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Kensington Knitters do it again

December, 2009

Carefully lined up on the improvised sales counter, the merchandise looked like toy soldiers preparing to go forth on their mission. Cozy and colourful, the knitted hats stood proudly on islands of rolled up matching scarves, meant to warm regular, little and very little heads. Baby blankets and doggie sweaters completed the tableau.

Within seconds, a whole faction of the army was gone, destined for grandchildren who were “just turning 40” and great grand-children “just now being born.” The clock was just creeping up to 11 a.m. and the Kensington Knitters’ Famous Hat Sale hadn’t even begun.

The sale is an offshoot of the knitters’ raison d’être for the last nine years, the production and exhibition of blankets, toques and all kinds of knitted goodies created for the street kids of Dans La Rue, an organization founded by Father Emmett Johns. This year, as every year, there was a fashion show and Pops had come to collect the gifts in person.

Miriam Berger, founder of the knitters, was busy waiting on staff and residents who had come to browse, try and buy the lovely items at the sale. But veteran Knitter Elinor Cohen explained that the Knitters had a triple purpose: to help kids directly and by raising money (proceeds from the sale and an upcoming raffle are earmarked for the Montreal Children’s Hospital), to involve the residents at whatever level they choose, and to create the very special community that the Kensington Knitters has become.

From left: Elinor Cohen, Pauline Ouimet, Libby O’Brien, Jewel Poch, Miriam Berger Photo: Kristine Berey

“It keeps us involved,” Cohen said. “Each one makes something they’re capable of doing. One lady makes just baby blankets. Some do one square, then they bring it to me and I crochet around the edges.” Including both autonomous and assisted living, Cohen estimates there are 30 participating knitters at Place Kensington.

You don’t have to be “big on knitting” to be a Kensington Knitter. Anna Tencer, 103 next April, says that though she knows the craft, her mom was the real expert. “She used to knit and I used to watch,” she recalls. Along with her visiting daughter-in-law Beverly, who is “more like a daughter,” she got drafted some time ago into the knitters’ army and winds the yarn, making sure people have different colours to work with. “Somebody has to prepare the wool,” says the six-time great grandmother. “Any good that you can do is important.”



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