A couple of years ago I came across a display of knitted rugs in my local library, along with a leaflet. It related to a group called Wrap with Love which was started by one woman in Australia in 1992 who had seen a TV segment about the civil war in Mozambique and was shocked to see people – men, woman and children being forced to sleep outdoors in the cold as a result, with nothing to keep them warm.
She felt so strongly about the situation that she decided to knit a wrap to send there, using leftover wool and knitting it into squares which she then sewed together. She persuaded 38 of her friends to help her, and managed to get the wraps sent to Mozambique on a ship containing farm machinery which was being sent there.
Since then her simple idea has grown to become a charitable organisation called Wrap With Love Inc. and is made up of mostly women, but some men and schoolchildren, who get together in groups in libraries, or their homes, to knit wraps to send to those in need both here and overseas. The wraps are all made of 28 squares which each measure 25cm x 25 cm (10 inches x 10 inches), on size 8 (4mm) needles, 8 ply yarn, with 50-55 stitches and each row plain (ie. garter stitch) so even the most basic knitters can contribute.
The founder Sonia Gidley-King died in 2010, but her work lives on and to date there are 30,000 volunteers and 255,322 wraps have been produced and sent around the world.
The group I belong to meet once a week at our local library where we sit around a large table and knit and chat and drink cups of tea or coffee. The participants are of all ages (we recently had some new members, a mother and her two small daughters who are learning to knit) and come from vastly different backgrounds and countries. There are many in retirement villages and nursing homes who spend time knitting or crocheting squares, or sewing them together.
We have recently been moved from the back of the library to the front. I’m not sure if it is because we made too much noise chatting and laughing at the back and there were some complaints, or if it is to give us more exposure, but we have had more enquiries since we have been there from people browsing the library shelves.
Once a year there is a big knit-in at all the libraries, co-ordinated by the ABC TV station, and multitudes of beautiful wraps are displayed on shelves. We have competitions (I came up with the concept of blindfold knitting, which is hilarious to watch), and groups from all over our area congregate to chat and knit and admire each other’s work. Many schoolchildren are now participating (boys and girls) and they love competing with the older people.
It has enriched my life, and I know the lives of many others, and has increased my circle of friends immensely. There are many more beautiful rugs than mine, with intricate patterns and sometimes flowers, kangaroos and other animals knitted into them, but I derive great satisfaction from finishing one and imagining where it might be going.
One of my first wraps
I used up old balls of wool, and anything I was given