Julie Connelly (left) and Mariel Van Leeuwen of Chilliwack have made a number of birds nests and joey pouches for rescued and wounded animals in Australia. They are asking fellow knitters, sewers and crocheters to join them. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Knitters in Chilliwack make joey pouches, bird’s nests for animals harmed in Australian wildfires

Two Chilliwack women have organized a craft circle to help make items for injured, orphaned animals

A group of B.C. knitters and crocheters has recently switched gears from making scarves and baby blankets to making things like marsupial pouches and bird’s nests instead.

It’s all part of a global effort to help Australia as massive wildfires continue to ravage the country.

Animal rescue organizations there have been dealing with orphaned and burned animals, and here in Chilliwack, that’s where the efforts of Julie Connelly and Mariel Van Leeuwen come in.

“I felt so bad for what was happening in Australia. I can knit and I can sew, so that was one of the ways I felt I could help,” Van Leeuwen said. “I’d never sewn or knitted anything for an animal before. This is the first time.”

Connelly has volunteered with animal rescues in the Fraser Valley and has been to a kangaroo farm in Kelowna.

“I’ve seen their little pouches and I thought ‘I can do that,’” said Connelly, who crochets and knits.

Connelly has knitted sweaters for her chickens and her duck, but this was something completely different.

The two women have made a number of bird’s nests and joey pouches and they are asking fellow knitters, sewers and crocheters to join them.

They have organized a craft circle for Sunday, Jan. 19 at Old Yale Brewing in Chilliwack. From noon to 6 p.m. people can drop in to join the crafting movement. Van Leeuwen and Connelly will even teach people how to knit and crochet.

Marsupial pouches are at the top of the list of items needed, according to Australia’s Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild, a group that works directly with animal rescue organizations in Australia to determine the most needed items for the animals. The guild put the global call out for handmade animal beds, bat wraps and more and has provided the public with patterns for the items on its Facebook page.

Things like joey pouches are needed to help orphaned baby marsupials (kangaroos, wombats, etc.) feel safe and secure, much like their mother’s pouches did. Koala mittens help protect the burnt paws so that they can heal, and bat wraps are used to house the bats who no longer have trees from where to hang.

Each item is specific to the various animals’ needs – the details are coming from the Australians on the ground who know firsthand what those needs are.

The patterns specify what type of yarn or fabric to use. For example, the inner layer of the marsupial pouches must be made with natural fibres – if acrylic is used, it can stick to the animals’ wounds.

All items must be washed in water and vinegar (do not use detergent) prior to donating. Items are to be tied up with pieces of yarn or fabric or packaged in pillow cases (no plastic bags).

There’s also a need for donated supplies such as yarn, fabric, knitting needles and crochet hooks. Locally, all of these items, including finished projects and cash donations can be dropped off by Tuesday, Jan. 21 at Old Yale Brewing (addressed to Zach Van Leeuwen) at 404-44550 South Sumas Rd. in Chilliwack.

Mariel Van Leeuwen is organizing the drop-off location in Chilliwack. She will be collecting items, packaging them up and bringing them to a provincial hub where they will be taken to Vancouver International Airport. From YVR, Air Canada will ship them to Australia at no charge.

On Jan. 19, the brewery is also donating $1 for every pint sold that day (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.) to the Australian Red Cross.

“Any chance we get to give back to our community we take it… and when we heard about this we felt the same way. Even though it’s not our community, it’s a community and we want to do our best to support it,” said Zach Van Leeuwen, managing partner of Old Yale Brewing and wife of Mariel.

For more info, contact Mariel Van Leeuwen via email at marielvanleeuwen@gmail.com, or through Facebook Messenger.

People can also find more info and the patterns on the following Facebook pages: Canadian Animal Rescue Craft Group and Fraser Valley Craft Guild.

RELATED: Chilliwack restaurant launches fundraiser for Australian wildfire relief

RELATED: DiCaprio’s Earth Alliance gives $3M to Australia fire relief


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on?
Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
Twitter: @PhotoJennalism

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Julie Connelly (right) and Mariel Van Leeuwen of Chilliwack have made a number of birds nests and joey pouches for rescued and wounded animals in Australia. They are asking fellow knitters, sewers and crocheters to join them. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

A crocheted (left) and knitted (right) bird’s nest. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

A crocheted bird’s nest and joey pouch. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Just Posted

Cold and wet weather has corn farmers waiting across the Fraser Valley

Usually the crop is ready July 5-12 but it’s still a few more days from perfection, says local farmer

Missing Richmond man last seen in Chilliwack

Shawn Johnson last seen on June 30 on Main Street

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Eagle Landing

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

Abbotsford man wins $1 million in Lotto 6/49 draw

Kenneth Giffen wins prize after deciding to stop in Agassiz gas station after fishing trip

Overnight paving work near Abbotsford could snarl highway traffic

Fraser Valley motorists told to expect detours as the paving work continues until July 14 at 5 a.m.

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’ – why some seek solace in illicit substances

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

COVID-19 exposure on Vancouver flight

The Air Canada 8421 flight travelled from Kelowna to Vancouver on July 6

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Chilliwack

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

VIDEO: Former Abbotsford resident giving away $1,000

Langley native Alex Johnson creates elaborate treasure hunt to give away cash

Most Read