Muriel Blessing prepares a ball of plarn. (Aaron Hinks photo)

South Surrey group crocheting comfort for homeless

Women gather Saturday to craft plastic-bag sleeping mats

To provide not only physical, but mental comfort to those who struggle with homelessness, a group of South Surrey women meet once a week to make a contribution to those in need.

Last year, Linda Bellamy saw an online news story about a group of grandmothers who recycled plastic bags into sleeping mats for people that are homeless.

With that idea, she organized a crochet circle at Whitecliff Retirement Residence, where her mother Linda Vohlidka lives.

The group, which consists of Elly Hendriks, Muriel Blessin, Florence Wall, Bellamy and Vohlidka, meet every Saturday.

Together, and with help from those who have come and gone, they created 27 sleeping mats – using about 620 plastic grocery bags for each one.

The women sit in a circle and work almost as an assembly line, with each participant given a role to play.

“It’s work,” Bellamy said, adding that some people come try it for a week or two, but soon realize that creating each mat is time-consuming.

Blessin, who has crocheted most of her life, said it’s important to handcraft the mats because they not only help homeless people stay off the ground, but it “let’s them know that there are people out there thinking of them.”

“To me, this was just a wonderful thing that I can do,” she told Peace Arch News Saturday, as she prepared the “plarn.”

Plarn is a ball of plastic strips made from cut up plastic bags, similar to a ball of yarn. It’s called plarn, Bellamy said, because it’s plastic.

Some of the women, including Blessin, continue to work on the mats throughout the week. Blessin typically prepares the plarn on Saturday, by cutting and tying together plastic bags, and works on her mat on her free time or when there’s a hockey game on.

Although creating a mat is “very easy,” most of the participants have crocheted or knitted their entire lives.

While designing a mat Saturday, Hendriks recalled when her grandmother taught her how to knit socks in Holland.

Her grandmother would often withhold the secrets of the trade until Hendriks reached a certain skill level, Hendriks added.

“I think I was about six years old when I started. The heel and toe were the hardest, so those were the last secrets that she taught me,” she said, adding that by the time she learned how to knit socks, she was 10.

The plastic bags used to make the sleeping mats are collected through donations to Whitecliff, and they never know what’s going to come through the door.

Among a heap of donations, Bellamy said they found a plastic bag from Woodward’s department store, which closed more than 20 years ago.

“We thought, ‘oh, should we frame it?’” she told PAN.

What did they ultimately end up doing with the plastic bag?

“We cut it up,” she said with a laugh.

Bellamy said the organization is still looking for plastic bag donations, but said they can only make use of bags from the grocery store. Thicker bags, typically from liquor stores, are too hard to work with, she said.

But, they don’t go to waste, she noted.

“We get the donations of the bags from the community. We go through what we can, and cannot use. The ones that we cannot use, there’s another resident who takes them to the hospice and they give them out when people come and buy their things,” Bellamy said.

Residents wishing to donate bags can drop them off at Whitecliff (15501 16 Ave.). Bellamy said if anyone is interested in starting their own sleeping mat crochet circle and is curious about how to get started, they can call her at 604-312-3253.

 

A group of friends meet Saturday to make sleeping mats for homeless people. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Elly Hendriks makes a sleeping mat. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Linda Vohlidka has a chat with Elly Hendriks. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Linda Bellamy uses plastic bags to make a sleeping mat. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Finished product. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Just Posted

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Eagle tree cut down in South Surrey for ‘The Eagles’ development

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Air quality advisory continues in the Lower Mainland

Smoke from Interior fires brings fine particulate

TONIGHT: Grand finale of Concerts at the Pier

East Beach event set to begin at 7 p.m.

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

VIDEO: Ground crews keep a close eye on largest B.C. wildfire

Originally estimated to be 79,192 hectares, officials said more accurate mapping shows smaller size

Vancouver Island woman to attempt historic swim across Juan de Fuca Strait today

Ultra-marathon swimmer Susan Simmons to attempt to swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada paid for study to understand Canadian attitudes

Most Read

l -->