A square is all it takes to show you care
WINTER is a great time to pick up those knitting or crochet needles again and help someone in need.
"We knit, we sew, we give" is the catchcry of Wrap with Love, a non-profit Australian organisation which makes blankets for people needing warmth here and around the world.
While co-ordinator Lorraine Sutton said they gift close to 30,000 blankets annually, it all starts with individuals and groups crafting 25cm (10 inch) squares.
Central Coast co-ordinator Diana Johnson said she got involved about 10 years ago, being new to the Coast, as a way to meet people and do something she loved.
"I think, particularly for older ladies, it is something they know how to do, and if they are on their own and don't feel comfortable going out a lot, it's something that can get them out of the house, socialising and helping other people, and they feel good about making a difference," she said.
Every blanket is made of 28 squares, perfect for a wrap or a single bed.
"And everyone who receives one knows that someone is thinking of them," Diana said.
Some Coast-made blankets go to Coast Shelter, others are distributed in crises such as flood or fire, to dialysis and cancer wards, to refugees and World Vision projects, including helping in Syria.
Last year the Central Coast donated 1706 wraps, including 232 sewn together at the annual knitting day, always held on the first Friday in August.
"It's a wonderful thing to be involved in, and we have individuals and clubs, library groups, church and retirement groups who take part," Diana said.
However, with an ageing population, even with some participants teaching their grandchildren as an activity to enjoy together, she said more crafters were needed.
A square could be knitted or crocheted with even the most basic skills, Diana said, using either cheap wool you buy yourself or wool which is donated.
However, some completed blankets they receive, she said "look like something you would see hanging in a gallery, they are so beautiful".
Lorraine, at the Sydney headquarters, has been involved for 17 of the organisation's 26 years, and said it was incredibly rewarding to see the faces of the people who received the blankets, but it was very much "a two-way street".
"I think it's something that really resonates with people," she said.
"Every single person involved is a volunteer, and we are not asking for money, just a knitted square and every one counts.
"It has become a community thing as well as a giving thing, because people enjoy the camaraderie of each other's company, the colours of the wool are uplifting and it's something you can do together or at home and feel you are doing something really useful."
With most kids and grandkids no longer wanting home-knitted clothing, she said, it was a great outlet for people's skills and, for those undergoing cancer or medical treatment, could prove therapeutic, giving them something else to concentrate on.
To find out more, go to wrapwithlove.org or, on the Coast, phone Diana on (02)43993351.