Cynthia Deermount, a summer resident of Lake Hopatcong has been sewing and knitting for years. When she retired and lived at the lake full time she started a knitting group. Many of the residents were summer residents like herself, and others were year rounders.
“ I started our group 3 years ago - I needed something to do when we lived at the lake during the summer. I had started knitting again and found my second passion (the first being sewing). We quickly expanded from four to ten by the end of the summer,” said Deermount. Meeting at different houses each week the group share their ideas. Often the sun setting on the lake offers a tranquil scene for the group- who range in ages and from beginners to experts. The women knit their own projects, from scarves and sweaters to various baby items. They offer help, support and encouragement to one another. At the end of the season everyone brings their left over yarns for an exchange. The leftovers are usually donated to a senior crafts center or a local teen group who knit for the needy.
“I wanted to do a service project this year. Some of our members knit hats and shawls for hospitals patients and nursing home residents. When I saw an article about the Mother Earth project I thought it would be a great thing for our group to do, and everyone agreed,” said Deermount.
The group uses their leftover yarns to knit colorful and lightweight bears to be shipped to Africa to soothe and comfort child rape victims, orphans and young HIV/AIDS patients. It’s called the Mother Bear Project and it was started by a homemaker, Amy Berman of Minnesota who recalled how much comfort teddy bears brought her own children and after reading about the tragedies of many of the African youngsters, decided she wanted to do something to ease their emotional pain. The bear pattern is a simple one dating back to World War II. The finished products have provided comfort to thousands of African children and the lake knitters plan to add to that number.
“Although we all had the same pattern, each bear is different and has a unique look and character to it. I can't wait to send them off to their new homes in Africa. Hopefully they will offer some comfort to a child in need,” said Deermount.
Kits are available online at www.motherbearproject.org or by writing to, Mother Bear Project @ P.O. Box 62188 Minneapolis, MN, 55426, and include, the pattern, the yarn, knitting needles, or crochet hooks, and a gift tag to accompany the bear to Africa and into the arms of a waiting child.