On the third Monday of each month, women of Casas Church and their friends share knitting and crocheting techniques, all while creating blankets and hats for less fortunate newborns.
They call themselves Holy Needles.
"I always think of the old Batman shows when I hear the name," Cecilia Tompkins joked during this month's meeting. "Holy Needles, Batman!"
Much like Batman is a protector of his city, Holy Needles is fighting to protect newborns from getting cold heads, feet and bodies. Needles and yarn are their tools.
Smiles and laughter fill the room on the Baptist church's grounds, located at 10801 N. La Cholla Blvd., as the handful of women work on an assortment of knitting items, from hats and booties to blankets. Their conversations drift from their likes for simple sewing machines to their favorite patterns. One even explains how she loves to have her dog snuggle next to her as she watches TV while knitting.
Holy Needles is Donna Bishop's brainchild. In January, when she met within her small adult Bible fellowship group discussing community out-reach, Bishop started thinking how she could help people beyond the month of December.
"We do so much (charity) around that time of year," said Bishop. "I wanted to see what we could do beyond Christmas. Something throughout the year."
The original idea was to help battered women. With one call leading to another, Bishop learned about the Northwest Medical Center's Women's Center, where nearly half of the women who give birth are in "financial distress."
"They said the babies don't have anything to go home to," Bishop said. "So I started there. We try to focus on infants. We branch out if we need to."
Since their official first meeting in March, the group has been lending its clothing- and blanket-making abilities to families with newborns and those who also might be displaced due to a house fire or similar setback.
The group has even sparked the interest of young people within the church. Last month, Holy Needles formed a second monthly meeting targeted at younger people along with those who want to learn how to knit and crochet. The teachers are longtime needle workers who share their years of experience.
Now reaching around 40 members, Holy Needles is knitting for its next big donation in the coming months.
"There really isn't a strong need for blankets in Arizona during the summer," Bishop joked. But Holy Needles is still busy trying to match or even beat its last donation of 222 hats, booties, blankets and other items to the Women's Center.
Anyone who has been around quilters, knitters and people crocheting know the hats and blankets don't make themselves.
Depending on the skill level of the knitter, hats can be done in an hour or two. Infant booties can be completed in a few hours. Blankets demonstrate the real time commitment.
Chelsea Taylor, who was experiencing her first Holy Needles meeting last Monday afternoon, is no stranger to knitting needles. She can knit a baby's blanket in a couple weeks, but the large blanket that covered the table in front of her takes around two months to knit.
"I can't sit still," Taylor explained of why she took up knitting seven years ago. "I will even sneak my yarn into the movie theater. I take my stuff with me wherever I go."
People who would like to donate yarn or fleece materials may contact Donna Bishop at holyneedles AT gmail DOT com. The group also has a blog, http://www.holyneedles.blogspot.com">www.holyneedles.blogspot.com.