Knitting relaxes Apoorva Desaraju, brings her closer to others and leads her to weaving a homemade treasure to be kept or gifted.
Now the 16-year-old Lecanto High School junior wants to share those experiences with her community while also helping victims of abuse and those in need around the world.
From 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, at the YMCA of Citrus County, Desaraju is holding the first official meeting of the Knitting 4 Peace Citrus County Chapter.
Subsequent meetings will be the same time every other Monday at the YMCA at 4127 W. Norvell Bryant Highway in Lecanto.
“Officially, I’m all set to go,” Desaraju said, adding her mentors with the school's International Baccalaureate program helped guide her.
Desaraju said members will discuss projects and knit clothing materials for donation to the Citrus County Abuse Shelter Association and MedShare, a nonprofit that delivers surplus medical supplies to international communities.
“I wanted to create a safe place for people to share their art, and help people at the same time,” Desaraju said. “This is something I can do to help on a smaller scale and a larger scale.”
To join the local Knitting 4 Peace chapter for free, text “@knitting4” to the number 81010, allowing Desaraju to send out messages on upcoming meetings.
Desaraju said beginning and experienced knitters are welcome to participate.
“I wanted to get anyone who’s interested in making a change,” she said.
Knitters are also encouraged to bring their own yarn to share.
"I know, as a knitter, I have a lot of extra yarn sitting around, waiting for me to find projects for them," Desaraju said, "and I know for fact a lot of knitters are this way."
So far, Desaraju has seven members from her school and others.
“I didn’t realize at all that people at my own school like to knit and crochet,” she said. “I plan to get more adults involved in the near future as well.”
Desaraju said her love for knitting came from her grandmother, who would teach the art of weaving and stitching to her granddaughter during her holiday visits from India.
“And once she left, I was the only one in my area who knew how to knit,” Desaraju said. “I think it’s a great way, a healthy way to kind of get rid of all your negative emotions throughout your day.
“It’s also a great way to connect people.”