Under the careful instruction of her grandmother, the late Billie Hallberg, Bonnie Macauley learned to knit in a straight line. She can cast on stitches and knit, but not pearl. That was in the 1970s. Today, she has mastered the art and has made more than 600 blankets.
Macauley, born with Down Syndrome, a condition in which extra genetic material causes delays in the way a child develops both physically and mentally, has a special love for her knitting. Years ago, she made a special blanket for her dog, Kelly, a German Shepherd. That prompted her to make more blankets for her friends’ dogs, then blankets for relatives. When her grandfather was in assisted living in the 1980s, Macauley decided a lap blanket would be a gift for him.
Lindalee, her 79-year-old mother, worked for the Presbytery of Charlotte and that put her in touch with many churches that assisted with elder care. Macauley and her mother now deliver Macauley’s handmade lap blankets, throws and shawls to patients in wheelchairs and residents in assisted living, memory care facilities and retirement homes.
Bonnie likes to give back to the community so she donates all of her handiwork.
Lindalee Macauley, Bonnie’s mother
“I take five blankets in different color combinations to each place,” Macauley said. “I like for the residents to have a choice.”
For men, she uses camouflage yarn and army green, or a combination of red and taupe, and blue and khaki. Every time a new place opens, they add it to their list for lap blankets.
Macauley and her younger sister, Christina, grew up in Mountainbrook in south Charlotte. She attended special education classes and graduated from Charlotte Latin School in 1978. She was employed and lived independently for many years.
But then, Macauley fell ill and moved back home with her parents. She and her mother were the sole caregivers for her father, Jack, for years. He died of cancer nearly two years ago. Macauley and her mother sold the family home and moved to a condo off Rea Road in south Charlotte.
Knitting is just one of Macauley’s talents. Additionally, she is a LIFESPAN artist and has sold every painting in her last art show. She has designed Christmas cards, and sold paintings for calendars.
But making lap blankets is her way of giving back.
“Bonnie likes to give back to the community so she donates all of her handiwork,” her mother said. “She spends 90 percent of her weekly allowance on a special kind of yarn that she needs for her project.”
June Noe is a freelance writer: email@example.com.