23 May 2024

Kiama gives new meaning to 'a good yarn' for Worldwide Knit in Public Day

| Dione David
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Local women who have donated handmade wraps to Wrap with Love

Kiama women Leanne and Coral donating their latest blankets to Wrap with Love. Photos: Boni Maywald.

Knitting may not be widely regarded as the “hippest” of past times, but as Kiama woman Boni Maywald says, “Who cares, it’s fun”.

When Worldwide Knit in Public Day hits next month, she’ll be front and centre of a group of knitting, sewing and craft enthusiasts inviting – nay, daring – the wider public to ignore the haters and knit their hearts out.

“It’s a time of year to bring this art form that’s perhaps not always the most popular into public spaces and declare loud and proud, ‘I’m a knitter and I’m quite OK with doing it right here for the world to see, thank you very much,'” Boni laughs.

But there’s another motivation for the long-time knitter to parade this passion. Boni is a long-time member of Wrap with Love, a network of generous and enthusiastic knitters, area contacts, administration staff, media, transport companies and aid organisations that wraps more than 30,000 people with love and warmth each year, in Australia and around the world.

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Since its inception in 1992, Wrap with Love has sent more than 600,000 warming wraps to people in dozens of countries across the globe.

Hardworking and generous volunteers knit squares or entire blankets anywhere in Australia and Wrap with Love distributes them to people in need of warmth.

This includes to war-stricken people or people living in poverty overseas, Australians doing it tough following natural disasters, Australian Indigenous communities and people being rehoused, fleeing violence or seeking help from charities like ProjectKindness or Sister2Sister.

It’s grassroots community work at its best.

“It’s a very loose but effective network of people who want to spend time knitting, crocheting and giving what they can make to help people in any number of difficulties get back on their feet,” Boni says.

Blankets donated to Wrap with Love

At Worldwide Knitting Day in Kiama, you can learn or hone skills to knit, crochet and sew, with the option to donate your creations to Wrap with Love, a charity that has distributed 600,000 wraps to people in need across the globe.

Worldwide Knitting Day in Kiama will support Wrap with Love through numerous free events held throughout the month including a fortnight-long exhibition of some of the best locally handmade Knit with Love blankets.

The flagship event – “Knit in the Great Outdoors” – will be held from noon on Worldwide Knit in Public Day (Saturday 8 June) at Kiama Community Garden.

Some will come to up their knitting game, others might be picking up a new hobby and others still will just be there for a good yarn – so to speak – and that’s OK, too.

All will have the option to donate creations to Wrap with Love, but there’s no pressure – quite the contrary.

“Anyone can get involved in any capacity,” Boni says.

“You can just turn up; you don’t have to book. If you don’t know how to knit, we’ll show you. If you don’t have materials, we share our patterns, yarn, hooks and knitting needles and there’s also plenty of friendship to go around.”

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It’s an extension of the monthly Knit+Chats sessions held at Kiama and Gerringong libraries. This small but active operation has been a galvanising force in the community.

“Anyone who wants to lend a hand to Wrap with Love or simply learn how to do it is welcome. There’s no charge and it’s very sociable and supportive,” Boni says.

“The volunteers are very generous with their time and expertise when it comes to helping people who just want to learn something new. We’ve also found it’s been a great way for people who’ve just moved to the area to form friendships and get immersed in their local community.

“We also go to older people in care homes who want to keep knitting and crocheting, but who perhaps aren’t as able as they used to be. We help unravel wool and do the more finicky work to get their squares stitched together into a wrap. It means they can still contribute and it really gives them a sense of achievement.”

To help with material support for Wrap With Love charity blankets contact local coordinators Boni or Peter Maywald on 0424 641 663.

Worldwide Knit in Public Day is on Saturday 8 June, and the Kiama community will celebrate with free public events:

  • Monthly Knit+Chat at Kiama Library on Thursday 6 June, from 2 to 4 pm
  • Knit in the great outdoors with the monthly artists at Kiama Community Garden on Saturday 8 June, from noon
  • Kiama Library glass cabinet display of local handmade Wrap with Love blankets, from Monday 17 to Saturday 29 June
  • Monthly Knit+Chat at Gerringong Library on Friday 28 June, from 11 am to 1 pm.

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