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‘Stitches of love’: Victoria woman crochets for unhoused as winter looms

Rita Da Silva decided to create scarves for a local shelter from donated yarn
Rita Da Silva makes scarves for the unhoused in Victoria. (Rita Da Silva photo)

A simple scarf design with the needs of the homeless in mind is what Rita Da Silva’s goal was when constructing her creations.

The Victoria resident started her scarf-making venture last fall after she gave them out as presents to Our Place Society.

Our Place Society provides food and over 400 units of housing while operating as a shelter space. The facility provides hot showers, education, job skills, health care, addiction recovery services, donated clothing, counselling and outreach services for struggling people.

Last season, Da Silva created 25 scarves from donated yarn she received from organizations and people within the community.

When the weather began to grow colder, she started worrying about the people who may not have homes to keep them warm and thought of ways she could contribute.

“I can’t give them out as presents (this year), but I can still give them out to people that need them,” said Da Silva. “People are constantly giving me yarn, so I just thought, well, this year, I’m going to do it again.”

With last year’s record, she hopes to surpass it by collecting more donated yarn. She opted to post on Victoria’s Rant and Rave page on Facebook to help garner more support and get the word out.

The public was happy to oblige, and Da Silva said she received more material to work with than the previous year. She wasn’t sure if she was going to crochet again this year, but the positive feedback gave her more encouragement. Despite having a schedule change from a new job, Da Silva brings her crochet to work to work. During her 30-minute break, she will crotchet and start again when she gets home.

Her love for crocheting scarves comes from her stepmother teaching her and her sister how to do so after her mother passed.

After her father passed away years later, Da Silva regained the habit.

“One of the most enjoyable things about scarf creation is that it often returns us to our roots,” said Da Silva. “It seems to keep me calm. I have high anxiety, so I just kept on with it and have made over 30 blankets, probably over 50 scarves. Usually, when I have a blanket, I don’t keep it for myself – I give it away.

There is no name to Rita’s business. She doesn’t consider it one, just a deed that she feels is necessary to help a vulnerable community.

“When I handed the scarves out last year, everybody just loved them, and when I went out to Our Place last year, I just took a big garbage bag down full and told them I’ve got some free scarves,” said Da Silva.

During the off-season, Da Silva plans to start making blankets once the scarves are finished.

She said she encourages people to donate yarn, extra scarves or winter clothing they may have so she has more to donate. You can contact her on Facebook Messenger by searching for her first and last name to help support her donations for the unhoused.

“I do this because it puts a warm spot in my heart and the look on their faces. I know it’s only a scarf, but they really, really appreciate it.”

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