The soft click-clack of knitting needles is barely audible over the chatter that fills the library of Margaret Overcash’s McLean home. She and three of her oldest friends have gathered for their weekly knitting session.
“We knit, but it’s mostly social. Sort of way to staying connected,” she said.
They meet each Wednesday to stitch and chat. Over the years they’ve knitted blankets, scarves and sweaters, some for charity and others for gifts.
The woman began knitting as a group about 10 years ago when Overcash took a community college knitting course on a whim. She gained a love for the art form and wanted to share it with her friends.
“She’s pretty persuasive and she’s always been sort of like a social activities director for us, so if she suggested it, we’d try it,” said Sarah Young.
Currently, they are knitting caps for women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.
“We’ve made baby blankets for teen mothers, and then sometimes we’ve knit blankets for each other’s grandchildren,” said Fran Conley who is expecting her first great-grandchild in May.
The women have been friends for nearly 50 years. They met as young stay-at-home mothers, bonding over the need for companionship and support. Together they’ve celebrated milestones and supported each other through challenges.
“Between us we’ve had marriages, divorce, college graduations, first grandchildren, happiness, sadness and you name it, and always come together and circled the wagons around each other,” said Joanie Bridges.
Each woman brings her own talent to the group. Fran has an eye for fashion, Joanie has a good memory and keeps up with dates and Sarah says that she has a nose for juicy gossip and keeps the group informed.
“I keep the group entertained and Joanie makes sure that we remember each other‘s birthdays and Sarah is the fashionista who always knits the prettiest things because she can blend together color combinations tastefully,” said Young.
Maintaining friends and social connections is important to aging well. According to one study, people with strong connections to family and friends have a 50% greater chance of outliving those with fewer social ties, as cited by Aetna. Loneliness has been linked to a higher risk of cognitive decline, dementia and depression.