By Jessica Creagan
VERO BEACH -- The clinking of metal in a restaurant usually means someone has dropped the silverware, but last week in Vero Beach, the noise was coming from a very different sort of utensil set.
In honor of World Wide Knit in Public Day, members of the community gathered at the Panera Bread in Vero Beach to knit craft projects for local charities and cancer patients.
The Knit Sisters of Vero Beach hosted the knitting in public event, but it was by no means their first time working on projects in public, said Vicki Carlton, group member.
This time the knitting group was highlighting the American Cancer Society and the local chapter was on hand promoting the fall 2014 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event.
Funds raised through the Making Strides walk provide for free resources and support to women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, allows for access to mammograms and helps cover some costs of researching prevention, treatment and cures for breast cancer.
"We are registering teams now," said Theresa Woodson, community engagement representative for the American Cancer Society.
The knitting group formed in 2008 and has created countless scarves, hats, purses, blankets, animals and other knitted objects for cancer patients and other charities over the years, Ms. Carlton said.
The group meets weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Panera Bread at 3 p.m. and on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. in the Indian River Mall food court.
"It's grown from two women meeting together, to maybe up to 50 people knitting during season. You never know who is going to be there, there are some regulars and some people that just come once or twice a year," Ms. Carlton said.
Men are certainly welcome to join the group, but at this time the group is all made up of women, she said.
Like many clubs and groups, there is a certain social aspect that draws people into the organization, but the desire to use their skills to benefit others is also a common bonding element.
The items the group members create are things that cancer patients, usually adults, would find useful or comforting. When the projects are completed they are turned into the local American Cancer Society chapter for distribution.
"We try to make a variety of things so the American Cancer Society has a variety to choose from. We like to make them out of comfortable materials, such as cotton or bamboo, because we know that many people are very sensitive. Especially for hats, when people lose their hair, their scalps are much more sensitive than if they shaved their head or went bald," Ms. Carlton said.
Many of the women knit but some of them also crochet items to donate, Ms. Carlton said.
"I learned how to knit from one of the founders of the group about six years ago, but I had been crocheting for 49 years. I personally like to knit a lot better and I picked it up pretty fast," she said.
Some of the group members have had cancer or are in remission from the disease, which also strengthens the ties the knitting group has to the cancer community.
"It's a great support group and group of friends. You have people that you never would have met or become friends with if not for this. Some of the women have even traveled to Alaska together," Ms. Carlton said.
Teaching others to knit is another aspect of their group, so beginners are welcome to stop by one of their meetings during the week and see what it's all about, she said.
For more information about the Knit Sisters of Vero Beach, visit www.facebook.com/groups/150749091628481. For more information about the American Cancer Society, visit www.cancer.org.