A knitting club in a high school?

Group’s first project reaches beyond building’s walls.

The blanket may be mis-shapen with an odd color scheme, but the baby who’s wrapped in its warmth doesn’t mind. The blue, gray, white, brown and red baby blanket was presented to the St. Vincent de Paul homeless shelter this past May. The donation was sparked by Rhea Dhingra, a junior at Centerville High School, who started a knitting club last winter. She was inspired to share her joy of knitting after a positive experience in Lorrie Kohl’s Needle Arts Class.

“We ended up learning how to knit in the first few weeks of the class. During the hectic tennis season that was going on simultaneously, I found myself doing knitting projects as we traveled to and from tournaments,” said Dhingra, 17. “I realized how therapeutic knitting was (for me).”

She also realized that knitting is not usually considered a popular hobby for teens.

She decided to change that perception within her sphere of influence at school, and founded the CHS Knitting Club.

“I am no expert, but I thought it would be a way for people my age to learn a new activity that they usually would not even try,” said Dhingra. “We had a great turnout, with more than 25 people at some meetings.”

In the end, a baby blanket was created out of all the squares the knitting newbies attempted to complete … about 22 of them in various sizes, shapes, and colors. She contacted Bridget Herzog, development associate at the charitable nonprofit, who took a few of the club members on a tour of the Women & Children’s Shelter.

“I actually thought it was a really neat experience. They brought back such an old-school skill, and were able to donate the finished blanket to the shelter,” said Herzog. “I presented it to a mom who had a newborn at the shelter. She was really excited and surprised.”

Although not members of the club, Margie Heffner and Paula Truing also contributed to the Baby Blanket Project.

“It felt great to be able to donate the blanket to a mom and her newborn baby. It felt as if each one of us from the knitting club was wrapping the baby in our love,” said Dhingra.

The members all have black t-shirts with an emblem of a cute lamb wearing its own sweater, with the moniker “CHS Knitting Club” on the front. The back has the four letters of “KNIT” in a circle, separated by crossed knitting needles.

CHS Knitting Club members are: Kriti Agrawal, Shajuanta Allen, Claire Anderson, Samyalta Barnes, Sydney Cauper, Alex Clark, Mckenzie Cummings, Dania Dallal, Michael Daskalakis, Neil Dey, Eddie Farooq, Zack Holbrook, Shelby Joseph, Katie Kaminski, Aneesh Kathula, Josh Kimbrell, Rajiv Kishinchand, Esha Kulkarni, Nilan Mani, Georgia McFarland, Priya Modgil, Riley Myska, Maggie Nation, Nicole Ochieng, Anjali Peddanna, Maria Pressel, Sam Roediger, Grace Rudolph, Anand Shah, Hasan Subzwari, Rachel Taylor, Sarah Vanderhorst, Kayla Williams and Maddie Wentz.

“I also took knitting classes over the summer from Marcia Hitchcock at Jo-Ann Fabrics. She taught me different types of stitches that led to ideas for projects this year,” said Dhingra.

Those projects include bracelets and CHS gold and black keychains made with I-cord. Dhingra also envisions baby hats for preemies. They should have lots of willing hands for those projects.

“We had a handful of seniors last year; I know a lot of freshmen and sophomores who have expressed interest in joining our club,” said Dhingra.

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