Words, photos and video by Olivia Bauso
Mother-daughter trio Linda and Lillian Sliwoski and Alannah DeHond are the hands and hearts behind Knitters on a Mission, a knitting business dedicated to supporting missionaries in Romania. Through sales of hand-knit scarves, gloves and hats, Knitters on a Mission is able to donate funds to Rock of Hope, an organization that provides safe housing for women who have aged out of the orphanage system in Romania.
The organization was founded back in 2014 when Rock of Hope Ministries founders Scott and Carolyn asked the Sliwoski family for monetary support. Around the same time, Lillian began wearing scarves made by her mother, Linda, on the Roberts Wesleyan campus. Many of her friends and peers began asking for scarves of their own, which caused the inspiration to strike. Lillian came up with the idea to sell the scarves to her friends online, and within 24 hours of posting received 75 orders. With an initial goal of raising the funds over two years, the women ended up hitting their target in just six months. Their sales have only grown since.
The success of Knitters on a Mission may be attributed to the unique skills each of the founders brings to the table. Alannah, Linda’s eldest daughter, has spent a significant amount of time in Romania since her first missions trip overseas in 2008. “From there, our hearts really grew for the troubled youth of Romania. The people are what keep me going back,” Alannah explains. She continues, “It’s a very different place with a lot of spiritual warfare. I think what brings me back is seeing their spirits despite the sadness they live in.” Her knowledge of the organization and first-hand experience in the shelter allows her to inform buyers of the cause they are supporting.
Lillian, Alannah’s younger sister, is the brains behind the operation. In addition to pitching the idea of selling scarves, Lillian operates Knitters on a Mission’s Facebook group and communications. This year, Lillian also recruited a dozen knitters across the country and in England to donate time to the organization.
Last, but certainly not least, Linda Sliwoski is the knitter behind the scarves. With support from local -- and now national-- friends, Linda serves as the primary maker of products. She says, "We all have our own gifts that we bring to the mission. The knitting piece is mine, which I love." Linda first learned how to knit at a young age from her mother. Alannah adds, "It's a huge blessing to be able to work with each other and have our family come together for such a worthy cause. Yes, these gifts are huge, but if we could all pick up tomorrow and just go live in Romania, we would."
The women of Knitters on a Mission plan to travel to Romania in October of 2018, which will be Lillian’s first time visiting the country. There, they hope to better assess the needs of the women and shelters and bring a sizeable donation to meet those needs. They are hoping to grow both their online presence and in-person sales in order to do so.
Products from Knitters on a Mission can be bought through Facebook or in person at one of their upcoming craft shows. If you are interested in volunteering knitting time or yarn for the cause, contact Lillian through Facebook or at email@example.com.
To kick off what they hope will be their biggest year yet, Knitters on a Mission will be selling their scarves at our January Brainery Bazaar on Janaury 13th from 11am- 4pm. As always, the first 25 attendees will receive a FREE tote stuffed with goodies from our vendors.