The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, March 17, 2005  

Surely You Have Some Spare Yarn

If you’re a knitter, or you’re aware of how therapeutic knitting can be, please take a few moments to read “New Knitters are Learning Perseverance and Patience,” by Lucia Herndon, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 16, an essay about the columnist’s recent visit to Interim House, a residential substance-abuse treatment center in this city’s Germantown neighborhood, from which these quotes, were, um, pulled:

Like knitters everywhere, we talked about current projects, our troubles, and our successes with them. [...]

There’s no real budget for the yarn handicrafts at Interim. Executive director Kathy Wellbank has been paying for yarn out of her own pocket. [Social worker Kathy] Duffy has been making needles by pencil-sharpening wooden dowels. [Ed.: !] Trouble is, there are not caps at the opposite end, so sometimes the ladies wind up knitting right off the needles. Sometimes the polishing of the point isn’t the best, so yarn snags instead of gliding along.

The Interim House needle supply made me -- owner of at least five of each size of needle in plastic, metal and wood -- want to cry. Partly out of frustration that they have to put up with these needles and partly out of guilt: My bag that day had at least 20 pairs tucked away. Short and long, circular and double-pointed -- I never met a needle I didn’t like.

The topic of the day was Martha Stewart’s release from prison and the poncho she wore. The cry went up from the room: “Let’s make ponchos!”

“Easy enough,” I said. “Just two big rectangles sewn together and fringed,” I said. “Really, very easy.”

Easy enough if you happen to have 800 yards of chunky wool and size 11 needles.

And, believe it or not, not everyone does.

Herndon’s column concludes with this message: “For information about Interim House, call 215-849-4606. Or visit online at and click on affiliates.” [Doing so takes one to this page.]

It’s too late at night just now for me to call Interim House to get details about sending these women needles, yarns, and patterns, but I can’t imagine they wouldn’t gratefully accept your offerings. And since most of the knitters I know, including one in particular, a knitter I’ve known for some 40 years, are surrounded by an abundance of supplies -- most related to worthy projects not pursued, due to no fault of the knitter, I’m sure -- might I suggest those engaged in this noble endeavor hobby share a bit of their wealth?

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