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Twin sisters knit hats for Lyman Hall students
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Cynthia Johnstone, center, speaks with children at Lyman Hall Elementary School as they try on their handmade hats.

As the weather cools down in North Georgia, young Lyman Hall Elementary School students can stay warm with hats made for them by two local women. 

Twin sisters Cassandra Williams and Cynthia Johnstone knitted more than 200 hats for the kindergarten, first-grade and special needs students.

Johnstone visited the school’s media center Oct. 11 with a variety of hats featuring different colors, patterns and sizes for the children to choose.

“The students were just precious,” Johnstone said. “They didn’t always grasp that they could keep them. They came in, circled the table, found their favorite, then some of them thought they had to give them back. They just got so excited when they found out they could keep it. They were just tickled.”

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Kindergarten, first-grade and special needs students at Lyman Hall Elementary School were able to select a hat from more than 200 made by Cynthia Johnstone and Cassandra Williams.

Johnstone said “one little boy asked if it was Christmas,” “one little girl asked how much they cost because she had $2” and “there was one little boy that was larger than the rest of the children and we had one hat that was quite a bit bigger, so that boy found that hat that fit him and he was so proud.”

“They were very excited and it was really sweet,” Johnstone said. “We do so love to do the knitting, but we want it to benefit the children.”

The hat project originated more than a decade ago when Williams, who lived in Grants Pass, Oregon, at the time, joined a church quilting group. The group began creating winter hats for children with donated yarn.

“I had been knitting hats here in Georgia and shipping them to her in Oregon,” Johnstone said.

About 3,000 artisan hats, with no two alike, were knitted for the children of Grants Pass.

The sisters moved to the Village at Deaton Creek in Hoschton three years ago, when Williams and her husband, Al, decided to join Johnstone in Georgia.

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Twins Cynthia Johnstone, left, and Cassandra Williams made more than 200 hats for children at Lyman Hall Elementary School.

“When I got her to move out here to join me, we continued to knit every night, but we didn’t know what to do with them,” Johnstone said. “We had just been collecting them. Village at Deaton Creek sponsors Lyman Hall, so it was a natural place to go with them.” The school is located off Memorial Park Drive.

“We enjoy sharing our art, whether it is quilting or knitting, with the community. We enjoy doing the work, but you can only hang so many quilts on the wall and knit so many hats.”

Johnstone said this was the last batch of knitted hats they plan to do.

“We are through knitting now,” Johnstone said. “We are avid competition art quilters, which takes up our time. ... We do love to do quilts, and we have been a part of guilds where they do quilts for children, senior homes and hospitals, but we would like to start doing quilts for children in shelters. Giving each child, as they come in, a quilt of their own. I image that will be our next project.”

Both sisters are internationally renowned for their quilt art. Williams has achieved recognition for her animal pictorial quilts including her depiction of the Lewis and Clark exploration, “The Map Makers,” which was selected for the permanent collection of the Museum of the American Quilt Society. 

Johnstone specializes in whimsical characters, and one of her works, “The Storyteller,” took first place at the Pacific International Quilt Festival. 

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