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Resident Stories: York House residents band together to knit blankets for premature babies

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Three residents at York House in Dereham have banded together to form a knitting circle, creating over 500 squares to be turned into blankets for premature babies in local hospitals.

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Josephine Barrett-Leonard, Cynthia Turrell and Tricia Pead are accomplished knitters, having been practicing the hobby for many, many years. Staff noticed that the three ladies were often found watching television in the lounge or in the armchairs in their room with bags of wool on their lap creating beautiful knitted treasures – and they had an idea.

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By starting a knitting club which meets monthly they were able to encourage friendships between the three women who clearly had similar interests and a wonderful initiative was born.

Having heard that local neonatal units throughout the East of England were calling out for knitted blankets for premature babies the ladies got to work. At their meetings, and in the majority of their free time, they knit perfect squares carefully counting the stitches to ensure that all of their squares can be sewn together to create blankets just the right size for the tiny babies.

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They fill carrier bags with beautifully crafted knitted squares before they are then picked up and taken to a local centre where a separate group of volunteers stitch four of the squares together to form one blanket. The finished blankets are then transported to hospitals across the region to help keep the babies warm.

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Josephine has bags full waiting to be picked up, and she’s now so practiced in creating the squares she has a pile beside her bed which resembles a miniature skyscraper.

She can finish a square in under five minutes. Josephine has always been a creative lady, and this isn’t the only project she’s got going on currently. She’s been completing intricate detailed 1000 piece puzzles and is going to glue and frame them for the walls of the home.

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Tricia is consistently knitting; bringing her trusty ball of wool with her to the lounge, the dining room, and even when she’s taken out on trips. She said:

Every spare minute is an opportunity to knit a square, it doesn’t take very long and you get faster the more you do it and it could make such a difference to those little babies.

Tricia has another trick up her sleeve as she’s able to intertwine different thicknesses of wool to ensure that the blankets are free of holes and as warm and soft as they can possibly be for the baby's sensitive skin. All of the wool the trio use to knit the blankets is donated by local groups or individuals and dropped off at the home, and Tricia ensures that even if the wool isn’t the correct thickness it will still be used.

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When we spoke to Cynthia she was sitting in her window knitting away in quiet contemplation, her squares laid out in front of her with pride. She couldn’t resist showing off the wonderful gradient effects she had managed to achieve and the vibrant colours she had stitched. Cynthia said:

Not only does it mean my hobby is going towards something positive but it keeps my mind busy, and it keeps my hands doing the things I want them to do.

York House are inviting anyone who has some spare balls of wool lying around to bring it to the home and donate it so the ladies can continue their good work to help babies in need in our local area.

You can find all the contact details and address on the home’s page by clicking here.

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