The Knotty Ladies

“Community service is possible at any age, even into our seventies or eighties,” said Judith Head, spokesperson for a group of compassionate women who’ve made nearly 1,000 knotted fleece blankets for children in need.

Since 2013, ladies from Touchmark Retirement Center have set out to comfort homeless elementary children who are being served by the Positive Tomorrows social service agency. Former resident, Louise Haaland, kick-started the program when her son, a banker, secured $500 in start-up money.

“Soft blankets can serve so many needs for kids,” Judith said, “from sleeping to hugging or even hiding under it when they need to pull away.”

A Knotty Name

The blankets are made of two layers of fleece, which are knotted together around the edges, no sewing required. The knots are only part of the reason for the Knotty Ladies’ name.

“You might also call us ‘naughty’ ladies,” Judith said with a laugh. “We knew we’d need more funding for the fabric, so we spread the word among the other residents. A group of men at Touchmark brainstormed over dinner and offered to host a Best Looking Legs contest! For $1 a vote, we voted on anonymous pictures of the men’s legs. We got a big kick out of that, and my husband was the winner. So, that’s how we picked the name. I think anyone who’d do a leg contest must be a little naughty.”

Although that unconventional fundraiser was a one-time event ten years ago, Touchmark residents continue to support the Knotty Ladies with money whenever supplies run low. Judith is the fabric purchaser who visits Hobby Lobby regularly on 40% off sale day to pick the colors and patterns for the blankets.

“I’m well-known by the staff there,” Judith said. “They wave at me and help carry the fleece to the car. I always get compliments on the color variations I pick. I try to pick things for all age groups and different interests, not just for little kids.”

Cutters and Knotters

While the construction of fleece blankets is simple, it is not without challenges for the Knotty Ladies, who face various limitations. Arthritis is the biggest factor, making cutting or tying difficult at times. Because of health issues or doctor’s appointments, attendance and ability varies weekly—but the reputation of this group does not.

“There’s about a dozen of us who meet every Wednesday. Our meeting room is off a busy hallway, so people are constantly waving or dropping by to visit. Knotty Ladies is only open to women, but the men always stop by to socialize,” Judith said. “Most of us did community service in our
younger years, but opportunities often diminish once we lose mobility. A lot of people here don’t have cars, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be

Comfy Cozy

A Touchmark driver delivers the blankets to Positive Tomorrows whenever twenty or thirty blankets are ready to go, but occasionally, the Knotty Ladies make the trip themselves. “It is so gratifying, because we see our blankets in their rooms or beingheld by the kids. One little boy had fallen asleep hugging one of our blankets after a rough night,” Judith said. “We want the blankets to help them feel secure and comforted, and know that someone cares about them.”

And just to make sure these children know their blanket is made with love, each one is labeled: “This comfy blanket is a gift from the Knotty Ladies at Touchmark.”

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