The Illawarra’s human knitting machine Kerry Butt is at it again, and this time, her highly original take on the craft has produced a mini Christmas tree.
The former Fairy Meadow nurse had to teach herself to knit as a child as she is left-handed and no one could teach her, but now she’s rarely seen without a pair of needles clacking away.
“I love knitting, it’s yoga for my fingers but every once in a while I get sick of knitting jumpers and cardigans, so I have a go at whatever inspires me,” Kerry said.
And her inspiration has taken her to all sorts of places.
“I’ve knitted bras, bikinis, cakes and marine life, including prawns.”
Her multi-coloured Christmas tree took a week to knit and involves a technique by New York knitting guru Nicky Epstein.
“Inspiration for these pieces is everywhere, but the challenge is finding the right technique and Epstein’s is brilliant because the pom poms don’t fall apart like the traditional ones,” Kerry said.
She used a Dollar Shop traffic cone for the structure, which she covered with green felt.
“The challenge was the endless fiddly knitting that came afterwards with the 80 pom poms,” she said.
Like most artists, she sometimes suffers for her art.
“I had to use a glue gun, which was loaded with boiling glue and some repeatedly dribbled on my right little finger,” she said raising a reddened and tender-looking digit,” Kerry said.
Could her tree be a Yuletide first?
“Well, I’ve been knitting for 60 years and I’ve never seen one, nor has anybody in my knitting circle, but I won’t make any wild claims,” Kerry said with a grin.
Her traditional knitting, some of which she sells at Red Point Arts Centre, is exquisite, but she never takes commissions.
“This is my hobby and my creative outlet … if I get paid for doing an item that somebody has ordered, then it becomes work, and I don’t want that.”
Kerry is unsure what her next challenge will be, but nothing is sacred.
“I’d have a crack at anything – if I saw something that inspired me, I’d give it a go, and if I failed, I failed, and I’d move on.”