rebecca maria

My aunt, Hanna, is a longtime member and coordinator for The Stitching Ladies, a sewing circle based out of a northside Chicago synagogue. They meet on Tuesdays and each member works on her own project from donated yarn and supplies, all finished projects are then donated to various hospitals and veterans organizations around the city. The group started during WWII and has been gifting hats, scarves, blankets and other handmade goods to soldiers, veterans, children, and the homeless ever since.

I spent a few days in the winter of 2013 with the ladies discussing patterns, politics, cookies and the roles of knitting, sewing, and stitching in their lives.

Growing up in West Germany she learned to crochet before she went to school. “We used to crochet at night in the bunker when they were bombing our city.” She came to Chicago in 1968 to spend a year with her sister and ended up meeting her husband on the first day of work at an insurance company. She has lived in Edgewater since she came to the US. “I don’t know any other neighborhood.” 11 addy.jpg

She taught herself to crochet with a book from a dime store.“I don’t care what I make as long as I keep busy. You can’t just sit there like, in Yiddish we say, 'a stick with eyes.'" She supports legalizing marijuana. “I think they should take money out of marijuana to get the crooks out of it.”

The newest member of the group, Susana, is from Persia and has worked as a social worker in Chicago since she moved here at age 24. She is telling us about the first house she went to while working for children's services where the grandmother served apple pie, coffee, and sang.

One of the group coordinators, Sandy tells me about the generous donations they have received over the years: squares from a naval base in Guam, 10 boxes of yarn from California, and a woman who even drove with an entire car full of supplies from Indiana.

Originally from the Philippines, she began attending the circle as Addy's caretaker but was quickly integrated into the group, taught how to knit, and was working on her own yellow baby blanket.

Every week someone brings a snack, here's Helen passing around her homemade cookies.