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By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo of Karen DeVos courtesy of Nancy Rinard)                  

Dec. 3, 2020 (Spring Valley) -- Covenant Living at Mount Miguel, located in Spring Valley, has a resident devoted to helping others via her knitting needles.  That resident is Karen DeVos, a retired teacher and librarian. Her brand of inspiration is knitting beanies, sweaters, and even personalized Christmas stockings.  But in particular, she likes to donate her warm, soft beanies to the homeless.

DeVos donated 45 beanie caps to the homeless choir in San Diego, known as Voices of our City Choir. The group has been featured performing on America’s Got Talent. That connection to Voices of our City Choir came about after meeting Rob Thorsen, a bass player, who is married to the choir co-founder, Steph Johnson, at a jazz performance.

DeVos, 83, and her husband, John, 89, have lived in the Spring Valley facility for several years. They moved to California to be closer to their daughter and grandkids. The pandemic has curtailed socializing and getting to know other residents well, but she hopes that will change in the future.

“We wanted to bond with our grandchildren,” said DeVos. She has achieved that desire during the COVID19 pandemic through Zoom meetings and by reading books to them such as  “Summer of the Monkeys” by Wilson Rawls.

(Photos - right and below courtesy of Karen DeVos)

Karen DeVos was born and raised in New Jersey and has also lived in Michigan, where her husband was from. She’s also lived in Arizona, where she started knitting for the homeless via the Hats & Hands Project sponsored by the church she attended.

“My mother taught me to knit when I was eight or nine years old,” she said. Jumping from that beginning to teaching classes on knitting is a leap that not all knitters accomplish.

She also taught school and was a librarian.  Her husband was a civil engineer turned high school math teacher.

When she is knitting, she has a distinctive style:  she will knit anywhere. On cruises, the car, on vacation, on planes, while reading, and even in the movies.  

“I never look up except when I caste on and off,” she said. “I take about 3 – 3-1/2 hours to knit one hat.”

Her size 8 knitting needles, are set in motion with yarn, preferably 4-ply yarn. She purchases her yarn at Walmart among other places.

She prefers darker colors for her beanies.  She has also received donations of yarn.

“I go to Walmart and get a ‘pounder’,” she said. “It’s one pound of yarn.

Additionally, she has supporters who donate yarn to her.

If you are interested in donating to her cause to help the homeless at places such as the choir and also Father Joe’s Village, contact Covenant Living at Mount Miguel at https://www.covlivingmountmiguel.org/.

What tips would she give to beginners? “You need to be patient,” she advised.


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