Spreading Joy One Stitch at a Time

Marian Foster delivers 33 hand-sewn blankets for the kids at Interfaith Sanctuary.

Word on the Street Issue 18, January 2022

This winter, two ladies delivered dozens of hand-sewn blankets and hand-knitted hats to Interfaith Sanctuary just in time for the holidays. Each woman did this in order to give back in a community that has taken care of them, too. Both Marian Foster and Debra Vickery are legally blind. But hasn’t stopped either woman from doing what they love.

Marian, 78, has been sewing for a lifetime. Making fleece blankets is a way for her to connect with people. Before coming to Interfaith, she would bring her grandchildren to deliver hand-sewed items to local nursing homes and other shelters in the Treasure Valley. “I’m legally blind and so I do not see your faces, but I have decided that I am just not going to let my blindness stop me from serving people,” she said.

“I’ve always been one that needs to do something with my hands. I’m not an idle-type person. I can talk to someone in the room and just keep right on sewing because it’s all done by feel.”

Marian, who has sewn everything from gloves, to hats, blankets, and a tutu for a chimpanzee (yes, you read that correctly), uses her old cutting board. This year, she couldn’t see across it, so she took a bold marker and drew a line where her ruler needed to be, then laid something against the other edge of the board to mark the dimensions. She repeated this process over and over until she had 33 blankets to deliver to the kids in Interfaith’s family program.

“I am the one that received the blessings from bringing these blankets down,” she said. “I told my husband that I’m never going to see the children with these blankets, but just in my heart knowing what a blanket means to a child, it gave me such joy.”

Debra Vickery shows off dozens of hats she knitted for guests this winter.

Debra, a retiree, can knit up a storm despite trouble with her vision. “I used to do really small needlework and when I started losing my sight, I had to find things that were easier to see,” she said. “I don’t do really small things like socks, I do medium-sized to larger needles and make hats, scarves, and blankets.”

She began knitting blankets for chemo and dialysis patients during a two-month long hospital stay and has continued doing so out of gratitude. She knits by feel and also has a magnifying glass to pick up drop stitches and fix any imperfections.

This winter, Debra’s goal was to make sure guests had a warm hat to wear before freezing weather hit. She finished dozens of hats for both kids and adults and is in the process of making baby blankets for newborns in the family program.

“Even though I’ve had vision problems with cataracts or degeneration, I’ve been blessed with some of the most incredible doctors. The things they’ve done to help my vision improve have been such a gift,” she said. “It has given me back the ability to live alone, to be able to take care of myself, and to be able to do things like this – to help someone else.”