LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — A Lafayette woman's passion for knitting has helped serve hundreds in the community. Now other local organizations are getting involved.
For Julie Conlon, founder of Lafayette Plarn Project, it all started with a passion for knitting and a book.
“The book was about a woman who purchased items from women around the world who were earning under a dollar a day,” said Conlon. “She purchased them, brought them home to her garage and started selling them.”
That women then gave 100% of her proceeds back to the women she bought from. But that was only one part that sparked Conlon's interest.
“She discovered some of the countries, they didn't have yarn to knit or crochet with and they used plastic and I just said, Plastic? I never heard of that," said Conlon. “So I start googling knitting with plastic and I learned the term, plarn."
She found that "plarn" is primarily used to make sleeping mats. Its durable and water-resistant nature makes it useful for people who spend a lot of time outdoors, like someone who's homeless. This led Conlon to Lafayette Transitional Housing.
“Set up a regular schedule a couple of mornings a week and go sit with the homeless clients and discovered, I hear so much about their lives,” said Conlon.
While working to fulfill their needs, other local organizations began wanting to fulfill hers. Franciscan Health recently donated unused curtain fabric from the former St. Elizabeth's Hospital. Jordan Manufacturing in Monticello donated pillows for her to give to LTHC clients.
“That then put together the need of re-purposing the privacy curtains into bags that could carry the pillows,” said Conlon.
Conlon hosts regular sewing events throughout the community. Volunteers and transitional housing clients are encouraged to participate.
LTHC clients say Conlon's sewing and crocheting projects have positively impacted them.
“It's great, it's better than laying on the ground, you're out of the mud and if you do get rained on or in the mud, you can just spray it off and recycle,” said one LTHC client.
Another LTHC client said, “I thought well that looks like something that would be fun to do and something that would kill time and also be able to give back for what I've been given.”
“I'm just really proud and glad that she's doing this for people. She's one of my heroes,” said another LTHC client.
Julie Conlon said she wouldn't be able to provide like she has without the help of volunteers.
If you’re interested in participating in sewing events or donating to Lafayette Plarn Project you can find them on Facebook here.