Halifax women help co-ordinate knitting of tuques for Syrian refugees

Two Halifax women are putting their knitting needles together for Syrian refugees as part of a wider national effort to make 25,000 tuques.

3,100 tuques have been knitted as part of a national knitting campaign that started in Quebec

Wenda MacDonald and Helen Langille sport toques they've knitted with Louise Renault (centre), Don Connolly (far left) and Peter Coade (far right) of CBC Halifax's Information Morning. (Information Morning/CBC)

Two Halifax women are putting their knitting needles together for Syrian refugees as part of a wider, national effort to make 25,000 tuques.

Wenda MacDonald and Helen Langille are self-proclaimed "yarn addicts" with a desire to keep inbound refugees warm through their first Canadian winter.

They've helped coordinate Nova Scotia's contribution to the knitting campaign, started by Danielle Letourneau in Quebec. The national effort has so far generated 3,100 tuques. 

"Being a yarn addict, I was just going through some Facebook websites and came across her website," MacDonald told CBC Halifax's Information Morning. 

"I thought it was a fantastic idea and looked around if there was any such thing in Nova Scotia. And there wasn't."

Around the same time, another knitting enthusiast Rebecca Blanchard, had already started her own group. The two found each and "quickly put our efforts together," MacDonald said.

The two started a website and yarn addicts from across Nova Scotia were knitted together by a desire to help others.

Networking drop-off sites

"[It was] a whole group of women, including Helen," MacDonald said.

Langille started knitting hats for refugees because she didn't have the required $20,000 to sponsor a refugee for a year.

"There's all kinds of things — you knit to relieve stress and that's about the nicest way to say it. I got involved because I have been collecting all this yarn and I saw this group popped up as it was making the rounds on Facebook." 

But Langille, a Dalhousie graduate, had already started to help in her own way before joining the knitting brigade.

She set up a network of drop-offs through the university's Novanet library, which collects books and delivers them to libraries across the province.

Her thought was — why can't that system be used for tuques too? 

"The rest, as they say, is history," she said. 

There are now knitting drop-off sites at yarn stores in addition to the universities.

"We're not quite sure how many are knitting right now. We put the page up at the end of November and we have well over 300 likes and so far over 100 tuques have come in," MacDonald said.

"I really like the action of knitting and the idea a handmade item that you can give and often times you're giving the gifts that you knit."

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