Members of the Dr. Caroline Carmicheal IODE display some of the knitted items they have in stock this year, but they are in desperate need of more knitters to keep up with the demand. The club distributes mitts and hats to schools and the food bank free of charge, so that people are a little warmer in the winter months. From the left are: Jean Arsenault, IODE president; Jeannie Johnston, IODE vice-president; Ethel Porter, IODE’s longest knitter; Phoebe Fraser, IODE convener and Isabel Campbell, IODE member. Sueann Musick – The News
NEW GLASGOW – I met with a group of women last week who brought back some fond memories from my childhood.
All the memories were of receiving brand new pairs of knitted mitts from grandmother. She was an avid knitter who would often have a ball of yarn and knitting needles beside her chair in the living room while she watched her favourite soap opera or hockey games.
The mitts were all different colours, sizes, some had strings to keep them in our jackets, others extra long cuffs so they would stay tucked in and she always asked us for our favourite colours.
My most vivid memories come from the days when we would be playing outside for hours and our mittens would be as wet as a dishcloth. The soupy mitts caked in snowballs on the outside would fall near the wood stove or floor heater and be replaced by another pair she set aside for us.
I can still feel the warmth on my hands now and picture the smiles on our faces. The old saying, ‘cold hands, warm heart’ rang true every time she put down her knitting needles and handed us a fresh pair of mitts.
Her knitting extended to sweaters, hats, scarfs and even socks, all of which we took for granted. In fact, it wasn’t until after she died and I had my own children that I realized how special that gift was that she gave us.
Today, my own children are fortunate to have store-bought mittens and hats that keep their hands warm, but not every child or adult is as lucky.
Replacing mittens, hats and scarfs throughout a season can be an added expense to some families facing tough economic times in a world where grocery and heating bills are skyrocketing.
Since most children, and some adults, including myself, haven’t figured out how to keep one pair of mittens or hats all winter long, there is a good chance that students in schools will be out on the playground without anything to keep their hands or heads warm.
This is where the women of Dr. Caroline Carmichael Chapter IODE come in. They have been managing a volunteer knitting program for at least two decades that provides school children and people visiting the food bank with hand-knitted mittens and hats.
They also supply newborn babies at the Aberdeen Hospital with hats and have even sent knitted supplies out of provinces to areas.
But now this program needs a helping hand. It needs volunteer knitters to help replenish their stock.
IODE President Jean Arsenault said knitters don’t have to be part of the IODE club in order to volunteer their time, and yarn can be provided if necessary. They will also pick up the finished items so that no one is inconvenienced.
If you knit anyway, why not spend a few extra hours a week putting together a few pairs for the IODE? They accept knitters all year long so their supply will be good and stocked when the cold weather hits.
There is no specific amount of knitted mitts or hats required from any volunteer because every little bit helps. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Jean at 755-1216.
So remember… cold hands, warm hearts.
I bet you will find that by warming some little one’s hands your own heart will feel pretty warm as well.
Sueann Musick is a 20-year employee with The News who reports on many community events.