Ladies who knit
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.