Needles furiously click for royal

By Christine McKay

Dannevirke mums and grandmothers know wool is best for baby and they're hoping the latest royal baby will be seen wearing woollen garments.

Last Friday, with nimble fingers working the needles and wool, 16 members of the Dannevirke Spinners and Weavers Club were knitting tiny singlets as they waited for news on Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William's first baby. As part of a programme promoted by Creative Fibre New Zealand in conjunction with the royal birth, Dannevirke club members are looking to knit between 120 and 150 singlets for babies at the community hospital.

"The Duchess and Prince William have asked that the singlets be donated to maternity units around New Zealand," said Maureen Reynolds, the president of the Spinners and Weavers club.

"The programme runs from July this year through until July next year and something similar happened when Prince William was born.

"A woollen shawl was made and donated to the family to recognise the birth. It's also a great way for mothers to see that wool really is best for baby."

While babies in Dannevirke will receive the singlets, for club member Shirley Clayton, her singlet has been chosen for a special display at Parliament.

"Shirley was the winner of the Manawatu area competition to supply a singlet for the display and that garment will also be donated to a maternity unit," Mrs Reynolds said.

On Friday while the women knitted, they discussed names for the royal baby, with Diana a clear favourite. The woman also had their own opinions on the publicity surrounding the birth.

"It's bad enough having a baby without an avalanche of photographers," Anne Willis said. "It's not fair on the royal mum."

Knitting is trendy now, club members said. The tiny singlets were being created in all colours and styles, including the traditional fish and chip pattern.

"The fish and chip pattern came about when a Rotary club member went to Africa and saw babies wrapped in nothing but paper. She got people all over the world to knit garments for the babies and the pattern became known as fish and chips," Mrs Willis said.

Mrs Reynolds said part of the promotion is to make people appreciate what a wonderful fibre it is.

"That's why we have swing tags on the singlets with instructions for washing the garments because these days not everyone knows how to care for wool. But you'd think there would be more effort put into promoting wool by the powers that be."

Membership at the Dannevirke Spinners and Weavers Club is growing, with many new, younger members.

Chrissy Lawson is one of those new members.

"Moving to a lifestyle block in Dannevirke from the Lower Hutt and joining the spinning club has been great," she said.

If you would like to learn to knit and crochet, the Dannevirke Spinners and Weavers Club would love to see you on Wednesdays from 7pm to 9.30pm. Needles and wool are available.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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