Knitting clubs are a feature of the 21st century revival of hand knitting which began in America and has spread to most of Europe. It has certainly found its way to Warsop! While knitting has never gone away completely, this latest reincarnation is less about the make-do and mend of the 1940s and 1950s, and more about making a statement about individuality and developing a sense of community.
Despite the name, knitting clubs are not limited to knitting. Some include crochet and knitting. Some like ours have extended the activities from knitting to collating; but above all to nattering.
International Service Officer (ISO) Sue, took over the post this year and has already had a fantastic response and attendance to her first knit and natter evening. Held, usually at the ISO home, members and friends will attend to collate items to be sent to the Nottinghamshire Police Aid Convoy or NPAC, for distribution.
At ISO Sue’s house, we were all welcomed with a friendly smile, a hug and promptly directed to a room where one of several activities were taking place. In the kitchen, at the heart were the baby bundles. Most of the knitted items go in to these precious little (well quite large actually) bundles of love.
Our range of volunteer knitters from around our area knit squares, hopefully of a uniform size. These are then sewn together at the knit and natter evenings, where they are made in to very large baby blankets. The square sewers were seated comfortably in the living room, with bags and bags of beautiful knitted squares at their feet.
Once a blanket is complete, this is passed through to the kitchen team to collate the bundles. The blanket forms the base, and carry case for the baby bundle goodies. This is also where other knitted creations are included. Baby clothing, jumpers, cardigans, hats, socks, gloves, toys are all lovingly knitted and collated together with nappies, creams, and baby toiletries, before being wrapped together in the folds of a beautiful and unique knitted baby blanket. All sealed on top with a traditional hug nappy pin.
You’d think that was enough for one night, but in the other rooms there was also a hive of activity. We recycle old bags in to joy bags. We take donated bags that are still in good quality, but for some reason are now unwanted at home and add to them, donated items of jewellery. On the floor and nattering away were the ladies sorting through the jewellery. Usually fashion jewellery, to ensure that the necklaces are intact, the earrings are cleaned and paired up, that broaches have all their parts and bangles are grouped in to matching or complimentary packs. We then place these in small draw string bags or jewellery wraps and pass them on to the joy bag ladies.
The joy bags must have a zip of other closing device to ensure the contents don’t fall out in transit. The jewellery bags are added in with scarves, belts, note books and pens. If the bag is big enough, we try to find a smaller make up back to hold the contents of some of the toiletry items. If you are lucky enough to go to a hotel or stop over somewhere, where they give you a shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and soap; these are the items we use to stock up the joy bags. We also have donations from people who may have had just one too many bathroom gift sets for birthdays or Christmas. Things we have to raise money for and buy in are flannels, towels, toothpaste, tooth brushes, tissues, sanitary products to list just a few.
All in all, these bags of donated, reloved and recycled goodies, will bring a smile to the face of someone in needs. They are always put together with love, care and kindness as if it was something we would want to receive ourselves.
The natter levels at this first gather was tremendous, in a good way of course. Lots of laughter could be heard above all. Members were catching up on holidays taken and still to come, sharing stories of aches and pains or just laughing at the little stuff. These evenings are great for getting to know different members. At monthly meetings, you may sit next to the same people, out of habit or by choice; but at knit and natter nights, there is always something to natter about as a very different mix of people come every time.
ISO Sue topped off a wonderful evening with tea, coffee, cake and a thank you. From 7-9pm just over a dozen ladies knitted, nattered, collated, and bundled together some fantastic gifts.
Well done Sue and all for an evening of Inner Wheel at its best. True Friendship, personal service and international understanding.