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Dawn’s fiery whopper

When she crocheted a dragon’s wing two years ago, Dawn Walsh didn’t know what a scaly project she had started.

Fast forward two years and more than $300 worth of wool and stuffing.

Dorothy the Dragon, with a wingspan of 5ft5in and a full length of 8ft6in [2.9m], had became one of Featherston’s newest residents, with a fiery community spirit and a green leaning.

The idea hatched when Dawn’s brother-in-law suggested she crochet a dragon to sit on the back of a settee. Getting hold of a pattern, Dawn let rip on the first section of Dorothy, but it wasn’t until one wing was completed that she realised the creature was so big.

“It pays to read the pattern properly,” said Dawn, who has been knitting since the age of seven as a girl in England.

“I thought, ‘this could take me four years’ but for the last six months I really went for it – the tail alone is over 500 rows.”

At some point during the two years of making Dorothy, Dawn ran out of the green wool she was using and couldn’t source more.

“That’s why I switched to multi-coloured wool,” she said. “Dorothy’s toenails are white double knit.”

When it came to the stuffing, Dawn used king and queen-sized duvets and “lots of pillows” to get Dorothy plump enough for her liking.

With the final stitch in place, she offered Dorothy to a children’s hospital ward in Wellington but they turned it down – probably due to her size.

“Then I was walking my dogs in Featherston and bumped into someone from the Volunteer Fire Brigade, who told me they were looking for donations and raffle prizes.

“I said ‘I’ve got a dragon’.”

The fire brigade accepted the donation with open arms and put Dorothy up for auction on TradeMe. When Midweek went to press, bids were at $203 with the reserve not met. If the dragon sold, money would go to support organisation Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ.

A member of the popular Friday knitting circle at Featherston Community Centre, Dawn often knits or crochets toys, including mini hedgehogs for the town’s medical centre, to give children after treatments and vaccinations.

“They say knitting and crochet is good for weight loss, as your hands are too busy to snack – but it’s never worked for me,” Dawn said.

A former employee of Rimutaka Prison, she is now retired but does the odd shift at P&K in Martinborough.

As for Dorothy’s pattern, it was flung into the fire soon after the dragon was finished.

“I never want to see it again,” Dawn said.

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