Crocheting warmth for people in need

As the temperatures drop below zero, local crafter is hoping to keep everyone warm

Brocklehurst resident Cathy Duvall knitted scarves and toques and hung them on trees and poles in the 300-block of Tranquille Road in North Kamloops during the winter months — but only for a short time.

For the past 20 years, she has been crocheting botanical winter attire and placing it on trees and posts for anybody in need to take for free.

Duvall throws the garments out on the street roughly once a year when the cold weather arrives, but she can’t remember where she got the idea.

“It was just like a lightning went poof – big time,” she explained.

Duvall has made over 270 scarves and 140 toques this year, up from approximately 240 scarves and 120 toques last year.

If her arthritis isn’t bothering her, she can normally finish approximately ten scarves every day.

Duvall is donating some of the apparel to charitable organizations such as the ASK Wellness Society and the Kamloops Food Bank, as she did last year.

Duvall leaves the clothing items only on the north side of Tranquille Road between the North Shore Health Science Centre and the intersection with Mackenzie Road to ensure people know where to find one.

After being hung up on Oct. 18, most of the things have already been claimed as of Oct. 21.

The project began two decades ago when Duvall spotted three people freezing on the junction of Fortune Drive and Eighth Street. Duvall was on her way to her mother’s house to wash scarves when she decided to offer them to the women instead.

She got the idea from there to start crocheting scarves for individuals in need.

She relies on yarn contributions to decide how many scarves and toques she creates each winter, a figure that increased tremendously last year when she gained media attention and began posting requests for yarn on Facebook.

Previously, she had only been able to manufacture little amounts throughout the years.

Duvall launched the project to aid the homeless, but she welcomes anybody in need of a scarf or toque to accept one of hers.

“I’ve been struggling… I was a single mom on welfare raising my children,” she explained. “I know how it feels; it’s not easy… And I like assisting others.”

“A lot of people are extremely grateful that I’m doing this,” she added, adding that she has seen homeless people and low-income elders take the winter clothing anytime she has been in the neighbourhood.

“And many of them are return clients,” Duvall added.

Unfortunately, some of Duvall’s scarves were presumably burnt overnight between Oct. 18 and 19.

Niki Dawson Davis, who operates a company adjacent to one of the scarf-covered trees, said she discovered the scarves were gone when she opened her studio on Tuesday morning. There were burnt yarn fragments on the ground, as well as burn scars on the tree.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Davis remarked, noting that she had shared the event on social media.

Duvall told KTW that it made her sad for a few moments, but she then chose to tie a new set of scarves on the burning tree.

Duvall said she enjoys crocheting the apparel and recommends that anybody who wants to do the same create scarves or toques and donate them to a local social organization that collects winter gear — or give them to someone in need.

“That’s what it’s all about; it’s not about me; it’s about. helping others.