Erma Palmiter is an extraordinary elderly woman. At the young age of 100, she’s still plugging along and making a difference every day.
She has a rare talent, one that she’s been perfecting for the past 88 years. Since she was a girl, she’s been using a crochet hook and countless skeins of yarn to create useful household items and elaborate pieces of art.
“I started crocheting when I was 12 years old,” Palmiter said during an interview with FOX 17. “My mother taught me how to do it, and I started making things for her, and different people.”
“She taught me how to quilt too, but I dropped that, it was more interesting to crochet.”
She keeps a photo album full of examples of her handiwork, and she’s made some truly mind-boggling pieces, including blankets with The Lord’s Prayer and other prayers crocheted into them.
While she’s always crafted, for 40 years she spent her days teaching young children as a kindergarten through 2nd grade teacher. She knows how teachers often have to shell out their own cash to help the kids advance, and while she might not be in the classroom anymore, she’s still helping.
“They need some help paying the teacher, paying for the materials that they use to teach the children with,” the kind grandmother said. “I just like children, and the more anyone can educate them, get them going for the rest of their life, I’d like to help.”
So she crochets. She uses a magnifying glass with a light now so that she can see what she’s working on, but she dedicates most of her waking hours to her projects.
“Last year we turned in $5,000,” she said. “I’ve already turned in $500 this year.”
Most of her sales are local, and she has a display at her church in White Cloud, Michigan, which also hosts the preschool she donates all her proceeds to. After hearing her story, people from around the world have shown interest in buying her wares, but it’s unlikely she’ll break into the online market anytime soon.
When asked how she’s lived so long, she wasn’t quite sure. “I have no idea, just the Lord’s blessing I guess,” Palmiter said. “I just take my vitamins and do what the doctor tells me.”
Her grandchildren are quite familiar with her routine, which is pretty consistent.
“Her typical day, which is everyday, she gets up about 9:30 a.m. to have breakfast and do her little morning routine,” Kristine Palmiter, one of her granddaughters, said. “By 10:30 a.m., 10:45 a.m. she sits in her chair and crochets, and continues to crochet until about 7 o’clock at night.”
“Everybody, everybody and their brother knows who Erma Palmiter is from crocheting,” she continued. “It just seems like the more she does, the more people want to help, the more people want to buy, they want to contribute.”
“We’ve been absolutely blessed to have her for all these years,” her son Robert added. “She’s really an inspiration for a lot of people. She’s just a joy to be around. And, she’ll whoop you at the card table too.”
Palmiter’s work has been recognized by the Pay It Forward Person of the Month program sponsored by Lake Michigan Credit Union and Fox 17, and has been awarded $300 as a prize — all of which will no doubt go directly to pay for crocheting supplies to help out the preschool even more.
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