SEYMOUR, Tenn. — Healing from breast cancer takes a lot of support. For a knitting group in East Tennessee, that kind of healing love starts with a single stitch.
Every week, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Seymour Branch Library, a group of women weaves with their hearts. As they know, hope is a hard thread to break.
Sue DesRochers founded the group called "Stitches of Love" 10 years ago after she moved to the area and didn't know a single soul.
She couldn't find a knitting circle close enough to her, so she decided to start her own. Over the years, members have come and gone, but the idea stays the same: helping others is the best hobby.
This group's knitting needles are an extension of their kindness.
"We meet and knit and crochet to our heart's content," DesRochers said.
Every knitter has years of experience behind them, and each person holds different levels of expertise, but they knit because they like it.
There's power in numbers. Just like a hat wouldn't last with just one stitch, people in need thrive from others supporting them.
"One person can only make so much, but as a group, we're able to touch so many more people," group member Linda Herndon said.
While there's a dedicated group of in-person knitters, there are also virtual knitters who create items and ship them to Stitches of Love to distribute.
The group will never turn away items or yarn donations. They know every inch of fibers counts.
Over the past decade, thousands of hats, blankets, shawls and more have been tagged and shipped out to dozens of groups who need them across the United States.
They send knit hats to second graders in Maine, elderly people in assisted living, kids in other countries and breast cancer fighters in Breast Connect.
"That's the kind of ties to the community that are so rewarding," one of the newest group members, Michele Galindo said. "Hopefully, a hat or a prayer shawl is just going to give them that extra comfort that somebody somewhere was thinking about them praying for their recovery, praying that you know, they were going to continue the fight."
Those stitches of support, formed by strangers, help boost the women behind the knitting needles too. They don't want recognition. They would rather know their labor of love is comforting someone else.
"It gives your mind focus, it gives you a purpose, and the fact that we can make all these things and give them to Sue, and then she distributes to the people who need it, it's very rewarding," Herndon said.
Whether it's a knit or a purl, there's power beyond the yards of yarn. They see it in every thank you note and picture.
"Without my ladies, my virtual knitters and my local ones, there would be no stitches of love going out to the world," DesRochers said.
If you would like to donate to Stitches of Love, or become a virtual knitter, you can reach out via their Facebook Page. You can also join the knitting circle at any time to help out at the Seymour Branch Library every Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.