“We have cold winters here [in Vermont]. We’ve got to help protect people” from that cold, said Monica Cayia, one of the 11 participants in a monthly knitting group at St. Mark Church in Burlington.

The women knit and crochet hats, scarves and blankets to donate to the Salvation Army and local homeless shelters.

They’ve been doing this for about a year and a half and have donated hundreds of the handmade items.

Cayia was part of a knitting group in her previous parish and thought it would be another way to build community at St. Mark’s. “I love knitting, and I thought, why not build a little knitting community [here] and do some outreach.”

The women gather in the parish library for two hours in the morning of the third Saturday of each month to work on their projects, usually chatting but sometimes just being quiet.

Some of their materials are donated, but the knitters usually buy their own supplies. “Any yarn store has a sale — I’m there” enthused Kathy Mueller as she knitted a vibrant blue scarf.

Usually the women — who also knit and crochet at home — use simple patterns so they can quickly produce the items people need to keep warm during the cold winters.

“I’m creating something for someone,” Cayia said, and that gives her satisfaction.

“It calms the nerves,” added Laurie Barrows.

“We can knit and talk at the same time,” added Carole Dunshee. “We’re dedicated to being here every month.”

The group is open to anyone who would like to join; those who want to learn to knit or crochet are welcome, and some supplies to help begin are available.

Cathy Peltier enjoys the group, “and I’m doing something for the community,” she said.

—Originally published in the Winter 2022 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.