Pat Frenette has magic fingers.
Her creations, although small in size, have been helping keeping babies warm as the enter the world at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre.
“I knit pretty fast,” said the 84-year-old Brookdale resident. “I know someone in Ontario was doing it and thought ‘hey, I could do that.’”
Frenette is well known for her generosity. As a member of the Holy Family Catholic Women’s League she knits all sorts of clothing items for their fundraisers and she has often given hats and mittens away to those she sees who may need a little help.
Each Halloween, she often givens mittens, with little treats inside, to the trick or treaters who come to her door. She also knits items for the Cumberland Health Care Auxiliary’s gift shop at the regional hospital.
She started knitting maternity hats two years ago and aims to complete 24 hats a month. Since she started, she has completed 46 dozen hats and she’s aiming to hit the 50-dozen mark by August.
It’s a goal she has set for herself, although she admits she’ll definitely continue knitting the tiny hats as long as she’s able.
The fibre artist said her mother taught her how to knit as a five-year-old growing up in Pointe-Verte near Belledune in northern New Brunswick. Her daughters knit, although she said it hasn’t been passed on yet to her grandchildren or they haven’t taken an interest in it.
Frenette said she doesn’t read because her eyesight “is not what it used to be” and she doesn’t watch television. Instead, she finds peace and relaxation with her sewing needles and some yarn.
“I wouldn’t want to see everything I’ve knitted in front of me, I don’t think it would all fit,” she said. “I sell, or give away, almost everything I make.”
As much as she has knitted through life, she finds herself doing more since her husband, Orphir, passed several years ago. It helps her pass the time and keeps her active, adding healthy hands and an active mind keep her sharp.
Frenette got a pattern online, but when she made her first batch of hats she found them too small. The hospital still took them to use for premature babies and she went on to develop her own pattern. However, she said, she sometimes changes mid-project and tries different things with each hat she makes.
“I try to make them fancy,” she said.
She is always busy doing her thing.
“Besides these hats, that I’m going to drop off at the hospital soon, I’m also working on 30 pairs of slippers for the CWL,” Frenette said. “We’re hosting a convention and when we meet them at the door we’ll have a bag of goodies for them, including slippers.”
Each year at the CWL bazaar she sells dozens of pairs of mittens and slippers. She doesn’t make much profit because she doesn't charge as much as some others. She basically does it to cover the cost of the yarn and to keep her fingers active.
Each year, she receives a thank you card from the maternity ward and she knows her hats have been well received. She has also been recognized by the Catholic Women’s League and she was also active with her late husband in the Amherst 50 + Club, being recognized as their volunteers of the year in 2005.
“I love being able to give something back to the community,” she said. “I love doing what I do.”