At 91, Sophie Poltrack Embodies the Spirit of the Season

Lake Forest senior doesn't want the fanfare for the caps and scarves she knits each year for others.


Sophie Poltrack doesn't want the fanfare, but there are 50 children who will be warmer this winter because of her knitting talents.

For a good part of Sophie's 91 years, knitting has been as much an opportunity to help others as herself.

There has been much change in her life over the past 12 years, including a move from her native east coast to to live with her daughter and her family, to losing her husband, to battling cancer in 2005. During all of that, knitting has been her refuge.

Call it a sense of purpose. Something to look forward to. A tool to stay sharp mentally. They have all worked for Sophie.

Even when Sophie accompanied the family to Florida over the recent Thanksgiving holiday, she brought her yarn.

For years, she has set out to knit at least 50 caps and scarves for children and adults. One year she hit 72.

Initially, she joined forces with other women as part of the ‘Stitch and Chatter’ knitting group at the . The group knitted hats for “preemie” babies at the local hospital, as well as blankets for the babies and lap blankets, which were donated to local skilled nursing facilities for those in wheelchairs.

As the group faded when members passed away or moved into nursing homes, Sophie remained steadfast in her work.

Somewhere, children needed hats, scarves to be warm that winter. The Senior Center provided an opportunity to bond with others unified by a common cause to help others, and gave her the strength to carry on by herself.

Even when chemotherapy took her hair, and the resulting neuropathy left her with numbness in her fingers, Sophie stuck to her knitting.

As a child of the Great Depression, she understood what it meant to not have some necessities of life. Knitting was a life skill passed on by her mother, and she has, in turn, passed it onto her daughter.

Sophie said she “feels blessed that she is able to continue to knit for the children,” and that keeps her going. This year's 50 scarves and hats will be donated to Catholic Charities to be distributed to children in need.

Rosemary December 22, 2011 at 12:33 PM
What a beautiful story for this holiday season of giving.
Betty Frank-Bailey December 22, 2011 at 02:58 PM
Imagine how wonderful our world would be, locally and globally, if every one of us shared our time and talents as Sophie Poltrack does.
John M Poltrack December 24, 2011 at 03:02 AM
A wonderful story and I am especially interested because Sophie may have been married to my cousin (once removed)! In my family tree I have a Sophie Saneski as the wife of Joseph Marion Poltrack. This may be a coincidence but the article mentions "from the east coast". The Poltrack's settled around Stamford CT. Please let me know. Thanks. John Poltrack (from the Adam Poltrack branch of the family)
Jim Powers December 24, 2011 at 03:50 AM
Hi John, I think it is the same family. Her daughter mentioned Conn. to me as where the family is from.


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