Kettering’s One Lincoln Park Knitting Ladies help charities

The Knitting Ladies of OLP. Seated (from left): Mary Coutts, Marie Nixon, Betty Alter, Dottie Itsler, Jane Woolley and Helen Mace. Standing (from left): Pam Graeser, Anna Parr, Barbara Beel and Peg Neff. Not pictured: Judy Kelly. PAMELA DILLON/CONTRIBUTED

Combined ShapeCaption
The Knitting Ladies of OLP. Seated (from left): Mary Coutts, Marie Nixon, Betty Alter, Dottie Itsler, Jane Woolley and Helen Mace. Standing (from left): Pam Graeser, Anna Parr, Barbara Beel and Peg Neff. Not pictured: Judy Kelly. PAMELA DILLON/CONTRIBUTED

The members give items away in the fall.

Betty Alter is one of the original members of the Knitting Ladies of OLP. All the members live at One Lincoln Park in Kettering.

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Alter grew up poor, and when she first learned how to knit she had to use pencils instead of knitting needles. She joined the Knitting Ladies when she moved into the senior facility about 15 years ago.

“When I met my future husband Sidney, he told me he liked argyle socks. I would knit one pair of socks a week,” remembers Alter, who is currently knitting a black and white striped afghan for the caregiver who assisted her husband. “I made at least a dozen pairs. That’s how I got him to marry me.”

Although she’s no longer an active member, she’s always welcome around the long oval table in the Oak Room on the second floor. That’s where the current group meets every Monday at 10 a.m. unless it’s a holiday

There are 10 members who knit all year and then give the items away to several charities in the fall: Artemis House, YWCA, Daybreak, St. Vincent DePaul and the Dayton VA.

Each organization received two boxes around mid-October with the exception of St. Vincent. Representatives there received three boxes. Each box contained at least a dozen knitted items. Depending upon the organizations’ needs, they received a variety of these items: lap robes, hats, mittens, scarves, baby/child blankets, and afghans.

All the women agree that Marie Nixon is the best knitter of the group. She’s also the quickest. She made two scarves in one week. She had four finished scarves there; two of them with fancy patterns.

“The first thing I ever knitted was a vest for my husband John. We came over from Africa when he got a job with NCR,” said Nixon. “Now I knit while I watch TV. I can’t watch it without keeping my hands busy.”

While John wore his vest with pride, another member didn’t have as much luck with her ambitious first attempt.

“When I was a teenager, my friend Joan and I decided we were going to take knitting lessons. We picked out a sweater pattern,” said Mary Coutts. “One of my sleeves was real tight and the other was loose. The whole sweater didn’t match.”

When Joan gave her all her yarn and needles, Mary kept it up and started knitting all kinds of afghans for her family.

“When I came here, I was going to stop knitting. But that changed when I found out about this group. They had a purpose,” said Coutts, who had finished a pink baby blanket.

Barbara Beel has an interesting history with Coutts. Beel taught Coutts’ grandsons, Will and Drew, how to knit when she was a fifth grade teacher at St. Charles.

“We used to do it after school. It was something simple; we’d knit scarves and then give them away,” said Beel, who was working on a lavender and sage child’s blanket.

Other members of the group: Pam Graeser, Dottie Itsler, Judy Kelly, Helen Mace, Peg Neff, Anna Parr, and Jane Woolley. They all appreciate the late Floyd Taylor. He was a blind man who bought all of their yarn for at least ten years. Yarn that was ultimately used to help others.

“I think one of the reasons I like to come here every week is that we give our items away to charity,” said Neff, the unofficial leader of the group. “I like to make sure that our items are given away to people who need them. I feel good about that.”

Contact this contributing writer at PamDillon@woh.rr.com.

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