By Jacey Conway, Federation of Calgary Communities
Having good conversations, meeting new people, and learning new skills– all while giving back to those in need– was what the Bowness Yarn-a-thon was all about.
The Bowness Community Association’s (BCA) first-ever Yarn-a-thon event on July 25, 2019 attracted knitters and crocheters from across the city.
Brenda Ault and Lee-Ann Baines came up with the idea after chatting about the lack of activities for older adults during the summer in the community of Bowness and beyond.
“It is a time to come and meet your neighbour and enjoy fun and conversation,” explains Ault.
The two ladies began to plan the event in May with the help of a few others, including members from United Way and Carya. The biggest obstacle was getting wool for the event, as that cost was not feasible for the community to cover.
The ladies rallied together, and, with the help of United Way and several anonymous donors, they gathered enough wool for the event. The quality of wool ranged from gently used to brand new, but all of it was greatly appreciated and put to good use during the event.
Most who attended the event were seasoned knitters or crocheters, but the event was set up to cater to all ages and skill levels, including those who were just learning. Hat patterns, needles and hooks were made available for anyone who was just beginning or needed to refresh their skillset.
Between the clicking of needles and hooks, a hum of conversation filled the event as neighbours met each other and made connections.
“The yarn is only a tool to the conversation,” says Shannon Keetch, a knitter who drove out from Crossroads for the event.
Any hats, mittens or scarfs made during the Yarn-a-thon could be put in the donation bin set up to help a person in need. The donation bin was an idea from Ault who has often seen young kids and teens playing at the park in the middle of winter without proper winter clothes. Prior to moving to Alberta, Ault had donated her knit goods to her church in B.C., and the cold winters inspired her to do the same here in Calgary.
The Yarn-a-thon presented a great opportunity for the community to come together and help those who may need a hat to keep them warm in the winter.
“The yarn we have today is donated so we might as well donate the finished product,” Ault explains.
The BCA will work with partner organizations this winter to find good homes for donated scarfs, mitts and toques.
Baines, who works with the BCA, encourages other communities to put on community actions such as this. Events such as a Yarn-a-thon are low budget, involve community members, and can make a difference in the community says Baines.
“We forget how easy it can be,” she says. “All you need is some posters, tables and chairs, and a little bit of food.”
The Yarn-a-thon was a big hit and there is already talk of putting on another one in a few months. Several ladies from other communities are also hoping to put on more events like this to involve members of the community and make more knitted goods to donate to those in need during the winter.
“It’s been a slice!” says Ault.