Maryland Prisoners Begging to Join “Knitting Behind Bars” Program


Lynn Zwerling, 67, of Columbia Md., took up knitting after retiring from selling cars, quickly becoming an evangelist, started a knitting group that swelled to nearly 500 members and — surprising everyone she knew — announced that she wanted to teach men in jail how to knit, says the Baltimore Sun. “I just knew it would work,” she says. “I thought what it takes to do knitting are skills vital to human existence — setting goals, completing a project, giving to somebody else.”

Defying every expectation, Zwerling’s Thursday night program, Knitting Behind Bars, has become in two years the most exclusive club at the state prison system’s Pre-Release Unit, an all-male, minimum-security penitentiary. Men literally beg to get in. There’s a waiting list. No one’s more surprised than the assistant warden who couldn’t help but harrumph when Zwerling told her she wanted to teach inmates how to make stuffed dolls and woolly hats. Every other prison in the area had already turned her down. “I was like, ‘Mmmm, I don’t know,” says Warden Margaret Chippendale. “I just had a hard time trying to grasp that an inmate that might have committed a violent crime or been a gang affiliate was going to want to sit in a room and knit.”

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