When in doubt, knit

by on 26 June, 2013

by Perkin-Warbeck

Now, ask yourself who is this famous knitter.

She “was imbued from her childhood with a brooding sense of wrong, and an inveterate hatred of class, opportunity had developed her into a tigress. She was absolutely without pity. If she had ever had the virtue in her, it had quite gone out of her.”

If you guessed our multi-talented PM you would be dead wrong – although you can be forgiven.

In fact, Charles Dickens was describing the infamous Madam Defarge in A Tale of Two Cities and one of the great female literary characters of all time. She was truly a monster – both smart and ruthless – and whose non-stop knitting became a record of all of those who went to the guillotine during the French Revolution.

Readers of the July edition of Australian Women’s Weekly are being treated to an interview with PM Julia Gillard with accompanying pictures which show her busily knitting away surrounded by needles and bits of wool and a lovely little fluffy doggy. It is a scene of wonderful domestic bliss – a woman who is at peace with the world and who knows her place.

Our PM, that well-known republican, reveals that she is knitting a toy kangaroo for the child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and adds, disarmingly, “I just thought it would be a cute project to work on.”

The article notes that, “The request to be shown knitting came from the Prime Minister’s office” and Julia’s chief PR man, John McTernan, has openly boasted about how simply clever he was to come up with the idea. “It was a no-brainer,” he said.   

These happy snaps were taken in a studio and the wool, the needles and everything else including the dog were props. A real“no-brainer” indeed.

The Australian Women’s Weekly, founded in 1933, boasts on its website that, “It entertains, it informs, it is contemporary and relevant to Australian women today with experts in every field (fashion/beauty/health/home/craft/gardening/cooking).”

I may be wrong but that list of experts doesn’t seem to me to actually cover all the interests of the modern Australian woman. Frankly, I can only wonder what the official Labor sisterhood, Emily’s List, think of their pin-up star member engaging in this sort of nonsense. You can bet there were feminist groans around the country.

You could name your odds if you wanted to bet that Emily’s List ever includes a link to the Weekly.

Just imagine – horror of horrors – if Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop indulged in something similar – knitting for a Royal baby, or giving cooking tips or fashion advice for busy mums. There would be a chorus of condemnation from so-called progressive women and, probably, allegations that she had been put up to it by men in blue ties.

No doubt Ms Gillard already knows this but knitting.about.com – which seems to have everything you ever wanted to know about knitting – has a useful “Fixing mistakes in your knitting” section which advises that should you make a mistake, firstly “don’t panic” and then “ … sit down, take a deep breath and determine the best way to deal with your particular problem.”

Somehow I doubt she has ever done that except, possibly, when knitting toys for Royal kiddies – after all, she told the Weekly, “I’m not a person who agonises.”

Dickens’ classic tale draws to its sad but noble ending with Sydney Carton’s memorable last words, “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.” 

There is really no risk of our PM channelling Carton and doing the noble, brave thing and surrendering her leadership to try and save some of her colleagues. They can all go to the election guillotine and it won’t be HER fault.

Remember A Tale of Two Cities began, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

Then, as now, it all depends on your perspective. Knit away Julia, knit away. 





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