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Knitters heat up for ‘need a scarf, take a scarf’ event

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Cathy Dobson

If Pam Wong has it her way, no one in Sarnia-Lambton will be without a scarf this winter.

She and a dedicated group of about 30 local knitters have spent months making scarves and neck warmers to hand out to others.

“I love knitting and a lot of us like to have a purpose to our craft,” Wong said. “Since I was a child, I’ve knit all the time. This project makes it necessary.”

Wong is the founder of The Scarf Project – Canada, an online group of knitters modelled after a group started in Colorado three years ago.

In 2016, U.S. founder Toni Kaltenbaugh rounded up enough knitters to produce 100 scarves and handed them out to nursing homes, homeless centres, domestic abuse shelters and similar organizations. This year, Kaltenbaugh’s group has knit more than 1,500 scarves.

Wong became the Canadian founder last winter after knitting scarves for youth at The Hub in Sarnia.

“It’s one of those organic things that happen,” she said.

She created a Facebook page (The Scarf Project – Canada) and had an immediate response, from knitters and people willing to donate wool.

One woman in Grand Bend named Cathy Billings contacted Wong and donated several bags of wool.

“Cathy was ill and wanted to clear out her huge amounts of wool,” said Wong.  “That gave us our big start.  It means that anyone who wants to knit scarves can contact me and we can provide the wool and needles.

“All you need is to know the basics of knitting.”

Billings died shortly after making the donation. Her contribution to The Scarf Project – Canada is being recognized on Nov. 15 when anyone who needs a scarf can pick one up at The Lawrence House Centre for the Arts.

“This event is in memory of Cathy Billings,” said Wong.

Knitters across Sarnia-Lambton have produced about 120 scarves and neck warmers that will be hung from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on the fence surrounding the Lawrence House, 127 Christina St. S. Any not taken will be distributed at places where there is a need.

“If you need a scarf, take a scarf,” said Wong.

She not only knits dozen of scarves for the project, she also co-ordinates wool donations and delivery.

Small groups of friends have started to get together to knit for the project, Wong said. Others prefer to knit on their own and stay connected online.

“Very few of us buy wool for this,” she added. “People who have a stash of it at home give it to me by the bag. I’ve also had donations from wool shops and church groups.

“Everyone is very generous.”

On Nov. 15, a sign-up sheet will be available at the Lawrence House for anyone who wants to join the knitters. Finished knit scarves and neck warmers are accepted throughout the year at The Lawrence House.

For now, The Scarf Project in Canada is Sarnia-based but Wong hopes it will grow into a national endeavor.

“Our motto is keeping the community warm one scarf at a time,” said Wong.  “The concept is simple and it’s really working.”


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