Needle Arts Guild at Parker Adventist Hospital Give Back

Judging from the sounds of laughter spilling out of a conference room and the clicking of needles, the women of the Needle Arts Guild have called their monthly meeting to order at Parker Adventist Hospital. 

The women, surrounded by skeins of yarn and half-completed projects, work on various knit and crochet projects as President Merry Ettenberg discusses the meeting agenda. The guild, which was created in 2005, is a group of knitters, crocheters, quilters and other crafters who donate their handknits to hospital patients, as well as raise money for projects around the hospital and community. 

“I love to do it. It maintains my sanity. I’ve knitted since I was 5 years old,” Merry says.

Each participant works on completing projects throughout the month, and then they pile them in baskets to give to different hospital departments, such as the newborn ward or cancer center, where nurses distribute to patients. 

“We hope that some of these things become a family heirloom they can pass on to other babies within the family,” member Ann Clarke says, referring to the newborn receiving blankets, sweaters and hats they make. The women also make adult lap blankets and caps for chemotherapy patients.

Many of the women are lifelong knitters and crocheters and say this is a natural way for them to use their talents to bring comfort to those who need it.

“We can’t give any more to our families; we drown them with socks and scarves,” says Ann, who has been part of the guild for eight years. 

Lindsay Zinsmeister, mother of Oakley Zinsmeister, who was born in 2017, received a blanket and knitted Santa hat made by the guild.

“It was so sweet to have something that was handmade and you could tell that, you know, folks put some good amount of time and effort into making those for us,” Lindsay says.

Guild member Kathleen Murphy says the guild’s mission is to provide comfort to patients, but it’s as much a comfort to members because of the fellowship and joy everyone brings. 

“This is probably the most fun because you’re sharing all your knowledge and your experience and patterns and just generally making friends,” Kathleen says.

The guild raises money from its annual craft sale, with proceeds going toward art projects at the hospital, such as the large cross that now hangs in the hospital lobby; and the art installation titled “Gratitude” on the third floor, which houses the women’s and babies units. They also contribute to SECOR Cares nonprofit organization in Parker.

The guild occasionally receives thank-you notes from patients, but members say they craft for the pure enjoyment and knowledge that they are spreading joy.

“It’s giving back and trying to make a little bit of difference somewhere,” says new member Bobbie King.

Or, as the Needle Arts Guild’s motto says: It’s “Stitching love for our community.”