Blazing Hooks and Needles, a group who meets weekly at the University of Alabama at Birmingham to knit and crochet together, are bringing joy and comfort to new families and premature babies through their talents.
The Blazing Hooks and Needles consists of volunteer crochet and knitting teachers from a wide variety of UAB staff. The group meets on their lunch break every Tuesday at the Ronald McDonald Room in the UAB Women and Infants Center. They work alongside and teach parents with children in the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to create blankets, hats and washcloths for their new babies.
The group was founded by Yolanda Hogeland and Martha Griffin, two UAB employees, in 2015. The pair ran into each other at their local yarn store and realized their shared mutual interest. The two started meeting once a week during lunch to knit together, and outside interest was quickly garnered in the group, with many people stopping by to learn.
Griffin was inspired to bring the group to the RNICU after attending a presentation about how involvement in activities can assist moms coping with the stress as parents with premature babies. The group decided to dedicate an additional lunch break every week to helping the moms by providing a therapeutic and creative distraction — crocheting and knitting.
“We believe it is our mission to give back to our patients,” Griffin said. “We share our knowledge and lunchtime to support them during their difficult times.”
In addition to helping out new families, the Blazing Hooks and Needles are fostering a sense of community across a wide range of UAB departments, including Transplantation, Health System Information Services and Rehabilitation Services. UAB employees with any level of skill are welcome to join and knit. The group provides “networking and team-building opportunities for people from different departments to learn with each other,” Griffin said.
Since it was created, Blazing Hooks and Needles have taught more than 100 families how to knit and crochet personalized items for their new family members. There is also sentimental value to be found in the group’s work, Griffin says.
“We have formed friendships that have transcended retirements and crazy work schedules,” Hogeland said. “Our friendships have gotten us through some tough times — illnesses, and deaths of spouses, parents and beloved pets. The group provides encouragement to one another and to these mothers — in knitting, crocheting and life.”
Blazing Hooks and Needles provides yarn, knitting needles and crochet hooks to families who learn with them; the group is always open to donations to support their efforts. To learn more about Blazing Hooks and Needles, including how to join the group or how to donate supplies, contact Yolanda Hogeland, Martha Griffin or Alicia Gunter.