In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness month, knitters gathered this month at Atomic Books in Hampden to make handcrafted breast prostheses.
The event was sponsored by Lovelyarns, also in Hampden, and the nationwide nonprofit, Knitted Knockers. Participants knitted or crocheted handmade breast prostheses for women who have undergone mastectomies or other procedures. Through Knitted Knockers, the prostheses are filled and then distributed free of charge to women across the globe.
Many women find traditional breast prosthesis hot, heavy or too expensive, says breast cancer survivor Barbara Demorest, the founder of Knitted Knockers. She started the organization after her doctor directed her to a knitter in Maine who crafted prostheses for Demorest and then gave her permission to “use the name and share them freely with others.”
For a woman who needs a Knitted Knocker, the process is simple: After choosing size and quantity online, her order is placed through a state supplier page for a local knitter to fulfill. Finished knockers are then mailed out with special care instructions and sometimes with a personalized note from the knitter.
The organization is 100% volunteer-based. “We gave out more than 10,000 free knitted knockers worldwide just in August and more than 8,000 the month before. It’s amazing considering they are all made by volunteers,” she said.
Here in Baltimore, Lovelyarns partners with Atomic Books for a knit night every first Wednesday of the month. But this month they wanted to do something a little different, Lovelyarns owner Melissa Salzman said.
“I wanted to do something in October for Breast Cancer Awareness month and I thought that doing a Knitted Knocker event would be a wonderful tie-in and remind people that this is a charity knitting opportunity that we have at the shop year-round,” Salzman said. “It was very successful. People came, they got supplies, we made knockers, and we had drinks, good fun and people made friends. That’s really what it’s all about.”
And the knocker making continues, she added. There is a basket full of Knitted Knocker-approved yarn at the store, as well as patterns for knitting and crochet as well as needles and hooks, she said.
“We are a Knitted Knockers drop-off spot, so we carry Knitted Knockers-approved yarns. When they are finished, we mail them off to Knocker headquarters, so they can be distributed where they are needed most,” she said. “We also offer a 10% discount on Knitted Knocker supplies that you purchase here.”
“They are a wonderful organization, and we are thrilled to be a partner with them,” she added.