Knitting group working to keep Augusta children warm

 

Susan Gopal’s house is abuzz with the sound of women talking and laughing but, in the background, the steady click of knitting and crocheting needles marks time for the conversation.

In the next room, nearly 100 hat-and-scarf sets lie on Gopal’s dining room table as the fruits of the group’s labors, to be distributed later this month to first-grade pupils at Collins Elementary School.

The women, just a group of about 10 friends who happen to know how to knit and crochet, have been getting together since April as a way to get out of their houses and serve the community.

The unofficial leader, Gopal became inspired after seeing a television special on CBS about a group of women in Washington state who had worked together to knit hats and scarves for students in their area. A skilled knitter, Gopal got together a group of her friends that she knew from work or the Augusta Hindu Temple and they started to meet every other Tuesday.

“It’s fun getting together, and we’re doing something good with our time,” said Kamla Shah, an oncologist for more than 15 years at MCG who rediscovered knitting after her retirement.

Shah went with Gopal to Collins a few weeks ago to meet with the principal and measure a few of the pupils to see if the hats fit. She said the children were excited when they found out they would be getting the handmade hats and scarves.

“One little girl just held on to the hat and didn’t want to let it go,” Shah said. “Her eyes just lit up when we told her she would get to keep it later on.”

The yarn was donated from textile mills in Virginia and North Carolina, which Gopal’s husband happened to come across through business. The women estimated it takes them an average of two to three hours to make a hat, and a little longer to make a scarf.

The hours are worth it, they say, and they are looking forward to giving the pieces away in two weeks.

“It’s just love,” Gopal said. “It’s such a simple thing, but we hope it will mean something.”

Almost nothing is made by hand anymore, said Kshama Shah, and she hopes the children will feel the love that was put into making the garments.

“Handmade is so rare, it’s valuable,” she said. “This is just something small that we can do.”

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