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HELPERS: Newmarket seniors' group yarning for good causes

Seniors, premature babies, hospital workers, and the homeless are just a few of the groups who have received special hand-knit and crocheted items from YARNS (You are Really Necessary Seniors)

Spinning a yarn for friends is something a lot of people have done before – but for a group of committed knitters and crocheters in Newmarket, yarning is more than just sharing a good story and conversation with friends.

That’s because the members of local group YARNS (You are Really Necessary Seniors) enjoy both meanings of the word – spending quality social time together each week, and hand-knitting and crocheting hats, gloves, blankets, toys, and more – all for the very best of causes.

Formed five years ago when Newmarket’s Dianne Wood reached out through a community Facebook group for strangers interested in knitting hats for premature babies in Southlake’s NICU, YARNS has since evolved into a group of close friends – not all seniors – who spend their time supporting a rotating batch of causes including seniors’ homes, shelters, and palliative care, hospital workers, and people who simply just need something to make them smile.

Coming together from across the Newmarket area every Thursday, the 12-strong group – who boast a growing community on Facebook – diligently focus their crafting efforts in support of different groups, individuals, and causes in need.

“I want to provide a place where any woman can drop in and not be alone,” said Dianne Wood.

The latest cause YARNS has supported is a local one: the Fill a Purse For a Sister Campaign, which donates bags filled with personal necessities to domestic violence and women’s shelters, rape crisis centres, and other social services that support women. In support of the women and youth in crisis who receive the bags, YARNS created hats, scarfs, and mittens – as well as some handmade purses to house them.

Last summer, YARNS participated in the yarn bombing of Fairy Lake’s bridge, bringing awareness to deafblindness in Canada. Other recent initiatives include making memorial angels for palliative care homes, mittens and other warm clothes for the homeless, special clothes, blankets, and toys for premature babies, and warm shawls and lapghans for people in hospice and nursing homes.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, YARNS collaborated with other local groups to create cotton “ear-savers” for local doctors and nurses, preventing their ears from getting sore after prolonged mask wearing.

The group relies on materials donated by the community, asking for unwanted or unneeded yarn, wool, cotton, and more on the Newmarket What’s Happening Facebook page. YARNS member Brenda is a “master” at putting together the mismatched material to create truly beautiful pieces, said Wood.

“We use up pretty well everything we can in most cases,” said Wood. “We even make pompoms with the little tiny balls we get to put on hats.”

Those interested in joining YARNS can reach out through the group’s Facebook page or attend an upcoming meeting in person or over Zoom.