By Sue Tiffin
Gail Scott laughs when she is asked why she is getting media attention lately.
“I knit mitts for kids,” she says.
Not just a handful of mittens, but more than 1,000 pairs to date over the past several years, since the Haliburton resident first heard of a Warm Hands for Christmas campaign on Canoe FM Radio that was asking for donations of mittens to be distributed to local organizations including the Haliburton 4Cs, elementary schools, SIRCH Community Services and the Pregnancy Care and Family Support Centre.
“Canoe had it on the radio about seven years ago, they needed children’s mitts, for the young ones,” says Scott. “So I went down to the basement, and got the wool that I could use, and I knit 67 pair.”
Scott brought the fruits of her labour to the radio station, and explained it was a fun activity, but she might not be able to provide more than she had done due to the cost of wool.
“I said to Roxanne [Casey, station manager], now, don’t expect me to do anymore, because I don’t have any more wool and I cannot afford to be buying it,” recalls Scott. “I’m a widow, I live on my own, and, you know, buying wool is not what it used to be, 50 years ago.”
Three days later, Scott says, Casey called her with a surprise.
“So I went in to her office and she said, guess what I’ve got for you … She had two bags of wool. They were donated by one person and I’ve been knitting, well, I hit 1,000 pair of children’s knits over the last seven or eight years. So that’s what I do.”
A knack for knitting began decades ago, when Scott began knitting clothing for her children.
“I was expecting my first child, and my mother-in-law said to me, ‘Gail, you’d better start your knitting’,” says Scott. “I said, ‘I don’t know how’. She said, ‘well, you’re going to learn’.”
Leggings, zippered jackets, a hat with ties for under the chin and little mitts as well as sweaters and pullovers with patterns on them helped keep Scott’s three children warm in handmade creations.
She says she has now been knitting over 55 years or so, on and off.
“There was a 10-year period where I don’t think I knit anything, but as soon as I heard Roxanne on the radio, I just picked up my needles and it all came back to me,” she says.
Now, she doesn’t know how long it takes her to knit a single pair – she’s a busy woman, venturing out here and there, chatting on the phone, and taking a break every once in awhile. But she always returns to the project at hand.
“I find it very relaxing, and I’m not under pressure,” she says. “I can pick up my knitting at any time. I knit my left and my right knits, right at the same time on the same needles because that way the length of the knit is the same. When you’re knitting socks, it has to be the same. You’ve got to knit them together. You can’t knit one sock and finish it off and then start the other one, because a quarter or half an inch, you don’t think it’s much but it is.”
Scott has already donated this year’s batch of mittens – more than 250 pairs –to Canoe FM, for distribution to children throughout the county, but her work continues.
“I think I’ve got 20 pair ready for next year,” she says.