Brooke Sanchez describes the color as “brick red”; her 6-year-old son, Uzziah, says his winter gloves are “Spider-Man red.”
Parallels to the Marvel teenage superhero don’t end there. The right-hand glove’s shape mirrors Spider-Man’s web-shooting pose: it’s custom-made for his thumb and two digits.
Uzziah has Complex syndactyly, a condition where his right-hand fingers are webbed. He’s used to wearing baseball batting gloves and yellow Batman gardening gloves his grandmother, Helen Wessel, adjusts for him. In past winters, he was confined to store-bought mittens.
On Jan. 6 — Three Kings Day — the Uzziah awoke to the gift stuffed into his winter boots.
“At first, he didn’t realize what they were because they just looked like ordinary mittens,” says Sanchez, who lives in Wilmington. “When he had brought the items inside and he realized what it was, he was in awe that somebody would think to make gloves that would actually fit him. There was a shrill of some kind, an ‘Are you serious’ kind of reaction.”
The present is courtesy of a tight-knit, 1500-member-strong Facebook group called “Knit for a Unique Fit,” which West Rogers Park resident Rena Rosen started nine months ago. The group stitches knitters with people requesting custom-made gloves, socks and hats for those with limb differences. More than 40 items have been made, some reaching as far as Australia, Bolivia and about 10 other countries.
Rosen was inspired to create the organization after a friend asked on Facebook if anyone could knit gloves for her daughter, who has Apert Syndrome. Rosen, who also has a craniofacial difference, says looping people together for this group is her passion project outside of work.
It’s the ‘What’s next?’ question that overwhelms Rosen: “I just want to keep connecting people, keep meeting a need in the community but I know there’s something greater possible.”
Although the 32-year-old says “anybody can meet a need” like she does, recipients and contributors alike praise her work. Lynne Whittemore, a Streamwood resident who’s currently knitting plaid blue and green gloves for free, says she enjoys the challenge. Sanchez adds it’s a story she’ll “forever talk about.”
Whether Uzziah’s climbing trees, tying his shoes, working with buttons or riding a bike, he’s used to compromising in life. But, with his Spider-Man gloves, he doesn’t have to.
“Now, he can go play at the park or build a snowman or throw a snowball,” Sanchez says. “This time, with gloves — it sounds stupid but — he didn’t have to try to make it fit, it just fit.”
Want custom items made for someone with limb differences?
Follow these steps:
- Join the “Knit for a Unique Fit” Facebook group.
- Post a request along with the measurements, a tracing and a photo of the individual’s limbs.
- Connect with a knitter to coordinate colors, designs and fabric; payment details on the service, materials and shipping; and exchange address information.
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