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Merlene Davis: Special Olympics needs your knitting, crocheting skills

These scarves were created by Barbara Meadors and her friends in Hopkinsville, Ky., for the Special Olympics Kentucky 2012 State Winter Games set for Jan. 22-24 at Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg, Ind.
These scarves were created by Barbara Meadors and her friends in Hopkinsville, Ky., for the Special Olympics Kentucky 2012 State Winter Games set for Jan. 22-24 at Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg, Ind.

My grandmother taught my sister and me how to knit and crochet when we were young, a skill that for me is long gone.

I have seen the work of co-workers and friends who create decorative items and warm accessories with patience and needles. And while I am seriously leaning toward refreshing my memories and skills, I won't be proficient enough to help Special Olympics Kentucky with the knitted or crocheted scarves it needs for the 2012 State Winter Games.

But maybe you can help.

The red and navy scarves will be given to each of the 150 athletes expected to participate in Alpine skiing and snowshoeing at the State Games from Jan. 22 to 24 at Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg, Ind.

Barbara Meador, a math professor at Hopkinsville Community College, already has done her part. She heard about the project in the fall and asked friends and co-workers if they would like to participate.

"It intrigued us," she said. "The response was great."

She and the six staff, faculty and knitting buddies who joined her effort made 19 scarves.

"One person crocheted two," Meador said. "She said she hadn't crocheted in years, but she said, 'I thought this was so neat, I got my stuff out and remembered how much I enjoyed doing this.'"

Meador, who knits just about anywhere because it relaxes her, finished seven.

The group first contacted their local Special Olympics chapter to find out the number needed, she said. "But we don't have a place in Hopkinsville for them to practice, so they are not participating," she said.

Undeterred, the group sent the scarves to the state offices in Frankfort in October, to be distributed at the State Games.

Brittany Abell, field services director for Special Olympics Kentucky, said pleas have gone out seeking 285 scarves so everyone — athletes, coaches, and numerous volunteers — can wear the scarves as a sign of unity.

Although they are still a few shy of that goal, Abell said she would take any that are mailed in case more people volunteer to work at the Games.

"It is just something that if you can't get out and volunteer at one of our sport events, you can still participate at home," she said. "It brings a sense of unity here and everywhere across the U.S."

Volunteers also are needed at the Games, she said, during competition, as ski partners during practice sessions, and at the awards stations. Call (502) 695-8222 for information.

The idea of the scarves started in Idaho in 2009, Abell said. This will be the first opportunity for Kentucky to join in after the idea went national about a year ago.

This is the scary part. The scarves need to be in Frankfort by Jan. 18.

The colors are very specific. The scarves can be made from Red Heart Super Saver Cherry Red 0319, Red Heart Super Saver Soft Navy 0387, Red Heart Soft Really Red 9925 or Red Heart Soft Navy 4604. Any combination of red and navy in the scarves is fine.

The scarves should be 6 inches wide and 54 to 60 inches long, including any fringe or other adornments.

Each scarf should be placed separately in a plastic resealable bag with your name and address included on a 3-by-5 card, Abell said.

"Have fun with it," she said. "Be creative. Some have knitted '2012' in the scarves and some have added stars. I'm looking forward to what they come up with."

The scarves will be distributed at the State Games, she said. None will be saved for next year's event because the colors change each year.

So get those needles clicking. Or, if you are like me, practice so you will be prepared when next year's project is announced.

"It just took having a purpose," Meador said of her group's donation. "We had such a sense of accomplishment."

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