“Someone once asked me how many balls of yarn I have. They’re still waiting for an answer. I’m still counting!” – Anonymous
When 101 year old Madge McAdam retired from nursing in the early 80s, she decided that the tiny babies she was looking after needed hats to keep them warm. She began knitting touques for them. Almost 40 years later, she still makes four or five each week. When she moved into Garrison Green, she found others who enjoyed knitting and a knitting club was formed.
A quilter and those who enjoy other fibre arts joined, so the name was changed to the fibre arts club, and is now one of the busiest groups in the community.
Learning to knit, crochet, quilt or do needlepoint are fine arts that many people are no longer familiar with. But as an older adult, these art forms were commonplace and remain an important place in their lives.
“I’ve done a lot of handwork over the years, both on my own and in groups,” said Chris Serafini. “I really like the camaraderie that exists with a group, which is why I’m working with the residents.”
Chris, who is the daughter of long-time resident Gladys Duffner, is an avid volunteer who spends a lot of time with her mom but also finds time to help with the fibre arts club as well as to volunteer with several other worthy causes.
“I really like the idea of building connections among residents, and knitting, crocheting, quilting and other fibre arts create a strong bond, especially when you have the same interests,” said Chris.
Wendy Martin agrees. She’s working on the pieces that make up a quilt. She says there’s companionship in the club. “We enjoy each other’s company. And that carries over to other groups here.” She gestures to others at the table. “Three of us play cribbage together regularly.”
“Do you knit?” Trudy Martin, no relation to Wendy, says it’s one of the first questions she asks new residents. “It’s a great way to introduce yourself and something lots of others have in common. Many of us have lost our spouses, so a club like this is an excellent way to make new friends.”
For the past several years Chris has supported the fibre arts club by finding supplies, working with their annual fibre arts show and sale and delivering the finished products to hospitals and charities. “When you have that many people making things, you end up with quite an inventory at the end of the year. After all, there’s only so many scarves and mitts you can give to family members!” jokes Chris. “That’s when the decision was made to hold a sale for charity.”
The eight to twelve regular members of the club create a variety of products that were put up for sale last week, with proceeds going to several charities. Last year, the residents chose the Children’s Cottage Society, Women in Need Society, the Mustard Seed and Sonshine Community Services to receive donations.
“The sale usually attracts the residents and their families, and staff,” said Chris. “This year, they raised over $1,000 for charity, plus we’ll be bringing about 200 of Madge’s newborn touques to the Rockyview Hospital.”
Along with the friendships that develop, Margaret Hails, who is busy today knitting mittens, says being in the club brings people of diverse backgrounds together. “There’s an understanding that develops. I was raised during the war in England, and one of my best friends was raised during the war in Germany. We talk about this all the time, how people are all the same. We were on opposite sides in the war, but we went through the same things, so we both know how important peace is.”
The members of the fibre arts club meet regularly, and pursue their passion for creating on their own. So if you’re looking for that perfect gift – potholders, dish clothes and towels, scarves or mittens – just talk to the members of the fibre arts club. They just might have a little something left over from the sale.
Photos and video by Sherana Productions
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To learn more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.