Handmade American patriotism
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Helen Snyder holds one of her crocheted American flags that she gives to area businesses to hang in their windows as a show of their patriotism. She makes them in different sizes, including the large afghan size like the one hanging on her wall.
If a visitor to Palmerton walks down its main street of Delaware Avenue, he will probably note that several of the town's businesses have one thing in common. That would be the beautiful hand-crocheted American flag hanging in their windows.
Last year Helen Snyder, a life-long Palmerton resident, began visiting the places she shops and gave each one a 14" by 19" red, white and blue crocheted American flag to hang in their windows to show support for their country for Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day.
It all started with the request of one little boy. Two of her young neighbors come over and "check" on Helen every once in a while, to make sure all is well.
The boys have observed Helen, 75, crocheting afghans. Cody Peters, 8 years old at the time, asked Helen if she would crochet an American flag small enough so he could hang it in his window.
Having no pattern or measurements, Helen made up her own. She made one for Cody and then his friend, Justin Muthard, 9, wanted one, too.
Patriotic herself, with a collection of patriotic angels, she liked the way it turned out so much, she continued to make them. Soon she had requests from everyone in her family and friends for a crocheted flag. Some wanted larger ones, others wanted afghans. She even makes mailbox covers and flag pillows. She has to make the pillows because she can't buy the unusual size to fit.
Helen has no idea how many she has made so far but thinks it is well over a 100.
She made so many she didn't quite know what to do with them. That's when she came up with the idea of giving them to the local businesses in her hometown.
"It makes me feel good to see them hanging in the windows," she says.
Next she's planning on crocheting large afghan size ones for each of the schools in Palmerton.
Over the winter months, she's been crocheting up a patriotic storm and has 32 to deliver to area businesses before Memorial Day.
Helen grew up on a farm. She went to work at Edgemont Manufacturer in Danielsville at 18 and worked in various blouse mills until she retired at 66. A button holer for most of those years, when styles changed and there were less buttons to be sewn on blouses, she was put on a stitching machine. Her index finger locked and she had carpal tunnel surgery. While she was home recuperating, she wanted something to do. She asked a friend to show her how to crochet a Granny Square and how to double crochet. From that time on, she has been a crocheting fiend. All three of her sons, spouses, five grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and friends have all been recipients of Helen's crocheted afghans, baby afghans, lap robes, pot holders, toilet tank scarves, scarves and now American flags.
She has entered her crocheted items in the Carbon County Fair since 1999 and has consistently won blue ribbons each year for her handiwork.
She gives afghans to be raffled to the Blue Mountain Health System Palmerton Campus for its fundraisers and to other organizations.
"I like to stay busy," she says.
When she's not crocheting, she's making lap-robe-knotted quilts or shopping with friends.
As a young girl, Helen was fascinated by color and wanted to be an artist. She had to quit school after the eighth grade and worked on the farm until she went to work in a factory. Working, raising three young children on her own after her divorce, she never had the opportunity to study art.
As she picks up a beautiful afghan in a creative use of colors, she says, "I still love colors and in a way, now I am an artist with my crocheting and sewing."