Knitting 'Bus' Teddies and Zonks for the Discovery Centre

23 April 2019 | Posted in Appeal
Knitting 'Bus' Teddies and Zonks for the Discovery Centre
Bus teds and other creatures (c) Marylyn Elphick

Emma Chaplin speaks to Marylyn Elphick, who has been busy knitting some amazing creatures to raise a fantastic £500 to Buy a Bird in support of the Discovery Centre

Are you local?

I now live in Normans Bay but hail originally from beautiful Salisbury. I still visit regularly on 'water vole expeditions' to reassure myself that my favourite creatures are still in all the places I found them as a child in the city centre.

What's your connection to Rye Harbour?

As a lifelong nature watcher, I have always enjoyed visiting Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Since my grandson Alfie was born nearly thirteen years ago, we've spent many weekends there, along with his dad Russell.

You decided you wanted to support the Discovery Centre?

Yes, we thought we'd fundraise £500 to Buy a Bird in Alfie's name.

How did you go about raising the money?

A few years ago, Alfie asked, “Nanny can you knit?” because he wanted me knit a teddy for a special baby in the family, Isla. I hadn't knitted for 40 years.

I searched the internet for a 'small, knitted teddy bear' pattern and found something really simple. I found time to begin knitting again - alongside my other crafts such as up-cycling old or broken jewellery, finding walking sticks and creating things out of 'hag-stones' and driftwood.

Now I can't stop, and knit constantly, especially on public transport. As someone who has cared about the environment all my life, I despise waste of any description, but especially time. It is irreplaceable and so precious now I am past seventy years of age.

So I knitted the teddy for Alfie, and just kept going. I called them 'Bus-Teds' as they are mostly created on the bus. Alfie came up with other creative ideas, including making Seville the marmalade cat. I then made creatures called Zonks, using wild colours, giving them crazy hair-dos.

One day, Alfie made an odd creature from a moulding clay and asked if I could create it in wool. These became the popular, strange 'Longos'. 

I mostly source materials from charity shops and boot fairs.

Some of the items I knit are directly donated to charity shops for them to sell on. Alfie decides which charities. But the £500 for the Discovery Centre has been raised by selling my creations through a craft gallery on Battle High Street, called BRITISH design BRITISH made.

Quite suddenly Alfie is almost thirteen, he is taller than me, but we still love the harbour and he is still coming up with ideas to keep me fully occupied in my dotage.

If you'd like to help us raise funds for the Discovery Centre Appeal, see here for more information on how you can do that  


  • Cliff Dean:

    24 Apr 2019 12:09:00

    These are great Marylyn!! I wonder if you’d be interested in discussing with us a knitted mascot for Rye Harbour NR? It could be sold direct from our info centre. Please let me know what you think.
    Cliff Dean
    Chair, Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

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