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Putting fleece to good use

Posted: 4pm 18 Jan 2021

Fleece from alpacas, llamas and sheep at White Ridge Farm will bring some warmth to the homeless thanks to the tireless efforts of a Petrie great grandmother.

Lyn Astin answered an advertisement White Ridge Farm owner Katrina White had placed for the fleece on Gumtree soon after the farm’s annual shearing day in late September/early October, when 14 llamas and alpacas, and six sheep were shorn.

Katrina says she received a message from Lyn, who explained she wanted to use the fleece to make beanies for the homeless, and she was happy to donate what she had.

Usually, the fleece is only used to show school children what it looks like, when they visit during school excursions, so Katrina’s thrilled it will be used to make the homeless more comfortable.

Beautiful transformation

About one month after the fleece was collected, Katrina received three beautiful beanies as a thankyou gift from Lyn.

Her animals are multi-coloured, so the beanies are quite striking.

“They’re lovely and soft. I was also given an update of what she’s made. I think she’s super clever,” Katrina says.

Labour of Love

Lyn, who is modest about her efforts, says she started making the beanies at home during the first COVID-19 shutdown last year.

She knows how precarious people’s living circumstances can be after her home was severely damaged in the Christchurch earthquake.

“I had to live in it for 12 months, and it was broken, while I waited for the insurance to be sorted out,” she recalls.

“People were living in tents with babies. Things can change so quickly.”

She has since moved to Australia and says each winter she sees a call for help on Facebook from the Helping the Homeless Brisbane Facebook page. So last year, she got busy.

“Being stuck at home, with the COVID shutdown, I thought what can I do to help?” Lyn explains.

New spin in winter headwear

This was the first time Lyn had made beanies using fleece, from alpacas, llamas and sheep, she had spun herself.

“It knits up like wool and spins up just like wool. I get such a ‘feel-good’ from doing it,” she says.

“Even though I’m old, there’s still something I can do help. It’s about giving back.”

So far, she’s made “44 and spinning”.

“As long as fleece keeps coming and I can keep spinning, I will keep doing it,” she says.

“I think it’s such a waste. A lot of people have these alpacas on ‘lifestyle blocks’ and have them shorn and it goes to waste. I’m sure there are people out there that would make good use of it.”

She said one woman had already reached out offering fleece after seeing a post on the White Ridge Farm facebook page about the beanies.

Ongoing partnership

White Ridge Farm owner Katrina White says she’ll be happy to donate the fleece from next year’s shearing day to Lyn if she’s keen to make more.

The pair has not yet met in person, as Lyn’s son collected the fleece, but Katrina is keen to put a face to this generous gesture soon.

“She’s going to bring her granddaughter out to the farm, so we’ll look forward to meeting her then,” Katrina says.

Want to know more about White Ridge Farm? Head to the website

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