Local group of woman knitting breast prosthetics with help from national campaign.

Anne McFeely and Sara Altman are making a difference in women's lives. They are among hundreds of volunteers helping women who have had mastectomies and other breast surgeries by knitting "knockers."

Knitted Knockers are special hand-knitted breast prosthetics. Traditional breast prosthetics are expensive, heavy, uncomfortable and typically require special bras or camisoles with pockets. Also, they can’t be worn for weeks after surgery. Knitted Knockers are soft, comfortable and, when placed in a regular bra, they take the shape and feel of a real breast.

"It is true," said Mary Mercer of Richville. "My Knitted Knockers are soft and very comfortable. They are not heavy like a regular prosthesis. The best part is you can change the size of them by adding more stuffing or taking some out."

Mercer said she only needed one after her mastectomy, but ordered two so she has one if the other is being washed. "You can't tell the difference between my real breast and my knitted one."

Barbara Demorest of Washington founded the Knitted Knockers Support Foundation and the knittedknockers.org website after learning she needed to have a mastectomy and was told it would be at least six weeks before she could even try to wear a prosthesis.

The pattern for them are available through the website, which is where McFeely got the information.

"We got started knitting these after I received a newsletter from a knit shop," said McFeely of Jackson Township. "At the bottom of the letter was the website for Knitted Knockers so I looked them up. I knew as soon as I saw it, this was something I needed to do."

McFeely introduced the idea at the Jackson Township Branch Library. Word got around and eventually, Altman of Perry Township, learned about them from the Sippo Branch of the Stark County District Library and joined McFeely and other area knitters who took up the cause. Through Knitted Knockers, the two have become good friends. As she told more and more knitters about the project, more and more started participating.

McFeely is the distributor.

"When I heard about this, I knew there wasn't anything like this available locally," McFeely said.

A knocker for everyone

Knitted Knockers come in sizes from A to DD, even a size E. They are knitted with a very soft yarn, pima cotton yarn and then stuffed with fiber fill. A small pink stone is put inside to weigh it down slightly, making it feel more like a real breast.

When you put them in your bra, it looks and feels like an actual breast, said McFeely and Altman. The knitted prostheses are free.

"Our payment is when we see the look on women's faces when they get their knockers," McFeely said. "It is rewarding to see the look on a woman's face when she feels whole again."

Altman added the smile on their faces is worth all the time it took to knit them.

"One woman told me she didn't feel like a woman anymore after her mastectomy," Altman said. "When she tried the Knitted Knockers, the woman told me how much better she felt to have them. She said, 'I feel like a woman again.' "

Altman said she has been knitting since high school, but knitting for Knitted Knockers has given her skill a completely new meaning.

Some women do give donations to the knitters for their Knitted Knockers, which is used to buy yarn and postage. The knockers are discreetly mailed out to women.

"One woman thought I sent her a box of cereal until she opened it to find her new knockers," laughed Altman.

To learn more about Knitted Knockers, go to the website, or call McFeely at 330-704-2789 or email her anne.mcfeely@gmail.com.

Reach Denise at 330-580-8321 or denise.sautters@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: dsauttersREP