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Knitting friendships . . . Knit and Natter organiser Linda Mackenzie (left), and participants (from second left) Ann Brown, Annah Evington, Amali Sudusinge, and Margaret Fleming celebrate World Wide Knit in Public Day. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

Knit and Natter is not just a play on words.

It’s the name of a new group in Oamaru for migrants learn to knit and crochet.

Last Tuesday, the group gathered at the Oamaru Library, its usual meeting spot, to celebrate World Wide Knit in Public Day.

Organiser Linda MacKenzie started the group after attending the Oamaru Islamic Centre’s open day in April and a Migrant Meet and Share session, where she brought some of her crochet along with her.

“They said they would like to learn how to do it,” Ms Mackenzie said.

With support from the Waitaki Multicultural Council’s migrant support group, the Waitaki Newcomers Network, the library and the Waitaki District Council, Ms Mackenzie started the group six weeks ago and it had grown exponentially.

“We started with one table, now we have three,” she said.

“It has just grown and grown.”

So much has it grown, Ms MacKenzie had to recruit friends from North Otago Creative Fibre to help teach people.

From Japan, Tuvalu, the Netherlands, South Africa, Egypt, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom, about 14 migrants now show up at the library every Tuesday morning.

They are learning how to make everything from gloves and headbands to flowers and dish clothes, while getting to know one another.

Ms MacKenzie migrated from the United Kingdom to Australia, then to New Zealand, so understood how lonely and isolating moving to a new country could be.

Waitaki Multicultural Council migrant support group and Waitaki Newcomers Network co-ordinator Christine Dorsey said it had been a wonderful initiative and many friendships had formed already.

“It’s the perfect example of locals working with people who have come from other places,” Mrs Dorsey said.

Once the school holidays start, the group will move to the LandSAR rooms in Severn St.