Ladies who knit

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CRAFT -

The house is qui­eter now since her hus­band died. She misses hav­ing an­other per­son around to talk to. But rather than iso­lat­ing her­self, Shirley Water­field, 81, gives her­self some­thing to get up for in the morn­ings.

Ev­ery Tues­day, from 1 to 2pm, Shirley runs a Sit Fit class – ex­er­cis­ing whilst sit­ting down – in Auck­land’s New Lynn. She is a mo­ti­va­tional voice for the older women who at­tend the classes, in­struct­ing an ex­er­cise rou­tine that keeps their joints mov­ing and hearts pump­ing. The music re­flects what most of them re­mem­ber bo­ogy­ing to as teens. They twirl rib­bons, bounce balls and do squats.

Each class costs only $4, and the do­na­tions go straight into what

Shirley calls the ‘wool fund’. Shirley then stocks up on wool, dishes it out to her ladies, they go home and knit cosy items, then bring them back to the Sit Fit class to send off to char­ity.

Twice a year, Shirley is visited by staff from the Well Foun­da­tion, who pick up the knit­ting and dis­trib­ute it among young pa­tients at West Auck­land’s Waitakere Hospi­tal. Each send-off con­sists of about seven banana boxes filled with baby blan­kets, bean­ies, stuffed toys and other gar­ments.

Shirley says knit­ting is a good way to keep the mind ac­tive and fin­gers mov­ing. “To start off, knit­ting uses the brain; you’ve got to read the pat­terns. And two, it gets the fin­gers mov­ing. Then at the end of it, it’s the re­sult.”

The women main­tain a true com­mu­nity spirit at the hall. The ex­er­cise gives them a chance to catch up with each other and meet for cof­fee be­fore­hand or af­ter­wards, and the knit­ting keeps them busy at home.

On any week, you’ll often find bags of fruit and veg­eta­bles that peo­ple bring in to sell to one an­other. There’s no profit-hun­gry at­ti­tude here though; all pro­ceeds go into the wool fund – a fund that keeps them mo­ti­vated, keeps their minds busy, and en­ables them to give back to their com­mu­nity.

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