A close-knit group is a social outlet for older women
Three years ago, Judy Tulip worked with a grant to promote social activities for seniors. Judy set up a Knit ‘n Natter group that meets weekly at a café in Sale, which is where she met Helen Jeremiah.
I was appointed as one of the ambassadors for the aged for the Wellington Shire. I wanted to get older, single women out of their homes, so we started up the Knit ‘n Natter group with a grant.
My aim was to engage women back into the community. Many ladies, when they are widowed, don't feel comfortable in mixed company and feel alone. I know what it feels like because I was widowed suddenly in my early 50s. So, I thought, what can these ladies do? They can knit and they sure can talk. Knit ‘n Natter. Right?
It took me several months to get it off the ground. We needed a venue that was somewhere homely and friendly. A community café had just opened in Sale, and when I approached the manager she was very happy to take us on.
We started in March three years ago and, on the first day, 20 ladies turned up. I was rapt!
The feedback from the ladies is amazing. One particular lady, who has just turned 90, said to me, ‘Judy, I look forward to Tuesdays when I can come and meet up with people and have a nice chat and knit.
Otherwise I'd be sitting at home and knitting on my own’.
I met Helen when she came to Knit ‘n Natter after she retired and we became close. Helen supported me tremendously when I was sick last year. I spent many months in hospital and Helen was one of the ladies that used to bring me a cup of coffee every morning. The Country Women’s Association set up a roster and Helen was one of the very regular ones.
When I asked her to take over running Knit ‘n Natter she was happy to do it. She's been a great support to me. It's a pleasure to have met her. She's a very vibrant lady who is active in her community and I just enjoy her company too.
After I retired, I was looking for something to do and I found out about the Knit ‘n Natter group. I met Judy there and we just sort of struck up a friendship from then on. A little bit later Judy realised she was unwell, so I just basically took over Knit ‘n Natter. But really it runs itself, it’s just managing the money for the venue basically.
The group is about knitting and sharing our patterns and what we’ve made and so on but, really, not much knitting goes on. Especially on my part. Now, I talk, and everyone does show and tell and so on. So, it's just a very social group.
A lot of older ladies are not up to knitting patterns, but they knit squares. They'll hand the squares to someone else and they'll make them up into a rug, and then the rug goes to Better Life for Foster Kids – that's a local charity in Sale. They are always wanting knitted items, like soft toys, blankets, beanies, baby jackets, things like that. So, the ladies knit what’s needed and donate them.
Judy's a little bit older than me, and she's just an amazing community-minded person that has great ideas like this Knit ‘n Natter and she's interesting. She's got lots of local history because she's a local person and she's just fun to talk to and be with.