‘Hats for the Homeless’

When Crisma Biggs says she’s woolgathering, she’s not day dreaming – she’s producing.

The Bainbridge High School senior and her crafting classmates have formed a new knitting brigade, with the as-yet-unnamed group making items for charity.

Biggs had the inspiration after noting a knitting trend around BHS last fall.

“I noticed that one girl brought her knitting to school back in October. Then you’d see more and more bringing in their little ‘Churchmouse’ bags,” Biggs said, referring to the knitting supply store that opened in Winslow last year.

“I knew that a friend, Amanda Johncock had had a party where people knitted hats they gave away in Seattle, so I took their idea of knitting things for people and decided to make it a high school knitting club.”

Biggs, an active student on the BHS campus – playing sports and writing for the school newspaper, the Campus Voice – knew how to get official sanction for her club at the high school.

“You have to have faculty advisors and you have to be a club for a year before you can get (Associated Student Body) funds,” Biggs said.

She approached junior Courtney Smith so that the club would have continuity after Biggs graduates in June. Then she enlisted BHS front-office secretaries Georgia Figgins and Mary Sue Silver as club advisors. Although knitting novices, the two agreed to help.

An old hand

Biggs is an old hand at wool stitchery, learning when she was in fourth grade.

“I was really hyperactive as a kid,” she said. “My mother taught me to knit because she thought it would keep me out of her hair. I remember I tried to make a scarf and it came out really uneven.”

Biggs put down her needles and only picked them up again recently. This time the scarf she made for a friend was such a success that she was tempted to keep it for herself.

“I did keep the hat I made to match it,” Biggs said.

At a recent meeting of the new club, Biggs and seniors Becca Ivey and Sarah Camiel knit with sophomore Veronica Ivey. The group used a variety of needles with colored wool and acrylic.

“I think wooden needles are easier because the wool stays on better,” Ivey said, watching the wool slide down her metal needles, “but they are hard to find.”

Biggs demonstrated the difference between the “knit” stich and the “purl” stitch: “If I drop a stitch, I can use a crotchet hook to catch it up.”

Becca Ivey suggested an alternative.

“If you drop a stitch,” she said, “you could just use it to establish a ‘creative pattern.’”

The students and their advisors believe that the knitting craze is fueled by the ready availability of supplies at the Winslow business.

While Biggs uses whatever wool is handed down to her, other knitters may snag more exotic supplies that even include hand-painted wool from Wales.

Biggs says the BHS club doesn’t have a name yet, but is considering ‘Hats for Homeless,’ or ‘Bainbridge Knitters.’

Silver and Figgins say that they know at least 40 female students at BHS who knit, and Biggs estimates that the number is much higher, with as much as 60 percent of high school girls knitting.

“And there is one guy who was seen knitting outside the gym,” Silver said, “but we’re going to keep his name off the record.”

All the club knitters, both novice and experienced, agree that knitting isn’t hard.

“You can make a hat or a scarf in just a couple of hours,” Biggs said. “You can make something that will help keep someone warm – and it means a lot more when you make it for them by hand.”

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