For decades – well, for centuries – knitters have worked their craft to warm others. Whitehorse knitters are continuing that tradition this year, aiming to collectively craft 150 pairs of socks to contribute to the city’s Outreach Van.

The Outreach Van is a partnership program involving Many Rivers Counselling & Support Services, Blood Ties Four Directions Centre, Kwanlin Dun First Nation, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Yukon (FASSY).

Last October, inspired by Nellie Dale’s Canada 150 sock project – in which she knitted a pair of socks to represent each of the provinces and territories- Jo Stewart of Sticks, Strings and Stewardship invited local knitters to join in the spinoff – and rather ambitious – project of knitting socks for charity.

The Heart of Riverdale Knitting Circle signed on, and both yarn stores in town – Itsy Bitsy Yarn Store and The Match Girl – agreed to act as sock kit pick-up and sock drop-off locations.

In the spring of 2017, when the Heart of Riverdale hosted a soc- knitting class, over a dozen folks showed up.

They accepted the challenge of ribbing the cuff, turning the heel and grafting the dreaded “Kitchener toe” (named after a British Army Officer who advocated for this smooth approach to finishing a toe to alleviate soldiers’ foot issues).

The groups are currently half way to the goal of 150 pairs, with 75 pairs collected in an amazing variety of styles and colours.

Some knitters send notes with their contributions. One wrote:

“Hi – Thought I would include a copy of the pattern I used for this project. It comes from a magazine I found in my mom’s things when she passed. It must have belonged to my grandmother, as it is from 1942 and there is a ‘call’ for Canadian women to knit for service men during World War II.”

Another wrote: “The colours in these socks remind me of the rocks and sea of British Columbia’s West Coast. Often the sky is cloudy, which turns the sea a deep greyish blue.”

Clearly, beyond service and function, knitting can be a meditative and reflective process – calming in the midst of today’s sometimes chaotic environment.

Stewart, the project instigator, has since moved to Manitoba for work and is continuing to knit and collect socks in her new province.

Offers of socks have also come in from British Columbia and Ontario. From Alberta, a 96-year-old who likes to knit while watching curling, has sent 13 pairs.

This project continues to reinforce the experience of knitters as community.

Anyone who is interested in taking part of this project can pick up a free sock kit and drop off completed socks at either Itsy Bitsy Yarn Store or The Match Girl. Donations of sock yarn are also welcome.

Two upcoming knit-ins are scheduled: Saturday, Sept. 26 from 2-4 p.m. at the Heart of Riverdale, and Saturday, Oct. 14 at The Match Girl.