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Chase away chills with homemade woolens that are yours for the taking

Chase the Chill Newmarket founder Sarah Alexander has stockpiled 350 hand-knitted hats, scarves and mittens for residents who find themselves out in the cold this winter.
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In the time it takes to binge-watch two episodes of your favourite Netflix series, Sarah Alexander has knitted a warm, winter hat.

The Newmarket knitting aficionado loves knitting so much, she admits with unabashed pride that she knits one hat a day.

“Once I got the hang of knitting, I knit at the movies, while I’m walking, waiting in the car,” Alexander said, adding the chunky yarn ‘Charisma’ is one of the best with which to knit.

Watching her cast stitches onto a pair of circular knitting needles is poetry in motion. One ball of yarn is all it takes to make a hat, she added.

Alexander, who works as a nurse and at the Newmarket Public Library, decided to share the results of her passion for knitting with residents in need of warmth during our harsh winter months.

Three years ago, she started a local chapter of the United States-based Chase the Chill, a movement that began a decade ago in Pennsylvania with the goal of displaying one-of-a-kind, hand-knitted and crocheted scarves in public places that people were encouraged to take for free, via a note pinned to the item, if they were in need.

Alexander’s idea was to tie the hand-knit scarves around local trees downtown with a tag stating, “I am not lost, take me if you are cold”.

But the Town of Newmarket objected to that idea in 2015 on the grounds that wet wool could damage the young trees in the area, and scarves that happened to fall down and get buried under snow could pose a safety hazard for residents, as well as snow removal equipment.

So, while you won’t find any of the colourful and craftsy homemade woolens tacked to trees this winter, they’re yours for the taking from the display case just inside the library doors from Nov. 15 to 29. January to March display dates are in the works, but details are yet to be confirmed. The library is donating the space for the cause.

“We had about 300 people who took hats, scarves and mitts last year,” Alexander said, of the items she knit herself, along with handmade items made and donated by others. “They are there for anybody who is cold. Come and help yourselves.”

Right now, Alexander has 350 pieces ready to go. Donations of yarn and knitted items are always welcome, she said, as are guests at the informal knitting group that gets together at the library Thursdays from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

For more information on Chase the Chill Newmarket, visit Facebook




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Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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