A group of Whanganui women have used their knitting skills to create 40 knitted dolls, to help children at Whanganui Hospital's children's ward express their emotions.

The Jane Winstone Retirement Village group have used their knit-and-natter sessions to create dolls that have a smiley face on one side and a sad face on the other.

This design is to help children communicate when are they sick, stressed or when they cannot express through words how they are feeling.

One of the knitters, Barbara Cromarty, said "If it puts a little smile on one face, it's been worth it."

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Paediatric nurse Rose Bourne said the dolls were wonderful.

"The dolls can be the friend children take home with them, It helps provide a happy memory during what can be a tough time."

The group have been knitting the dolls over the last four months and have also made clothes for Women's Refuge and Jigsaw as part of a wider community knitting project.

Charmaine Staines, a Jane Winstone Village van driver who has also knitted some dolls, said it takes about an evening to sew, stuff and stuff a doll and get the arms and head right. It also takes an evening to knit a doll.

"The dolls are all different, they've all got different personalities. It's really enjoyable making them, it was easy knitting and lots of fun, it's good to do something for the community," she said.

Lyn Dawson of Peggy & Friends, who was sponsored by Ryman Healthcare to visit each retirement village, supplied patterns and bamboo knitting needles.

Their next project is booties for newborn babies in Whanganui Hospital's neonatal unit.