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Sue Hampton (left) holds the sweater her late mother had begun knitting for her.
By CATHY DYSON
For many of her 79 years, Adelia Ayers brought warmth to those around her through the baby sweaters, scarves and afghans she knitted.
Ayers died in May 2011, but her knitting legacy is being passed along to others. Groups in the Fredericksburg area--as well as one as far away as North Carolina--have received some of the hundreds of skeins of yarn she collected.
Other knitters have picked up where her clicking needles left off and have made cold-weather items for the homeless, caps and blankets for newborns and prayer shawls for anyone going through a tough time.
"I just wish she would have been alive to see this," said Ayers' daughter, Sue Hampton. "It would have meant so much to her."
Hampton, who lives off Lafayette Boulevard in Spotsylvania County, knew her mother couldn't resist a beautiful skein of yarn.
Ayers and her husband, Bill, who died this June, lived in Summerlake in Spotsylvania and traveled when both were in better health.
Adelia Ayers, whose friends called her "Ditty," picked up needles and yarns from various places they visited.
But Hampton had no idea just how many supplies her mother had amassed until she had to go through her things.
In bedrooms, closets and the attic, she found about a dozen large Rubbermaid containers chock-full of yarn. Others were filled with nothing but needles.
Then there were books.
Not just thin pamphlets that gave instructions for a single project, but thick volumes filled with examples, ideas and techniques.
There were other books, too. Ayers was an avid reader--of mysteries, suspense novels, romance.
Hampton didn't know what to do with the items. She talked to her neighbor Lena Gonzalez Berrios, who works at the Salem Church branch of Central Rappahannock Regional Library.
Berrios took a lot of the large-print books to the library and had ideas for the yarn.
She shared some with Sue Lawson at the Porter Library in North Stafford. Lawson leads people of all ages who enjoy making things with yard and call themselves A Loosely Knit Group.
They used Ayers' supplies to make items for people at the Thurman Brisben Homeless Shelter.
"Mrs. Ayers left behind a gorgeous collection," said Lawson, who shared the yarn with those who don't have as much. "The new knitters are especially grateful for a gift of yarn. Some of the yarn, I used for girls who stop by and don't have any yarn with which to knit."
Linda Vinnedge, who works at Salem Church, took some yarn for craft projects for preschoolers at St. George's Episcopal Church. Some of that may go as far as Haiti, as another church member plans a mission trip and is collecting supplies.
Berrios also took yarn to her mother, who lives in High Point, N.C., and belongs to Emmanuel Lutheran Church. Its group of yarn-lovers is called Knit Wits.
Hampton and Berrios also found a few projects that Ayers had been working on, and knitters finished those, too. Berrios presented one--a black cardigan with gold buttons--as a gift to Hampton on Mother's Day.
"It's given me a lot of comfort," Hampton said.
Berrios also has been on the receiving end of a handmade item, and she knows how special the gift was.
Three years ago, she was pregnant and hospitalized for five weeks. Co-workers and volunteers at the library worked to make her a prayer shawl in deep purple, her favorite color.
She felt better every time she was wrapped in its warmth.
"It was the sweetest thing that anybody could do," she said. "Each and every person spent their time and made it for me with love."
Volunteers in the local knitting groups and in North Carolina have done the same, making gifts for people they don't even know.
"People are dedicating hours and hours of their time," Berrios said, "to make these things with love and care."
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425