‘Knit-Stitch’, an inter-generational pilot project launched last May by Meath eco education business ‘Wool in School’, sent a large number of its kits to nursing homes this Christmas.
The kits use Irish wool and promote Irish heritage.
‘Knit-Stitch’ aims to promote inter-generational learning by creating new possibilities and connections with children and older adults through the tradition of knitting by facilitating interaction between schools, nursing homes and older relatives in the community.
“We believe that they bring a bit of magic to Christmas for lots of people in nursing homes,” said fibre artist, Lorna McCormack.
“We realise that the invisible thread between older people and children has become frayed and no better way to make it stronger than by wool.
“The children and the nursing home residents all knit a beautiful bunting to represent togetherness.”
The project focuses on creating awareness of sustainability and environmental issues, with an emphasis on Irish wool. Lorna teaches children how to develop sustainable practices, with workshops hosted in schools and libraries, when restrictions are not in place.
“We also had a ‘stop, drop and go‘ facility where we would leave an airline trolley with the school, packed with wool and goodies to be explored by the children,” Lorna said.
“We are delighted to use an organic wool for this project, with origins from a farm in Kildare,” Lorna said.
From farm to fabric
“We introduce teachers and children to wool from farm to fabric, looking at its properties and benefits, including why it is the eco fibre of the future. We encourage children to understand the heritage of wool while exploring its uses today,” said Lorna.
Fostering inter-generational learning is more important now due to the impact of Covid-19 on communities, she said.
“‘Wool in School’ aims to bring a learning opportunity which will enrich all involved, encouraging understanding and respect between generations,” she added.
The children and the nursing home residents knit the same pieces, working from illustrated booklets. Benefits, Lorna said, include reduced isolation; breaking down barriers and reinforcing community connection.
“Designed with sustainability in mind, our inter-generational ‘Knit-Stitch’ project provides kits which include organic wool, needles and an illustrated pattern,” Lorna said.
The cotton bag kits come with packed wool and needles for children and a separate Covid-friendly bag for the older participants.
The nursing home residents pass on their tips to the children through Facetime, WhatsApp and Zoom calls, because of Covid-19 restrictions.
One of the participating children was able to link up with a grandparent in Mayo who they hadn’t seen throughout the pandemic.
“It’s all about connections,” said Lorna.
“We had Monaghan and Laois county councils sponsor nursing homes in their areas and we have more local authorities coming on board, funding this project in their areas, and we are looking forward to that.”