Squared up with the Third World

Are you a closet knitter? Or are you loud and proud, knitting in the car, trackside at the motorbike races, at the beach? 
Today, people around the world raised their knitting needles in public for the World Wide Knit in Public Day (www.kipday.com) The movement started in 2005, and last year, there were 751 knit-ins around the world on the day.  
Image from Save the Children
From Amsterdam to Melbourne, knitters came out for some plein-air action, the Melbourne event contributing to the Save the Children’s Born to Knit campaign, holding a knit-in where your knitted squares (apparently however dodgy) are joined up to make blankets for vulnerable children.
Now, I haven’t knitted since I was 11, and I remember being told that I had ‘tension issues’ – I think that meant that my knitting alternated from a loopy fishing net to something as tight as a duck’s bum. But I digress. What got me was the photo of a little child of the third world, eyes darkened with kohl, clutching a beautiful blanket donated by these generous spirits. It caught me right at my newly-minted mummy’s heart, along with the event’s motto, “Better living through stitching together”.
So the Child Prodigy (CP) and I wandered down to Federation Square to see what was cooking. Much of the square was dominated by a busker busting moves, and the big screen broadcasting a speech delivered by the Dalai Lama during his visit earlier this week.
The Fed Square event was organised by wool manufacturers Australian Country Spinners. The lounges and bean bags scattered around the area were filled with eager knitters, mostly pros, but I managed to snag a set of needles and coax an old hand to teach me how to cast on, then a nice Greek lady helped with the first row, another lady talked me through correcting the stitches I’d added while she dandled CP on her knee as the Dalai Lama roared about peace in the background.

Volunteers collected the finished squares which they will stitch together into blankets to send to their programs in India, Cambodia and Laos. Some women were flipping the squares out like wildfire. Me? I had tongue firmly stuck out as I battled through four rows (I have added this pic as evidence). People, I have to get 88 rows to complete the square in my chic mauve wool. I think it’s going to take a little longer than an afternoon.

If you’re knit-tastic (and I personally know some extreme knitters) but missed out on the knit-in, they are looking to create 15,000 blankets, made of 16 squares each. You can knit your square (88 rows of 44 stitches) and drop it into any Spotlight or Lincraft store, post it to 42 Dight St, Collingwood Vic 3066, or visit Save the Children

About the author

Fear is found on a creaking glacier in the Caucasus mountains and joy is encapsulated in the perfect Shanghai dumpling. And while I love a $500-a-night hotel room (who doesn’t?), sometimes the best stories are found in a $20 guesthouse. With an eye always out for good markets and great street eats, I write the travel news and features for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers, and features for whoever else asks. I have a particular soft spot for the wilds of the Middle East, scarves and carpets. My articles and photographs have been published in a range of consumer magazines and newspapers in Australia and abroad, and occasionally I chat on radio, too, from Essentials Magazine to 3AW or the Irish Times.

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