Filling a Need: Knitters Create Breast Cancer Prosthetics - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Filling a Need: Knitters Create Prosthetics for Breast Cancer Survivors

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From macaroni necklaces to hand-crafted furniture, many of us know the special joy that comes from making something specially to give to someone else. Not as many of us know how it feels to make something that in some ways, will be a part of someone else -- something they're very much missing.

That is the driving force behind a new project that's galvanizing knitters and crocheters in the Fargo area, just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You can see them all over town, with their needles and crochet hooks, including at the recent Bras on Broadway event at the Civic Center.

The project, small enough to hold in your hand, means tackling something that might not have occurred to even the most dedicated do-it-yourself crafter.

"Tit Bits: They take about two hours," says Keatha McLeod, of Prairie Yarns. She's working on what appears to be taking shape as a blue denim-striped prosthetic breast, somewhere between an A and a B cup.

The instructions, from the Canadian cancer survivor who developed the pattern after being dissatisfied with standard prosthetic breasts, say unlike commercial lingerie's sizes, human breasts don't come in standard sizes. "One at a time is fine. It's much more rare to have a bilateral mastectomy."

The project isn't the first of its kind undertaken by the knitters and crocheters at the south Fargo yarn shop. McLeod says she's had somewhere between twenty and thirty crafter's come in to pick up patterns for Tit Bits, and they've set themselves a goal of one hundred of them by December 18th.

She agrees the straight knit stitch is appropriate for beginners, although it might take them more time than her approximate two hours to complete a single Tit Bit. Before this, crafty customers at her store created knit hats for chemotherapy patients.

"I tell them, make it fun," she says, of choosing a yarn for each breast. "They're going through something so difficult, anything that brightens things up is good." Each tit bit is weighed with small marbles in order to sit comfortably in a brassiere without shifting. The store also gives out printed instructions which warn the weights will show up in a TSA airport screening.

McLeod and other knitters say ever since the project began, they've heard a lot of personal stories about breast cancer from folks coming in to participate.

"I think about my kids -- and whether she has kids or not," says McLeod's friend Marn Odden, contemplating the almost-finished Tit Bit in her friends' hands. As McLeod completes the circle she's working on, Odden says, "I think about what her journey is like -- what she's going through."

Prairie Yarns will focus its November first Friday night knitting session (held each month on the first Friday of the month) on creating Tit Bits. You can get more information by clicking on the link nearby.

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