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Power of the purl; Knitters fulfill a dying friend's wish.

Byline: Carla Charter

The following correction was published Nov. 17, 2007:

ATHOL - Sue Muther helped knit 40 pairs of socks for medical workers who treated her friend Pam Osborne, who died of cancer. Because of a correspondent's error, Ms. Muther's name was incorrect in the Telegram & Gazette yesterday.

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ATHOL - The knitters at the Gathering Place, a craft studio and gift shop, have reached their goal of knitting 40 pairs of "power socks," in the process fulfilling the final wish of a fellow knitter and friend, Pam Osborne, who died from cancer in September.

By 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, the count of socks was 33, and by 7:30 p.m., the count had reached 40, the magic number on the list held by Katherine Erwin, one of Ms. Osborne's closest friends.

Ms. Osborne, a longtime resident of Orange and a 10-year employee of Hannaford Supermarkets, was an avid knitter. She gave away most of the 100 pairs of socks that she knitted. Her hand-knitted socks became known as power socks because a person wearing them can feel the love of the person who knitted them.

Fellow knitter and friend Sue Motta, (SEE CORRECTION) who helped complete the goal of 40 pairs of socks, said, "Homemade feels so different, so unique. When you give someone a pair of power socks, you give them extra strength and courage when they are dealing with a loss or illness.

"You think about the person who made them for you and you think, `Wow, they made them just for me.' It gives you an extra will and confidence to get through a bad time."

During her last hospitalization, Ms. Osborne was too ill to knit. "However, she would say, `Be sure this staff member gets socks,' or, `Be sure this patient gets a pair of socks,' and from this grew a list of 40 people, all of whom Pam wanted to have a pair of her power socks," Ms. Motta said. "The socks are knit with love, with a rainbow of love."

The socks were delivered yesterday, a week before Thanksgiving, because they were meant as a gift of thanks from Ms. Osborne to those who took care of her during her final illness. Accompanying the group delivering the socks were Ms. Osborne's daughter, Tiffany, 21, who also knits, and her son, Donny, 16, a student at Athol High School.

Ms. Motta first got involved with the Gathering Place after seeing a newspaper article about a group from the studio that was planning a sock-knitting cruise to Bermuda in August. Ms. Motta decided to take the cruise, because she had taken up knitting again. Ms. Motta learned to knit from her grandmother, "and I still have some of her knitting needles." Ms. Osborne, too, was on the cruise. She died a month to the day after their return.

Though this project is completed, the tradition of the power socks will continue.

"We have all come to realize there is a person in our lives always who has touched us in a special way and may now have an illness or have suffered a loss. This has made us all more aware of the people in our lives who touch us and do something special for us. Our main focus will be on the people in our lives who need a boost. The idea of power socks will always be there. There are different ways to reach out to people. This is one way," Ms. Motta said.

"Sock knitting is so cool and extremely addicting," she added. "There are so many different sock yarns. Sock knitting is not hard to do, but it is a labor of love."

Sock knitting is done on two circular needles with sock yarn, which has the pattern of the socks already built in to the yarn.

Ms. Motta said a woman in the group can finish a pair of socks in a week, but usually a pair takes two or three weeks, depending on the amount of time a person has to devote to the knitting.

"Not very many people, though, have one pair going at a time. Most have three or four pairs going at a time," she said.

Knitting is not hard to learn, she said, and those who would like to learn or those who already do knit and would like to join can go to the Gathering Place at 352 Main St. on Monday or Tuesday nights. Knitters make a variety of items, including scarves, prayer shawls and sweaters, as well as socks.

Ms. Motta believes sock knitting and knitting overall are increasing in popularity, and, with the resurgence of the craft, "there are now really beautiful yarns out there."

The Gathering Place can be reached at (978) 249-8361.

ART: PHOTOS

PHOTOG: T&G Staff Photos/CHRISTINE PETERSON

CUTLINE: (1) Katherine Erwin gets a hug from nurse Jane Baker at the UMass Oncology Clinic yesterday when Ms. Erwin and others delivered knitted socks for patients and staff. (2) Katherine Erwin tells a story in this January file photo. At right is the late Pam Osborne.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Nov 16, 2007
Words:850
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