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Airdrie woman knitting toques to fund fertility treatment

Kelsey Gyarmati, a Big Springs resident for the last six years, said she is hoping the sale of her knitted clothing items will earn her enough to pay for in vitro fertilization (IVF)

An Airdrie entrepreneur is hoping to knit and sell 1,000 home-made toques to held fund her fertility treatment.

Kelsey Gyarmati, a Big Springs resident for the last six years, said she is hoping the sale of her knitted clothing items will earn her enough to pay for in vitro fertilization (IVF) – a fertilization procedure that helps assist with the conception of a child.

“Knitting 1,000 toques is going to take me probably half a year, but it was just the first thing I could think of doing,” Gyarmati said.

Gyarmati has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. According to a post on Mayoclinic.org, women with PCOS may have "infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone levels," making it hard to conceive.

Gyarmati said she and her husband have tried to conceive for five years. She added IVF is the last step in fertility treatment, but is a costly procedure.

“Honestly, it came down to a little bit of frustration,” she said. “IVF is very expensive, and this was just something I could do. It's something I could actually work towards to try and get to that point.”

An avid knitter, Gyarmati said her grandmother taught her to knit when she was 18 years old.

After getting married, she said she set up a home business called KLG Knits – named after both her and her step-son’s initials. Through the business, she knits and sells home-made clothing items, including toques, scarves and head bands, among others.

“It's a side-hustle, so I work full-time somewhere else and have done this for the past five years, visiting markets and stuff like that,” she said. “I thought I would take it to the next step and [use this to] try to get somewhere on the fertility journey as well.”

The length of time it takes Gyarmati to knit one of her toques varies, depending on the technique she employs. Gyarmati has a loom, which allows her to knit a toque in as little as 30 minutes, though if she uses her needles, it takes anywhere from three to 10 hours, depending on which yarn she uses.

Gyarmati added each of her toques costs between $25 and $35. In order to fund her IVF treatment, she said she would need to sell around 1,000 toques. 

“The baseline you initially pay is $15,000, but that is just for your basic procedure, your basic meds,” she said.

“There are storage fees on top of that and because it's a private practice, you have to pay for all your ultrasounds, blood work and testing. By the end, you're looking at closer to $30,000.”

To raise awareness of her toque-selling campaign, Gyarmati hosted a pop-up garage market sale on Nov. 20 at her residence in Big Springs, where she showcased her current inventory of roughly 100 toques, as well as other clothing items she has previously knitted.

“It's just kind of a kick-off point to get the idea into people's heads,” she said. 

According to Gyarmati, one unexpected result of her campaign has been the opportunity to talk to other women who are struggling to conceive. She added she hopes her toque-selling campaign helps bring awareness to PCSO and normalizes fertility issues.

“I know one in four people suffer with the same condition I have, which is PCOS, and one in six couples struggle with fertility,” she said. “It's a common thing but we don't talk about it.

"I noticed since I've been posting that a lot more of my friends are commenting, sharing their stories and experiences. It's building a little more of a community where people feel safe to talk about what they're going through.”

To purchase one of Gyarmati toques, visit klgknits.com or email info@klgknits.com

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