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Knitting volunteers Margaret Morritt, Judy Gould, Carol Wilkes and Kay Cunnington among a sea of knitted and crocheted items. The handcrafted goods are ready to be packed and shipped to Ukraine. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

Cover Up display shows off its threads

The Thames Civic centre was piled high with blankets, scarves, hats, jumpers and all manner of knitted and crocheted goods, as the annual Operation Cover Up display made its appearance.

The event, now 22 years old, was held from June 30 to July 1. More than 400 blankets and 600 jerseys, as well as a multitude of other items, were on display before being packed for shipping to Ukraine, where they will be donated to refugees and other people in need. 

Rows and rows of tables were overflowing with the colourful items. Each piece was handcrafted and donated by people from the peninsula to the plains and beyond, and coordinator Carol Wilkes said they had no idea exactly how many people had actually contributed. 

“Some people belong to groups and get together and knit, but then there’s others who just knit and … drop it off at one of our dropoff points or something and we really don’t know who they are,” she said. 

“The women of the peninsula have just knitted up a storm!”

The items are collected under the umbrella of Mission Without Borders, and each year they are sent on to Eastern Europe, where winter temperatures can reach a low of -25 degrees celsius. 

Mission Without Borders volunteer Margaret Morritt has visited the orphanages of Eastern Europe. She said seeing the kids receiving their knitwear was incredible, and the people were always so grateful for the support. 

“They print thank you cards sometimes and send them over with pictures of the kids with their blankets wrapped around them and with their jerseys on,” she said. 

“One of the women … actually wrote a letter in her own language, her own hand, and she said, ‘I really like the blanket you sent me, I wrap it around myself when I go out to milk my cow.’”

Operation Cover Up was always looking for new knitters, Carol said, and they were keen to welcome younger people to the group as well. 

“We really need to get more of what we’re doing out there so that we can get a younger perspective, a younger generation come in and just – maybe even help, that would be lovely!”

Goods were also welcome at any time of the year. 

“The blankets are the main thing, but our people were a bit inclined to want to branch out from things like that, and so some people just love to do jerseys and other things, hats and scarves and slippers,” Margaret said.

For those who aren’t interested in knitting a full blanket, 20 cm squares are also accepted as these can be stitched together into a blanket. Wool is preferred over acrylic yarn, as it is warmer, and donations of wool or money are also welcome.

To donate or enquire about Operation Cover Up, contact Carol Wilkes on 021 265 8215. Items can be dropped off at the Thames Christian Bookshop, Needles & Pins, or by phoning Judy Gould on 07 868 6899. 

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air