BY: LISA LEIGH CONNORS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: JULIA CUMES
A Great Yarn Helps Cape Cod’s Homeless, One Blanket at a Time
If you drive by A Great Yarn on the first Monday of May, you’ll notice a burst of color: Handmade blankets cover the outside of the store, as well as the front lawn.
Welcome to the “yarn bomb”—a celebration of its annual Knit-a-Thon.
For the fourth consecutive year, A Great Yarn in Chatham teamed up with the Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC) in Hyannis to make blankets for the Cape’s homeless population. In February through April of 2019, participants created 215 blankets for the homeless (beating the previous year’s mark of 194 blankets). All of the blankets and 100 percent of the donations—more than $1,100—were distributed to four homeless shelters on Cape Cod.
During the Knit-A-Thon in 2019, 500 individuals participated in the event and panels were mailed in from 10 different states.
Here’s how it works: Individuals are asked to knit or crochet long panels, about one foot wide and six feet long, which are then sewn together and turned into blankets by the shop’s staff and volunteers from the community. Four panels make a blanket. Every year, A Great Yarn owners Mary and Ron Weishaar and their employees celebrate the conclusion of the Knit-a-Thon by “yarn bombing” the exterior of the shop with as many blankets as they can hang. New this year: Staffers formed a giant heart on the front lawn with the overflow of blankets.
After the blankets are on display for a day, Ron and Mary deliver the blankets to the Housing Assistance Corporation, with the help of Chatham resident Anne Van Vleck, chief development officer at HAC.
Reading about homelessness on Cape Cod—and learning how some people were living in the woods with nothing to keep them warm—inspired A Great Yarn co-owner Mary Weishaar to start the Knit-a-Thon in the winter of 2016.
“The panels can be made by any knitter, even a novice knitter, which means that anyone can participate,” says A Great Yarn co-owner Ron Weishaar, adding he is always impressed by the colorful blankets. “This was a great team effort, and we’re very grateful for the 500 people who pitched in—and so are the homeless individuals and families on the Cape, who will be sleeping beneath the blankets everyone helped create.”
In 2020, the Knit-a-Thon will start in February and run through April 30. If interested in participating, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-348-5605 for more details about the event and instructions for knitting the panels. A Great Yarn, 894 Main St., Chatham, agreatyarn.com.