Tag Archives | Australia

Craftivism’s Cover Story in Australia!

This happened today, which has made my weekend! It’s a cover story about craftivism in Australia, complete with interviews with Sayraphim Lothian, Casey Jenkins, and Tal Fitzpatrick!

Also, I’ve been lucky enough to have been asked to participate in a show at the Fuller Craft Museum this May! For my piece, I’m going to be sending in YASVB signs that will be displayed during the show then given away to the community for free when it is over.

Here are some shots by my dear friend Cynthia to get you thinking…

Cynthia 1

Cynthia 2


And since this is in a museum show about the DIY craft community, I want to spread the word as far as I can within it. Therefore, I would love it if *YOU* helped spread the word! How can you do so? By clicking either over here (how the project came together, with a link to details) or here (just the details themselves_, which share project information, then clicking on one of the share buttons on the side of your screen!

Knitting From Nothing, Rug By WWII Prisoner of War

I get a lot of really great emails from people telling me about some of the absolutely brilliant things that people do. Yesterday was no exception when I discovered the story of Jim Simpson, who knitted a rug while a prisoner of war in Germany with unraveled garments, using pot handles as knitting needles.

Click on the italic text to go to the respective news stories. And never forget the power and spirit invoked by embracing your creative spirit.

From The Weekly Times:
Jim Simpson would have to be the toughest man to ever pick up a pair of knitting needles.

The former prisoner of war, who spent more than 19 months in Germany’s World War II prison camps, not only survived interrogations and torture but managed to knit arguably Australia’s most valuable war artefact, outside a museum.

Jim’s rug is a perfectly preserved 1.83m x 1.9m knitted woollen blanket, featuring the map of Australia and the Coat of Arms.

“I knitted it with straightened handles from the camp’s cooking pots; they looked like pieces of number eight wire,” Jim says.

“The cook agreed to give them to me if I knitted him a pair of socks.”

Jim credits his mum and his practical bushman’s upbringing in the Nariel Valley, near Corryong, for his knitting skills.

“It’s one of those things, if you put your mind to it, you can do it. I could even turn the heel of a sock as a kid,” he says.


And in Jim’s own words here:

At about this time I had gathered quite a few worn out pullovers, some lousy, some not. Boiling the garments for a few minutes kills the lice and their eggs, and it did not seem to hurt the wool very much. I knitted a few pairs of socks for some who were eager to escape, but they all seemed to return rather crestfallen, but; with socks intact. With this result I gathered enough wool, so I started teaching some of the lads to knit, about forty in all.

They were really good lads, especially the R.A.F. boys. They were helpful in getting more old worn out pullovers to delouse, dismantle and roll into balls of wool of many colours. I had Red Cross Parcel boxes of balls of wool, especially the white wool, which was to be used in the White Map of Australia, which I had envisaged to be able to produce for the centre piece of my rug. The Jerries were very curious about these boxes of wool, but accepted my explanation for them.

Oh, and once you’ve wrapped your head around this awesomeness, consider the fact that it took Jim six weeks to make the rug. Yes, arguably he had a lot of free time on his hands, but it’s still incredible nonetheless. And the next time you complain about not having what you need at hand to finish a project, remember that even in the toughest times, beauty can still find its way to you, with a little creativity, fierceness and love.

Read more about Jim here, here and here. A Google quick search for him also turns up some interesting stories online via PDF. Jim’s rug is also profiled in The Knitted Rug by the wonderful and always inspiring Donna Druchunas.

How Quickly We Forget. (And Bushfire Donation List)

Seeing that I was sick on Valentine’s Day, I never got to post the following photo. I still don’t understand how these hearts in the big plastic bag made it pass the cut and were allowed to mingle with tiny pastel hearts that say “kiss me” or “in love” or even the somewhat pathetic attempt to remain hip, “u r the 1.” It may seem completely unrelated to the rest of the post, but deep down, I think it makes sense somehow?

It’s been a few days since the bushfires caused havoc in Australia. It’s out of our radar now for those of us outside of Australia. Old news.

We have other conflicts and troubles and fights and skuffles to take care of, so there’s a few days spent on illuminating a disaster and then it’s time to move on. It’s always after the news cameras turn away their gaze that people need your help most. I’ve been sick for the past few days and largely away from the computer, and was worried because I hadn’t posted the links that my new friend Bev had sent me. What was I worried about? That they would disappear? That something bigger would happen? Something closer to home?

Has our culture truly turned into one of “out of sight out of mind?” Do problems only resonate with us if and when we are personally touched by them? Sometimes I think this is true, sometimes I completely disagree. I guess then maybe the answer is quite simply, sometimes. If there is a personal connection to an issue/event/cause that tugs at your own heartstrings already, when someone comes along telling you more or asking for donations, we’re more likely to step up and listen or check our pockets for extra change.

I struggle with why I feel the way I do about certain issues and how those close to me don’t feel the same sense of anger or confusion or change. I know it’s often due to some minor event in someone’s life that brought attention to various things, meeting a Somali refugee on the bus, having a classmate with spina bifida, reading an article on teenage suicide in a magazine at the doctor’s office. And I wonder if later we can recall the moment our feelings changed and why, or if we just find ourselves with the urge to fight, help or save.

I like the fact that something I read about today may intertwine with the way I act in the future, even if I don’t really know what it said or where it was. It’s all about that resonation, the way ideas and things and people sink in you and stay no matter what the news or our friend or our country is telling us. It means that not everything is out of sight out of mind.

So you want to help raise money for bushfire victims? Here are some good places to start:

Handmade Help
*A new Melbourne-based craft blog that will keep you up-to-date on crafty things for sale whose proceeds are going to help fire victims.

The Toy Society
*The well-known secret service of softies who collect toys for kids in need!

Curly Pops
*50% of all the sales in this shop up until Feb 22 will go to the…

Australian Red Cross Bushfire Appeal

Rainbow Comfort Packs
*Collecting toys for children affected by the bushfires

Rayna’s collecting donations and selling crafts for the Australian Red Cross over here

For more information about the fires, check out this collection of bushfire news from Melbourne’s The Age.

Also interesting is an article on what caused so many people to die in the fires. You can read it here.

Koala Break.

So it is a little known fact that I adore koalas. Wombats, wallabies, and kangaroos are all tied for second place. While clearly I should have been born in Australia, I thought that I would take a small break from crafty stuff and post about… koalas.

In recent discussions, I told Faythe (who’s going to Australia) and Rayna (who lives in Australia) that I really want to pet a koala. Not once, but twice these words have sprung from my mouth. I do believe I told Faythe she should pet one so I can live vicariously through her, and actually asked Rayna, like an 8 year old, if koalas were soft. Although I can only surmise they are soft from them, Rayna most awesomely sent me these photos from Australia.

Yes, that is a koala drinking from a water bottle. And that is a koala in a tub. The bushfires are hurting lots of wildlife are they blow through, as these photos attest. Both of those photos have only confirmed that I need to go to Australia as soon as possible. They also are a reminder that animals are innocent (and apparently thirsty) victims of these disasters too.

In looking at the US and the UK press, there seems to be little coverage of what’s going on, so you might want to check out The Age for more local Melbourne news and what’s actually happening. I have my fingers crossed for those down under, and wishing lots of rain and little wind. And godspeed, little koalas. And for all the wombats, wallabies, kangaroos and everyone else near Melbourne, please take care.

P.S. In more koala news, you can read about the progress of Sam, the koala rescued by a volunteer firefighter here. Although she’ll need several months to heal, she now has found a boyfriend to cuddle with (no, really) in fellow rescued koala, Bob.

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