These four friends have spent plenty of time sharing memories and chatting about their husbands, but it’s their new hobby that has truly brought them together.
Lynda, Lucy, Donna and Mary have taken up knitting at their church Saint John the Baptist in Pointe-Claire.
They don’t knit just anything though.
Last February, Donna Sauve saw a unique pattern online – the memory muff – and the women thought it would be fun to try it out.
The knitted hand-warmers are used to help calm patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
“My father-in-law was diagnosed with mixed dementia. He was in a home and I met a lot of ladies that would pick at their clothes, or just rip Kleenexes into bits, or pieces of paper,” said Sauve.
“It gives them something else to touch and they’re just much more calm.”
The women knit at home or together in the church using yarn, thread, and various pieces of material that are donated from parishioners and members of the community.
“We started off with a $20 donation plus the wool that we have at home, so we went to the thrift stores looking for cheap wool,” said Mary Moshopolous.
“All of a sudden, people started donating wool and we haven’t had to buy any since. My office at home has garbage bags full of wool.”
In just over a year, the women have created around 400 memory muffs, 350 of which have already been donated to patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia around the Montreal area.
“We thought ‘OK’, we have a lot of memory muffs and we’re still making them, so we got in touch with Montreal Alzheimer’s Society,” said Lucy Anglin Hunt.
“We thought maybe they can help distribute them to the rest of Montreal and we would just stay focused on the West Island.”
One of those West Island locations is Chateau Pierrefonds.
The residence’s recreational therapist says the donation was a lovely surprise.
“These volunteers from parish came and said ‘we have these muffs to donate,'” said Nathalie Chainé. “Our Alzheimer’s unit here is not very old, so we weren’t very equipped yet, so I thought ‘wow, that sounds great.'”
With the recent expansion of their initiative, the four friends noticed that they don’t even need to make trips anymore. People are coming right to them.
“As people hear about it, they usually tell us that they have a friend, neighbour, or a friend’s parent that could probably benefit from it. So we say ‘yes, come by and get one,'” said Lynda Lemay.
The women said though many of the muffs have been given to those with Alzheimer’s, one was recently picked up for a boy with autism.
They’re hope is to help as many people as they can.
“We’re having a good time and as long as people need them, we’ll make them,” said Moshopolous.