SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – Kathi Byam’s intricate knitting has won numerous blue ribbons and “Best of Show” at the Tunbridge World’s Fair; her work has also been featured at the VAULT Gallery in Springfield. Her latest project, though, may be the most rewarding of them all.
“It all started when a friend of mine, who recently had a mastectomy for breast cancer, asked if I could knit her a breast prosthesis,” said Byam. “She said the plastic ones were very uncomfortable and sweaty. She had found a website called ‘Knitted Knockers’ that gave directions for knitted prostheses—so I followed the directions and made her a set. Now I’m knitting them for other women who ask for them through the website.”
The original idea for Knitted Knockers came from a young woman from Maine who owned a yarn shop and had breast cancer. After her mastectomy she made breast prosthesis for herself. She and friends started making them to give away and came up with the name Knitted Knockers.
The founder of the nonprofit “Knitted Knockers,” Barbara Demorest, was one of the mastectomy patients who received a knitted prosthesis. Demorest was so grateful for the comfortable, lightweight, and easy to wear prosthesis that she asked to help distribute knitted knockers to other women. The young woman, who was no longer able to keep up with the demands of the project, was delighted to have Demorest take up the torch and run with it. With her blessing Knitted Knockers Support Foundation aka knittedknockers.org was created and proceeded to reach out to the women who could use them and the wonderful volunteer knitters that could make them.
The group is located in Washington State and provides knockers and materials to inspire and equip knitters to make them for their own communities all over the country and world. Various groups have revised the original ingenious pattern, called “Tit Bits” by Beryl Tsang.
Thousands of knockers, all made by volunteer knitters, are distributed through the Washington State clearinghouse to all women who request them, free of charge. Knitted Knockers also works directly with physicians’ offices and other health care providers who want their patients to have the option of a knitted prosthesis.
Byam says it takes approximately eight hours for an experienced knitter to complete a set of knockers. They are made of soft pima cotton and can be placed directly into a regular bra. Directions for knitting the knockers and other information about the charity can be found on their website, knittedknockers.org.