It’s a rainy Wednesday afternoon in Gore and Lois Shallard’s knitting needles are working over-time. Beside her on the table is a pile of tiny knitted baby socks, singlets and hats and at her feet are balls of wool - hot pink, lime green, lavender and a “lovely mottled blue”.
Lois is 70 this year and she’s been knitting since her teens. She knitted clothes for all her children back in the day and now she’s moved on to knitting for her town’s new mums.
“I love knitting the little socks the best, they are just so tiny and cute.”
Lois doesn’t just knit alone. Every Monday afternoon she runs a knitting group at the Parata Rest Home in Gore. The group consists of rest home residents, neighbours and anyone who wants to come along for a cuppa and a chat.
While they talk, they knit baby clothes, all to be donated to the local parents centre. The centre puts the woolly items into gift packs and adds other essentials like nappies, a rattle, lotions and a magazine. Every mum who gives birth at Gore Hospital gets a pack.
The items and the wool were purchased thanks to a grant from the Fonterra Grass Roots Fund, and Casey Eason who runs the town’s parents centre says the money came at just the right time.
“Normally we would have an average of 10 births a month here at Gore Hospital but recently we have had an average of 14. We are really grateful to the Grass Roots Fund. Some of the new mums don’t have anything at all when their baby is born.”
It’s the idea of mums missing out that keeps Lois’ needles clacking away most nights.
“I know there are some new mothers that don’t have a lot and I think it’s really important they have a few woollen things to help keep their babies warm. I can’t imagine what it would be like bringing a baby into the world without the essentials. Our group enjoys knitting because we are grandmothers, but also because this is our way of helping the community. It gives us a sense of peace and purpose.”