Knitting Heroes

If you are reading this the chances are you are already someone’s knitting hero. And by knitting I really mean a “yarn craft” hero. Every garment you make probably has a little sachet of love attached with an invisible note that says “I made this just for you”.

When I was about 15 I was desperate for a long black mohair jumper that would make me one of the cool crowd. We were poor but somehow my older sister both paid for the yarn and produced the jumper. I’m not sure if it made me cool (it didn’t!) but my sister was my knitting hero for years to come.

Over the years many a romance has been sealed with a hand-made pullover. A classic labour of love, with the result a testament for years to come although eventually the lucky wearer may have to get in line behind tiny garments knitted for the next generation. Then Grandma, aunties and friends might contribute as well, the new addition not even aware that knitting heroes were hard at work.

Meanwhile all around Australia and New Zealand women from all walks of life become heroes by simply teaching others. Often at a local school, sometimes in clubs or perhaps at home with younger family members – our next generation of knitting heroes begins their journey. Along the way elements of discipline, resilience and creativity are encouraged in our younger population. Multi-generational knitting heroes.

In 1997 a dedicated group of friends organised the first Alice Springs Beanie Festival ( Originally organised to sell mainly needle felted beanies made by Indigenous women in remote communities the festival has grown to become an iconic event to develop and promote Aboriginal women’s textiles and culture. Beanies of all sorts and sizes created by yarn craft people from all over Australia are displayed and sold. Every one of them Knitting heroes extraordinaire!

In 2013 Lynn Berry and Margaret Knight decided to honour their fathers who had fought in WWII by creating a small display of poppies at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance.(  This rapidly became a huge project and produced over 300,000 knitted poppies from all around the world which were ultimately displayed at Melbourne’s Federation Square as well as in the UK. Over 5,000 of these knitted, crocheted or felted poppies came from New Zealand. Not bad for a much smaller population. Kiwi knitting heroes!

And I’m not even going to start on our incredible charity knitters. That’s a whole separate subject but what an amazing group of people whether they are helping the homeless, less privileged, or oil soaked penguins. These must be the knitting heroes with capes.

Politicians haven’t escaped from knitting heroes either. The Knitting Nannas  formed around 2012 and quickly became a formidable group protesting against gas fracking and other environmental causes. The Knitting Nannas now have groups in every state of Australia as well as one in the USA and are still campaigning. Amazingly humble knitting heroes.

Even the world of fiction has knitting heroes. Remember Jo in “Little Women”? “Jo shook the blue army sock till the needles rattled like castanets, and her ball bounded across the room.” Jo was a little annoyed at something if I recall correctly. And then there was Miss Marple, regularly working her way through a complex crime mystery while simultaneously working her way through yet another pullover. Surely a knitting hero at the very least?

There is so much attached to a simple handknitted item. Few things in life can give as much simple pleasure and emotional value to both the giver and the receiver as something hand knitted.

So, my question to you is – “Who is your knitting or crochet hero? Who impresses you with the way they impact on the world with their handicraft?” It may be a Grandma knitting for a new baby. It may be the lady over the road crocheting beanies for homeless people. We would love to get to know these people and share their stories. They are truly inspiring.

Please, don’t hold back. Just write a short outline and email it to

Happy Knitting.

Steve Dowling

Extraordinary Yarns

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