By Robin Warden
Back in 1992 a group of knitters emerged to support the efforts of Mitchell-Yancey Habitat for Humanity. This group began with a Cabin Fever Session hosted by Nancy Herman. Cabin Fever is a longstanding tradition in the South Toe area of Yancey County where residents offer an array of classes, discussion groups, and social gatherings in their homes during the long winter months. Twenty-two years later, the group, known as The Purls of Wisdom, is still meeting at Nancy’s home every Monday afternoon from 1-4.
The group began as a small class and now includes about 15 members whose knitting skills and talents cover a wide range. “As we continue to help each other with our knitting issues, we have also become a support system for a variety of other issues in our lives. The group has provided a great opportunity to get to know people coming into this community over the years and possibly connect with folks you may not have otherwise met, “ Nancy shares.
It did not take long for Purls of Wisdom to embrace a way for their work to help the community. They were inspired by the efforts of Carol Henry, co-founder of the Mitchell-Yancey Habitat for Humanity affiliate. Her sewing group, Stitch and Chat, made and sold potholders and donated their sales to Habitat. Group member and longstanding leader in M-Y Habitat, Joyce Johnson, proposed that knitted items be sold in the local Toe River Craft Shop and these proceeds donated to Habitat.
Members became interested in learning more about Habitat and supported the notion of a grass roots community project to help build homes for families in need. They also saw an opportunity to support and expand the inventory in the Craft Shop. Today, the work of the Purls of Wisdom group has become part of the diverse and colorful craftwork collection on Hwy 80 South at the Toe River Craft Shop; including: felted potholders and wash clothes; scarves, mittens, socks, hats and other clothing items, and baby blankets. Items range in cost from $15-$75 and the Craft Shop donates 100% of selected item sales to Habitat. To date, this effort has provided Habitat with $ 2,200 to support their housing ministry.