.

  • Written by Emily Brayshaw, Lecturer, Fashion and Design History, Theory, and Thinking, University of Technology Sydney

The bushfires burning across Australia are having a devastating impact on our unique native wildlife.

But while record numbers of injured and orphaned animals are being treated, tens of thousands of people across Australia and from as far away as France and the Netherlands are responding to the animals’ plight by knitting, crocheting and sewing pouches to soothe and keep them warm and quiet when they come into care.

Their efforts are the latest in a long history of crafting in times of crisis.

Home comforts

Craft has long provided comfort to both creators and recipients. It has also shaped the fabric of our society.

More than 115 years ago, the suffragettes embroidered banners and cloths to display at their rallies for the right to vote.

Knitting soldier comforts was seen as a way for those at home to do their bit in wartime. Photographer: Mrs. W. Durrant/Wikimedia

During World War I, thousands of Australian women and children knitted more than a million pairs of socks for soldiers serving in the trenches in France. The practice of crafting in a crisis continued into World War II with Australian government departments issuing knitting patterns and guidelines for suitable garments that soldiers could wear to war.

More recently, groups like the Knitting Nannas Against Gas have tapped into the history of using knitting as a tool for non-violent political activism.

Likewise, in 2017, the Women’s Electoral Lobby published the pussy hat knitting pattern in solidarity with women’s marches around the world.

Australia’s wildlife in need has a strong appeal for crafters.

Philip Island’s Knits for Nature project began after oil spills in the late 1990s and the early 2000s threatened the area’s penguins. Thousands of knitters worldwide rallied to support the cause and continue to donate.

Today, Australia is experiencing an early and extreme bushfire emergency linked to climate change.


Read more: Drought and climate change were the kindling, and now the east coast is ablaze


Kristie Newton, campaign manager for animal rescue group WIRES, says that timing of the fires has made things worse for animal rescue groups:

It’s spring, which is our busiest time of year. We’re getting many hundreds of calls each day about orphaned and injured wildlife because it’s breeding season, but so many of our resources have been taken up by the bushfire emergency.

Community members and organisations are mobilising to crochet and knit marsupial pouches, make pouches and linings for orphaned joeys or sew bat wraps. WIRES has received donations from Australia, NZ, UK, USA, Sweden, Norway and Japan and delivered hundreds of pouches to carers.

Many hands

Sydney-based fibre artist Jacqui Fink is one person helping to co-ordinate donations of pouches and linings for wildlife welfare groups. She agrees with Newton that, “The fires are so huge and horrific that people are desperate to help as many animals as possible in any way they can”.

“Lots of school teachers have asked me to send patterns so that the kids can make pouches and linings. Church groups have been amazing, and even a women’s prison in South Australia has been in contact asking for information. I’ve received packages of pouches and linings from all over the Australia,” Fink says.

Newton also says that many schools have been in touch with WIRES for information about how to make pouches and the phone has been ringing off the hook with offers of help.

It is not just the local crafting community rallying around the cause.

“I’ve received more than 10,000 emails from as far away as Estonia, Finland, South Africa, Canada, Germany and New Zealand from people looking for patterns to make pouches to help our wildlife,” Fink notes.

Making pouches and linings is a low-cost, sustainable way for people to help. As long as the pouches are made from pure wool and the linings are cotton or flannelette, they’ll meet the fabric requirements to keep the animals safe and snug.

“We crafters are a practical mob. We love a job and we often have huge stashes of fabric and yarn lying around the house,” Fink says.

Pouches and linings can also be made from woollen blankets and old cotton sheets, saving them from landfill.

Creating agency

People are often keen to get involved in crafting during a crisis because it gives them a sense of purpose.

There is evidence that the acts of knitting,crochet and sewing can all help people to feel less anxious and deal with traumatic events.

And although the scale of the Australian bushfires is overwhelming, making pouches for animals feels like a practical step.

“It’s a meaningful way to help and people can know that something they’ve made with their hands will keep an animal warm at night. That’s a beautiful gift to give,” Newton says.


Read more: How craft is good for our health


The pouch and lining patterns are so basic that it’s an opportunity to learn new skills and carry on traditional crafts. Crafting pouches and liners can also allow kids to focus on something positive.

Youth health nurse Debbie Downie from Kirwan State High School in Townsville organised for students and teachers to sew koala mittens at lunchtime. Parents and other local community members also got involved by donating fabric or coming in to sew with the children. They’ve now made more than 150 koala mittens for animals affected by the bushfires.

How to make a pouch for critters in need.

In a crisis, small acts of crafting can be among the most powerful.

“All those incredible volunteers on the frontline can feel so alone and frustrated, but rising up and rallying with craft lets them know that out there people care,” Fink says.

Newton agrees. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness of people and it’s helping us keep going, now and into the future.”

In times of crisis, we can echo the wartime slogan: Keep calm and craft on.

Emily Brayshaw does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Authors: Emily Brayshaw, Lecturer, Fashion and Design History, Theory, and Thinking, University of Technology Sydney

Read more http://theconversation.com/crafting-in-times-of-crisis-helps-critters-and-creators-127616

Latest Wednesday Lotto Results

Wednesday Lotto draw 3917 Lucky numbers for this draw were 43 followed by 25. The rest of the winning numbers are 44, 33, 7 and lastly 15. So, one even and five odd numbers are in the lucky num...

Viw Magazine - avatar Viw Magazine

Chinese students top the PISA rankings, but some Shanghai parents are turning away from the school system

China is fast becoming a middle-class nation. Ewan Yap/UnsplashAustralian 15 year olds were around three and a half years behind their counterparts in China in maths, according to the OECD’s lat...

Hannah Soong, Senior Lecturer in Teacher Education Practice, School of Education, University of South Australia - avatar Hannah Soong, Senior Lecturer in Teacher Education Practice, School of Education, University of South Australia

14 Surprisingly Easy Housekeeping Hacks That Will Impress Your Guests

Everyone wants to present a perfect house when guests come over. The problem is, no one also wants to spend the whole day scrubbing everything super clean. If you follow these smart hacks to prepare...

Giancarlo Stangherlin - avatar Giancarlo Stangherlin

VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on Angus Taylor, medevac and cuts to the public service

Angus Taylor addresses the house during Question Time. AAP/Lukas CochMichelle Grattan talks with University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Deep Saini about the week in politics, ...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

China's failed gene-edited baby experiment proves we're not ready for human embryo modification

The team used CRISPR on human embryos in a bid to render them resistant to HIV infection. But instead, they generated different mutations, about which we know nothing. SHUTTERSTOCKMore than a year ago...

Dimitri Perrin, Senior Lecturer, Queensland University of Technology - avatar Dimitri Perrin, Senior Lecturer, Queensland University of Technology

Remember the arts? Departments and budgets disappear as politics backs culture into a dead end

The federal decision to eliminate a department of arts came as a surprise to public servants. Jade Ferguson/Opera QueenslandThe decision to merge the Department of Communications and the Arts with Tr...

Julian Meyrick, Professor of Creative Arts, Flinders University - avatar Julian Meyrick, Professor of Creative Arts, Flinders University

Curious Kids: how do we know if a dinosaur skeleton is from a child dinosaur or an adult dinosaur?

This T. rex is very big, but was it a grown-up? Shutterstock When you find dinosaur skeletons, how can you tell how old the dinosaur was? Like, if the skeleton is from a child dinosaur or an adult din...

Caitlin Syme, PhD in Vertebrate Palaeontology, The University of Queensland - avatar Caitlin Syme, PhD in Vertebrate Palaeontology, The University of Queensland

Western Australia looks set to legalise voluntary assisted dying. Here's what's likely to happen from next week

If the bill clears its final hurdle next week, Western Australia will become the second state in Australia after Victoria to legalise voluntary assisted dying. from www.shutterstock.comWestern Austral...

Courtney Hempton, Associate Research Fellow, Deakin University - avatar Courtney Hempton, Associate Research Fellow, Deakin University

Award winning, ASX-list data SIM card company promises BIG changes for travellers

FLEXIROAM’s attachable SIM card, FLEXIROAM X Microchip is shaking up the telecommunications industry, fundamentally changing the way travellers use data overseas.   According to Founder and CEO...

Tess Sanders Lazarus - avatar Tess Sanders Lazarus

Friday essay: living with fire and facing our fears

The smouldering ruins of a child's bike lies amongst a property lost to bushfires in the Mid North Coast region of NSW last month. Darren Pateman/AAPIt is only mid-November but we have to walk early t...

Danielle Clode, Senior Research Fellow in Creative Writing, Flinders University - avatar Danielle Clode, Senior Research Fellow in Creative Writing, Flinders University

Explainer: why homicide rates in Australia are declining

Latest figures reveal homocides in Australia are at historic lows. AAP/James RossAccording to the latest figures, homicides in Australia are at historic lows and compare well against international tr...

Terry Goldsworthy, Associate Professor in Criminology, Bond University - avatar Terry Goldsworthy, Associate Professor in Criminology, Bond University

Making space: how designing hospitals for Indigenous people might benefit everyone

Sunshine Coast University Hospital uses evidence-based design to provide outside spaces with views that Indigenous people tell us they value. Architectus, Author providedWelcome to the next article in...

Timothy O'Rourke, Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture, The University of Queensland - avatar Timothy O'Rourke, Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture, The University of Queensland

Vital Signs: Australia's slipping student scores will lead to greater income inequality

While no test is perfect but the Programme for International Student Assessment rankings are pretty useful for understanding the skills young people are being equipped with. www.shutterstock.comThe la...

Richard Holden, Professor of Economics, UNSW - avatar Richard Holden, Professor of Economics, UNSW

We're using lasers and toaster-sized satellites to beam information faster through space

The electromagnetic spectrum we can access with current technologies is completely occupied. This means experts have to think of creative ways to meet our rocketing demands for data. NASA Johnson/Flic...

Gottfried Lechner, Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Telecommunications Research, University of South Australia, University of South Australia - avatar Gottfried Lechner, Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Telecommunications Research, University of South Australia, University of South Australia

Grattan on Friday: Angus Taylor's troubles go international, in brawl with Naomi Wolf

Morrison would rather live with a problem minister in a key post than give a scalp to Labor. Mick Tsikas/AAPScott Morrison said it with a straight face, and repetition for emphasis. “I’m v...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Early medical abortion is legal across Australia but rural women often don't have access to it

Australian women can have an early medical termination – which involves taking two oral medications – up to the ninth week of pregnancy. Jonatán Becerra/UnsplashAround one in s...

Jane Tomnay, Assoc. Professor / Director of Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health, University of Melbourne - avatar Jane Tomnay, Assoc. Professor / Director of Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health, University of Melbourne

All hail apostrophes - the heavy lifters who 'point a sentence in the right direction'

Doing away with the apostrophe is not just the beginning of the end ... it's the end. www.shutterstock.comReports this week about the demise of the Apostrophe Protection Society may have been greatly...

Roslyn Petelin, Course coordinator, The University of Queensland - avatar Roslyn Petelin, Course coordinator, The University of Queensland

It's the 10-year anniversary of our climate policy abyss. But don't blame the Greens

In 2009, a Bob Brown-led Greens party voted against an emissions trading scheme – but they can't be blamed for what came after. Mick Tsikas/AAPFederal Labor this week commemorated a dubious anni...

Rebecca Pearse, Lecturer, Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney - avatar Rebecca Pearse, Lecturer, Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney

Morrison cuts a swathe through the public service, with five departmental heads gone

Scott Morrison has announced a dramatic overhaul of the federal public service, cutting the number of departments and creating several new mega ones, while removing five secretaries. The departments...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Sick and Tired of Your Dead End Job? Try Teaching!

Tired of the same old grind at the office? Want an opportunity to impact lives both in your community and around the world? Do you love to travel and have new experiences? Teaching English is the perfect job for you! All you need is a willingness to ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Impact of an Aging Population in Australia

There’s an issue on the horizon that Australia needs to prepare for. The portion of elderly citizens that make up the country’s overall population is increasing, and we might not have the infrastructure in place to support this. Australians h...

News Company - avatar News Company

LifeStyle

Latest Wednesday Lotto Results

Wednesday Lotto draw 3917 Lucky numbers for this draw were 43 followed by 25. The rest of the...

Ways Love and Relationships Benefit Body and Mind

Being in a happy relationship is great. You always have someone to greet you when you come home ...

The Importance of Smiling: How You Can Smile More

Happiness is something we all strive for and is often just out of reach. Of course, it’s impos...

5 Things to Do On Your Wedding Morning

After months of meticulous planning, wedding mornings usually find the bride excited but stressed ...