February 16, 2024
High school senior combines her passions, knitting and sustainability, into a project to help those in need of warm hats

By Mary Reid Barrow

High school senior Alexis Stewart’s grandmother tried to teach Alexis to knit back when she was 5-years old, but Alexis’ little hands just couldn’t hold the needles and make them work.

However, the memory must have been embedded deep in Alexis’ brain. When the pandemic hit, she saw her friends pick up hobbies to pass the time.

“One picked up the guitar,” she said. “One started making multi-media presentations and then I took up knitting!”

Knitting became Alexis’ passion. Now the hobby has come full circle for this senior at the Virginia Beach Environmental Studies Program at the Brock Center.

There she combined her passion for knitting with her passion for sustainability. Her Eco-Summit Senior Project is “Scraps to Hats” and she will work with LRNow to collect scrap yarn and gently used handknit or crocheted items. Then with the help of volunteers, the yarn will become new warm hats for those in need.

The idea of using leftover yarn and yarn reclaimed from knitted sweaters came to Alexis because she always had been interested in the way people upcycled used denim into stylish jackets and other clothing.

“I thought I can do that with yarn!”  Alexis said.

She learned the ins and outs of reclaiming yarn from You Tube videos. “Lots of You Tube videos,” she said.

LRNow is helping by collecting scrap yarn at the office at 3712 Holland Road between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays. They are working with Alexis to put on two educational, how-to workshops from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on March 2 and March 23 in the Oyster room at the Brock Environmental Center.

Alexis will pass on what she knows about knitting with upcycled yarn at the March workshops. Participants will learn about yarn collection and sorting and how to unravel yarn from old knitted items, among other information. They will receive hat patterns and yarn kits to take home.

“I will also give a presentation about the global impact of the textile industry,” Alexis said. “Textiles are the third largest  contributor to global waste and climate change.”

LRNow will be the drop off point for knitted hats and they will distribute them to places such as temporary housing facilities.

Alexis is hoping that some volunteers will be interested enough to carry on her project when she graduates this year. She will be heading off to study pre-law at George Mason University and hopes to attend law school there to study environmental law and policy.

If only Alexis’ grandmother could see her now.


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