Warming hearts with handmade rugs


One of our Sisters, Lorraine Groves MSS, in Hobart, Tasmania has found a way to practically express love and care for members of the community during this time of COVID-19. For the past few months, Lorraine has been busy finishing off rugs to give to people who are suffering from cancer, along with a group of local women who are struggling with rent.

“I have a big bin full of rugs—about 15 in total,” she says. “An elderly lady in her 90s at St Mary’s parish on the East coast has done a lot of the squares and then I’ve put them together. They’re all knitted and crocheted and are in lots of different colours.”

And on each of the rugs, you’ll find the following words: ‘This rug was made just for you, To bring you comfort, To know you are loved, To share in your joy. This rug is to wrap you up when you’re cold, when you’re hurting, when you need to snuggle. This rug was made with blessings with love and with prayers.’

Lorraine explained that a new complex has opened in South Hobart for women over 55 who are struggling with rent, so she made some enquiries and thought it would be a good idea to provide them with some rugs. She’s also provided them to people suffering with cancer due to her own personal experience with someone she loves who has cancer.

“Most of the rugs are knee rug size because I found when my niece went in for chemo, because she was lying there for so long, she got cold – you’re not moving – so she used to take hers to chemo. That’s where I got the idea from, so I started making rugs for people with cancer for some years.”

“Since then, a new housing complex not very far from where I live has opened up, providing cheaper housing for families, so that could be another avenue for outreach.”

Lorraine says she always has her ears open for where people might be in need. Having worked for many years within Tasmanian parish communities, she says it was easier in that setting to hear of anyone who was sick or going through a rough time. The isolation restrictions have made it difficult to get out and about, to visit people, or to hear of people’s news.

“As soon as our restrictions are lifted, I’m ready to go!” she says. “I can’t wait to get back out into the country. I was all ready to go before restrictions hit. I even had the car packed with all the other things that I take on my visits – Bernadette Wallis’ book on Fr John Wallis’ letters and the MSS cookbooks. I took them out again, but they’ll soon go back!”

Lorraine says making the rugs has brought her much joy. “Last year I gave a bag of rugs and quilts to some people in the Clarendon Vale Neighbourhood House. I asked this fellow who was covered in tattoos whether he could help me get it out of the car, and he was quite thrilled that he could get this bag out of the car for me. I usually do one square a night, so from start to finish it probably takes about a month. My time in isolation definitely hasn’t gone astray!”

Though isolation restrictions are starting to relax across Australia, Lorraine says she still has more creative creations in progress. “A friend of mine died last year and I inherited two carloads of things from her sewing room. In amongst those things, there was a lot of children’s patterns and so I’ve done the tops of two cot covers with those, but I haven’t finished them yet. I’ve heard of some other people out in the community who are in need, so that has given me fresh incentive so sew. These are the things that keep me going.”