With each stitch she knits, Nellie Kielstra, a longtime member of Sunnyside (Wash.) Christian Reformed Church brings warmth to children in need. For 20 years Kielstra has been knitting for World Vision’s Knit for Kids, a program that sends handmade sweaters and hats to children living in poverty all over the U.S. and around the world in countries such as Chile, Rwanda, and Uganda.
Kielstra learned to knit as a young child at an all-girls school in the Netherlands, where she grew up. Now she spends a good part of her days knitting, using patterns printed from the Internet. Each hat takes approximately four hours; she typically knits one hat a day. Jessalyn Cole, the bookkeeper of Sunnyside CRC and a friend of Kielstra’s said, “She really likes it and doesn’t know how to quit. She usually waits until she has 50 [items] to mail at a time. But her last package included 105 items.”
Besides knitting, Kielstra also has helped with a quilting ministry at Sunnyside CRC called Project Reach Out. Every Monday and Tuesday, about 20 women meet to make quilts for victims of fires, floods, or natural disasters. “Nellie has helped with the cutting of squares for years and also does the hospitality side of things by getting the morning coffee break, lunch, and afternoon teas ready and served,” said Cole.
The group has been meeting to quilt together for almost 40 years, and Kielstra has always enjoyed talking and visiting with the other women.
Kielstra says knitting is her way of relaxing. It is a passion she has shared with others, including teaching three of her grandchildren to knit.