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Near ninety-year-old knitting for women in need

Ruth Hare working on one of her hand knitted blankets for Awhina House.

Ruth Hare’s hands are riddled with arthritis, but that doesn’t stop her from doing what she loves most, knitting blankets for people in need.

The 89-year-old has been knitting blankets for charity since 2003, donating her most recent bunch to Tauranga’s homeless women shelter, Awhina House.

Ruth says knitting with arthritis makes it slow and there is some pain. However, she doesn’t let the ‘minor’ inconveniences get in the way of what is important.

“I wasn’t ever a fast knitter but I was steady. I am very slow now with my hands, and my thumbs get quite sore.

“There are so many people that can’t afford to stay warm themselves, and I just go in and buy wool from Spotlight. It’s an interest to myself and very necessary to do.”

Awhina House general manager Angela Wallace says they were stoked to receive the hand knitted blankets.

“They are gorgeous blankets she has made, brightly coloured and really cosy. The women snuggle up on the couch with them, watch TV and hang out.

“We feel very special to have those blankets, there’s so much love been put into hand knitting them. They do just make it nice and homely, like a warm and welcoming place.”

Ruth has two other members from local community group Conversation Cafe who help her assemble the blankets.

Heather Denham crotchets edging around the blankets and Patsy Whistler sews the knitted strips together.

The Mount Maunganui resident worked professionally as a knitter for many years, specialising in Aran style jumpers.

“Firstly, I did knitting for a family in King Country. They had a farm and their own sheep.  They sent us all-natural wool and you would have to knit a jumper with an Aran front.

 “I think you got about $13 in those days. I knitted 70 of them, and then I started knitting for other shops.”

She also drove a small bus for 30 years in Tauranga volunteering for charitable organisation Age Concern. She retired from volunteering only seven years ago.

“I drove a 12 seater bus transporting elderly people around here for Age Concern about three times a week.

“I loved it. I was 82 when I knocked it off. I still could have worked because I was feeling 100 per cent, but I stopped just in case something happened.

“Anything can happen once you get to that age, but nothing happened did it?”

Ruth, who turns 90 in November, is adamant that she will not stop knitting blankets for charity anytime soon.

“For as long as I can knit, I will keep on doing so. I like to do it in the evenings with my Jaffa lollies to nibble on.”

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