The male convicts at the Pre-release Unit in Jessup, Maryland, have a unique story to tell. A story of how they found peace and calm through an unusual activity – knitting. Unusual, because it hardly seems normal to picture a bunch of rough-looking guys sporting tattoos and several teeth missing, sitting quietly, occupied with knitting needles and a bunch of wool.
And yet, it’s true, thanks to the efforts of Lynn Zwerling, the founder of Knitting Behind Bars. 67 year-old Zwerling retired from her job of selling cars in 2005, and then turned her attention to knitting, which was her passion. Initially, she started off with a small knitting group of women in her town. The group grew quickly to around 500 members. According to Zwerling, she observed something Zen-like when she saw women who did not have anything in common sitting quietly beside each other, absorbed in their knitting. She then had the idea to take knitting to prisons, more importantly, male prisoners.