A Close Knit Community

A rather long time ago, my Nana attempted to teach me how to knit. I was only 9 at the time and my first insensitive thought was: but that’s for old grandmas! So, I tried for 10 minutes, gave up and never looked back. Until, this month’s TUKI Cafe.

After visiting the stalls and taking in the busy environment, I plucked up the courage to go over and talk to the lady knitting in the corner by a big poster talking about a ‘Friendship Blanket’. Of course Vic had talked to me about what the Friendship Blanket was, but I wanted to hear what the knitters had to say.

I met a very kind lady called Kay, who explained to me how it all works, and Janet, who joined us later and much to my Nana’s surprise, taught me how to knit.

So, every TUKI, once a month, there is a station for the Friendship Blanket where you will find, at all times, a knitter. The knitter who has volunteered their time to come down and knit and introduce others to the project and, like me, teach them how to knit. The idea is, once you know how to knit, that you knit as many squares as possible over the course of the next month and drop them off at the next TUKI, grab some more wool and start again. However, it isn’t strict, and so if you can’t make next month’s TUKI, just take extra wool and drop off your squares when you can. As long as you can knit, we’ll have you!

Alternatively, the wonderful Suzanne Wood runs a knitting club at St Marks on the 3rd Friday of every month from 10am-12pm. Suzanne’s group knit a variety of different things and the funds go to the Yorkshire air ambulance as well as other charities. This is open to any level of knitter and so if you can’t make a TUKI, you can always drop off squares with her! It’s also a fab way to get better and have a chat in the process; they would welcome you with very open arms.

Some of you may be thinking: oh gosh I’d love to help, but I can’t knit. Ah ha! We have the solution to your problem. Pop down to the next month’s TUKI and you can pick up a goody bag. (I know, the prospect of a goody bag is just so exciting you have to do it.) In your goody bag is some wool and some needles as well as a sheet of paper explaining the dimensions of the squares. If you come down to get your bag, one of the more experienced knitters can teach you how to knit from where someone has already started your square – it just makes it a little easier when you’re learning.

There is even something for those of you at the back who want to help, but don’t want to knit. We really desperately need people to donate money so that we can send our squares to South Africa. Also, we would love it if anyone could donate wool (especially double-knit), knitting needles (4mm, size 8), buttons, ribbon, zips, beads and needles & cotton. As you donate your needles and wool to us, you could pop into Suzanne’s group too as they would really appreciate wool and needles too! All of these things are needed and used for both the Friendship Blanket and the Twiddlemuffs.

Twiddlemuffs? What on earth are Twiddlemuffs?

These are like muffs, to keep your hands warm; like the Mum uses in Mary Poppins, but have things sewed onto them like beads and ribbons for the person to fiddle with. Twiddlemuffs are sent to nursing homes and the dementia ward at the hospital to go to people with dementia as it gives them something to play with and do with their hands. But at the moment only 3 people are knitting Twiddlemuffs and we woul love it if more people could knit these – they require experience with knitting and more skill, but all you learner knitters will be at that stage soon enough I’m sure.

As Kay explained all this to me, someone behind me was exclaiming in response, “what a good idea!” and it was the enthusiasm and genuine excitement in the tone of voice that pushed me to add it in. Because it is such a good idea; I hadn’t ever realised dementia patients can harm themselves because they constantly want to do things with they’re hands and end up picking at their skin or the threads in their clothes. As Kay said, “it’s a lovely time of fellowship”, and she’s absolutely right; anyone can come down on a Saturday morning and have some lunch, a chat and knit whilst helping those in need.

So, if any of what I’ve said has inspired you to knit a square or two for the Friendship Blanket or a Twiddlemuff for a dementia patient, the come down and see us on the first Saturday in June. I’ll be there – hopefully with a square and definitely with my goody bag – as will other experiences knitters to teach and chat!


by Megan Watts (17)