Moffat County Locals: Craig women a tight-knit bunch, crocheting for companionship, good causes
A group in Craig hopes handmade slippers will warm the hearts — as well as the feet — of more than 100 veterans living in care facilities in Rifle and Grand Junction this Christmas.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving, three ladies — Twila White, Kathy Kuehl, and Mary Walters — gathered at seamstress and M & D craft store owner Walters’ house in Craig to make slippers.
It’s become a ritual, of sorts, to meet at Walters’ home for companionship and crocheting.
She teaches beginner to experienced crafters new crochet patterns and offers tips to improve a craft she learned when she was about 18 years old.
Each year, the group tries to make something to give to veterans. Walters’ husband served, and as part of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, she sees some of the “guys” struggling with their memories and guilt.
Walters learned from the Colorado Veterans Community Living Center at Rifle that veterans really appreciate homemade gifts, and she figured they’d get to work to give a gift to each of the veterans in 2019.
“They were so thrilled and asked if they could do it this year for the vets,” she said.
So, on Oct. 3, using yarn donated by Walters and the crafters, the three ladies and about 10 others set to work crocheting and knitting 105 slippers — about 70 for residents of the Rifle nursing home and the rest for veterans in the VA Western Colorado Health Care System Rehabilitation Center in Grand Junction.
“People in the community started jumping up and coming forward as they have heard about the program,” Walters said.
As some contributed yarn and their skills to make the slippers, others donated money for supplies.
Once finished, each slipper sole is given a rubber, non-skid coating to provide traction.
The task has not been without its challenges. Chief among them, said White, is concentration.
“Concentration is a challenge,” she said. “You have to learn to keep count of every stitch and row.”
Each crafter had to learn how to create tennis sock type slippers and a simple slipper with a cuff in sizes medium to extra large.
“It’s been a learning process. That’s why we meet, is to learn the patterns,” Kuehl said.
A desire to do something for local veterans and a need for vets “on this side of the mountain,” she said, kept the group focused on its mission — a mission they completed Nov. 25.
Then, on Dec. 8, about 30 volunteers, crafters, and family members gathered at Veterans Hall in Craig and added small gifts of shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and body spray to packages of slippers for delivery in Rifle and Grand Junction in mid-December.
“We want them to know they are thought of and appreciated, and to do something for them, which is nothing compared to what they did for us,” Kuehl said.
Anyone interested in helping on a project in 2019 may call Walters at 970-824-2923.
“We would like to say thank you to all the veterans,” White said.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.