BY donating your spare balls of knitting wool to Tricia O’Riordan and her Needles and Pins group in Togher, you’ll be helping everyone from premature babies to older homeless adults in supported sheltered housing.
Tricia and her Needle and Pins buddies love to knit and crochet, but they get an even bigger kick out of donating all their handiwork to charities and good causes in their local community.
“Everything we make, from lap blankets for older people to clothes for premature babies and hats for the homeless, we give to local charities, especially the small ones. It’s great to be doing something for people who are on our doorstep”, says Tricia.
Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the Needle and Pins knitters can’t meet up for their Friday morning get together in the Rock Bingo Hall in Togher, but they are all continuing to knit at home.
However, the knitters are running very short of wool. They are appealing to the public to help them out as they are a voluntary group with no funds. So now is the time to dig out those spare balls of wool squashed away at the back of a drawer or cupboard!
All donations of knitting wool can be handed into the Togher Community Centre on Togher Road from 9am to 5pm on weekdays. The wool will be put aside for a while to ensure that it is Covid-I9 free.
The Cork City Covid-19 Community Response Forum highlighted the knitters’ appeal on the Council’s Facebook home page.
In addition, Kieran O’Connell, Social Inclusion Development Worker with the Council, linked Tricia up with Rory O’Meara, Director of Services with O’Connell Court, when she was looking for a home for the 20 lap blankets the knitters had recently completed.
O’Connell Court is a charity that provides supported sheltered accommodation to older homeless adults. There are 52 people living in its Togher premises, which are located in the former Doughcloyne Hotel.
“In these uncertain times it’s lovely to know that other organisations within the community are assisting our community. It’s not just about the blankets, it’s more that someone thought of us and is thinking of doing things for us again at Christmas”, Rory points out.
Tricia explains: “We decided on lap blankets because we were afraid that older people might trip on a full size blanket. People can use the lap blankets if they’re having a cup of tea or they can put it on their pillowcase at night. They can be like a comfort blanket for people.
“We did baby blankets, bootees, cardigans and hats for the Neonatal Ward in the Cork University Maternity Hospital but they haven’t been handed in yet because of the lockdown. We will continue making them on an ongoing basis”, says Tricia.
This is a project very close to Tricia’s heart as her daughter Amy was born 11 weeks premature. Thankfully, she is now a fine, healthy 22 year old and is clearly her mother’s pride and joy.
“That’s why I’m very anxious to help premature babies. I was so delighted to have Amy after losing two babies. One little girl was born at 23 weeks and lived for less than an hour. The other baby girl died after 18 weeks,” Tricia tells me.
Some of the ladies in the Needles and Pins group make snow coloured capes, gowns and hats for little babies that don’t survive. The group hopes the lovingly crafted outfits will bring some comfort to grieving parents.
“In our time, it wasn’t an option to bury a little baby in a gown and cape. The two babies I lost were just buried in towelling nappies because people didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know myself,” Tricia acknowledges.
Last Christmas, the Needles and Pins group knitted 104 hats for homeless people, which were distributed by Catriona Twomey’s Cork Penny Dinners charity. It’s not bad for a group that only began in late October, 2019.
“I started off with a few pair of knitting needles and a few balls of wool,” says Tricia.
“I was suffering with depression and I wanted to get out and do something.
“I told the Manager of the Rock Bingo that I’d give my time for free if he gave me a space in the Hall on a Friday. He agreed and I built up to 15 knitters.
“We help each other out as we go along. The group is easygoing with no stress or hassle. We also have some women who knit for us at home and we’re hoping they will join us as time goes on,” Tricia adds.
She credits the Lantern Community Project i n Nano Nagle Place for giving her the confidence and skills to start a knitting group. Set up by the Presentation Sisters, it is a meeting, learning and creative space in the heart of Cork city.
“Through the Lantern Project, I began to do arts and crafts and it became my passion because I couldn’t really go back out to work because of my depression,” Tricia says.
She makes cute little hedgehogs and night light holders using book folding techniques, and also designs frames to celebrate special occasions in people’s lives. Her work is on display in the Passage West Creates pop-up shop, which has reopened.
At present, Tricia’s main concern is how to keep her wonderful band of knitters going.
“We would really appreciate any donations of wool from the public”, she stresses.
Togher Community Centre: Tel. (021) 4321002.
See Tricia’s Homemade Crafts on Facebook
The Lantern Project Cork is a;sp on Facebook