Dozens and dozens of small, handmade, wool pouches are headed from a yarn mill in southwest Kamloops to wildlife centres in southeastern Australia.
That's thanks to Nicole Link at That Darn Yarn Shop and Fibre Mill. After hearing that wool pouches were needed to help animals affected by the massive Australian bushfires, she put out a call to local knitters, saying if they were willing to put in the time, she'd donate the yarn.
"I thought it was going to be something that maybe a few people who are following would do it," she tells KamloopsMatters. "I didn't expect to have this many people hop on the bandwagon."
She's gone through dozens of skeins of yarn and many of them have been returned. She estimates about 75 items have been dropped off so far, by 20 or so people. Because of the project's sudden popularity, Link had to work a weekend to produce enough yarn.
"I had people coming in the store all the time and it was wonderful," she says. "I got to meet so many people."
Jaquelyn Lukow, 25, is one of those people. She bought yarn from Link after hearing about the plan, and came back Monday (Jan. 27) to drop off a medium-sized pouch.
"It was one that had a crochet pattern for it," Lukow says. "I really enjoy crocheting and I wanted to help out where I could."
When she saw what was happening in Australia, she felt a certain helplessness; knitting the pouch was a way to contribute.
"I'm super excited — I wish I could do more, but that's OK," Lukow says. "It's a nice way to help out in a way that I felt I could."
"You see the pictures of all the animals, you feel so bad. They couldn't do anything," she adds.
While the date to send things is fast approaching (Jan. 31, at 6 p.m.), Link is still hopeful another 30 or so knitting enthusiasts will bring in items (like tiny joey pouches and bird nests).
Instead of mailing the package of knitted goods to Australia — as she had planned — two volunteers have contacted her. Both, independent of each other, are travelling to Melbourne; one on Feb. 1 and one on Feb. 3. Suitcases have also been donated, to carry all the items.
"They've already checked with people down there that they can drop it off and (the Australian groups) will distribute it," Link says. "That was really exciting to have people just offer."
Once in Australia, the Kamloopsian pouches will be added to the donations coming in from around the world to help joeys (baby marsupials), birds and other animals. The crowdsourced DIY effort is part of a broader movement to save Australian wildlife. It's estimated the massive bushfires have killed more than 1 billion animals.
Despite the doom and gloom of the situation, Link says the experience has been positive.
"I've really enjoyed the experience. I've met so many new people," she says. "A lot of people have thanked me for putting this together, and it's just, like, thank you guys for supporting this."