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Crocheting for a Cause

Zoya visits with Karis Wales (second from left) and twins Isha (left) and Diya Goel, who are the founders of Knots for NICU, at the Hamilton Public Library in Chandler, Arizona. 

Karis Wales and Isha and Diya Goel were born prematurely. The twins and Karis, who has a twin brother, are now 13. They were born and cared for at the same Arizona hospital, just days apart. After reuniting in sixth grade, Karis, Isha, and Diya formed a close bond. A year later, they decided to create a club at school to help support families like theirs. Members of Knots for NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) craft garments to clothe and comfort premature babies at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, the same hospital in which the girls and Karis’s brother were born.

Premature births are not uncommon for twins. “Both of us, size and width, were about the weight of a loaf of bread,” Diya said in a recent interview at the Hamilton Public Library in Chandler. It’s an “emotional roller coaster” for parents, she added, not knowing if their children will survive. 


The girls used looms with pegs small enough to weave clothes for preemies. 


Karis has also been told about her parents’ fears when she and her brother were born. “It was especially difficult because I got out of the NICU before my twin brother did,” Karis explained. For her mother, being needed in two places at once—at home with Karis and at the hospital with her brother—was particularly challenging.

Learning how tiny they were at birth has helped the girls design clothes for preemies. “One thing we took into account was how small the clothes are and how small we need to make them,” Isha said. The girls ordered looms with pegs small enough to weave clothes for preemies. 


Left to right: Diya, Karis, and Isha crochet everything from headbands to blankets. The girls use looms with pegs small enough to weave clothes for preemies. 


Knots for NICU meets weekly at Basha High School’s Accelerated Middle School in Chandler. They crochet, knit, and sew everything from headbands to blankets for babies in Banner Desert’s NICU.

Once the school year ended, the founders gathered to donate all 120 pieces of the clothing created during their club sessions and contributed by members of the community. “Something as simple as a baby hat offers a sense of normalcy for the children,” Karis said.

The girls hope that their club’s work will ease the struggles for families caring for premature babies. This summer, the trio is collaborating with friends to craft more garments for the hospital. In the future, they hope to host knitting workshops and extend their initiative in order to help even more families. 


In May, the girls donated about 120 crocheted items to the Banner Desert Memorial Hospital NICU, the same hospital where they were born. 




Top photo courtesy of the author; middle and bottom photos courtesy of Knots for NICU