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Dear Mum, thank you for this gift


This week I've been teaching my 8 year old to knit. Her first attempt is looking a lot like my first foray into knitting. Its a bit wonky, but she is proud. And I am proud.

There is something about wool. Its innate warmth and comfort. Something about the craft itself that conjures that feeling of connection to women throughout the ages, teaching their daughters, passing on knowledge, instilling that sense of comfort and pride. A single piece of yarn binding us all together through time.

My mum taught me to knit when I was six and I remember that she started me off with 10 stitches but that I ended up with 70+ after the "scarf" had reached about a foot. When I taught Anna the other night we started with six stitches. Hold this needle so, loop behind and in between, pull it through and drop one off the end - every time we finished a stitch we counted that we had six again. One on the right and five on the left. Two on the right and four on the left. I've drummed it in to her because I think I must have missed that step when I was learning.

Yes, my first scarf was a "bit" wonky to put it mildly, and then Mrs Anderson, who was relief teaching our class, "helped" me out by dropping the stitches back to ten for me, with very large and loose stitches, and I said thank you politely but went home and cried, because it all looked awful, and it wasn't mine anymore.

I must have become better over the years, although I don't quite remember when. Knitting is a craft I have visited infrequently and I still only have the basics. But I recognise its specialness. It is somewhere I have come when I moved out of home, when I was nesting, when my babies were small and now again when they are old enough to learn. It holds within it everything that is precious about home and family.

Recently I have started knitting as part of the Knitting Nannas - a mining protest that I have attended a few times to make a stand against the mining companies that want access to valuable agricultural land in our region. I wonder where the seed of this idea came from, but it has quickly become an iconic and widespread form of mining protest across NSW. And what better form of peaceful protest could there be but one that universally conjures images of our precious mums and grandmas and the warmth of home? There is power in knitting for sure.


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