or as far away as Ukraine.

“I think it could be a year-round project, as long as there’s a need,” she said. “I think the list is probably endless.”

Common Threads does not seek additional donations from the community, but anyone wishing to send items to Lifting Hands International can find a list of needs on its website and a link to purchase a shipping label.

Items needed for the Ukrainian response range from clothing to school supplies to bed linen. More information can be found at liftinghandsinternational.org/ukraine_response.