The yarn bombers, who belong to the Hospice North Hastings craft group “Knittervention,” were ready to make their mark and with the sun streaming in through the windows of the Vintage on Hastings thrift shop and Hospice coordinator Heather Brough perched on the cash desk, instructions were given.
Volunteers grabbed bags of colourful turtles, knit panels, wire, zip ties, ladders, signs and then they were off – up and down Hastings Street as the Town grew quiet for the night.
Bancroft’s Mayor, Paul Jenkins, dropped in for the ceremonial placement of the first turtle and Sergeant Sandy Adams from the Bancroft OPP Detachment also joined volunteers to kick-off the yarn bomb. By the time the sun went down, hundreds of hand-knit and crocheted turtles had taken over Bancroft to welcome back tourists for the long weekend and to remind motorists to watch for turtles crossing local roads and highways.
This is the third community yarn bomb created and installed by the group of volunteers from Hospice North Hastings that call themselves, “Knittervention.” The volunteer group meets on a weekly basis when they’re not volunteering to provide patient care at Hospice North Hastings or providing support at the Bancroft Village Playhouse or Vintage on Hastings; the two social enterprises operated by the small, rural charity.
Last fall, after the group of volunteers successfully installed a Remembrance Day yarn bomb that covered a Bancroft bridge with over 1,000 poppies, Bancroft resident Kelly Wallace, from the Think Turtle Conservation Initiative, contacted Hospice North Hastings with a request to partner for an upcoming project. Wallace was working on a series of community lectures, and a full-day event, all leading up to World Turtle Day on May 23.
The Knittervention volunteers loved the idea of creating a turtle-themed yarn bomb and the idea was officially hatched.
“The message is simple,” Brough says. “Life is short so don’t rush through it. Slow down, appreciate the details and watch for turtles.”
Yarn Bomb well received
From the moment the installation began, comments started showing up on social media and the response was overwhelmingly positive. There were posts of gratitude, jokes, and lots of sharing of the local story.
To encourage people to interact with the turtles, a scavenger hunt was made available at Vintage on Hastings and families started dropping in on Friday to track the turtles. Prizes were given out once the hunt was completed.
But then on Saturday morning, a group of parents and kids returned to Vintage on Hastings, stumped. They could not find the final turtle in the scavenger hunt.
“We knew something was wrong because they were looking for the Royal Wedding Turtle,” explained Brough. “It was really an obvious one with a Union Jack on the shell and we had posted pictures of it on social media for the wedding earlier that morning. So, we checked, and it was gone.”
Almost immediately the Bancroft Brew Pub offered a $100 gift certificate as a reward for the safe return of Ro’shell and the online sharing continued.
By Sunday morning, there was more turtle news. As the Hospice team had been looking for Ro’shell, a ransom note showed up at Vintage on Hastings for another turtle that was being held by the Squirrels for a Safer Tomorrow gang. They demanded $50 in nuts and media coverage of their message to keep squirrels safe on the roads too.
Brough took it all in stride.
From a previous yarn bomb at the Village Playhouse, the Knittervention team still had a three-foot crocheted police officer that was brought into the story line.
The turtle yarn bomb will stay on display in Bancroft until May 26 and Brough says she can’t wait to see what happens with this initiative in the days ahead. And while the project, created in partnership with Kelly Wallace and the Think Turtle Conservation Initiative, is certainly raising awareness for turtles on our roads; there’s also more awareness for our local Hospice.
“We want everyone in our community to know that Hospice is about living,” Brough says. “Sometimes Hospice can seem scary, but we want people to know that we are here, providing care and comfort in the community and that we’re all about making the best of every moment and having as much fun as possible.”
Vintage on Hastings, the social enterprise operated by Hospice North Hastings, will continue to operate as Turtle Headquarters during the 10-day display. This is where people can grab turtle information as well as details for a scavenger hunt challenge. Local folks and visitors to Bancroft are encouraged to interact with the turtles, choose favourites and to interact on social media – all in the name of raising awareness for the turtles on our local roads.