Crazy for Ewe
  • Jaelynn Willey
  • Ellen Lewis
Jaelynn Willey

Like so many of you, I have struggled all week with the loss of sweet Jaelynn Willey.  Her death was a personal tragedy for her family and close friends, but it has also impacted the wider community and shaken us to our very core.  

Jaelynn Willey and family in Leonardtown

I will not pretend to have had a special relationship with Jaelynn, because I did not.  I knew her only through the shop where she was a student in some of my classes and a knitter at our table. She and her mom and sisters were Saturday regulars.  When they would come in, it was like the sun breaking through clouds - all smiling, happy simply to be there together to knit.

Jaelynn Willey mom and sisters knitting

We all spent many pleasant hours together at the table.  It's a safe space, and you get to know a lot about a person by knitting with them.  You get to see them are when they're relaxed and being only who they really are.  It is through that lens that I can share with you how I saw Jaelynn and how I think she made a difference in the shop and in the world.  

Jaelynn was a sweet girl, with a shy smile.  She was an observer.  Not talking all the time, but listening.  She would follow the conversation and smile, almost to herself, a the various quips and comments of her mom and sisters and the other knitters.  There was a sense of compassion about Jaelynn.  She seemed to be the sort of person you could trust with your deepest secrets and she would hold them gently and with kindness. 

As the oldest daughter, Jaelynn had an intuitive sense of her place helping out with the younger children.  You always saw Jaelynn holding the baby or shepherding her littlest siblings.  There was a maternal tenderness about her that was very natural.  

Jaelynn Willey and family at Crazy for Ewe

As a knitter, Jaelynn liked any yarn, as long as it was teal!  She focused on her work and was careful, but like all of us, she made the occasional mistake. But she was not one to go back, preferring instead to regroup and move forward with the knowledge gained.  

Jaelynn Willey and Addison knitting

Although she was young, Jaelynn's life was a treasure.  As her mother, Melissa, said in her statement to the world, her life and her family is forever changed.  It is important to remember Jaelynn always and let our lives be forever changed not by her death, but by her life -- all that she was and all that she gave to her family and to us.


  • Ellen Lewis

Comments on this post ( 18 )

  • Jun 18, 2018

    Some how I am just seeing this. Thank you for the beautiful words about my girl.

    — Melissa Willey

  • Mar 29, 2018

    Ellen, that was a beautiful message and tribute to Jaelynn. Thank you for sharing.

    — Ida

  • Mar 28, 2018

    Beautiful photos and words for a touching tribute, Ellen! God bless Jaelynn’s family

    — Eveline Marquardt

  • Mar 28, 2018

    Ellen, I thank you, as I am sure Jaelynn’s family does as well, for your tender tribute, words well knit.
    I will keep her and her family in my heart.

    — Janet Lomicka

  • Mar 28, 2018

    Ellen, This is a most beautiful tribute and your words touched me greatly. Although I never met her now I feel that I know Jaelynn and can honor her in my prayers more personally. The pictures bring to mind the deep joy of knitting together and I’m so glad that you and your lovely shop were part of Jaelynn’s life. Peace.

    — Claudia

  • Mar 27, 2018

    I have grieved about the loss of this little girl since the morning it happened. I did not know her personally but I could tell a lot from her photos that she was a shy, beautiful little girl probably the apple of her parents eyes. I know I could never get through something like this and I pray for her family. God bless her.

    — Debbie Kipple

  • Mar 27, 2018

    A lovely tribute, I am so sad for her family.

    — Andrea Swierczek

  • Mar 27, 2018

    Such a senseless tragedy and a terrific loss to her family.
    Obviously a beautiful young woman. I will be praying for her family.

    — Judith Van Blargan

  • Mar 27, 2018

    I was so saddened to hear that she did not make it. Such a senseless tragedy. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to her family.

    — Patricia Mattingly

  • Mar 27, 2018

    Thanks for this Ellen!

    — Elaine M Phillips

  • Mar 27, 2018

    I live in Ohio, but my daughter and her family live in St. Mary’s County. My heart broke over this news, and I have said prayers and shed tears for Jaelynn and all her family. I did not know any of them, but this piece makes me feel as if I do. I have been in the shop, when there was a group gathering. What a lovely sense of peace! May God just wrap his big old arms around the Wiley family and their friends and hold them tight. Thank you, God, for your promise of hope.

    — Elaine

  • Mar 27, 2018

    Thank you for sharing your memories. This tragedy hit so close to home that I felt it in my heart. I didn’t know Jaelynn but after reading your tribute I feel like I do. What a beautiful close knit family that knitted together too!

    — Tina

  • Mar 27, 2018

    I live in another state. I’ve never been to your shop. But I do know knitters and knit shops in many countries. ( I always stop for knit shops no matter shere😊.)
    Ellen…beautiful words about Jaelyn. I shed tears as I read your words. Knitters are special people. Knitting in a community such as yours connects our spirits whether we talk or just listen. Knitters are nurturers, affirmers, teachers, just by being there. When sadness, tragedy, joy, celebration visits the community, it affects all. I pray for Jaelyn’s family as they grieve and for your community as they support the family and each other. Life is to be treasured, celebrated. It is also fragile. Continue to share your community.

    — Tina

  • Mar 27, 2018


    This is a beautiful tribute.

    — Jo Ricks

  • Mar 27, 2018

    Once again Ellen, thank you for your beautiful words and thoughts.

    — Tami Entzian

  • Mar 27, 2018

    Very well said. I didn’t really “know” her, but on Saturdays when we were all knitting, she was filled with grace. I recall the last time she was there, trying on her newly knitted skirt that she wanted to wear to school. We were all watching as she tried it on, hoping it wouldn’t be too short and Mom would approve. I remember her wearing it low on her waist so that it ‘looked’ long enough and teasing her Mom a little in the process.

    It was always fun to see three girls and Mom knitting together at the table.

    — Taryn

  • Mar 27, 2018

    Thank you for putting your thoughts into words. It is not easy to do and you do it so beautifully. I remember seeing Jaelynn at your table with her mom and sisters. I wouldn’t have made that connection had you not made me think of it. I remember thinking how wonderful that this family had this hobby in common and could spend time together doing it. They were so peaceful together. 🙏❤️

    — Holly

  • Mar 27, 2018

    Beautifully written as always. What a fitting tribute to a very special young lady. I did not know her but feel that I missed so much by our paths not having crossed at some point. My prayers are with her and her family.

    — Barbara

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