A seasoned stitcher from Midlothian has put her nimble fingers to good use creating a variety of Christmas teddies to support local charities to help people over the winter months.
Irene Bishop, 69, who lives at Bield’s Whitehill Lodge in Dalkeith, has completed over 15 intricately designed knits, including penguins, logs, snowmen and Santa Clauses.
The teddies, which were all completed over a two-month period, have been donated to raffles or given to charities to help make a difference over the winter months.
Irene said: “I have been knitting for over 30 years non-stop. It keeps my hands busy and my mind off of a lot of things.
“I started when I moved to Malta in the 70s, and would create and sell Christian display crafts out of lace and wool.
“I used patterns out of magazines and was even part of a knitting circle to begin with.
“I have made some more traditional-style toys, but I also knit scarves, cardigans, hats and socks.”
Earlier this year, Irene also completed designs for Trauma Teddies to help support a Children 1st campaign.
Comforting knitted teddies were created to be given to children by police who are in need of reassurance after experiencing a distressing or criminal incident that has occurred to them.
Irene took up the call from the children’s charity to help provide teddies to police officers to help soothe distressed children.
“I have also knitted dog coats for the RSPCA and over 200 hats for premature babies in Africa,” Irene added.
“It’s all just second nature to me. I knit most of the day and only put my pins down for a tea break.
“It just keeps me occupied.”
Although active with her pins and needles, Irene hasn’t always been able to undertake her much-loved hobby.
Since moving back to Scotland with her Maltese husband Tony, she has unfortunately suffered three strokes.
Irene said: “It hasn’t been easy but I think that it is important to keep yourself mentally and physically active when you can.
“Knitting is my way of concentrating and staying on the ball with the patterns.
“I have tried tapestry and crochet, which I never really got into.
“However, these are things I would like to try again in the New Year – it’s nice to learn new things.
“I’ve tried to teach a few people how to knit. If someone needs something shown to them, like if they have made a mistake, then I can tell them. I’m willing to try and help people so that they can get into things like this.”
“I have just finished a variety of Christmas teddies, which I have donated to raffles, charity and given as gifts. I enjoy knitting more at this time of year.
“There is nothing better than seeing the joy on the face of a child receiving one of your knits.
“It makes it all worthwhile.
“One of the ladies in here is 92 years old and she is going to be a grandma.
“I have started a blanket for the new baby and another cardigan. The baby is due just a couple of days before Christmas which is exciting.”
Knitting a snowman takes Irene about a day and she has completed six of them, including a husband and wife set.
“I’ve done six Santas too. One of the snowmen and a Santa is for the development to raffle off at Whitehill Lodge,” Irene explained. “They are handmade so they are something different for the tenants in here.
Resident’s at Whitehill Lodge is a Bield development for those aged 60 and over who want to be able to retain their independence while having help on hand when needed.
Bield has been providing housing and related services for older people in Scotland for more than 40 years.
The Evening News has teamed up with Tesco, Network Rail, Hibs, Hearts, NHS Lothian and the Scottish Government this year to run our Edinburgh Cheer Christmas campaign – aiming to make the city and the Lothians the “Capital of Kindness”.
Whether it’s inviting someone to lunch or donating items to a local food bank, the campaign is designed to show how easily we can all give something back.