Love thy neighbour, one stitch at a time

A weekly knitting group that began as a social get-together for retirees at the new Calvary Kooyong retirement living, health and aged care precinct, has quickly becoming an exercise in helping thy neighbours – one stitch at a time.

The ladies of the ‘Knit ‘n Knatter’ group help create comfort rugs palliative care patients in hospital or in the local community, as well as for aged care residents in need.

With their colour and vibrancy, the rugs provide emotional as well as physical warmth and, as the packaging attests, are “threaded with prayers of hope and love”.

About Knit ‘n Knatter

The Hyson residents gather each Wednesday morning to knit, crochet, sort and join their colourful squares as part of Calvary Kooyong’s Comfort Rug Project, which began life as an initiative of the ladies of the Cheltenham Presbyterian church more than 20 years ago.

Along the way they are also benefitting through social connection. While some of the women (there are no blokes – yet) were already fast friends, it has been a chance for others to get to know some of their new neighbours.

Located in Caulfield South in Melbourne, the Calvary Kooyong precinct comprises the Hyson retirement living apartments, Huntly Suites aged care home and Calvary Bethlehem hospital. which cares for people living with progressive neurological conditions such as Motor Neurone Disease and Huntington’s Disease, and patients needing specialist palliative care.


“The sessions for the Hyson residents are working out really well” and said Calvary Kooyong volunteer Sophia Saunders, who helps facilitate the Knit ‘n Knatter group. “Some of the women here didn’t know each other very well before they started and now they are friends.”

Judith Grealish was one of the first residents to move into the new Hyson Apartments in February last year after making the difficult decision to sell her two-storey family home with the large garden and lifetime of memories shared with her late husband, Jim.

Judith, a spritely 89-year-old, began volunteering to keep herself busy and get to know people. It has added purpose to her day and helped make her new friends across the precinct.

“Knit ‘n Knatter is one of the most relaxing activities – and we certainly do plenty of both!” said Judith, who was taught to knit as a child by her mother and has knitted on and off since.

“Knowing the rugs will be going to the hospital and the aged care home is important. I think it’s the friendship and warmth of the group that makes it very special.”

Judith holds dear her regular visits with residents of the Huntly Suites too. “I consider them my friends, I’ve got to know them so well. They give me much pleasure too.”

She involves herself in church services held in the on-site chapel and goes to aqua aerobics sessions at the indoor pool. “I find it challenging but my family tells me it’s good for me!”

More about the precinct

Calvary Kooyong General Manager Shannon Thompson said the group is just one example of the sense of integrated community that has begun to flourish within the Hyson Apartments and the precinct more broadly.

“Calvary Kooyong was designed to meet the health and life needs of our residents and patients as they age or as their care needs change,” Mrs Thompson said.

“It is wonderful to see that sense of community developing across so many aspects of life here. Whether it is people meeting up in the café in the front foyer; retirees making the most of the many activities and services available to them; volunteering within the precinct; or our Calvary Bethlehem music therapists, who pop up everywhere across the precinct nowadays for their livestreamed lunch tunes performance each Friday.”

“It is just as we hoped at the start of our journey – providing purpose, building community and helping our residents to live well.”