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June, 1926 – November, 2012
Evie Rosen was recognized nationally for her knitting expertise and for starting the Warm Up America Foundation. She was an amazing teacher, who delivered knowledge with wit and humor to the delight of thousands of students.
Her love of knitting began at the age of 7 and it was this love, and two young children at home, that led her to open the Knitting Nook in 1964 with partner Joy Levine. She later bought out her partner and the shop remained open for 30 years.
As her own retail experience developed, Evie joined with other independent retailers to form the Midwest Retailers Association to encourage networking and professionalism. She was also instrumental in urging The National NeedleArts Association to create an Associate Membership for retailers, which gave shop owners an industry voice for the first time.
While managing her shop, she began teaching nationally and was instrumental in developing the Craft Yarn Council’s Certification Program to grow a future generation of knit and crochet teachers. And she never tired of teaching. Until a year and one-half ago, she spent time at Stitches and Knit and Crochet consumer shows instructing and encouraging beginners. She designed original patterns that were published in several magazines, including McCall’s and Leisure Arts and authored the popular Teach Yourself to Knit, among many other publications.
Her children Mike Rosen and Robbin Stott describe their mother as ”a woman with a heart for others.” In part it was her professional training—she graduated from University of Wisconsin with a degree in Occupational Therapy—but it went deeper. In the early 1990s when the homeless situation was becoming a national crisis, she came up with the idea for Warm Up America. I remember her calling me to say: “I’ve been knitting afghans and donating them to a local shelter but I can’t knit them fast enough to fill the need, but I have an idea. What if we breakdown the task of making blankets to manageable parts so we can involve lots more people and the idea for Warm Up America was born.”
It wasn’t long after that she had people across the country knitting and crocheting squares which other volunteers joined together to make afghans for the homeless and others in need. With support from The National NeedleArts Association and Craft Yarn Council, the program became a national success with over 15 million blocks created across the country and over 300,000 afghans given to those in need across the globe. Today it is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation.
Because of her work with Warm Up America, she was named a “Local Hero” by Time Magazine, with Oprah, Loretta Swit, and Vanna White endorsing Warm Up America. She was also recognized for her contributions by the Craft and Hobby Association and Stitches awarded her their Knitter of the Year Award.
In addition, Evie was active in her community and was a member of Mt. Sinai Congregation and served on the Ethics Board of the local hospital. She took great pride of being the 1993 Athena Award recipient in Wausau. She was honored for her professional excellence, community service, and for actively assisting women in their attainment for professional excellence and leadership skills.
Her list of friends and students is too numerous to count. We all have wonderful memories of her. Personally, I will miss her expertise on all things knitting, her advice, her criticism and most of all our chatty conversations about life and living. We invite Evie’s friends and former students to post remembrances of her at the Warm Up America Facebook page.
The family has asked that contributions in Evie’s memory can be made to the Warm Up America Foundation (www.WarmUpAmerica.org) or to the Mt. Sinai Congregation (910 W. Randolph St., Wausau, WI 54401-2682).
Warm Up America Foundation
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