By Rhonda Dredge,
It was all action at the counter of the Morris & Sons last week as people returning to work dropped by to find out what they could make for wildlife victims of the bushfires.
The shop on Collins St did not want to disappoint knitters, even though the call-out for garments has now closed.
The store is still providing free wool, patterns and a philosophical approach to the politics of craft.
Knitters were caring people, said staff member Tori Armes, and they rushed into help small, cuddly creatures. “We’ve sold a lot of wool,” she said.
Ms Armes has just got back from the UK where everyone is knitting wildlife patterns but they’re refraining from using post to save on fossil fuels, waiting instead for travellers to carry them back.
Many knitters and sewers got in early and began making well before the Christmas disaster period.
Staff member Teresa Redrup was staying up at Batemans Bay in December when the roads were still open and saw a little kangaroo with burnt paws.
“We called the local animal refuge people. It was terrible. I got quite teary,” she said.
When she returned to Melbourne, Ms Redrup tore up a bed sheet and sewed some joey pouches to make herself feel better.
“Sheets are good because they don’t care about what print or colour you use. I made a dozen in an afternoon.”
Two weeks into January there was still a list of items from the Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild on the Collins St counter.
Patterns were available for a knitted rescue nest, using four ply for summer, plus a bird jumpsuit with optional trousers and small holes for wings.
Koala mittens, bat wraps, rodent nests and hanging pouches were also on the list.
Facebook gives some perspective on the wildlife knitting craze. Before the bushfires there were 2000 makers. Now there are 170,000.
“I’ve got so many bat wraps I could feature on Hoarders,” said Ann-Marie Holt, a customer who runs a wildlife hub.
Within 48 hours of news of the fires there were five different patterns from Guild members.
“We’ve been inundated from overseas. It’s kind of scary. People mean well,” Ms Holt said.
The Americans have made so many pouches they want to charter a plane.
Ms Holt has made hundreds of items herself over the past three months, including pouches with liners.
Joeys are able to climb in and out of the prescribed designs.
Morris & Sons is still accepting wildlife knits. “We’ll keep and hold them,” Ms Armes said.
The store has a stockpile of penguin jumpers made by customers for a call-out earlier in the year.