Creative collective recycles art into blankets for elderly

Knitters Mary Stewart, Betty Heeps and Laura Kempton Smith
Knitters Mary Stewart, Betty Heeps and Laura Kempton Smith
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A COLLECTION of 700 knitted squares which last year decorated trees in Leith Links has been recycled into blankets for the elderly, young children and animals.

Members of the Anything Goes Knitting Group created the squares for the Cool Wool art project at the Leith Gala Day which saw around 20 trees and a park bench swathed in woollen scarves.

Although the day was blighted by heavy downpours, the squares survived and at the end of the gala the knitters rescued their contributions and took them away to dry out.

Since then they have been carrying out minor repairs and stitching the squares together into blankets and other gifts.

Residents of Marionville Court residential home in Lochend yesterday received a special delivery of 12 blankets, six shawls, a bed jacket, and a throw. They have all been individually embroidered to make them bright and colourful for their new owners.

Also receiving blankets were the Early Years Nursery in North Fort Street, and the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home.

The 14-member knitting group is part of the Edinburgh Ageing Well Project, which promotes healthy lifestyles for people over the age of 50, and is a partnership between NHS Lothian, Edinburgh Leisure and Pilmeny Development Project.

Ageing Well coordinator Kath Laing said: “The knitting group were very keen to get involved in some community activities and they saw it as giving something back to the community. It was an excellent venture for them, and we got lots of coverage for the group, so we were delighted.

“After the festival was over we took all our squares away and recycled them. They weren’t in too bad condition, we brought them back here and dried them off and the ladies redid them.”

By removing the squares from the trees as soon as the Gala Day ended they avoided the same fate of some of the other squares used in the project, which were taken down from the trees and turned into a fabric teepee. It is thought that the “alternative installation” was created by children, who also used branches which blew down from the trees during the gala day’s poor weather.

Marionville Court assistant manager Helen Lillie welcomed the gift.

“The residents are delighted that they’re involved, especially as it’s people from the community that are gifting them,” she said. “Because of the story, people think that it’s a really nice idea and to know that somebody would want to give us gifts makes the residents feel very grateful – they’ve all made thank you cards, and it will maybe inspire them to think what they can do to get involved in the community.”

The council’s health and social care leader Paul Edie said: “It’s a terrific wee project and anything that can keep our older people active and interested is to be welcomed, and if it involves drawing together people from across the community, that’s really great.”