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Knit me a jumper, I’ll write you some words

Knitfest MalenyMaleny was all wrapped up in colourful wool last weekend. The Knitfest Yarn and Fibre Arts Festival was on and a clandestine group of needle-happy knitters yarn-bombed the town – trees, shopfronts, the cow sculpture out the front of Woolies – nothing was safe.

People came from far and wide to admire the knitting and crocheting, snapping pics for their Instagram accounts and laughing at the quirky knitting displays all through Maple Street.I’m a shit knitter and always have been.

Both my grandmothers were incredible with their hands – knitting, crocheting, sewing. Women of those generations could do all that and more.When I was a young girl, my talented grandmothers sat patiently and tried to teach me to knit and crochet. I failed miserably at both. I lacked patience, dexterity and interest. I was always doomed to be a failed hippie, really.

No knitting or sewing skills, not really big on gardening or raw foods or crystal healing or other hippie art forms.I remember one of my grandmothers knitted me a beautiful boat-neck red jumper when I was about 13 and I didn’t appreciate it at all. I had to try it on while she and mum admired it on me, remarked on how well it fitted, and I stood there, rolling my eyes.

It took a great deal of maturity before I could really appreciate these crafts. Not until I had my first child, and my mother bought a hand-knitted rainbow jumper for my baby boy, did I appreciate it.I got so many comments on that jumper in Maleny. It was bright and colourful and kept him warm. I remember one hippie lady saying: “He’s wearing love”.

He’s wearing love! This baby is now a teenager and refuses to wear rainbow jumpers.

That’s when I got it. Knitting and crochet allow you to wear love. No love goes into machine-made clothing. But you can’t sit there for hours and hours and knit or crochet without putting any love into it. It has to contain a bit of love, or what’s the point?

My grandma used to sit in front of Days of Our Lives and knit baby clothes to sell to a store, so engrossed in the melodramatic storylines she barely looked down as her fingers clicked away, transforming the wool into a matinée jacket or bootees. I found it mesmerising.

Were she alive today, she’d probably find it equally mesmerising that I can sit down and type words for hours without looking at the keyboard.But ask me to knit or crochet some wool into something tangible and you’ll be sorely disappointed. I’d sooner poke both my eyes out with the knitting needles.

However, while I’m not a knitter or a crafty person in any way, shape or form, I don’t want these old arts to die and I think Knitfest is a good thing for a town like Maleny.

It suits us. It’s on just when the weather gets cold, when people want to take a trip up the mountain for coffee and chai and to see a town wrapped up in colourful wool.

That so many clever people put so much time into it, is charming and a bit silly, and it reminds us to slow down and appreciate these little stitches in time. And a town wrapped in love is a rare sight to see.

Do you knit or crochet? Or are you like me and can’t do it to save your life? Share your experiences with me in the comments section below.

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A penny for your thoughts?

Leigh Robshaw

Journalist – Feature Writer – Author

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