Her knitting for kids warms hearts
By Allen Palmeri
BRANSON—Evadene “Evie” Myer, a member of First Baptist Church, Kimberling City, had the honor of teaching the first crafts class Dec. 5 at the new Culinary & Craft School at Silver Dollar City.
Myer, 73, is a knitting instructor. Her expertise was sought for the new partnership the 1880s-style theme park has with Guideposts, America’s leading inspirational magazine. Guideposts has a popular knitting program where readers make sweaters for needy children around the world, and Myer has made about 50 of them in the last three years.
Her first class turned out to be somewhat of a challenge, with learners ranging from beginner to expert gathered in a setting where many were clamoring for her attention. About a half a dozen or more of Myer’s fellow church members showed up to provide moral support, and even though she said she had never taught a class like this before, the general consensus from event organizers was that she did just fine.
“I hope they learn the basics, and I hope they’ll keep working with it,” Myer said. “But it’s going to be hard. They’re going to have to get some books to learn.”
Knitting sweaters for refugees is one way for her to give back.
“I just think it’s good therapy,” she said. “When you think of all these little kids wearing sweaters, it just warms your heart. It just makes you feel great and say, ‘Thank God I can do this.’”
Edward Grinnan, Guideposts editor-in-chief, was brought into Branson from New York City to tell some of the magazine’s inspirational stories at the theme park’s Dockside Theater and talk about the sweaters, which were originally designed by a large British charity, the Oxford Committee in Famine Relief, and adopted by Guideposts.
What began in 1996 as a 300-word article by a Guideposts editor has resulted in a phenomenon where readers have knitted nearly 600,000 sweaters for refugees. Readers responded to the original story by writing in and asking how they could help, with hundreds requesting the pattern. Now the program produces an average of 6,000 sweaters a month.
“That just shows you the incredible power of what people can do when they want to help,” said Grinnan, who for the last 22 years had edited a magazine that now reaches about 7 million readers each month.
Myer’s role was to set up shop in the Culinary & Craft School, which opened Sept. 11, and teach a little technique that she and event organizers hope will stick.
“You just have to practice, get your stitches all looking alike, because they’re not going to look alike at first,” she said. “After awhile you don’t have to pay any attention to what you’re doing. Blind people can knit. A lot of blind people knit.”
Myer said she is not aware of very many knitters, but the people from First Kimberling City who came out to watch got her thinking.
“Maybe I’ll even teach a class at church,” she said.