Local woman knits for hospice patients

Lending a Hand
By: Michelle Miller-Carl Journal News Editor
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When Gloria Quinan first learned how to knit as a young woman, she was making hats, mittens and scarves for everyone she knew. “It got so that everyone who knew me, I was measuring them for something,” she said. “They ran when I saw them.” Now, she’s knitting for people she’s never even met. Quinan has started making prayer shawls for the sick and dying people in the Sutter Auburn Faith Hospice program, hoping to provide comfort to those in their final days of life. She originally took up knitting in 1961 at her doctor’s suggestion as a way to cope with the death of her father. “I thought, there is no way I’m going to sit at a table with the silver-haired ladies and knit,” she said. “But I decided to try it and I was hooked.” She focused on her career in the travel industry for years and didn’t return to knitting until 2003, when she discovered new, luxurious yarn options available at craft stores. She raised money for Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital’s infusion therapy center, but she wanted to do more. That’s when a friend in her native Massachusetts told her about a ministry that knitted prayer shawls. The friend passed along the pattern, which is knit in groups of three to symbolize the Holy Trinity. “It’s a great thing to do something for a person who is in turmoil at the end of life,” Quinan said. “Any little thing to give them comfort makes me feel good.” Quinan has also found that knitting is a great dieting strategy. “Whenever I get hungry, I pick up the knitting needles,” she said. “Instead of reaching for chocolate and sweets, which I love, I reach for the needles.” Quinan can knit a 5-foot shawl in three days. She knits on her lunch breaks at Classic Travel in Lake of the Pines and when watching TV at home. When she completes five shawls, she takes them to Lutheran minister Bruce Lundberg for a blessing and tucks a card into the shawl. “As you wear this shawl, may you be cradled in hope, kept in joy, graced with peace and wrapped in love,” part of the card reads. Hospice has up to 45 patients at any given time and as many as 200 in a year. Quinan quickly realized she can’t knit that quickly, so she is trying to assemble a group of knitters who can work on the shawls. When Quinan contacted Victoria Threlkel, clinical supervisor with Sutter Auburn Faith Hospice, about her prayer shawls, Threlkel thought it was a great idea, as patients can sometimes get cold as they near the end of life. “It’s a way to stay warm, and it’s something tangible the family can have after their loved one has gone, so it’s a multi-use shawl,” she said. “These people, the families, are so appreciative. It’s just one more thing of love, and that’s what it’s all about at the end.” Quinan also knits the shawls in honor of her mother, who died suddenly after a routine medical procedure. The woman who first started knitting for comfort after the passing of her father is pleased to know her shawls can bring the same comfort to someone who may be dying. “The people in hospice are somebody’s parents,” she said. “It’s satisfying. The end result is somebody gets some pleasure for a while.” The Journal’s Michelle Miller-Carl can be reached at ---------- How to help Gloria Quinan is putting together a group to meet monthly and knit prayer shawls for patients in hospice. If interested in joining, contact Quinan at (530) 888-1572 or Pioneer United Methodist Church in Auburn also has a Prayer Shawl Ministry, which meets twice a month to knit shawls for distribution to people facing an emotional need for comfort. Anyone in the community who knows knitting or crocheting, or who would like to learn, is invited to take part in this activity. Meetings are on the first Monday and second Tuesday of the month. For more information, call Sherrill at (530) 886-8719. Click here for an updated list on ways you can help out in the community. Ways to Lend a Hand ---------- Would you like to recognize someone who lends a hand to those in need? Nominate a volunteer for this feature by e-mailing