Derry women ‘keep her knit’ for baby unit

Margaret Crabtree and Catherine Gillespie with some of the women who knit the cardigans for the neonatal unit. Pic by Charlie Mc Menamin
Margaret Crabtree and Catherine Gillespie with some of the women who knit the cardigans for the neonatal unit. Pic by Charlie Mc Menamin

These are just some of the big hearted Derry women who have knit dozens of tiny cardigans for the babies in the neo natal unit of Altnagelvin Hospital.

Expert knitter Margaret Crabtree who also crochets, and Catherine Gillespie, enlisted the help of women across the city to build up a steady supply of stock to keep the babies who use the unit warm.

They’ve called the project ‘Big hearts for little babies.’

Catherine explained how the idea came about when friends of hers had to use the neo-natal unit in Altnagelvin Hospital and couldn’t speak highly enough about the staff and the care they received.

“We heard about the need for small cardigans and hats and as a result this wee initiative came about as a thank you to the staff who had cared for their wee son and grandchild.

“At first a few patterns were handed out and we put an appeal on facebook and also through the Keep Her Knit Classes run throughout the town by Margaret Crabtree who has been busy distributing patterns daily.

“This project has grown across the city and beyond and the response has been overwhelming. It sees no boundaries, it is cross community and lovely ladies of all ages have been busy with their knitting needles and crochet hooks.

“One lovely elderly lady did a wee blanket and has put a note on it saying - ‘this blanket is to wrap baby in when it is born, also it is good to feed baby in,’ - really touching.”

Margaret explained that the cardigans have been knit for babies who are around 4lb, and sometimes smaller.

“Age Concern have really helped us,” she said.

“We’re now making plans to hand the cardigans over and try and keep the supplies replenished over the years. The thing is that when you give a cardigan to a baby we want them to keep it. So we want to keep supplies up.”

You can find out more about the ‘Keep it Knit’ group on their facebook site.