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When Anne Kaszuba moved to the Parkbridge community of Martin Grove Village in Waterloo, Ontario, she wanted to share her lifetime love of knitting while making some new friends.

She decided the best way to do this was to start a knitting group. She reached out to the community office to find out how she could get the club off the ground.

“Back in 2014, the office manager suggested I put a notice on the community board. My husband came up with the name ‘Knit Wits’ for the group and designed a poster,” Anne says. “We immediately signed up 4 members and that has now grown to 14 women.”

MAKING FRIENDS WHILE GIVING BACK

Anne says some of the members didn’t really know how to knit when they joined, but they were able to learn the skill. Others use a knitting loom and there are also members who crochet.

The Knit Wits are a community social group, but their main purpose has become supporting local charities. Anne has been an avid knitter nearly her entire life. Before starting her club, she knitted hats for chemotherapy patients and donated them to the HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre in Waterloo. This inspired other Knit Wit members to extend their creations to charitable causes.

“We make shawls, toques, mittens, stuffed animals, blankets, all kinds of stuff for people and even animals in need,” says Anne. “Once we make our products, we send them to a local nursing home, a homelessness support organization, community centres, and blankets go to the humane society for cats and dogs. They even take them home when they get adopted!”

STAYING TOGETHER WHILE PHYSICALLY APART

The Knit Wits have become a popular group that the whole community knows and supports.  After it took off, Anne approached property management about supporting the club. She says Parkbridge now donates money annually to buy yarn and other supplies for their projects.

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped the Knit Wits from doing what they love. Anne says she spends much of her time “knitting up a storm” as there is still need at the charities they support. The club has been keeping in touch through email since they can’t meet in person. To comply with COVID safety, each member only uses yarn that can be washed in hot water and sanitized after charities receive the items.

“Before lockdown, we used to meet twice a month at someone’s home, with coffee, tea and snacks, Anne says. “In the summer, we could meet at a distance, outside in back yards. Now that we’re inside, it’s all done over email.”

The Knit Wits haven’t lost their spirit of fun, even while apart. They email each other funny jokes, updates on what they’re up to and they often catch up over the phone.

Martin Grove Village is residential land lease community where many seniors own their own homes and live independently. Anne says the Knit Wits members range in age from 65 to 84. She says having friends and close relationships with neighbours has been instrumental for her and other club members to get through the pandemic and feel supported. But even before the COVID-19 lockdowns in her area, Anne says it has been wonderful to live in a Parkbridge community with other seniors who share her interests.

Anne loves the charitable aspect of the Knit Wits, but the friendships she has made are even more valuable to her.

“It makes me feel really good. The women are a great bunch, we really get along well. We have lots of laughs and I’m really looking forward to meeting in person again.”

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