Sun streaks through the plain glass panels of Josie Brown's solarium as she works away with her knitting needles.

It is a warm winter's morning and the 94-year-old is knitting a child's jersey.

Upon its completion, the woollen sweater will be one of 68 made by Brown, which will be sent to children living in the cold conditions of Eastern European countries.

"In those countries, it's 20 degrees below zero, not just for a day or a week, it's for weeks and weeks," Brown says.


"Most of the children are in orphanages, it must be awfully difficult to live like that, so it's really nice that I can do something for them."

The cause is called Operation Cover Up and is run by Mission Without Borders.

Brown found out about it through her friend Joyce Trailoar, whose daughter Judy co-ordinates efforts in Taupo.

"Last year I did 51 sweaters, I have been very lucky, a lot of people have given me wool, like my family and my friends," she says.

"I've lived in 15 degrees below zero and I've got an idea of how cold it gets."

Brown experienced that cold while living in Canada for three years, before moving to the United States for 40 and then deciding to retire in Whanganui.

She was born in Timaru, where she was taught how to knit at school.

"When I was in my young teens, I used to knit for people to make pocket money. I was mad on roller skating, so it sort of paid for that," Brown says.


"I didn't do much while I was away, but now I'm that much older and I don't have much energy, so this is great because it keeps me occupied. It's better than just staring into space."

Brown has previously knitted slippers for students at Castlecliff School and also knitted blankets for Plunket for a short period of time.

She says she will knit anything, but prefers doing children's clothes because she believes it is a good cause.

"They've got no one to take care of them and I don't think anybody really gives a toss about them over there.

"It's just sad how neglected the children are, if they were living in a country like this, they certainly would be taken care of."

The pullovers, with turtle necks for extra warmth, will be transported to a warehouse in Henderson on Friday, where they will be counted up and packaged with other clothes.

They will then be loaded up and shipped off at the end of September where they will go to needy children in countries such as Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine.