Through the years, longtime Blackfoot resident Pauline Sweet has crocheted nearly 500 afghans for babies, veterans, senior citizens and others in need, and she's still going strong. She started making the blankets in the 1980s for babies in the small Mexican fishing village of Kino Bay, where she and her husband Dwain spent months away from the cold Idaho winters for many years.
These days, Pauline's focus is crocheting lap blankets for veterans and senior citizens in the area; however, she is running low on yarn and is hoping that anyone with yarn to spare will donate some to her.
Pauline, who has been a homemaker and alterations seamstress for local businesses over the years, said, "I never sit down that I don't crochet for awhile. People have always been generous to donate yarn to keep me busy. I prefer 4-ply yarn but I'll work with anything and I'm happy with whatever I can get."
Most recently, Pauline donated her handmade blankets to residents of the Willows Assisted Living in Blackfoot and the Idaho State Veterans Home in Pocatello. She and Dwain make a point to personally deliver the blankets so that they can "see who is getting them." She said she makes lap blankets because they are more convenient for senior citizens and disabled persons - they won't get caught up in wheelchairs or cause them to trip.
"It's very gratifying to actually meet the people that receive the blankets. They are truly grateful and can't believe we are just giving them something. We want nothing in return except a 'thank you,' " Pauline said.
Pauline, 82, didn't learn to crochet until she was an adult and newly married to Dwain, saying, "I am left-handed and it was hard to find a teacher who would work with me. So, Dwain's mother and aunt ended up teaching me. I took to it and I've never stopped."
Dwain, her husband of 62 years, is more than supportive of Pauline's passion for crocheting afghans and is affectionally referred to by Pauline as the "ball roller" guy for his willingness to roll up balls of yarn for her.
In fact, Dwain, a machinist and retired U.S. Navy veteran from Kansas, crocheted an afghan himself back in the 1960s that scored a blue ribbon in the Eastern Idaho State Fair just last year.
"A friend of mine insisted that I learn a stitch. I just kept at it until I had made a big afghan," he said. "I'd never shown [the afghan] before, so I pulled it out and entered it in the fair and it took first place."
While Dwain didn't stick to crocheting, Pauline said she has no intentions of stopping.
"I will keep at it as long as my fingers are still working and I have all of my senses," she quipped. "I will just keeping making blankets and giving them to people."
Anyone with yarn to donate to Pauline can call her at 785-4655.