Hand-knitted scarf in light green yarn (50% acrylic 50% wool) with light coloured stripes. This scarf was knitted by resident of Cherry Tree Grove Retirement Village, Diana Pullin, as part of Maroondah City Council's Knit One Warm One Project that was initiated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This scarf was one of two scarves donated by Diana Pullin to Museums Victoria following an oral history interview and photoshoot with Diana that was conducted by Museums Victoria curator Catherine Forge at Diana's home in Croydon, Victoria, on 22 March 2021.
Maroondah City Council's Knit One Warm One project was born out of its' larger Be Kind Maroondah campaign. This campaign was modelled on the Be Kind Ballarat campaign and was aimed at encouraging kindness and goodwill in the community during COVID-19, as well as building community resilience, mental health support and neighbourly connection during lockdowns. Over 50 individuals participated in knitting warm items such as scarves and rugs, and these items were then disseminated via not-for-profit charities such as Wellways Australia and the Uniting Crisis and Homelessness Service, predominantly to support individuals that were sleeping rough or experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.
Born in 1945 in Malvern, Knit One Warm One participant Diana Pullin stated in the interview that 'I seem to have knitted most of my life in some way or another.' Knitting for charity had been a longstanding pastime of Diana's that was heavily influenced by her spiritual beliefs and her interest in volunteerism and supporting social justice causes. 'There is that spirituality emphasis and the background that comes with it, you know, like "I was naked and you clothed me" came out of the gospels', she reflected in the interview; 'if you're living off the streets, you need everything you can get that will keep you warm . so if my hands can knit a scarf for somebody who's lying on a street corner or in a doorway and is cold, I've done something haven't I?'
Diana knitted and donated many scarves to the Knit One Warm One project during the COVID-19 pandemic and in doing so, she simultaneously kept herself active during a long period of lockdown and isolation. 'I was knitting as a way of going through the lockdown and filling in the hours', she reflected. This was particularly important in light of the fact that Diana was at times unable to see her children and grandchildren, and was only able to leave the retirement village for essential shopping or medical reasons. 'The biggest emotion was fear', she stated when reflecting on the beginning of the lockdowns at Cherry Tree Grove Retirement Village, as security guards began to patrol the village gates, temperature checks were required upon entry to the village and regular village services, such as the community centre and library, were closed down.
Yet, through these challenges and fears, Diana was buoyed by the generosity and creativity of her local community as people came together to support one another at Cherry Tree Grove Retirement Village; from the creation of 'Court Captains' to monitor and check on village residents, to the transitioning of in-person social activities such as Bingo to online platforms (e.g. Zoom), to local businesses such as butchers and bakers initiating delivery services, Diana reflected that 'there was actually more silver linings . there was good things and bad things, and it's all whether you look at the glass half full or half empty.'
For Diana, knitting for charity during lockdowns became, in her words, 'very good therapy' and importantly it provided a way to support those who were experiencing homelessness or sleeping rough. Although Diana never met the recipients of her knitted items, she reflected in the interview, 'you don't know who they are, but you know this scarf is going to give them maybe one night, one day, they'll be warm, so that's my whole thing - it's just to keep people warm.'
Hand-knitted scarf in light green yarn (50% acrylic 50% wool) with light coloured stripes.
With the support of the Office for Suburban Development, this is one of two scarves donated by Diana Pullin to Museums Victoria. These scarves are accompanied by an oral history interview with Diana Pullin and 6 digital photographs that were taken by curator Catherine Forge at Diana's home at Cherry Tree Grove Retirement Village in Croydon, on the 22 March 2021.
Alongside these items, 3 digital photographs depicting the Knit One Warm One staff members from Maroondah City Council and Wellways Australia were also acquired into the State Collection.
These knitted scarves, oral history interview and digital photographs speak to a wide range of themes including; aged care, volunteerism, community life, knitting, homelessness, charity/welfare services and spirituality/faith. They provide lasting documentation of one of the many ways that community members supported one another, and volunteered their time through small acts of kindness, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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