Bereavement blankets 11_15_13

From left to right, Laura Ford, Doris Rafferty, Judy Nelson, Lynn Gallagher, Elise Wigton and Faye Beaver lay out fabric squares for a quilt they are making for hospice patients at NorthBay Healthcare’s Bereavement Center in Fairfield. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)


Compassionate knitters band together for friendship, and a cause

By From page B5 | November 16, 2013

FAIRFIELD — Colors. Lots of colors.

Greens, variegated, turquoise, white. Elise Wigton, 75, spread dozens of brightly colored 6-inch knitted squares on a table in the break room of NorthBay Healthcare’s Bereavement Center on a recent Thursday.

“I’m so proud of you ladies,” Wigton said as she surveyed the squares.

The group of knitters of all skill levels – some still green enough that they needed help casting on – chatted about where to place the squares and what border color to use for one of the blankets that will end up with NorthBay Hospice patients.

This wasn’t just any group of knitters, however, it’s a group of “compassionate” knitters gathered together for the Compassionate Care Knitting Circle started by Wigton. Each of the 10 members suffered the loss of a loved one – some more recently than others.

Nona Simoni, 73, a Vacaville resident, just joined the knitters. She heard about it through an eight-week bereavement class she attended after she lost her husband of 44 years a few months ago. She said she felt “safe” in the group and didn’t want it to stop – the knitting group seemed like a natural extension.

“We definitely needed comfort at (that) time, so we’re giving (back) comfort and love,” she said.

In anticipation, she bought knitting needles and came to learn. So did Judy Nelson, 74, also a Vacaville resident, who was in the same bereavement class as Simoni. She lost her daughter recently.

“We were at loose ends, not having a place to come,” she said.

The group began with only two people and has grown to 10. Fairfield residents Doris Duddleston, 84, and Faye Beaver, 81, were the two who showed up the first time.

“I thought when only my two friends showed up, ‘Oh my, this isn’t going to be good,’ ” Wigton said with a laugh.

“The group started really slow (but) it’s really picked up,” said Duddleston as the group sat down and began knitting after planning the layout of the first blanket. The comfy white furniture and large bright windows in the bereavement center made the upstairs facility a friendly, cozy place to gather. The women settled in, talked, helped each other and formed a bond as only they can after having lost a loved one.

Knitting experience doesn’t matter.

“I’ve knitted before,” Nelson said. “I would classify myself as a perpetual beginner.”

She laughed and said, “I’ve knitted a lot of scarves.”

In addition to giving back to those in hospice and learning to knit, Wigton said “friendship” is key.

“I think there is a lot of satisfaction in doing something like this,” she said. “I think we all need to be with people who have lost someone – unless you have, it’s hard to understand.”

The group meets from 10 a.m. to noon every other Thursday at NorthBay Healthcare’s Bereavement Center, 1411 Oliver Road, Suite 220.

Donations of yarn or knitting needles are needed. To donate, or for more information about the group, call Brenda Boyd at 646-3517.

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.


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