Good Neighbors

Update: Tree of Life Afghans Almost Ready to Go

"Seaming" parties result in finished afghans for Tree of Life families, part of a viral project that attracted knitters from around the world.

Some fast knitting over the past several weeks has resulted in dozens of finished afghans, ready to comfort families affected by the tragic shooting October 27 at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue that claimed the lives of 11 worshipers from three congregations.

As we reported a few weeks ago , an effort make just one afghan for a Tree of Life family went viral, resulting in knitters from around the globe knitting, crocheting, and sending squares that needed to be "seamed" into full blankets. Yarns by Design , the yarn boutique in Oakmont where the idea got started, hosted three "seaming parties" over the past two weekends where nearly 40 people (guys too!) volunteered to sew the squares together.

The atmosphere at each sewing event "was very nice," said boutique owner Sandy Donatelli. "It was kind of quiet. People weren't talking much, but getting right to work." Sandy believes the knitters weren't very chatty because they knew seriousness of the effort, and because they were focused on trying to get a lot done in a short time. "It's hard to get a whole afghan done in two hours," she explained. In fact, some of the seamers took their partially finished afghans home to finish.

Sara Narcisi of Gibsonia was assigned one of two special blankets to seam. In the center of the afghan is a beautiful blue square square with a crocheted peace dove and Star of David. As soon as project organizer Vanessa Picard saw the square, she knew she wanted it to anchor a baby blanket that she hopes will go to the family whose baby-naming ceremony was interrupted by news of the shooting and a subsequent evacuation of their temple.

"I wanted to do something for Tree of Life, but I lived too far away," explained Sara. She wasn't able to knit a square, so she decided to volunteer to seam. She didn't realize at the time she was working on a special afghan. "It's been gratifying finishing it," said Sara, who describes herself as a "detail" person. She got some of the blanket done at one of the seaming parties, and finished it at home.

"It's so exciting to be a part of something so global and far reaching." Sara Narcisi, Tree of Life Afghan Project Volunteer

The deadline to complete the afghans is February 1, but Sandy says they're probably going to have to be flexible. She says three more finished blankets just came into the shop, and today she received a package with more squares inside. If you're still interested in seaming, please call the Boutique at (412) 794 8332 to find out how to get a take-out kit.

"We're just trying to figure out what we're going to do next," said Sandy. She says people are asking if the shop is going to display the afghans, but there's not enough room in the boutique. She's hoping the committee formed by the three affected congregations to distribute the blankets will agree to display them, which would also give the recipients a chance to choose which one they'd like. Sparkt will be sure to let you know.

"Thank you for this beautiful work of peace and healing." Knitter Anne Emry, posting on the Yarns by Design Facebook page.

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