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STILL KNITTING UP A STORM: With the rise of the Internet, long-time knitters have discovered a spectacular new world of blogs, patterns and specialist yarns, not to mention knitting friends around the globe.

Popular sites on the Web include:

  • Ravelry, a huge social network for knitters; and
  • Stitch London, a global stitching community with the motto: "Keep calm and carry yarn."

In Making is Connecting (Polity), David Gauntlett, a professor of Media and Communications (University of Westminster, U.K.) explains making things connects us to our world. And knitting is a good example.

"Nowadays people feel a growing need to be creators of the things, not just consumers," he says.



TORONTO HOSPITAL INTRODUCES NEW STORY TOOL: Recently Wendy Nixon suffered a serious fall and was admitted to St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

Shortly after, a My Story poster appeared above her bed.

The new communications tool told her medical team that she:

  • is an elementary school teacher;
  • owns a Blue Merle Shetland sheepdog named Bridget;
  • loves tea, wild rice and bannock;
  • enjoys crafts, sewing, and watching Glee; and
  • earned four academic degrees in nine years.

The idea is to personalize care.

The new story tool is the brainchild of a woman, who discovered her husband, after a car crash, had been listed as a "John Doe" at California’s St. Jude Medical Center. She mounted facts about him around the room and asked medical staff to read them before treating him.

At St. Michael’s, nurses Kerry-Anne Caissie and Ruby Gorospe have come up with a two-page poster that is offered to family members and friends of patients in critical and palliative care.

Nixon filled out her own poster and included a drawing of her sheepdog Bridget.

"It really breaks down the boundaries," Nixon said. "It makes it a meaningful relationship, rather than just a stranger and somebody who is receiving personal care."



WHICH WAY TO THE GENTLEMEN’S CLUB? Women far outnumber men in residential care settings today. With fewer numbers, men may become socially isolated.

In an interesting discovery, a British group has found that the creation of gender-based groups in residential care settings can help men counteract experiences of marginalization.

The study is based on 26 adults, aged 70 to 90 years of age. All participants were residents of Cornwell Care homes in the South West of England. They formed nine groups – five gentlemen’s clubs and four ladies clubs. Members met every two weeks.

Popular activities included:

  • museums visits;
  • movie afternoons;
  • lunchtime outings; and
  • flower arranging.

A country for old men

The study found gender-based groups had positive effects for both men and women, but they were especially beneficial for men.

In particular, gentlemen’s clubs:

  • increased life satisfaction by providing opportunities for social interaction. "The club has saved my life," one participant said;
  • strengthened social identity by bolstering a sense of group identity. This allowed individuals to feel more "at home" in residential care. "Yes, we become a team," one man observed. "A team;"
  • and reduced depression. After participating in the club for 12 weeks, men’s depression scores decreased significantly.

Ilka Gleibs and co-workers published details of the study in the journal Aging & Mental Health (Vol. 15, No. 4, 2011).


DOCUMENTARY IS A THING OF WONDER: Interested in sparking lively conversation with your grandchildren the next time they come to visit. You might want to check out Journey of the Universe.

In this 60-minute film, Brian Thomas Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker propose: "The great discovery of contemporary science is that the universe is not simply a place but a story – a story in which we are immersed, to which we belong, and out of which we arose."

This sweeping story of life – from the Big Bang to today – is sure to enchant all, and it will enhance young people’s love of nature.