To keep herself occupied during the early days of Covid, Jane Meredith took out her knitting needles and began knitting beany hats for the Merchant’s Quay Charity.
          Two months later, she posted off a large parcel of hats and figured that almost every merchant navy sailor in Dublin was now armed against the coming winter.
          Word had got out and members of her family put in a request for hats, and these she knit too. At the end of this enterprise, she was left with an assortment of different coloured wools, and as the pandemic was still raging, she decided to try her hand at knitting a teddy bear.
Maeve Edwards

It all started at the end of the first wave of the pandemic when I felt that I really should be ‘doing’ something. My friend Brigid gave me a pattern for beany hats (very easy: cast on 111 stitches, knit in stocking stitch until the work measures 26.5 centimetres, decrease, stitch the sides together, turn up the bottom 2” and, bingo, you have a beany hat) and away I went, sending a couple of large parcels of hats off to Merchants Quay.

Eventually I felt all beany hatted out, but had lots of wool left over so again Brigid came to my aid, this time giving me a pattern for knitting teddy bears, and off I went again. Whereas my abstemious friend only knitted a few, and put them away for (hoped for) more great grandchildren, I didn’t know when to stop and, in no time my sofa was crowded with teddies.
          By this time I had adapted the pattern Brigid had given me, combining it with How to make Teddies - Crafty Patti on YouTube. My friend Maeve Edwards decided she’d use the YouTube pattern and knit a whole family for her Norwegian grandchildren to play with when they came to visit. That knitted family never grew and her first and only teddy lay for weeks, unstuffed, unstitched together and unloved until I took pity on it and brought it to life. I subsequently added a whole family for Maeve’s grandchildren to play with – a mother (rescued from Maeve), a dad, an uncle, a granny and the two children, Sol and Áine, who all went to live in Bray with Maeve, waiting for the hoped for visit when the pandemic was over.
          So far that day has not come but, in the meantime, Maeve’s resident doll, Annie Rose, reads ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’ to her new friends. Maeve has knitted an apron, with pockets, for the granny, and skirts for the mother and two little girls.
          To my surprise, I soon found that my bears were much in demand and began flying out of the house. As my obsession for creating bears has not abated and, in a less virulent form, the pandemic continues, I decided to put it to good use by raising funds for the Alice Leahy Trust. I have since suggested a donation of 5 euro a bear and have already raised 140 euro. I’m very lucky, and feel rather guilty that, rather housebound as I am, what with bears, books (audio, if I’m knitting), music, radio, telly, Zooms, Facetime and watching the world go by from my sitting room window (mainly bikes, runners, men in shorts) the pandemic, for me, has been a time of quiet enjoyment.

Jane Meredith                     July 2021
Dublin Unitarian Church