Knitting brings people together at GracePointe Crossing

By Elizabeth Sias

For Marvin Kjos, crocheting is more about the people he does it with than the afghans or lap quilts he creates.

For nearly a year, Kjos has spent his Monday and Thursday afternoons at GracePointe Crossing with his wife and a few other women in a knitting and cro-hooking group he started.

Marvin Kjos helps Iris Stone with her cro-hooking project, a wheelchair lap quilt. Kjos started the knitting group at GracePointe Crossing about nine months ago. Photos by Elizabeth Sias

Kjos lives out on Goose Lake, about 11 miles east of Cambridge. His wife Lois was never much of a crafty person herself, he said, but she cooked and cleaned the house.

When Lois was diagnosed with herpes encephalitis of the brain five-and-a-half years ago, he said, “that kind of messed things up, and that was the end of the cooking and housekeeping.”

Marvin took care of her at home for over four years before he got sick and was advised to bring Lois to a nursing home for care.

During that time, Lois’ sister sat down with Marvin and taught him how to knit, crochet and cro-hook. He’s kept it up as a hobby now for five years, and when he started spending time with Lois at GracePointe, other residents were curious of his projects and joined him.

“I spend quite a bit of time here, so I had to have something to do,” Marvin said. “I was sitting around here doing this and a lot of people were looking at what I was doing and had never seen anything like this before.”

And that’s how, about nine months ago, the group formed.

Three main GracePointe Crossing residents join Marvin on Monday and Thursday afternoons for about an hour before dinner to work on their knitting or cro-hooking projects.

Marvin is helping Iris Stone make a wheelchair lap quilt, Beverly Blanch is also making a lap quilt, and Yvonne Polsfuss — who came to the group already knowing how to crochet — is making an afghan.

GracePointe Crossing volunteer Candy Twingstrom, left, helps Beverly Blanch cro-hook her lap quilt.

Volunteer Candy Twingstrom has been part of the group since it began. She knows how to knit herself, but said cro-hooking is still new to her.

“Cro-hooking is not my thing,” Twingstrom said as she slowly curled yarn around a needle with Blanch. She explained that cro-hooking involves a needle with a hook on each end, whereas crocheting has a needle with one hook and knitting uses two needles. “I just like working with these people because I can have a bad day and they just bring sunshine to us. There’s a lot of laughing with this group.”

She’s more of a knitter herself, Twingstrom said, but she has cro-hooked a few afghans since starting with Marvin’s group.

He teaches the other members how to cro-hook, and he and Stone have been working on her lap quilt for several months. Stone said she thinks it will be finished in another few months.

It’s slow-going, she said, because they only work on it for a couple hours each week, usually finishing one or two rows each session.

“I like it; it’s interesting,” Stone said of cro-hooking.

“But if you ask Beverly,” Kjos added slyly, “if I take it home, it gains speed rapidly.”

The women laughed in unison.

“I do it for the people,” Kjos said. “We have a lot of fun.”