By Jessica Messerer-Trosin
Irene Covington’s holiday-themed pins have brought smiles to the faces of many people. Always a fan of crafting, Covington began knitting at age 19, but eventually she grew tired of it.
“I used to knit, knit, knit a lot and I got tired of knitting so I wanted to do something else,” she said.
Based on the design of a wreath pin her aunt had, Covington made her first pin.
When she had six prepared, she took them with her to church on Sunday. They were a hit!
“I showed the girls and they were, ‘ooooo,’ ‘ohhhh,’ ‘ahhhh,’ and I thought ‘ah-ha! I can make some money with those’.”
Covington comes up with all of her own designs which are then traced onto felt, sewn together and then hand-embroidered with beads and sequins.
Covington, now 93, has been making these pins for about 20 years now, and from the beginning has sold them to raise money for the choir at the Kamloops United Church.
“One day I opened my big mouth and said, ‘Can I help?’ and then you’re in with both feet,” she said.
She also helped out with meals and special dinners.
In addition to Christmas pins, Covington has made rabbits, eggs, flowers and butterflies for Easter and pumpkins and “b-o-o” for Halloween.
Selling the pins for $3 each, she has raised a substantial amount for the choir. One year alone, she contributed $1,500.
This year Covington didn’t sell pins for the choir; instead she made over 100 to give to the residents and staff at Bedford Manor.
That didn’t stop her charity, however. Covington knitted 41 toques for PIT Stop to help those less fortunate in Kamloops.
Although a lifelong crafter, it wasn’t until she changed residences that she took up her hobby of making pins for a second time.
Before moving into Bedford Manor, Covington decided to give up making pins.
“Then all of a sudden, I had had it. And I got rid of all my stuff,” she said.
When she moved, the lady in charge Irene had done of the recreation heard about what and insisted that she make one.
“That got me going again,” she said. “I was going through the felt in the craft room, and I saw some orange and I thought ‘oh, that’s great, I’ll take that,’ and I brought it home here and I turned it over and there on the top corner was my tracing of ‘b-o-o.’”
“After all those years, how it turned up and how they got it, I don’t know. But I cut it out and I’ve got it in a box,” Covington said. “I couldn’t believe my eye but I knew it was mine.”
She is especially proud that her pins have made their way across Canada and into the United States. Many women have bought them and mailed them away, she said.
Over the years, she has made some custom pins as well. With all her experience, Covington doesn’t have to look at the beads anymore — she just feels for the tiny holes with her fingers.
“I should know how to do it by now, if I’m ever going to learn,” she said.