A Bert Sutcliffe knitter is adding giant-sized blankets for orphaned and rescued elephants to the long list of craft items created by the prolific village knitting group.
Marian McDonald heard about an elephant sanctuary in Thailand that was in need of blankets to keep their rescued elephants cosy in the cooler months, and it immediately caught her imagination.
“These poor elephants come to the sanctuary under fed and under nourished and with nowhere to go,” Marian explained.
“October, November and December are the coldest months particularly at night time.
“One of the ladies who helps them wrote to the retirement village knowing there are some avid knitters and it really appealed to me so I took up the challenge.
“I thought how often have I knitted an elephant blanket?! It will look wonderful on my cv!”
There are around 30 elephants in the Elephant Nature Park at Chiang Mai who have often been badly treated by handlers overworking them for tourist rides.
New Zealander and animal lover Martha Louise Asmus had visited the sanctuary and put the initial call out to the village.
The first blanket Marian knitted measures 2.5m x 1.5m which should fit an average size elephant.
“I love knitting and I do lots but this is the first time I have done something this big.”
“Everyone I talk to is quite amazed by it.
Jill Muir, Sue Harvey, Rae Baxter help Marian McDonald show off the huge blanket
Some blankets need to be big enough to fit the largest elephant in the sanctuary, at 3.5m x 3.5m and the beauty of them is they can be any colour or pattern.
With the latest lockdown providing plenty of extra time for more knitting, Marian says she has nearly completed another one.
“After my daily yoga and walk it’s nice to sit and listen to the radio or a podcast and do some knitting which is easy!” she says.
The knitting group at Bert Sutcliffe Retirement Village has earned a reputation for prolific output with 1,107 items made and donated to charity just from January to July this year.
Amongst the charities benefitting are Plunket, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, North Shore Hospital Special Care Baby Unit and the SPCA to name a few.
The group gives the knitters to share ideas and catch up on news
The beautifully crafted items typically include baby capes, beanies, booties, and of course blankets – for babies, kittens and now elephants.
One member of the group, Max McPhail, also known as chief pompom maker for the bobble hats, now uses his talents to make cute animals out of the pompoms.
The animals, which are also donated to local children’s charities, include tigers, crocodiles and snakes and some of them require 40 or more pompoms of varying sizes to create.
Max says each animal takes around five hours to make and all he uses as reference is his imagination.
Knitting group coordinator Sue Harvey said any donations for more wool for the group were always welcome, as were any new knitters who wished to join.