The small Mennonite town of Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania has become the first community in the nation to introduce a knitting needle exchange program for local grandmas. Starting this January, local knitters will be able to drop off their old needles in a “sharps container” at area thrift stores, where they will be given fresh needles no questions asked.
“Some of these Mennonite ladies have been using the same knitting needles for years,” said program director Sally Hurst. “It really becomes a public health concern, especially since these women tend to congregate together in church basements and who knows what all goes on there.”
Local grandmas are excited about the new program, which has been seen as both a harm reduction initiative and also a chance to get free stuff.
“I’ve been for waiting something like this for a long time,” said 83-year-old Mary Roth. “I’ve been using the same needle since the 60s, so I’m really looking forward to getting a new one. I’m just hoping they’ll give me a new thimble, too.”
While many are supportive, the program is not without it’s critics, however.
“This just encourages knitting,” said concerned citizen Dorothy Hoover. “When you buy a Mennonite handicrafts, all you’re doing is feeding this addiction.”
If successful, the knitting needle exchange program will be expanded to Mennonite communities nationwide. So far, however, other towns have been quite cautious as knitting needle drop-off points have been known to attract the wrong kind of crowd.
(photo credit: BarbaraLN/CC)