By Brian Conlin, The Arbutus Times
Atikinson, 82, who lives in Catholic Charities Senior Housing at Kessler Park, in Arbutus, crocheted 100 scarves that will be donated to pre-kindergarten students at Riverview Elementary School and Southwest Emergency Services.
She is humble about her accomplishment.
“I’m just a little, old plain person,” Atkinson said.
Each scarf is about 36 inches long, with fringe and 58 rows of vertical stitches that alternate between double and single knots.
Last year, the housing complex in Arbutus collected gloves and mittens to donate to a local charity and that event inspired Atkinson, she said.
“After Christmas, the little children sent letters to us,” Atkinson said. “I thought about how maybe they’d like a nice scarf.”
Atkinson started her project, and crocheted her 100th scarf in June, she said.
“She did this out of the goodness of her heart,” said Marjorie Miller, who lives in the same complex as Atkinson. “She said she would make them, and I thought she would make a couple. When she told me she made 100, she kind of blew my mind.”
Atkinson, who prefers to crochet afghans, said it takes between a day and a week to complete a scarf depending on how busy she is and that she never got bored making the scarves.
With the scarves practically bursting from her closet, Atkinson gave them to Miller, who serves as the council president of the Lansdowne-Baltimore Highlands Senior Center.
Miller said they chose the kindergarten students at Riverview Elementary School because it’s close to the complex and they have a lot of children who are in transition because of Section 8.
“We were guessing how many children would be kindergarteners and thought 60 or 70,” Atkinson said. “I thought, ‘Just make it an even 100.’ ”
It’s a good thing Atkinson chose that number because the school has 96 kindergarten students, Miller said.
Making things for other people isn’t unusual for Atkinson.
She said she has never crocheted anything for herself and enjoys making other people happy.
Atkinson said her hobby began more than 70 years ago when her mother gave her a crocheting hook and taught her how to make a chain.
After eight years of making only chains, Atkinson got a how-to book and taught herself to crochet.
She then taught her mother.
“For the next 50 years, Mama and I would sit down and crochet together,” said Atkinson, who also enjoys reading murder mysteries and doing puzzles.
Atkinson collected much of the yarn she used for this project when her husband, George, was sick, she said.
A former nurse’s aide, Atkinson said she wouldn’t leave his side, not even to go to church, and her five children would bring her skeins of yarn to keep her busy.
“I used to tell my husband that next to him crocheting was my greatest love. And he’d say to me, ‘Sometimes I think crocheting is your only love,’ ” Atkinson said with a chuckle.
Crocheting helps Atkinson do more than pass the time.
“It’s good for my hands,” she said. “I’ve had arthritis in my hands for years and it helps.”
Atkinson said she is considering putting together a crocheting class for the rest of the members in her housing community.
“I’ve never sold anything I ever crocheted,” said Atkinson, who is currently working on a purple and black Baltimore Ravens-themed scarf for an acquaintance. “It would be like giving away one of my children or myself. I look at it, I like it and I give it to somebody else because it’ll make them happy.”