Lady that knits


Jo Fensome helps support the local area through knitting. Here, the Friends of Wanstead Parklands member explains her nickname and why she loves living here

A few years ago, as I came out of Wanstead Station, a woman came up to me and said: “You’re the lady that knits!” Her son had bought a little pumpkin I had knitted and he had lost it and she wondered if I had any more. So, that’s who I am now!

I was born in Lewisham Hospital on the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour (7 December 1941). Useful knowledge in quizzes. When I was two years old, we were bombed out of our home in Streatham and evacuated to a little village close to Malvern. After the war, we moved back to Streatham and then to Bexleyheath. My youth was spent as a member of the Woodcraft Folk and I spent each summer camping in the UK and once in Norway and once in Austria.

When I married I moved to a village in Kent called Lenham where I joined the Women’s Institute. Life got complicated and I moved to Leeds with my daughter Ruth. My parents had moved to Tadcaster so we were close to them. I taught in a primary school in Bramley. When Leeds closed down their middle schools, I took early retirement. I then spent my time as a Woodcraft Folk Leader and on many management committees. I also volunteered at a Development Education Centre, thus continuing some work in schools.

My daughter moved to Forest Gate after university. My best friend in Leeds was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s and went into residential care in Plymouth. I decided to move closer to my daughter and thus bought my flat in Wanstead in June 2009.

I really enjoy the fact that I have Wanstead Park on one side and Wanstead Flats on the other. As I like to know more about the place I live, I joined the Friends of Wanstead Parklands and was soon a member of the committee.

I looked for a way to raise money for the Friends and found some pattern books for knitted toys. I now knit many toys which are sold on the various stalls we run and also on the litter pick days in the park (second Sunday of every month; meet at the Temple at 11am). I was delighted to raise £196 at the last Wanstead Festival by selling the knitted animals. When Covid came along, I left the committee but still knit toys to sell.

I love Wanstead Park because I always feel better when I am in it. The greenery and the lakes give me great pleasure. I love to visit the Temple when it is open and enjoy a coffee or diet coke bought from the Tea Hut. I sit by the side of Heronry Pond watching the ducks, geese and swans enjoying themselves. I’ve seen great crested grebes and many small water creatures. I’ve listened to all the birds that frequent the woods. I am very glad to have moved here.

For more information on the Friends of Wanstead Parklands, visit wnstd.com/fwp