GREENWOOD — Arlene Greenleaf has knitted her whole life, but after she was in a very serious ambulance accident when she worked with Bethel Rescue almost a decade ago, she couldn’t do much physically for a long time.

So, she said, “I did more knitting when I was laid up.”

As she cranked out mittens for family and friends, a surplus began to pile up, and she wondered what to do with them.

Someone suggested she contact schools to see if there might be children in need of mittens.

The schools were happy to take them, she said, to give them to children who might not have them as well as to have on hand when the youngsters forgot them at home.

She’s been giving them away for about six years, to the Crescent Park, Woodstock and Andover elementary schools. There have also been occasional gifts to the Agnes Gray School in West Paris, and a school in Biddeford that her granddaughter attends.

“The teacher in Biddeford asked my granddaughter if her grandmother could send some more mittens,” Greenleaf said.

She is a regular knitting machine. She has 10 pairs going at once. “I’ll do five rows on one, then go to the next,” she said, an approach that keeps her from getting bored with one pair.

The bin for this year’s batch has 120 pairs in it so far. Greenleaf also has two bins of skeins, another two of leftover skeins to be rolled into yarn, and one of rolled balls for the future.

She does all kinds of patterns: solid, stripes and self-patterning.

Greenleaf, who lives with her daughter, Sondra Withey, in Greenwood frequent yard sales, Marden’s and Wal-Mart to stock up on yarn.

When Greenleaf is working, she has to be sure all of the yarn is stored safely away. About a year ago Sondra’s young cat, Reaver, was playing with yarn and managed to swallow enough of it that it necessitated emergency surgery. Now, he is restricted to lying on top of the bin covers.

Now that school is underway, Greenleaf is headed into the home stretch for mitten production for the coming winter. She expects to deliver them in late October.

Distributing them is a good feeling, she said, “just knowing that I’m giving them to the kids.”


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