A throwback to Remembrance Day 2021 at Coolibah Care.

Coolibah’s Carolyne, and resident Helga, pictured here with the Poppy Train Dress they lovingly crocheted. Their story was featured on the front page of the Mandurah Mail .. and we’re sharing some of that story again with you here.

When Helga, a resident of Coolibah Care in Mandurah, met staff member Carolyne, they instantly bonded over their mutual love of arts and crafts. “The Coolibah Care Day Club was making nests for animals after the bushfires, so I joined to help crochet the nests and it got me into crocheting again, ” Carolyne said.

Helga has been crocheting since she was a small child and said she “learned to crochet before I started school”.

“I lost two of my fingers in an accident so I needed to do exercises and my mum was handy at sewing and all of that, she was very crafty. “We did all crafts – knitting, stitching, whatever I could use my hands for.”

Originally from Germany, Helga grew up and began working with her love of textiles full-time and later went into dressmaking and tailoring.

Helga arrived in Australia in 1956, when she was 24, and met her future husband in Northam. They were married for 52 years.

Helga remembers having to adapt her training in textiles to translate to the Australian style of stitching. “Being from Germany, I still had to find out all the stitches – my German stitches were different sizes to the Australian ones.”

After forming a friendship with Helga in the Coolibah Care Day Club, Carolyne asked Helga if she wanted to embark on the Poppy Dress project, after seeing the idea on the internet.

They started in January 2021, and after plenty of trips to Spotlight for more wool, they had spent 250 hours crocheting poppies and sewing them onto the gown.

Carolyne said that “Helga helped and taught me to crochet again and it just went from there.”

After eight months of hard work, and crocheting well over 700 poppies, the project was complete.

It was around this time that Helga had a health scare but it hasn’t stopped her from creating beautiful new projects.