How you can help make a massive blanket made of hundreds of handmade poppies

New West Record

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The Poppy Project is getting set to bloom once again in New Westminster.

The Poppy Project/File photo

Two years ago, a group of local knitters started a community art project that involved knitting, crocheting or felting poppies that would become part of a blanket that could be displayed in New West for Remembrance Day. Last November, the blanket consisting of hundreds on poppies was part of a display that made the rounds of a number of local venues, including the Armoury, River Market and Royal City Centre.

Reena Meijer Drees, who helped spearhead the initiative, said the project has received a generous donation of red sheep’s wool from West Coast Colour.

“Now we are set for the next two years of the wet felting sessions,” she said. “We are hoping to hold three public felting sessions so that people from the public can come by, drop in and make a poppy for the blanket.”

Volunteers of all ages are invited to attend upcoming free wet-felting sessions where they can make poppies for the blanket.

  • Saturday, Oct. 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Anvil Centre, 777 Columbia Street
  • Saturday, Oct. 27 from 1 to 3 p.m. at River Market, 810 Quayside Drive

“It’s completely open. All the material is provided,” said Meijer Drees. “It will be supervised. We will show you what to do. It takes maybe 15 to 20 minutes to make one. We have all the materials there – all the wool, all the embellishment materials like buttons if you want to jazz it up.”

Organizers are also working to host a third session in October, but the date and time are yet to be confirmed.

“They will be added to the blanket,” Meijer Drees said of this year’s poppies. “The blanket is going to get bigger.”

The poppy has been a symbol of Remembrance since the First World War, after Lt.-Col. John McCrae’s was inspired to write In Flanders Fields after seeing poppies growing among soldiers’ graves in Belgium.

“It’s really nice when you are doing them. We have been asked by one of the veterans’ homes to come in and make them. We are really keen on that. What we’d really like is to sit down and hear the stories of people, what connects people to these poppies,” Meijer Drees said. “It’s about those stories, so we don’t forget that. It isn’t about the poppies – it’s about those stories.”

While poppy production slows down in the spring and summer, some folks have continued to make poppies and drop them off at Cosy Yarns and Gifts in River Market. Anyone who has made poppies for the blanket is welcome to drop them off at Cosy Yarns, which is also planning to hold poppy-making sessions.

The Poppy Project is also working on plans to once again display the blanket at local venues in time for Remembrance Day.