Local seamstress Annette Knight hopes to ‘mask’ the effects of the coronavirus

Annette Knight has been sewing and quilting her entire life. You name it, she can make it — wedding dresses, prom dresses, curtains, quilts and all sorts of clothing. Each stitch, hem and facing has a meaning and a memory.

For years, she has used this skill — first taught to her by her mother and honed in sewing classes in the back of a House of Fabric in California — to make clothes for her four children and do favors for friends and other family. Now this hobby is saving lives.

A medical assistant at The Doctors Clinic in Silverdale, Knight, a Bremerton resident, has been making masks for doctors, nurses and health care workers both at her office and all over Kitsap County.

Ground zero for mask making is her home, where she has personally made about 200 of them. She said it takes about 10 to 15 minutes to fashion each mask and she makes them with either ear loops or with material to tie behind the head. Most mask requests are from friends or co-workers and word of mouth.

“It looks like a little manufacturing plant right now,” Knight said.

With a little help from some fellow local seamstresses, Knight was able to deliver over 500 masks to The Doctors Clinic this week, enough for every doctor at the clinic to have one.

That would have been an arduous task for just one sewer, but Knight was able to contact her friends at the Kitsap Quilters Guild for some assistance. A Facebook group called Kitsap Masks for Caregivers, which now has over 430 members, has also brought together sewers from around the county to help make masks wherever they are needed.

It represented the very best nature of people during these difficult times — groups of people pulling together to work toward a common goal, and Knight is just one of many undertaking this noble task in Kitsap County.

“I was just the person to get things moving so we could protect everyone,” Knight said.

There are times when her job keeps her busy. During this coronavirus pandemic, hospitals and clinics all over Kitsap have seen an uptick in activity. Some days Knight is so busy that she has to stay until midnight. Others, she leaves at a more normal time, but usually makes a stop to pick up fabric and other supplies.

Knight’s mask work extends beyond her office, where she currently greets and takes everyone’s temperature, monitors patient flow and backs up the Urgent Care clinic. She has personally made masks for Liberty Shores Assisted Living Center in Poulsbo as well as private practice doctors and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Knight has even sent a few masks out of state.

With Washington not yet projected to be at the peak of the pandemic, Knight doesn’t anticipate the demand for masks to slow down anytime soon. And she’s happy to continue making them in the meantime. Just recently, a co-worker had asked her to make masks for workers at Naval Base Kitsap (Bangor).

“It’s one mask at a time to save a life,” Knight said.

The Doctors Clinic in Silverdale now has over 500 masks at its disposal. (Photo courtesy The Doctors Clinic)

The Doctors Clinic in Silverdale now has over 500 masks at its disposal. (Photo courtesy The Doctors Clinic)