SEQUIM — From across the Olympic Peninsula to across the world, Phyllis Peashka’s handiwork is warming hearts and keeping heads warm, too.
With about three decades of donating her handiwork — mostly hats, but sometimes a scarf or a potholder or a baby afghan — the 96-year-old Sequim resident figures she has a cap on about 10,000 heads across the globe.
She keeps track of where they go, too.
“Germany, China, India, Norway, Ireland, New Zealand, Mongolia, Australia, Canada, Brazil,” she said.
And there are the ones she’s sent stateside: “Connecticut, Minnesota, Utah, California, Colorado, Utah (you get the picture here?), Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Montana, Mississippi, Washington of course, Alaska.”
And there are the local groups: Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, Forks Abuse Center, Concerned Citizens for Disabled Youth, VFWs, various community auctions and efforts to help the homeless.
“She’s touched so many lives,” said next-door neighbor Karen Kremkau, who looks after Peashka each week.
“She totally amazes me. I’ve never seen how Phyllis puts it all together.”
Peashka just grins and shrugs.
“The joy is just doing it so I can give somebody something,” she said.
“I just get bored from sitting here. My hands cramp up, but I keep going.”
Peashka, who raised four children — daughters Barbara, Cheryl and Joni, and son Tom — in Richland, taught herself to crochet after she got her nimble hands on a book for left-handers.
That was maybe, 60, 70 years ago, Peashka said. She worked on big afghans and quilts for years, but nowadays she is sticking primarily with smaller works.
Peashka recently finished a batch of 10 purple hats for infants with Shaken Baby Syndrome.
For years she lived in Gooding, Idaho.
Through her church in Gooding , Peashka made fast friends with Shannon Koyle.
“She became my best friend,” Peaska said.
Peaska wound up making hats for the extended Koyle family: Shannon, 11 children and more than three-dozen grandchildren.
She moved to Sequim in January 2001.
Friend Sally Harris-Crawford, who lives nearby, said she met Peashka through a program at her church where two or three members visit local residents.
“I just fell in love with her,” Harris-Crawford says. “It’s just been a real nice relationship.”
Harris-Crawford, who visits Peashka each week for a game of Scrabble, notes of her friend, “She won’t take money. All she wants is yarn.”
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].