Craft for a cause

Written by Kerrie Alexander

Research shows that millennials are wasting scores of textiles and damaging the environment more than the baby boomers simply because they don’t know how to sew!

Most of the textile waste is due to clothing being discarded just because of minor tears or missing buttons.

Sewing, hemming and button repair used to be common skills used at home with many making their own clothes, doing alterations or repairs to save their favourite garment or even a child’s favourite teddy bear.

The use of synthetic yarns and fibres were hugely popular in the 1950s and beyond.

Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case anymore.

However, there is a glimmer of hope for our youth with about 20 talented Fraser Coast ladies – predominately in their 70s and 80s – who are willing to pass on their skills to the younger generation and give back to the community while doing it.

Fraser Coast Artslink Creative Crafters Group Leader Annette Kitchener is the “whipper snapper” of the group at 62 years young.
Annette has fond memories of her school days studying a whole term each on cooking and sewing. She was also taught to knit and crochet by her Aunt and Nanna, which is the most used skill at the group get together every Wednesday.

Annette and the ladies say they would relish in the chance to pass on their skills to the younger generation and have plans in the pipelines for a workshop to do just that.

“Every child should know how to sew a button, at the very least,” Annette said.

“We need the younger generation to take over and learn how to knit and crochet but getting them off the games to do it is another thing!”

“It’s not a hard thing to learn. Dagmar (member) showed a new lady how to make a worm in one lesson and the next time she came back she made six of them, no problem.”

The Creative Crafters, formed about 12 months ago, and are a sub-group of local not-for-profit community group Fraser Coast Artslink. Fraser Coast Artslink have been operating on the Fraser Coast for since 2015, and prior to that as the Hervey Bay Council for the Arts for over 30 years.
The ladies of the Creative Crafters put in endless hours of creating for those in need. Some extra, younger hands would certainly help their cause.

By the time school starts next year the team will have 400 very popular Handmade Read Bears and 213 Welcome Worms ready to distribute to Year 1 and Prep students at local schools to improve reading skills and parent-child interaction.

The Read Bears Project is an initiative of the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre.

The bears come with a tag so that the child can personalise their cuddly friend with a name, then take them home and read to them every night of the school term.

They are all made in exactly the same pattern, so the kids all have the same bear.

“We put a little poem that goes with the worm, and we give them to the kids to welcome them to school and being their first day, it’s something they can have to reassure them,” Annette said.

“The bears have improved the kids’ reading by about 80% because they have to read to the bear every night.”

Quilts, blankets, shawls, worms, beanies, and bears are also donated regularly to the Hervey Bay and Maryborough Hospitals’ dementia wards, renal and cancer care wards, and local nursing homes.
Baby octopuses are also made to pop in humidity cribs for premature babies at the Hervey Bay Hospital.

A bigger bear was designed by the ladies specifically for dementia patients in local nursing homes.
“We do anything for the community if they need it,” Annette said.

“The dolls were designed to be made of nice, soft material for the residents and they come with a little pocket for a heat pack”

“Our Secretary works at a local nursing home, and she says the look on their faces when they receive them is priceless! When we deliver them, we don’t even have a chance to give them out, they just come up and grab them.”

The funds to make all the donated goodies are raised from the group’s stall at the Torquay Markets and even then, the “reject” bears that were made in different patterns are handed out to children for free.

“We just love to see the glow on the children’s faces.”

The crafters were also grateful to receive a $1500 Hervey Bay RSL Community grant recently to help cover the cost of supplies.

Coming up to Christmas the ladies will have a massive variety of knitted and crochet goods for sale at their regular Torquay Markets stall including tea towels, bowl warmers, Christmas decorations, wine glass bases, very popular hand-made rare Golliwogs and of course a variety of bears and worms.

“If anyone has any requests, we’ll try it.

“We do lots of things and we just love helping the community.”

Anyone interested in learning knitting, crocheting, and sewing can join the ladies every Wednesday from 9am to 12pm at the Fraser Coast Artslink Hall, 187 Bideford St, Torquay.

To find out more about the group visit or search for Fraser Coast Artslink on Facebook.