Tuesday, March 13, 2007

We're In the News!

GOOD WORKS (copyright Atlanta Journal Constitution 3/8/07)

Knitters combat soldiers' chill

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 03/08/07

When Diana Baber takes a few minutes to work on knitting helmet liners for our American troops, she's carrying on a family tradition.

"My grandmother knit socks for soldiers in World War I and World War II," said Baber, president of the Atlanta Knitting Guild. "This tradition goes back to the Civil War days, when women knit socks for soldiers."


Members of the Atlanta Knitting Guild including (from left) Jean Guneysu, Karen Roman, Dana Lerner, Claudia Lang, Brett Parker and Elaine Wang create helmet liners for U.S. soldiers.

But instead of socks, today's soldiers are asking for wool helmet liners, which look like a ski mask, to fit under their helmets to keep their faces and necks warm in the brutally cold desert winters.

The project to make and send the liners overseas was started about three years ago by Linda Swinford of Auburn, Ill. Swinford said she was concerned when she heard a former classmate of her daughter was fighting in Iraq. When she heard he also was freezing in the frigid desert winter, she did more than just care — she took action.

"I learned about a pattern for helmet liners and I made him one," Swinford said. "He suggested some modifications; I made some more. Then I made some for his friends, then other people asked for them and I made more."

Soon, Swinford realized she couldn't keep up with the demand, so she asked other knitters for help. That was more than 11,000 helmet liners ago. The liners have been shipped all over the world, Swinford said, but most end up in Iraq and Afghanistan. Swinford said they also make neck coolers for the troops to help fight the summer heat, as well as scarves and blankets for wounded troops.

Baber said some Atlanta knitters from her group started working on the project about a year ago. The group plans soon to send about 200 helmet liners to Swinford, where she and her husband, Bob, sort, pack, and ship everything from their dining room table.

The liners must be made to military specifications, including color and material, Baber said, and are easy enough that any intermediate knitter should be able to make them. Cascade Yarns even donated skeins of wool yarn in the required colors, she said.

"We hope more knitters will join the project," Baber said. "Many people are looking for ways to support the soldiers. Here's a very tangible way to show your support."

For more information go to www.atlantaknittingguild.org or www.geocities.com/helmetliner. Donations, which are all used to buy supplies or pay for postage, also can be sent to: Helmetliner, P.O. Box 236, Auburn, IL 62615.

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