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GOLDEN SANDS: Getting ready for delivery

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Sea Trail Grandmas knit, purl and sew to benefit newborn preemies

By Laura Lewis, Reporter

SUNSET BEACH—Monday mornings, the Sea Trail Grandmas gather at the Pink Palace meeting room with bagfuls of pastel-hued cloth and yarn.
Before you know it, they’re in stitches as they work on an array of hand-knit hats and blankets and cloth “coddlers” for newborn preemies.
That’s the mission of this club, which is in an infancy of its own.
Michele Lupien is their leader, club member Peg Jones says, and the one who put it together.
“She actually started in Wake County—she and her husband used to live in Raleigh,” Jones said as the group met to work on handmade baby items at the Sea Trail building one recent Monday morning.
Lupien’s daughter delivered a small baby, and she realized there weren’t a lot of outfits to fit the infant.
“So she took it upon herself to start a little project at the hospital up in Raleigh,” Jones said.
After Lupien moved to Sea Trail, she launched a similar knitting and sewing project here, drawing the interest of neighbors and others interested in joining the cause.
“So now we are supplying these blankets and hats up to New Hanover Hospital in Wilmington, and we delivered hats to Brunswick Community Hospital a few weeks ago,” Jones said.
Hospital personnel and parents alike are so appreciative, she said, to have the handmade items to dress, wrap and take their babies home in.
Since September 2009, the Grandmas have made 535 items for premature babies, including 225 protective coddlers, 89 gowns, 15 regular coddlers, 57 protective sheets and five sheets. Knitted items consist of 99 hats, 39 blankets and six buntings.
The next deliveries for items they’re working on now will be in the fall, Jones said.
The group has 38 members, who meet for fun in the afternoons to finish their projects.
“We don’t do any cutting on the afternoon things,” Jones said. “We just kind of have fun.”
And knowing how to knit or sew is not required for joining this club, which also welcomes non-Sea Trail residents.
“A lot of us didn’t start knitting until last summer,” Jones said.
So expertise or the lack thereof, she said, is not a prerequisite or an excuse.
She pointed out fellow club member Pat McKee as a “very good knitter” who helps novices become knowledgeable, as is Lupien.
Another member showed how to craft knitted cap pompons using a credit card—everybody has one of those, club members joked.
The group also welcomes donations, Jones said. Monetary ones are preferred, but they also can accept acrylic yarns, flannel and cloth, even scraps.
Lupien, she said, takes scraps of material to make quilts that can go over the tops of incubators.
“We don’t waste anything,” club member Betty Ann Luff said. “We keep all our little bits of yarn, and if someone needs a little pompon or something to finish a hat, we share.”
“I suppose gift cards would be nice,” Jones said, “to Joann’s or Michaels or A.C. Moore. We could do down and do our shopping and get exactly what we need.”
Lupien, a Canadian who speaks French, was absent from the session because her other daughter had just delivered a sixth grandchild who also happened to be premature, Jones said.
No doubt, Lupien had a few special handmade items on hand.
For more information about Sea Trail Grandmas, log onto their Internet blog site at http://seatrailgrandmas.blogspot.com or e-mail Lupien at mimilupien@gmail.com.