A SCARF long enough to keep a locomotive cosy – knitted by an elderly care home resident – was centre stage of Saltburn’s 160th anniversary celebrations.
Joyce Baxtrum, 90, received VIP treatment at Saltburn Miniature Railway when her 300ft scarf was wrapped around the carriages of one of the trains.
The resident at Hazlegrove Court Care Home, on Randolph Street, began the colossal knit during the first national lockdown, to relieve stress, and didn’t stop until it was longer than three blue whales.
She finally put down the knitting needles when lockdown ended and donated her scarf to help decorate Saltburn Miniature Railway as part of the town’s recent celebrations.
The first carriage of the scarf-wrapped train was reserved for Joyce, who received a round of applause from the gathered crowd, train drivers and railway volunteers as she boarded.
She also knitted a flag bearing the words “160 years of Saltburn” to decorate the front of the train.
The station had an information plaque about Joyce and the scarf’s creation, alongside a photo of her and giant knitting needles, made by Hazelgrove Court Care Home activities coordinator, Sharon Lewis.
Joyce said: “I haven’t been on the train in years. I used to bring my children to ride on it in the summer. How lovely to see my lockdown scarf wrapped around the roof.
“I’m really pleased that people wanted to keep a memento of the scarf.”
Sharon said: “The plan is to take the scarf off the train and divide it into smaller scarves to sell. There was a lot of interest in this as everyone wanted a piece of the scarf.
“Joyce thinks it’s great the scarf will be used to help raise funds for the miniature railway as well as go towards the upkeep of local landmark Harriet the mini-Engine. She is also looking forward to helping sell the smaller scarves.”
Joyce started knitting as a child and has continued her “favourite hobby” throughout her life to relax.
She received donations of wool from the care home staff, friends, and family, who bought it for her on special occasions, such as Christmas and birthdays, throughout the years.
When the first nationwide lockdown came into effect, she used her stash of wool to start her scarf, and by May it reached over 150ft and was so big she had to roll it into a beachball sized bundle to store it.
She said: “I’ve always enjoyed a challenge and knitting is my favourite hobby. It’s always helped me to relax and relieve anxiety.
“So I decided to start knitting a scarf and not stop until we’re out of this lockdown.
“I call it my lockdown scarf. I love showing it to people. It’s a conversation starter when I’ve had visitors.
“I’ve always knit. I used to knit for my children. Cardigans and jumpers. My grandma taught me. When we had to knit at school, I was the only one in my class who could already do it.
“I think my grandma would be proud of the scarf.”