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Yarn bomb bike bonds Keith Park crafters

Written by Maryvonne Gray
on May 15, 2024

When Keith Park Retirement Village Manager Kim Dawson posed an unusual challenge to the village craft group the response was… well, bemused at best!

Inspired by colourful adornments she’d seen on trees in Hobsonville, Kim challenged the group of knitters and crocheters to ‘yarn bomb’ an old $1 bicycle that Resident Experience Coordinator Maree Herman found online.

“I said ‘what the heck? How are we ever going to do this?” says Raewyn Darrach.

“I thought it was quite a ridiculous suggestion!” laughs Janet Crighton.


Janice Bennington says she decided to look online for inspiration and then gradually everyone started bringing ideas to the group.

Linda Philson crocheted the insides of the wheels with some extra patchwork on the front one, and covered the handlebars before adding tassles.

“Once the wheels got done, that was huge,” says Sylvia Hoskin, who crocheted a multi-coloured covering for the frame.

Meanwhile Patricia Ives made the flowers: “It took me 40 hours to make. The sewing on was the hardest, making the actual flowers was reasonably simple.”

Janet and Auriel Andrews did the pedals and used pipe cleaners to wrap around some of the cables while Philippa Brown made some extra colourful strips and Mary Soole provided the mice that run up the frame.

Lyn O’Connor, who had given away all her knitting needles before she moved into the village due to her deteriorating vision, made some patchwork strips and hearts, and surprised herself with what she could do.

“I never thought I’d knit again, but I realised I can still do it,” she says, adding how excited she was to show it off to her children when they next visit.

Kathy Barnes did the mudguards and some flowers and says the project became a great icebreaker.

“I’d seen a lot of the people around the village but I hadn’t talked to them so this has brought us all closer.”

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Above: Keith Park Village Manager Kim Dawson who inspired the residents to work on the colourful creation, and top: The talented knitters and crocheters of Keith Park Retirement Village with their yarn bombed bike, from left: Mary Soole, Sylvia Hoskin, Patricia Ives, Janet Crighton, Linda Philson, Auriel Andrews, Janice Bennington, Lyn O’Connor, Philippa Brown, Raewyn Darrach, Maureen Lyon and Kathy Barnes.

Village Manager Kim says listening to the ladies giggling away outside her office was a delight: “I could hear Patricia and Raewyn, to hear their banter you wouldn’t know they’d never met before they moved into the village, it was like listening to a comedy act!”

Says Janice, who made the basket and lots of little flowers: “We enjoy the company, we like to sit and chat to each other, and we’ve learned more about each other. This has helped us gel as a group, we just get on so well.”

Raewyn, who covered both front and back tyres as well as crocheting the seat for Patricia to attach the flowers, credits Janice for being the motivating force.

“Janice kept us all together.”

Maureen Lyon, who added a zig zag pattern to the wheel and decorated the mice, agrees: “Janice has done a sterling job and held us all together and encouraged us.”

Janice admits that sometimes the project became frustrating, and it was more a case of F bomb than yarn bomb, but she is immensely proud of the group effort.

“What’s so wonderful about it, there’s a little bit of everyone in here, and it hasn’t been one person saying ‘do this or do that’, it’s been a real collaboration,” says Janice.

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The finished bike has now become a real talking point for all visitors to the village.

Originally, the plan was to have the bike completed in time for Mother’s Day and then donate it to a worthy cause. However, the ladies have become so attached to it they are now reluctant to let it go.

Village Manager Kim says seeing the ladies grow closer over a shared purpose has been wonderful, with their next project set to be making twiddle muffs for people living with dementia and some dragon flies for hospice.

“Before it would just be three or four of them bringing their individual projects along, but this has really bonded everyone together and now there’s a big group. I’m so proud of them all!”

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.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Group Corporate Affairs Manager Silke Marsh on +64 27 294 3609 or Communications Advisor Maryvonne Gray on 027 552 0767.

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