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Thursday, 27 October 2011 08:19

Fort Macleod Knit-Wits providing comfort for those people in need

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By Susan Quinlan
Fort Macleod
Although at times it may seem as though the pace of life has left people with less time to serve their communities, there will likely always be those who work quietly in the background, helping others.

Such is the case with the Healing Shawls Ministry of Fort Macleod, who lovingly refer to themselves as the Knit-Wits.

“Several years ago, a friend of mine was recovering from cancer surgery and had a shawl given to her.

I thought, what a lovely shawl and what a lovely thought,” said Barbara Cote, founder of the Fort Macleod Knit-Wits. 

Cote knew a lot of people in town who knitted or crocheted, so she decided to get a group started.

That was six years ago, when the Knit-Wits started with four or five members, said Cote; there are now have 12 or 13.

As to the bigger picture, the Healing Shawls Ministry started in 1998 when Americans Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo, graduates of the Women’s Leadership Institute at Hartford Seminary (Connecticut), decided to give of their time by knitting shawls for those in need. The idea caught on and groups are now found worldwide.

“I’m in contact with a friend near Liverpool (England) daily. They have one group there and I heard of one in India. It’s all over the world.”

The group does not sell any of its shawls; they’re all given away.

“We find out who needs one mainly by word of mouth,” said Cote.

In addition, the Knit-Wits donate shawls every year to the local Extendicare and to the Fort Macleod lodge. They’ve also donated shawls to palliative care.

“Any place where someone needs a bit of comfort.”

Cote relayed the story of a little girl she knew with a terminal illness.

“She said, ‘when I die, I want my shawl to come with me’.”

Cote as well has a friend in Ontario who has endured a long battle with cancer.

“The shawl given to her is used every day ... It’s hard to imagine what such a simple thing does for them. It’s just a bit of yarn joined this way and that.”

The group does not ask for donations, but appreciates financial gifts to purchase wool and as well welcomes donations of yarn.

“A woman’s sister died and I got a call to pick up a bag of yarn. It was one of those green garbage bags, full of mohair.”

In addition to knitting shawls, the Knit-Wits make squares for Blankets for Canada, another non-denominational organization devoted to creating blankets for those in need of the warmth and comfort they provide. The squares are subsequently dropped off at Michael’s Craft Store at Park Place Mall in Lethbridge.

Cote said group members of all skill levels are welcome to join the Knit-Wits.

For more information about the Knit-Wits or to make a donation, contact Cote at 403-553-4473 or mail donations of yarn to her at Box 381, Fort Macleod, TOL OZO.

“A woman came from Claresholm and now she and another one have started their own club there.”

by Maureen Whalley (England)
Knit 1 Purl 1
Backs against the wall,
Working close together
To create a Healing Shawl.
Knit 1 Slip 1
Photos in the press,
Do you look a happy bunch?
Emphatically – yes!
Knit 1 Twist 1,
No time for a pause,
Helping those, who need it most,
Oh! Such a worthy cause.
Knit 1 Cable 1
Giving up your time,
I had to put this line in
To prolong this silly rhyme.
Knit 1 Drop 1?
This will not occur,
Except for Mrs. Cote’ –‘ay’
Just keep an eye on her.
Cast on Cast off,
If you reach your goal,
You may be rewarded
With a home made cabbage roll.
One chain — two chains,
Jest and joke apart,
I raise my hat to ALL of you
And send love from the heart.

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