Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 36
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

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Productive Pals: Senior “Knit Wits” Click, Clack, Create, and Commune

Ellen Gilbert

“It works,” said Social Services Director Susan Friedman of the group of a dozen or so women who call themselves the “Knit Wits” and gather to knit, crochet, and converse once a week at the Spruce Circle satellite of the Princeton Senior Resource Center. “It’s an incredibly interesting and diverse group of women. I don’t know why it works so well, but it works.”

“We’re a very congenial group,” pointed out fund-raising coordinator Frederica Stark, and a constant hum of convivial conversation on topics ranging from domestic violence to housecleaning problems to great vacation sites, steadily accompanied the clacking of knitting needles along with reminders that “you dropped a stitch.”

The group, which began in 2008, meets from 1 to 3 p.m. on Friday afternoons; no registration is necessary. What began as a fund-raiser for the Senior Resource Center, with everyone working on identical scarves, has evolved big time. Projects now include “Afghans for Afghans,” in conjunction with the Princeton Public Library; “Stitches from the Heart,” providing hospitals with items for newborns; pic line covers for children in St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis (covering the opening for their continuous IV’s); the “Guidepost Knit For Kids Project,” creating sweaters for orphans worldwide; “Purling Angels,” making lap robes for injured veterans returning to the U.S. for treatment; small dolls for Haitian children; and yes, hand knit scarves and other projects for the Holiday Gift Sale to benefit the Princeton Senior Resource Center.

The Haitian connection began when group member Sara Davies went to a lecture where a visitor from Haiti said that youngsters there needed “small black dolls.” The result is a supply of beautifully detailed (“they have underwear”), hand-sized dolls that are sent on a regular basis to Haiti. Ms. Davies reports, though, that she needed to make an adjustment after the first shipment, which included bean bags for the children to play with. Pastor Luc Deratus, the go-between for the project, reported that instead of playing with the bean bags, the children opened them and hungrily ate the beans. Now Ms. Davies simply includes quantities of beans in each of the shipments of dolls.

The “all knitting levels” proviso in the group’s description is borne out at a glance. While seasoned knitter Natalia Mozias knocks out sweater after dazzling sweater, “some just come and hold their needles,” according to Ms. Friedman.

Sue Tillett, who is blind, comes to Knit Wits with her seeing eye dog and is definitely a serious knitter. Ms. Tillett said that she learned to knit “when I was a kid,” but that after losing the gloves she’d made, she gave it up. Now, though, she’s part of a cross-country ski program, where “everyone sits around knitting, so I wanted to learn again.” Working away at a sizable expanse of knitted blue wool, she reported that it’s intended to be a sweater for her two-year-old niece. “It will probably fit her when she’s eight,” she observed.

The Knit Wits include residents of the Spruce Circle community (run by the Borough Affordable Housing Program) and participants from elsewhere. Ms. Friedman, whose Spruce Circle office adjoins the laundry room (“it’s great; I get to see everyone”), described Spruce Circle as “the sweetest of communities,” where “everyone helps everyone.”

New knitters are always welcome to join the Knit Wits. Donations of wool and knitting supplies are always appreciated.

For more information please contact Susan M. Friedman at (609) 252-2362, or

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