These fingers never seem to stop.
In the last 20 years, Judy Canton has knitted thousands of mittens for young boys and girls in her hometown and beyond.
Every winter evening, Canton, 80, can be found at her home in Amherst, seated in front of the television with a pair of knitting needles in hand, going to work on another pair of mittens.
She gives every single pair away.
“There’s so much today that kids need, and mittens is one thing I can do,” she told The Cumberland Wire. “Anybody I’ve talked to who gave them away said the kids were happy to get them.”
It’s a pastime mutually beneficial to her, as she enjoys knitting, and thousands of young ones who were on the receiving end of a new pair of two-tone mittens to keep their hands warm in the winter.
“It’s a good pastime – I can watch TV and knit whenever,” said Canton. “It worked out good for everybody.”
Canton learned knitting from her mother as a little girl. She’s been knitting for most of her life and always made mittens for her own children and, later, her grandchildren.
But she started giving them away more frequently after she retired from her job as a ward clerk at the hospital about 20 years ago. With more spare time, it was something she could take up.
These days, she often gives mittens to her grandson, who is a teacher in Springhill, to distribute at the school and to Maggie’s Place, a family resource centre, that distributes them as well.
But they can make their way far and wide. Canton says she has given them to relatives in Ontario and believes they probably can be found all across Canada.
Canton doesn’t know how many mittens she has knitted, but she says it’s certainly a lot.
Given how long she has been at it and how frequently she knits – she says the only time of year she doesn’t knit is the summer – the number is surely in the thousands.
“I can knit a small mitten in an evening,” she said. “And they don’t cost me a lot.”
She buys her wool locally, and people sometimes give it to her, but she is also resourceful - unravelling handknit scarves and using that material for mittens.
Canton has experienced issues with her eyesight recently. It has kept her from doing certain activities such as reading or driving. But it has not slowed down her knitting. For her, that’s instinct now.
“I’ve been at it so long,” she said. “It’s just about automatic.”
Canton recently participated in a Q&A with the Cumberland Wire.
Q. What is your full name?
Judith Anne Canton
Q. Where and when were you born?
Q. Where do you live today?
Q. What’s your favourite place in the world?
The beach at out cottage on the Northumberland Strait.
Q. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Retiring and staying home.
Q. Can you describe one experience that changed your life?
Having kids – that changes everything.
Q. How do you like to relax?
I watch TV, I read. I do my knitting. I like to do crossword puzzles. I like time at the beach and being able to get out a walk.
Q. What is your greatest fear?
Q. What is your most treasured possession?
Q. What physical or personality trait are you most grateful to a parent for?
Both of my parents were good people, hardworking and they passed that along to their kids.
Q. What is your best quality, and what is your worst quality?
My best is looking after my family and my worst is probably my driving.
Q. If you didn’t take your career path, what would you have chosen?
To be a nurse. I was always interested in that.