Almost 10 years ago, parishioners at St Fillan’s, Newport-on-Tay started a ‘Nifty Knitting Group’ which gathered monthly to knit, have coffee and chat. Their efforts have bow gone half way around the world and they have been join by many of the local churches – and others without a faith connection.
“Everyone is welcome,” said parishioner Anne Meiland, “and since 2012, we have knitted and delivered locally and abroad to those people living in poverty and sometimes with great poverty. Quite recently, the group tallied that they had knitted almost 12,000 items ranging from all kinds of baby clothes, children’s and adult’s jumpers, hats gloves socks and leg warmers and nine inch squares to stitch together into blankets.”
“Our outlets, locally, go to Ninewells Neonatal Maternity Care (Dundee); the Salvation Army (Dundee); Refugee Crisis (Tayport) bringing care to people in crisis fleeing from war such as Syria; the Leng Home (Newport); and the Mission to Seafarers.”
“To those abroad, we send, either by post or link up with groups already active in foreign countries including Blythswood Care (Romania); Raphael Centre (South Africa); Kascare (South Africa); Mission International (Africa); Karutu Foundation (Tanzania); Lubasi Home (Zambia); the Raven Trust (Malawi) – Comfort Rwanda, via Arbroath High School, – Ann Gloag Foundation (Africa) – Carpathian Aid (Romania) – Holy Cross School (South Africa) – Cooler/Willets, refugees in Nepal and Afghanistan, and, – the Bananabox Trust, trading from Dundee and delivering to Africa and also the nuns in Nigeria.”
“The initial idea for some kind of group was the result of two of our number reading the book ‘Half the Sky’ by Nicholas D. Kristof and his wife – a non- fiction book that argues that the oppression of women worldwide is the paramount moral challenge of the present era, much as the fight against slavery was in the past. The title comes from the statement by Mao Zedong, meaning, ‘women make up half the sky'”.
“After some discussion, the two women concerned decided that they would like to try to form some kind of group that would help women. The detail, however, as to what this group would do, was another matter! But fate or the Holy Spirit had other ideas – because suddenly, our group of two was increased by one person, and, she was a wonderful knitter. Not that this really registered with us because neither of us had shown any prowess with regard to the noble art of knitting. But, then, through the local news we were made aware of a knitting group in Kelty, already involved in donating abroad, and so we decided to deliver some items to them, largely done by our expert knitter.”
“This might have been the end of our short career of knitting but our paths then crossed with some other enthusiastic knitters in Newport and Tayport, (from the various Churches in the area, and, indeed, with no alliance to a Church), who liked the idea of forming a knitting group with us. But over the years our group has grown even further because we now have a number of talented people in Dundee, Tayport and Newport who, for various reasons, knit from home.”
“Their output is prodigious, and, so too, are the balls of wool they provide us with. Yes, the Nifty Knitting Group has taken wings and no two people are more surprised than the two women, who with little talent for knitting, read the book, ‘Half The Sky’ because we like to think that if all the wool our group had knitted, and the ends had been tied the together and laid out on the ground, the wool would most likely have reached our furthermost country of donation is Nepal – on the other side of the world – and right under – half the sky!”
“Yes, I hear you say, but, there is still another half! So, if we can make one plea – but we never have enough double knitting wool!”
At St Fillan’s (Newport) and Our Lady Star of the Sea (Tayport), parish priest Mgr Martin Drysdale thanked the Nifty Knitters for their massive efforts of the years.
Please get in touch with Anne Meiland through Dunkeld News if you have any donations of wool to support this great work.