February 10, 2022

Story: Boys Can't Knit

Story by Rose Perrin

In the winter of 2000 I was a year 4 teacher at a Perth primary school. I always encouraged my students to spread their boundaries, to challenge themselves and explore different possibilities. I introduced the idea of knitting winter scarves to the class, much to the delight of some and the absolute distain of others. The character 'Danny' was the first to utter the astounding comment...

 'Well, everybody knows boys can't knit. Girls knit. Mums knit. Nannas knit. Boys can't knit.'

There were some heads nodding in agreement and some wide-eyed stares of astonishment whilst the rest looked on in total silence.

But I had prepared for opposition, especially from those who had never knitted before.

When I produced 30 ice cream tub knitting castles and multiple coloured wool balls, all ready to go, the excitement in the room began to grow. The children had never seen such a way to knit. No needles, no pattern. So unique. And then we were off.

The whole class engaged in the knitting activity. The children walked around the oval with the knitting castle in their hands and the wool ball in their pocket or tucked up their sleeves. They sat around the verandahs at break times, chatting and knitting. Knitting was banned during silent reading, even the under the desk, out of sight knitting.

They took their knitting home. To catch up, they said. But every morning there was a competition to see whose scarf grew the quickest and the longest. Mothers came in complaining that their child would not go the bed until their 'knitting homework' was done. Some said that they tired of catching their child knitting by torchlight under the bed covers.

Through the next week or so 'Danny's' scarf grew mysteriously longer and longer. Other children complained the he must have had parent help and that wasn't fair. That no-one's scarf could grow that long that quickly. What started out as a small ball of wool soon became a scarf, a snake, a monster and finally a rainbow serpent that stretched twice around the classroom.

The Castle Knitting Assembly was the best event that term. All the other school  students wanted to learn castle knitting. They wanted a castle. They wanted a scarf. It was a huge success. And the biggest clap of all went to 'Danny' and his magical rainbow serpent.

Soon after we heard that the Australian Government was granting asylum to survivors of a war happening far away in Europe. In that October over four hundred Kosavo refugees arrived at HMAS Leeuwin, Fremantle, most with very few belongings. One of the students suggested we knit scarves for the accompaning children now staying at the Barracks. We had a task.

With the help of families donating supplies, such as biscuits, lollies and wool, we made almost fifty castle scarves that week. On the Friday, after contacting the Leeuwin Commander, a few children and myself drove down to the Barracks to present the scarves. The Commander told us that the children were very happy to receive scarves made by Australian school children. The scarves would make them feel a little more at home and welcomed by their new country.

 'Danny' presented his rainbow serpent scarf to wrap around all the refugee children to make them feel safe. It truely was a magical rainbow serpent.

This story by Rose Perrin was the third place winner in our recent "Undiscovered Gems" writing competition. Follow us on Facebook and join our newsletter to be up to date with Exisle Academy.

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