Annie Miller will be 90 at the end of September. Since last fall, she’s made over 300 toques for the Rotary Club for Hats project. This month, Miller and her fellow knitters and crocheters reached their goal of making 550 toques by Christmas 2020.
The Rotary Club for Hats plans to give the toques to elementary students at the annual Rotary Christmas Extravaganza. This event might look different this year because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“I do a toque a day,” Miller says. “I love doing it and I need to do something.”
She makes these with a knitting loom, which she calls a ‘hoop.’
Miller taught herself how to crochet. Over the years, she crocheted afghans and scarves and ‘hooped’ toques for her four children, eight grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. She grew up on a farm and was a farmer’s wife before becoming a baker. She moved to the lodge in Slave Lake two years ago to be closer to her daughter, who works at C.J. Schurter Elementary School.
Tanya Dixon, Vanderwell Heritage Place (aka. the lodge) activities coordinator, describes Miller as the “poster senior” who goes to all the events in the lodge.
Many of the toques were made by the lodge knitting group, which includes seniors in the lodge and community members.
This group started last summer. The ladies in the lodge and Jo Stewart from the community, taught a summer student and Dixon how to knit and crochet.
“It pleases me when I see young girls learning to knit, crochet, and sew,” says Miller.
Stewart fell into the position of the person who collected the toques from the lodge and other knitters by accident. She was at the lodge knitting group when the Rotary contacted Dixon and Christy at the Flipside. Stewart knows the owner of a factory in Ontario that makes yarn. She asked if there was a sale coming up, and they were able to get more than enough yarn to make the hats for half the price that the Rotary had offered.
While waiting for the yarn that the Rotary paid for, the seniors and other knitters accepted donations from the community.
“There’s just been so much pulling together,” says Stewart. “We’ve got about half the yarn left over.”
“We have to knit for the next 10 years to use up all the yarn,” says Miller.
“There’s lots of people we can donate to,” says Dixon.
“I can make blankets,” says Miller.
The lodge is going to check with the Rotary about what to do with the rest of the yarn.