This quarter [summer 2002], the Minnesota Knitters' Guild provided yarn and plastic needles to support groups at the Minnesota Correctional Facility for Women at Shakopee, which houses about 370 women.
Delores Host, Shakopee's work-assignment coordinator, tells us that women at Shakopee spend anywhere between 15 and 40 hours per week taking classes and/or working. They can learn office skills, become computer literate, study toward a GED, or work as a cook, library clerk, dishwasher, housekeeper, or industrial worker, among other opportunities. They are paid 25 cents to 50 cents per hour.
Women are also offered the chance to get together to work on needlecrafts, making articles that are contributed to children's charities. Interested women sign up in advance for the “Each One Teach One” knitting, crocheting and sewing groups. Each group meets for two hours, five times a week. Volunteers and staff supervise the groups. Women can come as often as they wish, if space is available. This is their only opportunity to do this work, since they are not permitted to take work back to their rooms.
TLC Toys provides doll kits, which the women assemble and stuff. Then they make dresses and blankets for each doll. Finished dolls are inspected and packaged by TLC, then distributed to charitable organizations such as crisis nurseries and homeless shelters to be given to needy children. Women in the Shakopee needlecraft groups also make baby blankets for these organizations.
[Editor's update, August 2007: Shirley Ungar says that, due to changes in prison rules, the women knit doll blankets and doll clothes for one hour a week, with all the things they knit distributed to children in shelters and other temporary situations.]
There are many service projects taking place in our communities, and new needleworkers are always welcome! Here are some that we know about. Click on “Webmaster” on this Web site's “Contact Us” page if you would like more information about how to become involved.
Make warm garments for residents of Lakota Reservations
Knit for needy babies and preemies at Hennepin County Medical Center
Knit or sew for needy babies and preemies at Abbott Northwestern Hospital
Knit warm garments (100 percent wool only) for Afghan citizens
Knit soft, non-scratchy “chemo hats” for the American Cancer Society. Contact them at 651-644-1224 to donate your hats.
Get the most out of your love of knitting! Membership benefits include pre-registration for Yarnover, a subscription to our quarterly Cable Gram, organized public service projects and camaraderie with fellow knitters. Annual dues are $30.