Friends knitting for babies

An Invercargill retirement home resident and her South African nurse have discovered an unlikely bond.

Lex Stuck, 90, moved to Vickery Court in October. About the same time she had started knitting Fish and Chip baby jumpers to be sent to newborn babies in Africa.

The majority of the recipient babies are suffering from Aids and the jumpers are the only warm garments they are likely to receive.

Without them the babies are sent home from hospital wrapped in newspaper for warmth  thus the name ``Fish and Chip''.

Mrs Stuck said it was not long after she moved that a new nurse started on the ward.

``This lass comes in and she's new on the floor and she said `what are you knitting' and I said `fish and chip singlets'. I thought that would stump her.''

As it turns out, the name was new to Jeanne Cech, who moved to New Zealand from South Africa almost four years ago, but the concept was not.

She had trained in South Africa as a nurse and midwife and after marrying became involved with a non-practising group of nurses that made and handed out the very same vests as well as beanies and wraps to the children.

``A large number of the mothers they test have Aids. Some mothers die and some babies are just abandoned. The mothers who do take them home are very poor.

``If they can go home with a hat or singlet or blanket, at least they have something.''

Now both women are involved in knitting the vests, collecting wool and engaging others in the work and have become close friends.

Mrs Stuck said she liked to be kept busy and when she was not knitting she was busy sewing hand-towels, bibs and whatever was required by grandchildren and friends on the machine she had set up in her room.

``It's very good for the brain,'' Mrs Stuck said.

Mrs Cech said she was proud of the work Mrs Stuck did. ``She's an inspiration.''

Lower Hutt mother Anna Miller, who is involved in sending the vests overseas, said New Zealanders had been incredibly generous and thousands of the vests had been sent to many parts of the world.

Her organisation, the To Russia With Love Aid Project, was now interested in receiving beanies and knitted jerseys for children aged from 3 to 15 years old.

In the past year they had sent items to Tajikistan, South Africa, Afghanistan, Haiti, Mongolia and Russia.

The To Russia With Love Aid Project requires beanies and jumpers for vulnerable children all over the world aged 3 to 15.

More information is available on the facebook page: To Russia With Love Aid Project.

Contributions should be sent to: Anna Miller, 6 Martin Grove, Normandale, Lower Hutt 5010. Phone (04) 589 4953.

Baby Beanie knitting pattern:
Use 8 ply wool, 4mm needles
Cast on 64 stitches and work 14 rows in (K1, P1) rib
Work 24 rows in stocking stitch or until work measures 11cm from cast on edge.
Shape crown as follows:
Row 1 *K6, K2 tog. Repeat from * to end of row. (56 stitches)
Row 2: Knit
Row 3: *K5, K2 tog. Repeat from * to end of row. (48 stitches)
Row 4: Knit
Row 5: *K4, K2 tog. repeat from * to end of row. (40 stitches)
Row 6: Knit
Continue decreasing in this manner until (K1, K2 tog) has been completed and 16 stitches remain.
Knit 1 row. Break yarn and thread through remaining 16 stitches.
Bright coloured stripes look good and use up small amounts of wool.

Jersey pattern:
Large jersey knitted all in one, using 8 ply knitting yarn (acrylic yarn can be used) and 4.5mm needles.
Lots of bright colours add stripes.
Cast on 70 stitches.
Work 18 rows in K2 P2 rib.
Work 48 rows in stocking stitch.
Cast on 40 stitches at beginning of next two rows (for sleeves).
** Change to K2 P2 rib for the original 70 stitches and either continue in rib or garter stitch or stocking stitch for the 40 stitches for the sleeves. Work 30 rows.
Next row: Work 55 stitches, cast off 40 stitches, work 55 stitches.
Next row: Work 55 stitches, cast on 40 stitches, work 55 stitches (this forms the neck).
Work 30 rows, the same as you did before at **
Cast off 40 stitches at beginning of next two rows.
Work 48 rows in stocking stitch.
Work 18 rows in K2 P2 rib.
Cast off in rib.
Sew up side seam and under arms.

Please send Fish and Chip Jumpers to:
Monty's Promotions Ltd
3 Ashcraig Court
Auckland 0630
Attn: Louise
Mowbray Maternity Hospital
12 Hornsey Road
Cape Town
South Africa

The original Fish `n' Chip Baby Jumper
Special instructions.
Use only 8ply yarn; wool or synthetic yarns are suitable. No baby colours please as these garments may never be washed. Bright and mixed colours are best - one colour or stripes.

Baby Jumpers Knitting Pattern
(knitted all in one)
8ply yarn
Size 5mm needles (tight knitters)
Size 4.5mm needles (loose knitters)
Cast on 44 stitches
Work 18 rows in K2 P2 rib
Work 30 rows in stocking stitch (1 row plain, 1 row purl)
Cast on 12 stitches at the beginning of the next 2 rows and at the same time change to K2 P 2 (for sleeve)
Rib 22 more rows
Next row: rib 21, cast off 26 stitches, rib 21
Next row: rib 21, cast on 26 stitches, rib 21
Work 22 rows in K2 P2 rib
Cast off 12 stitches at beginning of next 2 rows
Work 30 rows stocking stitch
Work 18 rows K2 P2 rib
Cast off.

The Southland Times