Get hooked on crochet

Senior group crochets, knits to benefit seniors and the needy

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  • The Caring Hearts Crochet Group: Front, left to right Evelyn McCave, Sandy Goceljak, Ruth Gilchrist, back row Marge Gudewicz, Sue Bolton, Barbara Cox and Theresa Heisler

  • Showcase of warm, wonderful, well-made hand-crafted baby items

  • Gail Kahler, Supervisor of Senior Citizen Activities, displays one of the shawls made by the ladies


— The Caring Hearts Crochet Group of West Milford brings much joy to those who benefit from their talents. But this group of ladies, which also knits, finds happiness in raising money for their senior group, donating items to senior citizens and the homeless and just in the friendships they've made by sharing their talents.

If you go
The Caring Hearts Crochet Group
Offered by West Milford Community Services and Recreation, Office of Older Adult Services
Meets Thursdays at 10 a.m.
Hillcrest Community Center, 1810 Macopin Road
Call 973-728-2871 or 2862 for information

The group meets every Thursday at Hillcrest Community Center to talk, laugh and make beautiful items. They create many things, including baby blankets, baby sweaters, hats and booties that make perfect handcrafted gifts. The group sells its items, with the proceeds going back to the senior program.

Community Services and Recreation also offers senior aerobics, Zumba gold, pokeno; Tai Chi and mahjongg. Other senior services include guidance with Medicare; PAAD and Senior Gold applications; tax preparation and free blood pressure screenings. Special parties throughout the year and shopping trips to area malls are also offered. Lunch is available.

The Caring Hearts also make and donate lap robes and shawls for nursing home residents and hats and scarves for the homeless.

From novice to expert
You don’t even have to know how to do any of it, crochet or knit; they’ll happily teach you. Yarn is provided or you can bring your own.

Sue Bolton, a relative newcomer who didn’t have any knitting or crocheting experience, started coming to the group two years ago when she retired. She is now turning out lovely items.

“I came here-I didn’t know how to do anything. I just jump in. ‘Teach me,’” she said.

Barbara Cox started about two years ago.

“I saw an ad in the paper; they were looking for people they were going to teach to crochet," said Cox. "They tried, but I am left-handed. I was very, very frustrated. Well, I said, 'I used to knit'.” She worried that she wasn’t that talented, then learned “They also make scarves for the homeless so I said, ‘That’s what I’m going to do’ and I picked up my knitting again and I’ve been knitting scarves for the homeless since.”

Theresa Heisler crochets like the pro she is. In her hands, a pretty pink, green and yellow yarn turned into a delicate baby blanket with a scalloped, lightly ruffled edge.

A Newfoundland resident among the group, Ruth Gilchrist has been coming since 1991. She makes baby blankets, afghans, hot pads and covered hangars. She also makes intricate cotton doilies which take some time.

“Well, it keeps me occupied — and you’re making something,” she said with a laugh.

Marge Gudewicz’s favorite needle art is crochet. Like Gilchrist, she says it “passes my time and keeps me busy.” She likes the companionship and getting out of the house. “It’s a good group…friendly and happy,” she said.

Overflowing gifts and friendship

The ladies occasionally make some things for themselves or family members with yarn they bring in, but the bulk of what they make is donated. And there is a reason for that - volume.

“I love crocheting. I did quilting. I did all kinds of crafts," said McCave. "But as we get older, the problem is, we’ve done crafts; we’ve done everything. We have a house full of them and the children also do, so they don’t want any more. So this place is a place to come and do it…but we donate it or give it away. So it’s a place to do the thing you want, but not fill your house up with it.”

Since starting two years ago, Bolton has made hats, scarves and blankets. But like the others, she said the company is what she likes best.

“You can talk but you’re learning something. You stay home you’re not learning anything,” she said.

Making things is not the main reason they come: they come for the conversation, the laughs and the good company. Making beautiful, useful things, well, that's just a bonus.

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