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CRAFTS : Volunteer Knitters Latch On to Plan to Warm Up America

January 06, 1994|ZAN DUBIN | Zan Dubin covers the arts for The Times Orange County Edition

Craft store owner Teri November has a message for Bill Clinton: "I really think (he) is missing something by not putting everyone into action."

Volunteer action is what November means, and she's been advocating it since hooking up with Warm Up America!, a nationwide volunteer program that provides the homeless and others with handmade afghans.

During the past year or so, November's Arts 'n Crafts 'n Things supply shop in Orange has turned out 42 afghans produced by store patrons and other craftspeople. They've jumped at the chance to pitch in, November said recently.

"People have been tremendously responsive," she said.

"They really, really want to volunteer and do something to help the situation we are in, which is terrible."

Evie Rosen, owner of the Knitting Nook store in Wausau, Wis., created the program about three years ago with a seed grant from the National Needlework Assn., a trade association based in Connecticut.

Rosen estimates that to date, 12,000 afghans have been produced nationwide and donated to shelters for abused women and children, AIDS patients, the elderly and flood and hurricane victims, as well as to the homeless.

"We hope to continue doing this as long as there's a need," she said in a recent phone interview from Wausau.

Afghans made by patrons at November's store are delivered to the YWCA in Orange, which passes them on through its Project H.o.p.e. School for homeless children.

Volunteers have several options: They may knit or crochet an entire afghan, or make squares or long strips to be stitched together into blankets by other volunteers. At present, November has enough individual squares for nine afghans, so those who wish to stitch squares together are needed most. The store also accepts donations of yarn.

Afghan size, stitch type, color and pattern are left up to each craftsperson, but most follow instructions issued by Warm Up America! and available at November's store or through the National Needlework Assn.

The instructions recommend that blankets be made with worsted-weight yarn and measure 49 by 63 inches. Individual squares should be 7 by 9 inches.

Using leftover yarn she had at home, needleworker Chris Hoppe of Orange has knitted one multicolored afghan and about 30 squares, many of which she's taken to November's store for completion by others.

"I think I probably get more out of it than the person receiving it," Hoppe said. "It's a feeling of satisfaction, knowing that your talent can be used to help someone."

A wall display in November's store tallies the current number of afghans completed and the number yet to be created. November's goal?

"One thousand," she said. "I like to think big."

*

Arts 'n Crafts 'n Things, Mall of Orange, 2260 N. Orange Mall, Orange. Open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Information: (714) 637-6292. National Needlework Assn., 650 Danbury Road, Ridgefield, Conn., 06877. Include a stamped, self-addressed envelope for instructions and information about where to donate afghans.

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