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Casper fourth-grader handcrafts kitchen towels for tornado victims
knitter

Casper fourth-grader handcrafts kitchen towels for tornado victims

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Riley Plum’s after-school hobby is knitting skeins of yarn into functional kitchen accessories — washcloths, dish towels, hot pads and woven sponges she calls pan scrubbies.

When she turned on her family’s TV in Casper last week and saw entire neighborhoods flattened and schools crushed by an Oklahoma tornado, Riley turned to her mother.

“I said, ‘Mom, can we send money to the people in Oklahoma?’” Riley said. “Then I said, ‘What about dish cloths?’”

Now, the 9-year-old knitter spends her days crafting knitted or crocheted kitchen items to send to Oklahomans whose homes were destroyed or damaged in the tornado. Her mother, Dorothy, called an Oklahoma church to arrange a hand-off — the Plums will ship the kitchen goods to the church, which will then distribute the crafts to locals who need them.

“Whatever we can get, we’ll send,”

Dorothy Plum said.

Riley visited a Casper yarn shop to spread the word and stock up on supplies. She spoke at the shop’s open knitting night Tuesday to ask knitters to consider making donations.

Lauren Groves was working at the Dancing Sheep Yarn and Fiber Shop when Riley and her mother paid a visit recently.

“She has amazing knitting skills for a little girl of her age,” Groves said. Riley found a corner in the store as Dorothy perused the aisles that day, Groves said, and brought out her knitting needles. Groves watched Riley “cast on” — knitting-speak for crafting the complicated loops and knots to start a new project — and fly through a craft.

“She was about two-thirds of the way through a dish cloth by the time her mom left,” Groves said.

The store donated several skeins of yarn to Riley’s project, Groves said. So far, Riley said, about 10 knitting friends around town are donating their time and knitting talents.

A hobby put to use

Riley knits without looking at her hands.

She talked over her clinking knitting needles at her home Wednesday afternoon as she crafted a yellow washcloth.

Riley likes knitting because “there’s so many things you can do,” she said. She’s crafted shawls, socks, hats and scarves in her relatively short knitting career — Riley’s mother taught her to knit about a year ago. Since then, Riley said, she has knit every day for a little more than three hours.

Dorothy’s grandmother taught her to knit at age 5. For Dorothy, knitting is a creative outlet she wanted to pass on to her kids.

“It was something we did as a family,” Dorothy said of her own childhood. “No matter how crazy things got, you could always make something.”

So far, Riley has knitted six washcloths for the Oklahoma victims. Dorothy, who knits and crochets, has made about two dozen. Riley’s goal is 50.

A basket across from the family’s living room couch where Riley and her mother sat knitting gathers the growing collection of knitted kitchen goods.

“And when the basket’s full, we’ll send ’em,” Riley said.

Reach county reporter Leah Todd at 307-266-0592 or leah.todd@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter @leahktodd.

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