Mary Wood retires the knitting needles
by Brighton Council
The first time Mary Wood tried knitting, she was twelve years old and her sister had asked her to knit a complicated jumper. Unfortunately Mary found the pattern too difficult and much to her sister’s disappointment, ended up making a completely different jumper instead! However, something about weaving the wool with her knitting needles Mary found extremely soothing and enjoyable, and thus a life-long passion began. Now 82, Mary’s love for knitting has spanned seven decades, and she has recently retired from the Bridgewater Community Knitting Group after being a founding member for 15 years. It was her friend Robyn Bishop who pitched her the idea. A social worker at the time, Robyn wanted a place where people could come to relax, knit, talk, and have a cuppa. Robyn had seen some of Mary’s work before and asked her if she would like to teach some of the ladies how to knit. Mary was thrilled as this was something that she had wanted to do for a long time. “At the time my sister-in-law had passed away and she was a great knitter,” said Mary. “She had heaps and heaps of wool she had stashed. Every time wool was on special, she’d buy some.” Her family had no idea what to do with all the wool, so they gave it to Mary who then donated it to the knitting group. The knitting group was established on 1 May, 2007 and has been running ever since. “We were a little light on people at first, but after a while the group just grew and grew.”
The group has knitted for charities such as Operation Christmas Child where they donated boxes of beanies, as well as for St Vincent De Paul, The Salvation Army, and City Mission. “We had one lady who was knitting for neonatal babies. All the stuff that she knitted went up to the neonatal ward at the Royal.” The group even knitted blankets for the dogs home and the cat centre. “If something was not quite right with our blankets, we sent them to the cats home because the cats don’t mind!” Recently, Mary retired from her group due to the risk of Covid as well as to be able to pursue other hobbies. “The thing is with Covid, nearly everybody left and found other things to do. I want to try and start weaving but I need some help with that. I hope the knitting group keeps going and that they still love it as I did. I wouldn’t like to see it closed because it’s such a great form of relaxation. It was my favourite group to go to.”
“I recently came across one of the ladies who had come to my knitting group for a long time, and she said, ‘Mary, you taught me to knit and that opened up a whole new world for me!’ I felt so proud.” One of the ladies in the Community Knitting Group has now taken over Mary’s role of teaching others how to knit and crochet.
The Knitting Group meet at the Community Health Centre in Bridgewater every Tuesday from 12pm-2pm.