Whangarei's knitting fundraiser has to hang up her needles after she developed carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists.

For the past nine months, Doreen Brechelt has been knitting coffee cup warmers to sell at Columbus Cafe at Mitre 10 Mega, with the proceeds going to buy children's clothes for Barnardos.

So far she has raised more than $1500 and her knitted cup warmers even grace the cups of Northland MP and NZ First leader Winston Peters, who bought three for $50 after a story on them appeared in the Northern Advocate last June.

Mrs Brechelt also sews toys for the Northern Advocate's annual Christmas Appeal. She said while she could continue to make the toys, she could no longer knit up a storm.


"I've got carpel tunnel in both wrists and have to have operations on them both. I can still sew - just put me in front of a sewing machine with some material and away I go - but I can't knit. Hopefully I may be able to at some stage in the future, but not how."

She started the knitathon after reading in the Advocate about children in need in the district.

"I was reading articles about children who need warm clothes and I thought, 'how can I help?'" Mrs Brechelt said.

She took her knitted coffee warmers to Lynda Gibson at Columbus Cafe, who said "bring it on" and agreed to sell the coffee warmers to customers.

Rabbits, dolls, clotheslines, caterpillars, little boys and girls, flowers, hedgehogs and even taniwha kept her busy, and the more she knitted, the more complicated they became.

"I absolutely loved it," she said. "You feel like life is worthwhile when you're doing something like that."

Ms Gibson said it was a fabulous effort from Mrs Brechelt, and she had raised a lot of money for Barnardos.

"She is a wonderful, caring woman and is quite cross that she cannot continue, but the pain is just too great now," Ms Gibson said.

There are only a few of the coffee warmers left at Columbus so anybody wanting one had better get in quick.