Senior volunteers organize Knotty Knitters group in Caledon
Written By ZUNERA BUTTAR
Danuta has moved out of Caledon and now calls Toronto home, yet she still makes the trip back to Caledon to attend her weekly Knotty Knitter group meetups. These ladies meet once a week to knit and crochet but it’s much more than that for all of them. They’ve built a support system here with one another where they can express themselves without any filter. Danuta credits these ladies to the betterment of her health, “You hear all this talk about seniors and depression. Makes you realize how important socializing is. Here we laugh and we cry. When I wasn’t well they would call me and I really appreciated that. It goes beyond the group for me. It’s nice to know someone cares.”
Silvija, one the group leads says that knitting was always in her blood. “I always thought that I started Knitting later in life but I just found out in these old letters written by my parents that I was knitting as a little girl.” She also has found memories of learning to knit as an adolescence. “When I was twelve a man a taught me how to knit. He came from the countryside in the winter, and they have nothing to do in the fields so everyone knits because it’s something you can do with your hands inside. He actually taught me how to knit socks.” Socks is a common theme among the group members. Many of the Knotty Knitters joined with the goal of learning to make socks. Barbara, Monique and Danuta all had sock making as a top priority when joining. “When you’re learning something new it all seems very challenging and you make a lot of mistakes along the way. I still remember the first time I did socks. I couldn’t believe that I made these socks!” Monique recalls. However, socks aren’t the easiest thing to Knit and they would suggest starting out with making something easier like a scarf.
Even as the world changes around them these ladies want to keep the knitting tradition alive. “It’s a different time now with computers, TVs and cellphones. In the older days there was none of that, knitting was entertainment. It was practical entrainment and we created something while keeping busy. Watching television is very passive, while knitting is very engaging and good for your hands.” Says Silvija. She’s right, if you suffer from arthritis, knitting can actually improve the dexterity in your hands and fingers. Several different studies support that knitting and crafting in general can also help ease anxiety and can protect your brain from aging and has similar benefits to meditation. Staying physically and mentally active is vital for seniors’ health and wellness.
Sandra taught herself how to knit after graduating from university and starting her first job. She wanted to do something with her hands. “I would see things in magazines and I thought I want to make that! I liked that it was the other side of it, a change from the academics. Its nice working on something with your hands. It’s an enjoyable and a relaxing art.”
Another thing that sets the Knotty Knitters group apart is that it’s organized and run by senior volunteers as part of Caledon Community Services’ Seniors Helping Seniors program. The program encourages seniors to run their own senior activities within the community, and provides financial support to purchase any supplies they might need. The yarn they use is donated to them by CCS and they in turn pay it forward in a big way. “When the group started everything we made was donated. We have donated wraps, lap blankets to the Sick Kids Hospital, Bethel Hospice, and nursing homes just to name a few. We are giving back to the community in one way or the other.” Silvija explains.
Even in the short while that I interviewed these women I felt included into their group where everyone is free express themselves and its okay to make mistakes. Whether you’re an expert knitter or have zero experience, all are welcome here. This supportive environment encourages them to never give up explains Barbara. “For me being in this group allowed me to learn. I don’t think I would have learned otherwise because I would have given up. I even gave up here.” She laughs. “But coming to the group provides extra motivation, and for me having good teacher is what makes the difference. There are some good teachers here and they are very patient.” Silvija and Danuta take leadership in teaching but all these ladies bring something special to this group. “Come join us and see what we are all about. We will teach you, if you are willing to learn. And if you don’t want to knit, still come.” Silvija laughs.
“You meet the nicest ladies here. I’m very happy I joined this club because I’m by myself and I look forward to Thursdays because I see all my friends. It’s a beautiful thing.” Explains Hilde.
This knitting crew will have you creating beautiful articles of clothing for yourself, family, and donations to the community! Join them on the 2nd floor of Evolve Clothing (4 Industrial Rd, Bolton, ON L7E 1K6) every Thursday. Adults 55+ are welcome to join the fun of the Knotty Knitters! To learn how you can volunteer or be a participant, contact Silvana Ferrari, Coordinator, Seniors Health and Wellness at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 905-584-2300 ext. 273.