From left: Val Hemingway, who is starting the Scuffler Project in Parksville Qualicum Beach, Liz Hammond and Karen O’Connor. Hemingway and Hammond were helping O’Connor learn to knit at the scufflers second get together. The women are also all wearing their scufflers. — Lauren Collins photo

Knitting for equality and education

Qualicum Beach newcomer created knitting project to give back

Still a newcomer to Qualicum Beach, Val Hemingway has reached out to other newcomers to teach them how to knit while also giving back.

Hemingway, who moved to Qualicum Beach about a year and a half ago, approached the local newcomer group with her passion project earlier this month.

With the Scuffler Project, Hemingway said, she teaches people how to knit a scuffler (a mix between a scarf and an old-fashioned muffler), and then market the scuffler with proceeds going to a charity.

Hemingway held her second get-together on Nov. 24 to create scufflers, and said it creates an atmosphere of community and working together.

“It gives people a chance to be at the same level — doesn’t matter whether you’re a lawyer or a housewife — but you’re starting right from scratch,” Hemingway said.

“Learning any new skill always gets you out of your comfort zone. You always think, ‘Am I going to be able to do this?’ or ‘This is hard, can I do this?’ So it’s getting over that feeling that you can’t do something.”

The Scuffler Project initially started on a plane ride with her granddaughter, Maya, with different intentions. Hemingway used the plane ride to teach Maya how to knit as a way to pass the time. The two made a scarf-like neck warmer, and Hemingway added the buttons.

Hemingway and Maya, who sponsored two children in an orphange in India, decided to use the scufflers as a way to raise money for the children. Hemingway said to this day they’ve raised $10,000.

Hemingway, a retired teacher, said she’d heard about a teacher in the U.S. who had started a knitting program and all the benefits that came with it. Interested by the idea, Hemingway said she’s gone to schools to teach students how to knit the scufflers and then market them to raise money for charities close to the students’ hearts.

Making the scufflers, Hemingway said, is a learning curve, but the process of knitting and then selling the handmade scufflers gives more meaning to the donation.

“It empowers the knitter and it empowers the person who’s getting the money,” Hemingway said.

Even while donating funds to the Indian orphanage, Hemingway said she’s been inspired by Malala Yousafzai, and has since decided to start donating to the Malala Fund for girls’ equality and education.

Hemingway said she hopes the scuffler will become a symbol for fighting for girls equality and education.

To find out more about Hemingways Scuffler Project or to donate yarn or buttons, contact Hemingway at valhemingway@shaw.ca.

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