Diocesan News

Love’s a Common Thread for Group

The ladies, including Phyllis Adddalli (left) and Carilyn Spinner, have made so many blankets, scarves, and hats over the 13 years since the group was formed they have lost count. They do know, however, precisely how many baptismal blankets they have crocheted (269) since each one is bestowed as a gift to families having their babies baptized at Resurrection Church. (Photo: Paula Katinas)

Yarns of Love Makes Blankets for Babies at Resurrection Church

GERRITSEN BEACH — If a stitch in time saves nine, then Phyllis Addalli and her friends at Resurrection Church are saving a lot of people. 

Addalli is the leader of Yarns of Love, a group of women who knit and crochet baby blankets, hats, scarves, and other items that are then donated to people in need. 

Since Addalli started the group in 2009, Yarns of Love has made thousands of items — offering their love and generosity one stitch at a time.

In 2011, two years after Yarns of Love was formed, the ladies started a special project that continues to this day. They make baby blankets for newly baptized infants at Resurrection Church. The pastor, Father William With, presents a blanket to each and every family baptizing a baby, often surprising them at the end of the celebration of the sacrament.

Over the 12 years since the baptismal blanket project began, the ladies have made 269 blankets — one for each child baptized at Resurrection Church during that time span.

It’s a point of pride for the Yarns of Love ladies that they don’t present the gifts themselves but leave it to the pastor to perform that duty. “We’re not doing this to take a bow,” Addalli said.

But their work isn’t totally anonymous. The women sew a label into each blanket reading, “This blanket was made specially for you by Yarns of Love.”

“What the ladies do with Phyllis is really what our church is all about,” Father With said.

Yarns of Love, which currently has 15 members, meets every other Friday in the rectory basement of Resurrection Church in Gerritsen Beach. The wool and the knitting and crochet needles are often donated by the parish, although the women often buy their own supplies. 

On a recent Friday, the members arrived, greeted each other with warm smiles, asked about each other’s families, and then got right down to work. The participants represented a variety of skill levels, from Marie Sommer, who is adept at the more intricate Tunisian stitch, to other women still learning the basics.

“We’re very diverse,” Addalli explained. “You don’t have to be an expert in crocheting to join us. If you don’t know how to knit or crochet, we’ll teach you.” 

“It’s not a closed group. It’s open to anybody,” Father With said.

“It’s basically all about friendship,” Addalli explained. “A lot of people have made friends, and we see each other for dinner. We go to breakfast from time to time. So it’s become really a friendship group.” 

Friendship was Addalli’s goal in starting Yarns of Love 13 years ago. 

“I had moved into the parish, and I didn’t know anyone. I wanted to make friends,” she recalled. She approached Father Dennis Farrell, the pastor at the time, and offered to teach people how to crochet. “He said, ‘Let’s put something in the (church) bulletin.’ I thought, ‘What if no one comes?’ Well, they came, and they kept coming.”

On Friday, the room was awash in vibrant colors, and busy hands were in constant motion. Annette Williams was concentrating on a blanket incorporating red, white, green, and blue, and Kathe Burns was working with fall colors — gold, brown, and white — as she stitched her blanket.

Gail Cassidy, 84, has been crocheting since she was 12 years old and has been making baby blankets and giving them to her fellow Resurrection parishioners for decades. 

“It keeps my fingers out of trouble.” she joked while adding that she loves being part of Yarns of Love.

The members of Yarns of Love are so dedicated they didn’t let the pandemic stop them. 

“We all worked from home,” Addalli said. 

The members would notify her when their blanket/scarf/hat was done and then leave it by their front door to be picked up and brought back to the church.

The group also branches out to make blankets for residents of a nearby nursing home and hats for cancer patients. 

“Basically, we’re ladies that donate everything that we make to organizations, mostly near and dear to Gerritsen Beach,”  Addalli explained, “but we spread our wings to cancer centers, nursing homes, and shelters.”