31 May 2024

Beanie there, done that - Canberrans show their warm and fuzzy side, literally

| Sally Hopman
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Two women and a man in high-vis looking at a box of beanies

Glenda Richards from St John’s Care, left, and Sean Curtis from Vinnies Night Patrol receive some of the beanies from vice-president of the Brindabella Trefoil Guild, Lyn Hanley. Photo: Supplied.

When Lyn Hanley put the call out to see if any knitters would give her a few hours last Saturday (25 May) to knit some beanies, she hoped a few would turn up.

It was for the best of causes she knew, knitting beanies for people in Canberra who were doing it tough. She knew Canberrans had a big collective heart, but said she had no idea how big it actually was.

Mrs Hanley is vice president of the Brindabella branch of the Trefoil Guild, a small Canberra group that does what it can for people in need. It is made up of former Girl Guides who, after spending their young years working for their community, resume such work once they are older but still have that passion to help others.

Their latest project was a Beanie Big Good Turn – and they put the call out for volunteer knitters to meet up at the Wanniassa Guides Hall. The plan was for the beanies, however many were made, to be donated to Vinnies Night Patrol, St John’s Care and the Civic Early Morning Centre.

“We have been knitting and supplying beanies for Vinnies Night Patrol on an ad hoc basis,” Mrs Hanley said.

“We’ve been doing it for years, so this project just evolved from that.”

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Mrs Hanley said she couldn’t believe it when she got to the hall. “There were people queued outside the door,” she said.

“There were so many people. They were there at 10 am, and the last one left at about 3 pm. They just hung around all day … knitting beanies, talking to each other, it was the most wonderful camaraderie. When they came in, I didn’t think anyone knew each other. By the end of the day, they were all swapping patterns and recipes.

“After the story first came out in the Riotact that we needed knitters, my phone rang and rang,” she said.

“I got calls from everywhere. I got a woman in Queensland who wanted to post yarn to me and a woman in Shepparton who organised to get knitters to make them in her area.

“Oh, my goodness. Every day when I came home, there was another parcel of wool on my doorstep.”

Almost 400 beanies were either made on the day or later donated to the Guild. They also received 18 pairs of fingerless gloves, a lap rug and 25 scarves – and they’re still coming in.

“We know this won’t be the end of the donations either because many of the ladies who came in are now committed to making more beanies.”

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Other groups are also helping, including knitters from the Queanbeyan Hospital Auxiliary and the Canberra Knitters and Crocheters, who put it on their noticeboard. That led to so many more knitters getting involved – “and we all know knitting is so much better than vacuuming”.

Mrs Hanley joked that they had created a (good) monster.

“Lots of the women asked me when we were going to do it again. I hadn’t planned on it. But now I don’t see how we can get away with not doing it.”

She said there was still a lot of donated wool left.

“I’ve already knitted two beanies since last Saturday – but we’ll have to do something. I have a large children’s cot at home, which is full of wool – my grandchildren can’t visit until we empty it, and there are also still three large boxes of yarn.”

Boxes and bags of k itted goods

Some of the hundreds of balls of wool donated for beanies to help keep Canberrans warm this winter. Photo: Supplied.

Representatives of the charities visited during the day, thanking the knitters for their work and explaining how important it was to help Canberrans doing it tough.

So how did Mrs Hanley pull up at the end of the day of organising the event?

“We went home and unpacked the car and I realised I hadn’t had a cup of tea or anything to eat all day, so I said to my husband, ‘I need a cuppa’, and I ended up drinking two,” she laughed.

“Friendships were formed by the end of the day over a pair of knitting needles and a cup of tea. It was a real community event.”

Mrs Hanley said special mention was due to the Brindabelle Guild president, Christine Brill, who, despite having major surgery a few days before the knitting event, also helped out on the Saturday.

People still knitting beanies or wanting to donate them or wool can contact Mrs Hanley on 0412 611 431.

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