The art of knitting is enjoying a resurgence of late, and the Sit, Knit and Chat group at Age Concern Derry has become a much-loved part of the lives of a certain group of local ladies,.
Running every Monday afternoon between 1.30pm and 3pm at Age Concern’s Malvern House on Chapel Road, the Sit, Knit and Chat sessions have gathered momentum with 18 people currently involved.
Under the expert guidance of tutor Margaret Crabtree, participants can master the art of knitting, crocheting and embroidery in a fun, relaxed atmosphere where stories are shared and friendships blossom.
78 year-old May Hickland, from the Rosses in the Waterside, regularly spends time at Malvern House. A mother to 10 children, including two sets of twins, May loves coming to the Sit, Knit and Chat classes at Age Concern.
“I started coming in March and I come in every Monday,” she told the ‘Journal’.
“I was always into crafts. I wanted to get out of the factories and so, after my family grew up, I went back into education, did a City and Guilds course in Fashion Design and got a job with a designer in Belfast as a sewing technician.”
May says she always loved to knit. “I learned knitting at school and have knitted throughout my life. I like to do all sorts. Once I knitted my daughter an AC/DC sign for the back of her jacket, although she’s in her 40s now and doesn’t remember!
“I also knit toys, coats and quilts for my great-grandchild in Germany. One of the quilts I did was a patchwork in the shape of a sunburst and in the centre I put a white circle and it said You Are My Sunshine - only I got it translated and wrote it out in German!”
May, who suffers from arthritis, knows knitting keeps her fingers active. She also appreciates the relationships and friendships forged with other class members.
“We all seem to share our experiences and give something to each other, that’s what I like about it,” she says.
Likewise, 69 year-old Phyllis Crowe from Newbuildings never misses the class.
“We are so lucky with our tutor Margaret Crabtree, she is absolutely fantastic,” Phyllis, a grandmother and mother of four, beams.
“I can’t use my fingers very well so I knit. I had two strokes in the past and so I find the knitting easier because I can grip it better with the wool on the needles. I knit dolls and baby cardigans and things like that - it definitely helps my fingers a lot to knit.
“The class is great, time always flies but you learn news things every day. There’s a great camaraderie among the group. I’ve knitted ponchos, hats, bonnets, all sorts of things. Margaret has great books and a fantastic array of patterns too.”
Lilo Marlene King, from Old Church Road, is 65 years-old and a mother to 12 children. She attends Malvern House from Monday to Friday and loves the company.
“I had never crocheted in my life until I came here and I was taught by Margaret,” Marlene says.
Marlene is kept busy by her 20 grandchildren.
“I’m doing my best to make a couple of outfits as my youngest daughter is having a baby in February. Hopefully when the baby comes along, I’ll be kept busy, but I’ll still continue with my knitting and crocheting.”
Eimear Doherty, Development Worker at Age Concern, says the classes are becoming more and more popular.
“We started the classes in March and they run for eight weeks, with the next one beginning in the New Year,” she says.
“We provide the knitting needles and the materials and the group really encourage each other.
“We run many other classes too, like reflexology, yoga, tai chi, art, dancing classes, reminiscence evenings, social evenings, there’s always something going on here!”
If you are aged over 60 years-old and are interested in joining this or any of the other class, you are more than welcome. Transport can be provided every day except Friday, and the next classes are due to begin in the New Year.
For details or to find out more about Malvern House, contact Eimear at Age Concern on Tel: (028) 71347478.