Inside the Lovelyarns shop in Hampden on a recent Thursday afternoon, volunteers knitted, crocheted, and stuffed cotton into prosthetic breasts for breast cancer survivors.
The prostheses are then gifted to breast cancer clinics at Mercy Hospital for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is the second year Lovelyarns has adopted a clinic; last year, they donated hundreds of multi-colored knitted knockers to patients at Johns Hopkins.
Melissa Salzman, who took over the shop in 2016, hosts a social stitching night from 7-9 p.m. every other Thursday. In October, the social stitching becomes a Knitted Knockers Sip ‘N’ Stitch night: a free, BYOB social stitching event where anybody can sit around a table and work on the breast-shaped pockets of yarn. Attendees can knit, crochet, or simply stuff the prostheses over a beverage of their choosing.
“It feels good to do good,” Salzman says. “Anything you can do to make a difference in someone’s life is worth it.”
These “knitted knockers” provide breast cancer patients with a soft, handmade prosthesis to fit inside their bra. Each knocker is overstuffed so that a patient can resize the prosthesis easily, Salzman explains. Some are even knitted with waterproof yarns so that wearers can go swimming.
Although people go to Lovelyarns to sit and knit daily, the Sip ‘N’ Stitch nights draw a younger crowd, according to Salzman. She describes the shop as “a den of inclusivity, like a fun, fiber-y club basement.”
Yolanda Barrett, who distributes the prostheses to cancer survivors, says, “We love Lovelyarns’ knitted knockers! They are light and make a difference.”
Breast cancer survivor Barbara Demorest founded the Knitted Knockers organization to connect knitters and crocheters with breast cancer patients around the world.
Demorest says on her organization’s website that she was “self conscious and embarrassed that I needed to have a mastectomy.”
She initially considered silicone prostheses, but a doctor introduced her to the idea of knitted prosthetic breasts.
When a friend knitted a pair for Demorest and delivered them to her at church, she was overjoyed.
“I took them right into the bathroom stall and stuck one in my bra,” Demorest says. “It was FABULOUS! It was light, pretty, soft and fit in my own bra perfectly. I took off my jacket and knew right then that I wanted to make these available to other women going through the same situation.”
Knitted Knockers’ network of volunteers creates prosthetic breasts to allow breast cancer survivors to regain their confidence and comfortability. The organization also provides patterns, videos and other resources for making the knitted knockers.
For more information, visit KnittedKnockers.org.