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Knitting and nattering to help others

Written by Maryvonne Gray
on November 20, 2023

Every Monday afternoon a group of knitters gathers in the lounge of Evelyn Page Retirement Village for a knit and a natter.

As well as producing a mountain of beautiful knitted items to donate for charity, the ladies provide each other with friendship, support and most of all a good giggle.


There is even a sub-group who meet on a Saturday who call themselves the Knackered Knitters where the ante is upped, the music is broken out and the natter can get naughty!

“Yesterday we were dancing queens,” says Sue Hoy, who moved into the village 18 months ago.

“Sylvia knitted right through it,” she laughs.

“My feet were dancing!” adds Sylvia.

Each lady brings a different set of skills and strengths to the group.

Sylvia, 87, started knitting at four-years-old and can turn her hand to anything, including crochet, weaving, Japanese braiding, quilting and embroidering. She even dyes her own wool.

“When you’ve been around as long as I have, you’ve got to do something,” she says.

“We were in the UK during the war and we were going up north to visit Grandma’s.

“There was a woman knitting and she was looking out the window, and I thought I wanted to do that.”

Sue, who is known for her unique spiral-design blankets and shawls, using yarn in warm, rich colours and decorated with added adornments, nods her head.

“That’s what I like to do, you can do other things while you knit.

“I taught myself to knit and read at the same time at the age of eight-years-old,” she says.

“I knit in the dark and at the movies. I even paddle at the beach and I knit!”

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The Evelyn Page knit and natter group, from left to right: Zelma Tarrant, Noeline Foley, Sharon Richardson, Nola Bright, Sue Hoy, Sylvia Glenister, Carol Corbett, Norma Thomas, Colleen Gordon, Yvonne Flett, Lorraine Radaly and Lynda Charlton holding up some of their stunning creations.

Sylvia now teaches ladies living with dementia in the special care unit at the village to knit.

“My husband spent a couple of years in special care so I go up there once a week now.”

The ladies have great respect for her talent: “Sylvia knows more about yarn than anyone else in the village. She’s never without her knitting,” says Sue.

Yvonne is a good finisher and she also despatches the finished items to the various charities they support.

“We gave 50 blankets to Starship Children’s Hospital, 50 to the Women’s Refuge and 12 to the Women’s Auxiliary at Waitakere Hospital, along with six baby singlets and 40 beanies.

“Quite a lot of work has been done this year,” says Yvonne.

The Women’s Refuge also received six blankets and the hospital unit at the village received a further four.

Noeline Foley, a talented artist whose eyesight prohibits her from doing some of the more adventurous projects she used to do, still makes and effort to contribute.

“I just make lengths for the blankets. I think it’s a wonderful thing to do,” she says.

Sharon Richardson made the beanies and also 45 poppies for Anzac Day and Nola Bright is known for her beautiful, intricate creations, including a gorgeous knitted baby set.

Sue says that while they spend hours on their craft, the best way to loosen up after a long session is to attend all the exercise classes on offer at Evelyn Page.

“I find the Triple A classes have helped if you get a sore back.

“We like to keep ourselves busy, there’s tai chi, seated yoga, the Triple A. You can’t beat the Swiss ball up the wall – it’s basically a free back massage!”

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

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