Bianca Damato, Alice Fowlie, and Michele Gee, left to right, of the Knit-Wits
Bianca Damato, Alice Fowlie, and Michele Gee, left to right, of the Knit-Wits
A group of women have been getting together in Rockland every week for thirty years to knit mittens, blankets, slippers, and sweaters to give away.

“Maybe more than thirty years,” said Alice Fowlie, 95. Fowlie is the jokester of the group. “I joined in the 1980s.”

The Knit-Wits, who are from Rockland and surrounding towns, knit and crochet slippers and lap blankets for the veterans at Togus, crochet dolls for the young school children to tell their troubles to, purple hats for the Crying Babies program at Pen Bay Medical Center, hats and mittens for Waldo County Hospital, and mittens with glove fingers for troops in Afghanistan. Sometimes they knit sweaters and bed jackets. There is a long list of Knit-Wit recipients. Every item is donated to an organization and the Knit-Wits expect their work to be given away, not sold.

The women range in age from  66 to 96. The Knit-Wits numbers have been dwindling lately and they want more people to join — women or men, they don’t care. And you don’t have to know how to knit or crochet.

“That’s why we’ve got this,” said Fowlie, holding up a copy of the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting and Crocheting.

“We’ll teach you,” said Patty Ott, who has been in the group for three years.

“Or at least try,” said Bianca Damato, who joined 11 years ago.

 Becky Lord showed up for her first time last week. She knows how to knit. After a few introductions, she was clacking away like a regular member of the group.

“We have a lot of fun here,” said Michele Gee, a retired teacher who joined the Knit-Wits last November. “It’s as much a social group as anything else,” said Gee. “We talked politics around the election.”

Those were spicy discussions, she said. They put that behind them after November. They’re back to social stuff, now, talking about their families, what is happening in their towns, new knitting patterns and even how to use new technology.

“One of our group uses an iPad to follow her knitting patterns,” said Gee. “She won’t even look at a book. She’s 89. We learn a lot from each other.”

They meet from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays in the Rockland City Council chambers. A cabinet underneath the clock is dedicated to their yarns and a bunch of finished sweaters and mittens that have not yet been given away. Ott puts the coffee on around 8:30. Someone ususally brings something to share. People come in late and leave early.

“We will try to pick you up, if you don’t have a ride,” said Damato. “We’ll do our best.”

The group is also known for volunteering to put together the lobster dinner packets with bibs and tableware for the Lobster Festival during the spring, though it’s optional for members.

“We are not very formal,” said Ott.

For more information on the Knit-Wits, contact Jeanne Bulanchuk at 372-8161.