By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Peg Cranny has knitted since a child, making afghans, sweaters, caps. But now her focus has shifted to making knockers – that’s right, knitted knockers.
Cranny, of Bowling Green, works with the national Knitted Knockers program that provides prostheses for women who have had mastectomies. She has been donating the knockers to the Maurer Family Cancer Care Center at Wood County Hospital, where they are given to cancer survivors at no cost.
Cranny has not had cancer, but she has friends who have had mastectomies.
“I feel sympathy for the women who have had breast cancer. It must be devastating to lose a breast,” she said. “If I can help in any small way to make them feel better about themselves, then I’m happy.”
One out of eight women will experience breast cancer in their lifetime. There are 50,000 mastectomies done a year in the U.S., and 90 percent of those women will wear breast prostheses at least for a while. Many of the women find the traditional breast prostheses to be hot, heavy and expensive, Cranny said.
That’s where her knitting skills come in.
“They have thousands of women who do this across the U.S.,” she said of the national program.
Cranny learned to knit as a Brownie, “and I’ve knitted ever since,” she said.
“I like to knit and I like to knit fast projects,” Cranny said. She makes knocker sizes from A to DDDD. “I can whip that out in an hour or two,” she said of the smaller A sizes.
The national Knitted Knockers program has strict standards on the type of soft, cotton yarn that must be used. “They are very picky about the quality,” she said. Though knitters can spice it up by using all colors of yarn. The knockers each have a small hole in the back, where they are filled with polyfill. Some women add a coin or two to make it more like their realistic breast weight.
The required yarn washes well and doesn’t get stiff or get pilled. Cranny recommends that women with mastectomies pick up two, so they have one to wash and one to wear.
Surgically implanted prostheses can be very expensive, hot and heavy. They typically require special bras or camisoles with pockets and can’t be worn for weeks after surgery. Knitted Knockers on the other hand are soft, comfortable and when placed in a regular bra they take the shape and feel of a real breast, according to the program’s website.
“These are given to patients free of charge,” Cranny said.
But Cranny worries that women don’t realize the knitted knockers are available to them. “A lot of people don’t know about it.”
The knockers are available for free at the Maurer Family Cancer Center to any breast cancer survivor – not just those treated at that location.
The national Knitted Knockers program was started by a woman who had a mastectomy.
“She was very embarrassed about going out in public, and she wanted to go back to work,” Cranny said. So a friend knitted the first knockers.
Cranny started in January, and so far has knitted about 50 knockers.
“I will knit any size or color you want,” she said.
The specific yarn required is expensive and is not available in Bowling Green. So if anyone would like to donate to help with the yarn purchases, Cranny can be reached at 419-352-6076.