Tight knit charitable group

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Every Wednesday a group of knitters gets together at Gonville Library to work, chat and have a lot of fun while doing good. Paul Brooks finds out more.


The group shares a morning tea, has coffee prepared by barista Kiri Wilson, and adds to the pile of knitted goodies members have prepared earlier, all in the name of the less fortunate.


Co-ordinated by librarian Kelly Harrison, the Gonville Knitting Group last year knitted scarves and slippers for local schools in conjunction with charity Kids Can. This year, it’s peggy square blankets for Plunket.


“I contacted Plunket to say we’re having a community initiative,” says Kelly, “and we wanted to have a local focus.”


The blankets will go to local needy families, says Anne Wild, Plunket clinical leader, who visited the group last Wednesday to receive the first of two or three piles of blankets. There were 31 in last Wednesday’s batch.


“It’s important for our ladies to see where their work is going,” says Kelly. “And it’s acknowledging them because they’re giving up their time and some are buying the wool themselves. Some are making a blanket a  week.”


All the peggy squares are knitted in real wool — no acrylics allowed.


“The natural fibres are much better for children,” says Anne.


Kelly says 12 to 15 women meet at the library but there are others who work from home and drop in peggy squares or completed blankets.


Knitter Muriel de Koning saw a notice in the paper and joined the group earlier this month. “It’s so nice to get to know people,” she says. “I will keep coming. They make it interesting and I don’t vegetate at home.”


Natalie Tinnion has been knitting since she was about eight years old and thoroughly enjoys it. “It’s about trying to help those families who are not so well off.”


Athena Townsend. who has been attending for about two months, found out about the group from a member. “She knew I liked knitting.”


Shirley Nicol has been with the group for “three or four months”. “I’m really glad I got involved here.”


Patricia Bloor joined last year. “It’s absolutely wonderful. I look forward to every Wednesday morning.” Her husband Mervyn, a retired school principal, often accompanies her and spends his time on one of the library’s computers, although he can knit too, says Patricia. “In the group we talk about all sorts of things; we sort the world out,” she says.


Josie Brown is 90 and is a prolific knitter. She knits slippers by the hundreds. “When people come to the house they take their shoes off and put my slippers on, and they take them home if they want. It gives me an interest.” Josie learned to knit at school.


A touch of an accent betrays 40 years’ living in the United States where Josie designed jewellery in Hollywood and then ran the only darts store in Arizona.


Marion Rainforth started with the group in time for last year’s Kids Can project. She recalls with fondness a trip to Tawhero School to teach children to knit. “I think there might be a sort of renaissance among the younger generation; it’s lovely,” she says.


Marion knits while watching Shortland Street. “As much as what we’re producing [in the group], it’s the interaction and what we’re learning from each other.” A left-handed knitter and crocheter, Marion found another left-hander in the group.


As Kelly says, “Gonville Library is more than just books”.



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