of the Year!
The winner of this year’s Knitter of the Year Award,
sponsored by Lion Brand and Knitter’s magazine, is Bonnie
Hagerman of Frederick, Maryland, for her work as founder of Care
Wear, a volunteer organization that makes clothing for
hospitalized babies. Ms. Hagerman was chosen from a field of 200
Intended “To recognize one individual who works to further
the craft of knitting, openly shares his or her knitting knowledge
with others, contributes his or her time and resources to the
craft of knitting, and demonstrates innovation in techniques or
design.”, the Knitter of the Year Award has also always honored
the use of knitting for the benefit of others, none more so than
Care Wear had its beginnings in 1991, with a decision by Ms.
Hagerman, a Home Ec. teacher, to knit items for premature and low
birthweight babies in Washington, D.C. area hospitals. Initially
contacting a hospital for guidance, Ms. Hagerman’s first cap
submission was returned with the request that it be made smaller.
So was her second. Finally, the hospital suggested she go to the
grocery store, buy a lime, and use that for her model. Some of the
infants are as small as 15 ounces, and Ms. Hagerman recalled her
shock at the realization that a 20-ounce soda she was reaching for
weighed more than some of the babies for whom she was knitting.
Once begun, the project grew rapidly and, to keep pace with
demand, she began recruiting others and distributing donated
supplies to groups including local 4-H Clubs and, indeed, it was
one of these 4-H groups that nominated her as Knitter of the Year.
Items in local press and national attention from publications such
as Family Circle magazine drew additional members, and the
group is now a national network of volunteers and is registered as
a [501(c)(3)] non-profit organization. By December 1998, more than
28,000 hats had been distributed, and the work continues not just
with hats, but kimonos, a variety of other baby items, and
sometimes burial garments.
These lovingly hand-made things bring much-needed comfort,
perhaps most when a child loses its battle for life. Ms. Hagerman
says she believes “to celebrate survival, you also have to mourn
the loss” and what matters to her is knowing she’s made a
difference. Her most moving letter may have been from the mother
whose letter of thanks said, “That was the wedding dress my
daughter will never wear.”
To learn more about CareWear, make a donation, or check out
their patterns, visit their Website.
The award includes a $1,000 prize ($500 in cash, $500 in her
choice of Lion Brand products) and was presented on October 9th,
as part of Knitter’s Stitches East expo in Atlantic City.
Although another commitment prevented Ms. Hagerman from attending
the gathering in person, presenters Nancy Thomas, Editorial
Director of Lion Brand, and Rick Mondragon, Editor of Knitter’s,
called her on speakerphone to make the formal presentation.
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With Warmest Regards,
Lion Brand Yarn