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Bizarre! Washington prisoners knitting ‘chicken sweaters’?

“Peppa” the chicken struts around in his newly-made sweater. (Washington Corrections Center for Women)

So, uhm, prisoners at Gig Harbor’s Washington Corrections Center for Women are spending some of their time behind bars knitting sweaters for chickens because, well, they’re cold. It’s a weird and, admittedly, adorable story.

The WCCW currently has two chicken coops. The fertilizer produced is used on the prison’s gardens, which grows food for local food banks. But given the chilly temperatures, the chickens are freezing. That got Human Resources Consultant Paula Andrew (aka the “Chicken Lady”) thinking: why not get the prisoners to knit them some sweaters.

So, Allen brought the idea up to the prison recreation specialist, Carrie Hesch. Somewhat unbelievably, WCCW says “Hesch didn’t skip a beat and committed to the project.” Really? Not a single beat? Not even a double take asking Allen to clarify? “Wait, what? Haha, I thought you said sweaters for chickens!”

A couple weeks later, and the program was good to go, with prisoners embraced the idea and began knitting away. It didn’t go without hitches. According to WCCW:

“The vests were a little large, but perfect for one of the members of the flock, ‘Peppa,’ who pranced around the habitat with her buddy ‘Salty.’”

Reading between the lines, Peppa is a girthy chicken, so it worked for her. I can’t imagine knitting for chickens is all that easy, so we’ll give these women a pass.

I’m not entirely sure this particular hobby will translate directly to skills they can use to get a job when they’re out of prison, but it’s good for them to have a hobby where they can work with other women and learn to work with a team, which will, in fact, help them out of prison. And who knows? Perhaps once Seattle millennials learn their pet chickens would look cute in a chicken sweater, their demand will create a market for these women to capitalize on once they leave prison.

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