Sweater tradition helps school children

Dorothy Williams of Ocean Park works on the beginnings of what will become another one of her fantastic knitted sweaters. Williams has offered up one of her sweaters each of the last 10 years for the Ocean Beach Education Foundation Dinner and Auction, which will take place this Saturday night.

OCEAN PARK - "I keep watching for patterns all through the year that might be appealing. I try to make it different from year to year to year," said Dorothy Williams of her handmade sweaters she donates to the Ocean Beach Education Foundation (OBEF) Dinner and Auction.

For the last 10 years Williams has been donating one of her hand-knitted sweaters to the event, which raises money for area students. Her sweaters usually sell for what she feels is a "very generous" price of several hundred dollars most years.

"It's amazing to me that they'll pay that much," she said.

She described this year's model as having "Lots of pinks, some browns, some blues. It's just all colors." She said it is probably best suited for a woman, though she has made men's sweaters for the event in the past.

"It just depends on how much yarn I have for that particular project," she said, noting that a woman's sweater usually ends up weighing around 16 ounces.

The yarn used to make the sweater and matching hat - which will be auctioned off at this year's OBEF event this Saturday night at the Long Beach Elks Lodge - was acquired on a trip to a textile event in Oregon she attends each year with friend Sharon Van Huitt.

Williams said it takes about six weeks to make a single sweater if she "knits pretty steadily." This is no problem for her, as she said she almost always has one going, many times knitting away while watching sporting events on television.

She said she has no way of knowing how many she has made over her 30 years of knitting, but guessed several hundred. Williams said her mother taught her how when she was six years old, but she didn't really take it up whole-heartedly until she decided try to quit smoking, saying, "I needed something to do with my hands."

She said she really does it for her herself, and for gifts for friends and relatives, never having looked in to selling them. She also has made slippers and scarves, as well as hats for chemotherapy patients. She said it has been suggested to her that she knit sweaters for pets, but has yet to give that a try.

"I think there's good money in that though," she said with a laugh. "That's what people tell me."

When asked if she had a favorite piece, or one that she was particularly proud of, Williams walked to another room in the house and came back with a light brown sweater knitted with a pattern that looked like rows of leaves.

"It's complicated. It's silk and I just like the stitching," she said. "In fact, I keep thinking I'll do another one."

She said what makes a pattern like this one harder is the fact that it's not a repetitious process like one that is row after row of the same thing.

"This changes all the time, so you have to pay attention," she said.

Williams grew up in Ocean Park and married Adm. Jack Williams, who was from Ilwaco. Jack was a career Navy man, causing them to move all over. They had five children, which Dorothy raised. The Williams' decided to move back to the Peninsula to retire in 1981, where they built their home on a plot of land belonging to her grandfather, along the shore of Willapa Bay. Jack served as school board chairman until his death.

As for the future, Williams takes a very humble view of where she'd like her knitting to take her.

"Nah, just keep at it," she said with a smile.

PENINSULA - Ocean Beach School District No. 101 is holding celebrations for the completion of Ocean Park Elementary School and substantial completion of Long Beach school with dedication ceremonies on Oct. 5. The dedication ceremony is from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., at Ocean Park Elementary (school open from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for viewing) and from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Long Beach Elementary (school open from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. for viewing). The special guest speaker will be Dr. Terry Bergeson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Both schools will again be open from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., for public viewing. The public is encouraged to come see what has been accomplished and share in these exciting times.

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