Mavis Kaschl has made more than 225 purple baby toques since the lockdown started in mid-March. (Langley Seniors Village photo/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Langley senior fashions tiny toques to spotlight shaken baby syndrome

Since mid-March, Mavis Kaschl has made more than 225 toques, all of them purple

Mavis Kaschl has her tablet for talking to sisters in England and relatives across Canada. She’s got her books on tape and the staff at Langley Seniors Village offer what activities they can.

But that wasn’t enough for the 80-year-old who has lived at the Willoughby area seniors facility since 2017.

When the complex went into lockdown mid-March and social distancing rules came into effect inside the facility, Kaschl wanted to keep busy.

“I thought if I didn’t have anything to do, it would drive me crazy,” she said. “I needed something creative to do.”

The woman originally from Northern England found her outlet. As of Thursday morning, May 28, she’s created 228 tiny purple toques for babies.

Though her daughters can’t visit with mom in person, they do keep her supplied with purple yarn. Kaschl uses a loom to make the toques, no longer able to knit with aging fingers.

“Thank goodness to my daughters,” Kaschl said. “They found all kinds of purple wool.”

Why purple?

It’s part of a special campaign to make new parents more aware of shaken baby syndrome. Baby’s are particularly vulnerable to injury from shaking or jarring movements, and new parents are sometimes unaware of this as they try to deal with long bouts of the baby crying.

To fill the hours in the day, Kaschl would turn on her books on tape and get cracking on the loom.

“Before I knew there I was I had a whole pile of toques,” she said.

The toques will be donated to hospitals across B.C. to be given to new parents along with literature about the “purple crying period” to support parents and prevent shaken baby syndrome.

As a parent, Kaschl is no stranger to crying babies and recalls how it was dealt with in her home.

“As soon as I started getting frustrated, I would walk out of the room and [her husband] would go in,” she explained. “It was a very good team.”

This isn’t the first time she’s turned out toques for tiny tots, since as she noted “babies aren’t going to stop coming.”

The facility’s Giving Hope committee held a campaign last autumn. Residents made 192 toques. Of those, Kaschl made 148. She’s also made toques for the homeless and to donate some to a local soup kitchen.

The work of the Giving Hope committee has been mostly paused since the pandemic since many of its efforts involve social interaction, but the seniors facility run by Retirement Concepts is working to keep seniors safe and active using technology and creative thinking. Distanced karaoke, for instance, is proving a popular activity.

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