WENATCHEE — Pink hats, blue hats, red and white candy cane hats. They all do a good job of keeping a child’s head warm.
And also a good job of keeping busy and helpful the talented and experienced fingers of more than 20 senior citizens.
Thank Aïda Bound and a few of her nimble-knitting friends for organizing hat-making bees at the Wenatchee Valley Senior Activity Center and several local assisted-living complexes.
The hats — more than 600 so far and increasing by the day — are all donated to children at local Head Start, First Step programs, preschools and kindergartens.
“It’s like therapy for us,” said Bound, 71, a semi-retired social worker who started knitting hats for local kids on her own two years ago. She’s made about half of the hats herself. But production increased at a prodigious rate the past three months after she began organizing other knitters.
“I’m one of those people who can’t sit in front of the TV unless I’m doing something with my hands,” said Dian Thompson, who is the craft director at the senior center on Maple Street.
Thompson, Bound and several other knitters meet each Friday at the senior center to make hats for a couple of hours and plan visits to local school programs where the hats are distributed.
Little girls love the multi-colored hats, some with bows. Boys usually go for plain colors, said Bound.
Every hat is different. All are washable and can be put in the dryer.
Experienced knitters can finish a hat in three or four hours. Some make up to 15 hats a week. Hats are great for using up yarn ball ends and working on between other, longer projects, like afghans, said Renee Green, another of the senior center knitters.
“You get addicted to it,” said Green. “It’s always one more row. And before you know it, it’s done.”
The project gained speed last summer when Bound met Leilani Bangs who told her about Dolores Branam, a Wenatchee woman who had an enormous collection of yarn. Branam’s declining health made it impossible for her to continue her ambitious knitting.
She agreed to donate a garage full of yarn as long as Bound could put it to good, nonprofit use.
“All of a sudden, we had enough yarn to last a lifetime of projects,” Bound said.
Bound was well prepared to organize other knitters, both in terms of energy and training. She was a licensed clinical social worker in Washington, D.C., and a professor at Howard University School of Social Work.
She moved to Wenatchee three years ago to be close to relatives.
She’s since then started a business, Create Peace, to help people organize the clutter in their lives.
She works with another agency as a backup social worker for Medicare patients coming out of hospitals, and also with the Wenatchee Valley Literacy Council to teach English as a second language to Latino and Vietnamese students.
“I am a social worker, so I’m always looking for ways to connect people and to make bridges with people who might not ever be connected,” she said.
In addition to the senior center, Bound has started knitting groups at Blossom Valley, Hearthstone and Columbia Heights apartment and assisted living centers. Some residents just come to watch and share stories, she said.
“It’s extremely therapeutic. It’s wonderful for people who have had a stroke or other illness because knitting makes you work on both sides of your brain,” she said.
“Plus, it makes you feel good to make something that’s going to go on some child’s head.”
For more information about how you can participate or contribute to the hat project, call Bound at 888-1953.