I met Christy Ott many baseball seasons ago when our boys played at Vine-Ingle Little League. Whenever there was down time, during practices or between innings, she usually could be found in the stands knitting.
I met Hazel Harpin a few years later, just a couple of blocks from those same ballfields at Freedom Park. A lifelong knitter, Hazel and her husband, Paul, opened Harpins Restaurant on the edge of Payne City. It is one of my favorite places to eat lunch, and I consider Hazel and Paul to be Macons very own British royal couple.
But only recently did I learn that Christy and Hazel met eight years ago when Christy opened Creative Yarns on Vineville Avenue, then Speer Avenue. Their friendship has been the driving force behind other friendships. It has changed lives and ministered to this community.
If anyone loves to knit more than Christy, it is Hazel. She began volunteering at the shop on Tuesdays. Customers would drop in and get advice on everything from welting to drop stitches.
Help With Hazel Day soon evolved into something much more. Women would come by -- Christy likes to refer to her store as where fiber fanatics gather -- and hang out. It was as if it was a beauty parlor and they had a standing appointment to get their hair done every Tuesday. A few started bringing cookies. Once a month, Hazel began serving a traditional British afternoon tea.
More than two dozen ladies became regulars, and Christy added two rooms, including a large classroom, on the back of the shop. The women began taking on projects, from knitting dolls for The Childrens Hospital to stocking caps for the homeless. They made afghans to be raffled off for charitable causes.
Some began inviting friends. Customers were encouraged to join the activities. Although the women became a close-knit group, literally, they decided against a clever name to call themselves. They did not wish to be known as a club, with charters, by-laws and dues. (The unwritten rules of the knitting table discourage gossip, and conversations about sex, religion or politics are off the table.)
Its hard to describe this group of women, Christy said. They really are a unique collection -- not a clique -- of women from all walks of life who span the years from their late 20s to early 90s.
The group will have its annual Knit-a-Thon at the store this week. For five hours on Friday and another seven hours on Saturday, they will knit breast prostheses for the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Christy will donate the yarn. Last year, they made 130 that were distributed throughout Middle Georgia to women who recently had mastectomies. Some of those women later dropped by the shop to thank them.
Christy started the project in memory of her mother, who died of breast cancer when Christy was 16 and they lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her mom is the one who taught her how to knit.
Hazel learned to knit when she was 9. She went to boarding school outside of London and learned from a friends mother.
I would get lonely being away from home, Hazel said. Knitting saved my sanity. I would go off and sit and knit.
She and Paul moved to Macon in 1974. She knitted all the baby clothes for her daughter, Trudy Banks, who turned 43 on Monday.
I never stopped knitting, she said. It got me through my grief when my father died. I knitted a skirt and jacket. I am always knitting when Im watching TV or at the doctors office.
Christy is proud the group has been able to reach out in so many different ways.
I am always amazed at what these women are willing to do for our community and for each other, she said.
Reach Gris at 744-4275 or email@example.com.